This was the week many coaches had to firm up decisions about what weight some of their wrestlers are going to compete at in the NJSIAA district tournaments.
The decisions made by certain wrestlers has made for what is shaping up to be ultra-competitive 120-pound weight class next week in the Region VI Tournament.
The individual part of the wrestling season begins this weekend with the NJSIAA’s 32 district tournaments. With the NJSIAA having made the decision in the spring of 2012 to have the host schools incur the costs of the district tournaments, many districts will be one-day affairs on Saturday.
That includes District 21, which will be at Manalapan, District 23, which will be at Brick Memorial and District 24, which will be at Pine Belt Arena on the campus of Toms River North after being at Toms River East for many years. Those three tournaments were being seeded on Thursday night.
The only two-day district in Region VI is District 22 at Red Bank Regional. That district will begin tonight with the preliminary-round and quarterfinal-round bouts and concludes on Saturday with the semifinal, third-place and championship bouts.
Any profit the host schools make from the district tournaments is theirs. Any loss of revenue a host school y incurs from the district tournament is theirs, too.
The top three finishers at each weight in the district 21-24 tournaments will qualify for the Region VI Tournament, which will take place Feb. 27, March 1 and 2 at Pine Belt Arena. The NJSIAA Individual Championships are March 8-10 at Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City.
The 120-pound weight class in Region VI will have at least four wrestlers who have qualified for the state tournament in past years and several other wrestlers who are capable of qualifying for the state tournament.
Brick Memorial junior Joe Ghione, who was sixth in the state at 103 in 2011 and sixth at 106 last year, leads the group. However, Ghione will likely have a tough District 23 final against Point Boro sophomore Daniel Nobbs, who was a state qualifier at 120 last year after finishing as the Region VI runner-up. Nobbs spent much of the year wrestling at 126, but recently had been competing at 120.
With Nobbs going at 120, it had a ripple effect on the Point Boro’s lineup from 120-132. Ryan Harter, a two-time district champion who defeated Ghione in the 2011 District 23 103-pound final, will be at 132 after competing at 120 and 126 throughout the season. Ryan Budzek will be at 126.
Also, competing at 120, is Jackson Liberty sophomore Matt Russo, who was a state qualifier last year after finishing third in Region VI at 113 and Ocean’s Max Rallo, who was a state qualifier last year after finishing third in Region VI at 106. Russo was defeated in overtime by Nobbs on Jan. 19
Among the other main contenders in Region VI at 120 is Toms River South’s Brandon Murray, who pinned Rallo on Jan. 31 and was an impressive winner over South Plainfield’s Ray Jazikoff last Sunday.
Among other wrestlers who made interesting decisions on what weight to compete are Ocean’s Zach Hertling, who will be at 132 after spending much of the season competing at 138; Toms River East’s Rich Lewis, who will be at 138 after spending much of the season at 145; Jackson Memorial’s Alec Huxford, who will be at 126 after alternating between 120 and 126 after he returned to the Jaguars’ lineup in mid-January; Brick Memorial’s Tyler Poling, who will be at 220 after spending much of the season at heavyweight; Long Branch’s Nick George and Nick Menkin, who will be at 138 and 132 after they were both up a weight much of the season. and Christian Brothers Academy’s Mike Oxley, who will compete at 195 after being at 182 most of the season.
Wrestlers who are dropping down a weight from where they were most of the season had to make flat weight once during the season in order to receive the two-pound allowance all wrestlers receive this time of the season.
Toms River South senior B.J. Clagon, who is the Shore’s only returning state champion, will be at 145.
If a wrestler is dropping down a weight and did not make flat weight at the weight he is competing at in the districts, he must make flat weight on district day.
All of the wrestlers listed above who are dropping a weight did make flat weight during the season.