LITTLE SILVER – Since 1968, when it last won a title, the Christian Brothers Academy wrestling team has had to take a backseat to the school’s successful swimming, track, cross-country, basketball and the other school teams.
That won’t be happening again for the time being as the Colts won the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) District 22 championship Saturday at Red Bank Regional. They did it in impressive fashion.
CBA advanced eight wrestlers, including three gold medalists, to this week’s Region 6 competition by outlasting defending champion, Long Branch, 176.5-166. Raritan took third with 143 points.
“This was unbelievable,” CBA wrestling coach Russ Witt said. “These guys had a terrific tournament and I couldn’t wait to get them on the mat. Everybody worked hard and every point counted.”
The deciding match, however, didn’t involve a CBA wrestler. It probably came in the 145-pound weight class during which Middletown South’s Garrett Rumsby, trailing Long Branch’s Nick Menkin, 6-2, early in the third period, used a cradle to pin Menkin in 4:48.
“After Long Branch lost that bout, we knew we had a chance for the title,” Witt said.
Leading the way for CBA was unbeaten (33-0) sophomore 105-pounder Sebastian Rivera, who won by technical fall (19-4) over Long Branch’s T.J. Conlon. This, along with pins in his first two bouts, earned him the Most Outstanding Wrestler Award.
“I weighed only 94 pounds last year,” Rivera said, “but I worked hard in the off-season.”
Other CBA winners were Mike Oxley (195) and Erik Beshada (138). Oxley, the Region 6 Most Outstanding Wrestler last year, scored a 3-1 triple-overtime decision over Keansburg’s Tyree Suton while Beshada defeated Middletown North’s Paul Capaldo, 9-3, to win his fourth straight District 22 championship.
Rumson-Fair Haven Regional’s Marcus Iwama (132) had a big day when he defeated Ocean Township’s Andrew MacNellie, 6-4, with a takedown in overtime.
The pair did not meet in a regular match, but were still familiar with each other.
“We’re good friends,” Iwama said. “Andrew was my workout partner over the summer. There was no special strategy. I just tried to wrestle comfortably over 6 minutes and not do anything that might cost me the match.”
Red Bank Catholic’s Shawn McCord (28-1) took a 9-5 decision from Ocean Township’s Dan Liozos at 220 pounds to become the first RBC wrestler in 13 years to win a district title.
“This win is not for me but the program,” said McCord, a standout defensive end on RBC’s 11-1 football team. “The coaches were ecstatic. It’s all I’ve worked for my whole life.”
McCord’s lone loss was to District 22 heavyweight champion Patrick Toal of Raritan, when he moved up a weight class.
“I think that helped me,” said McCord, who will be playing football at St. Francis University (Pa.). “I don’t like losing, but he was the best in his region. I feel like losing motivates me.”
In another feature bout, Raritan’s unbeaten Kyle Lynch (34-0) took a 3-1 decision over Middletown North sophomore Chad Freshnock at 182 pounds.
Middletown South had two other winners in Dom Francioni (126) and Mike Best (152).
Middletown North’s Matt Sirchio was voted District 22 Coach of the Year.