It was a strong weekend for the area’s top wrestlers. Christian Brothers Academy (CBA), Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School, Keansburg High School and Middletown High School North are sending grapplers to the state individual championships at Atlantic City on March 6-8, as wrestlers from each of the four schools won gold medals in the Region 6 tournament held at the Pine Belt Arena in Toms River on Feb. 27-28.
Wrestlers from Ocean Township High School, Long Branch High School and St. John Vianney High School also punched tickets to Boardwalk Hall after securing secondand third-place finishes.
CBA, which won a second consecutive team title at the NJSIAA District 22 tournament, saw two of its grapplers win gold in Toms River.
At 113 pounds, junior Sebastian Rivera got his revenge in a championship rematch against Brick Memorial High School’s Gianni Ghione, who beat Rivera one year ago.
Rivera and Ghione were tied at 1-1 through three periods. The Colt got the 3-1 victory in overtime on a takedown. Rivera (34-0) remains undefeated this season and now has two region medals to his credit.
CBA’s fifth-seeded Richie Koehler continued his outstanding freshman season. He defeated top-seeded Kyle Slendorn from Howell High School, 12-0, in the semifinals avenging a regular-season loss to the Rebel. The momentum carried over to the finals, where he beat No. 2 Joey King of Colts Neck High School, 9-6, to win the 106-pound title. Koehler’s record stands at 31-3.
With the two victories, CBA wrestlers have won 13 regional titles in the school’s history.
Rumson-Fair Haven’s Marcus Iwama won his second Region 6 title when he defeated Howell junior Anthony Gagliano in the 132 final, 9-7. The standout senior, who has a total of three regional medals, improved to 33-2 for the year.
Keansburg senior Tyree Sutton became the first region champion in school history. The 195-pound Sutton won the title match against Wall High School’s Matt McKenzie, 1- 0, earning his second trip to Atlantic City.
The 220-pound title went to Chad Freshnock of Middletown North. The top-seeded junior won his second career Region 6 medal with a decision over CBA’s Will Oxley, who also advanced to this week’s statewide competition by virtue of his runner-up placing.
Freshnock gave Middletown North its 13th championship and first since 2004. He’ll take a 22-1 record to Atlantic City.
Ocean Township’s Zack Hertling was another silvermedal recipient. The senior grappler lost to Wall’s Brett Donner at 170 pounds, 6-4, marking just his second loss this season. Hertling was the Most Outstanding Wrestler at the District 22 tournament, where he earned a gold medal, after missing the 2014 postseason due to an injured knee. Local bronze medalists included Long Branch senior Jason Hernandez, a No. 6 seed. Following a second-place finish at districts, Hernandez got past Howell’s Mikey Sisolak, 7-3, at 113 pounds in the third-place consolation round to secure a spot in Atlantic City.
CBA junior Dylan VanSickell defeated Wall’s Nick Wagner, 7-6, for third place at 126 pounds. VanSickell lost for the first time this winter during the District 22 tournament, where he was a runner-up.
Paul Capaldo of Middletown North, a District 22 champion, pinned Shore Regional High School wrestler Alex Johnson, earning the final Atlantic City invitation for the 145-pound class.
St. John Vianney sophomore Micah Clark won the bronze medal in the heavyweight class. He defeated Raritan High School’s Malcolm Daniels, 12-9.
All gold, silver and bronze medalists will hit the mats at the NJSIAA individual wrestling championships beginning March 6 with preliminaries and pre-quarterfinal matches starting at 5 p.m.
On March 7, wrestling begins at 10 a.m. with wrestleback 1, quarterfinals and wrestleback 2 starting at 10 a.m. At 5 p.m. the semifinals will be held with wrestleback rounds 3 and 4 following.
On March 8 starting at 10 a.m., wrestleback 5 is followed by the third- through eighth-place matches. The state finals will begin at 3 p.m.