By Jim Hintelmann
Middletown – Despite struggling with a 4-16 record a year ago, Middletown North wrestling coach Matt Sirchio goes into the current season with a lot more optimism and is confident that he can rebuild the North wrestling program.
“We’re going to try and promote the wrestling program here,” said Sirchio.
“We have wrestling in the Bayshore Youth Athletic Association and in the Thorne, Bayshore and Thompson Middle Schools. We want to bring wrestling back to where it once was.”
Ten wrestlers are back with varsity experience for the Lions, who have just one senior on the team.
The lone senior is Hunter Bremkemp (160-170). Juniors returning are Tyler Wilton (160-170), Armani Rodriguez (220) and Jacob Bremkemp (138).
North has a large group of sophomores including Anthony Fabiano (160-170), Matt Winz (113), Joe Guarnieri (132), James Shopp (120), Tristan Sweeney (160-170) and Matt Oden (138).
Top newcomers are freshmen Dan Bennett (106) and Paul Capalbo (120-126).
“We expect to be competitive in the A North and better last year’s record,” said Sirchio. “We lost two seniors last year who were hurt playing football, but that enabled the sophomores and freshmen to get varsity experience.We expect continued improvement and the kids are working hard.”
Middletown South had one of its better seasons in wrestling a year ago finishing 13-9, and the Eagles appear in good shape to have another strong season once more with 13 wrestlers back with varsity experience.
“One of our goals is to better last year,” said South coach Jonathan Kumfert, “but our schedule is tougher. What we want to do is to get the guys ready for the post season. I’m excited for the season.”
The best of the returning starters is senior Nick Herring (145, 33-3), the defending NJSIAA District 22 and Region 6 champion in his weight class. Another top mat man is Garrett Rumsby (140, 22-11), who was third in District 22 last season.
Others back with varsity experience are Taylor Hendrickson, Don Franciosi, and Mohamad Jard, all at 106 pounds, Angel Martinez (113), John Cook and Ryan Coterelli, both at 126, Tom Koehler (132), Andew Elasco and Tim Cody, both at 138, Kevin Fisher (170), Sam Fowler and Tyler Tomanek, both at 220, and heavyweight Trevor Finn.
Middletown South will also play host to the Annual Walt Woods Classic Dec. 28. Sixteen teams are entered, including 45 wrestlers that placed in District meets.