Many of the wrestlers at the 2013 New Jersey All-Star Wrestling Challenge on Sunday at Brick Memorial looked like they had not been on a wrestling mat in a while.
“(Sunday) was my first day back,” said Freehold Township junior Nick DePierro, after he defeated Lou Carusillo of DePaul, 8-3, in one of 32 bouts held in the 13th annual event.
DePierro, who was the NJSIAA Region VI third-place finisher at 113 this past season and then was one win away from placing in the top eight at the state tournament, started out like a house of fire in his bout. He built a quick 7-0 lead. Then he started to feel the effects of having not been in a bout for six weeks.
“It was a lot harder than it usually is. I’m so out of shape,” DePierro said.
DePierro said he weighed in at 123 pounds on Sunday. That is only seven pounds more than the maximum he was allowed to weigh when he wrestled on March 9 in the wrestleback portion of the state tournament at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
“I’ve been eating all day, every day and gained nothing,” DePierro said.
For the wrestlers who participated Sunday, this was part of their offseason work. Many wrestle year-round and in tournaments around the country in the spring, summer and fall.
“This is pretty much the first day of my season,” DePierro said.
Another wrestler who looked like he had not been on a mat in a while was Jackson Memorial senior Brian Hamann, who said he had not wrestled in about three weeks.
Hamann, who was the state fifth-place finisher at 138 this past season and was fourth in the state at 126 in 2012 and at 103 in 2010, defeated Trenton junior Maaziah Bethea, the state fifth-place finisher at 145 this past season, 1-0, on a third period escape. Hamann rode Bethea out in the second period.
“I’m not in the best shape. I was really tired, especially because Bethea is such a strong, fast and well-rounded athlete,” Hamann said.
Hamann, who said he weighed in at about 155, said he took time off so he would be refreshed when he begins training for his collegiate career. Hamann will attend and wrestle at North Carolina State University.
“Right now, it’s mostly about having fun,” Hamann said. “You don’t want to spend to strain the muscles so so much (energy) so that it becomes like a job. You can’t take it seriously all the time. You’ve got to have some fun.”
The wrestling took place over two mats and involved many wrestlers from the Shore Conference. Some wrestlers wrestled twice.
Shore Conference wrestlers who won bouts were James Knoeller (Southern); Dan Wojtaszek (Brick); Tyler Richardson (Brick Memorial); Dae’Sean Brown (Neptune); Owen McClave (Toms River South); Nick Ottaviano (Colts Neck), who pinned Neptune’s Nasiyr Brown, the state eighth-place finisher at 113 this past season; Mike Russo (Jackson Liberty); Ashanti Maurice (Howell); Tyler MacLaine (Toms River North)p; Alec Donovan (Brick Memorial); Cliff Ruggierio (Brick Memorial); Nick Costa (Brick Memorial) and Kris Lindemann (Howell).
From 2001-2012, the All-Star Challenge was held on a Sunday in late Janaury.
However, since many returning state placewinners declined to participate in recent years because results counted toward seeding for the state tournament, meet director Denny D’Andrea decided shortly after the 2012 season ended, to move the All-Star Challenge to the third Sunday in November, which is eight days before practice for scholastic season begins.
This year’s All-Star Chalenge was going to place Nov. 18 at Jackson Liberty, but was postponed because of the after-effects of superstorm Sandy. D’Andrea said he had 60 returning state placewinners lined up last fall to participate before the postponement.
Conflicts with NHSCA Senior Nationals and Flo Nationals were among the reasons, the competition did not take place until Sunday. Because it was so far removed from the conclusion of the scholastic season, many state placewinners did not participate.
Next season’s event is scheduled for Nov. 17 at Brick Memorial.