Vineland has six wins so far, but the Fighting Clan know they might have had more if they had their full lineup.
Starting today, Vineland doesn’t just have its full lineup healthy, but the Fighting Clan will also get some reinforcements with the addition of St. Augustine transfer Steven Bergamo, who won 22 matches last year with the Hermits.
Bergamo is slated to fit into the lineup at 113 pounds for Vineland, giving the team five Region 8 qualifiers in a row from 106 to 132 pounds.
“It’s going to make everybody in the room better because now their practice partner is working harder and they’re going to kick it up a few notches,” Vineland coach Dave Homiak said.
Bergamo had to sit out for 30 days due to NJSIAA transfer rules, but three of the other region qualifiers have missed time due to injuries. The most recent addition was sophomore Zach Nealis, who wrestled Saturday for the first time since suffering a concussion before the season. Nealis went 2-1 in his return, wrestling at 132. He is likely to move down to 126, freeing up a spot for John Rizzo — a region qualifier, at 132.
“It’s definitely good, I’m glad I’m back out here wrestling,” Nealis said.
While Nealis was back, Vineland could have used Bergamo in the lineup on Saturday. The team’s only loss at the qud meet was 46-27 setback to Highland. Homiak thinks the result could have changed if the full lineup was in place.
“In matches like the one we had with Highland, it will make a big difference,” Homiak said.
Vineland isn’t the only team getting a boost from a transfer. St. Augustine just added Reid White, who started the year at West Deptford. White is 2-2 so far at 113 and 106.
Delsea has benefited from adding a transfer, but didn’t have to wait to put him in the lineup. Rian Lamanteer arrived from Cumberland and didn’t have to sit out because his family changed addresses. So far, the senior is 17-2 with 12 of those victories earning bonus points.
“He’s been wrestling great,” Delsea coach Greg Sawyer said. “And he’s a great kid, he works hard, does the right things, does everything you ask him. He’s in there, he was thrown to the wolves in the room with kids like (John) Hennelly every day, and I think they make each other sharper.”
Lamanteer played the role of hero when the Crusaders beat Clearview the first time on Jan. 5. He pinned Rob Wittman in the penultimate bout to clinch a victory.
What are you listening to?
Nealis has a playlist exclusively featuring rapper Meek Mill.
“The beat, the tempo, gets me pumped up,” Nealis said.
His one, go-to song?
“Young and getting it,” by, of course, Meek Mill.
Making the most of a milestone
Buena’s Dillan Berghof became the 12th Buena grappler to reach the 100-win mark earlier this season.
“A lot of people went to Buena, so being the 12th one is pretty awesome,” Berghof said.
But the team victories and advancing to states is the most important thing for the senior.
“It’s just a record pretty much, I really don’t worry about it,” Berghof said.
While Berghof is likely to end up third all-time in victories behind only Bobby Hanson (134) and current senior Billy Ward, who went over 100 last year, he still hasn’t wrestled on the boardwalk. He’s barely missed out on qualifying for the state tournament due to some bad luck all three previous years. This year, that’s likely to change.
“He’s right there with anybody, he just, unfortunately hasn’t been to Atlantic City,” Buena coach Doug Castellari said. “He’s just as quality as any of those kids, absolutely.”
Berghof isn’t just finally in line to go to the state tournament, he’s wrestling better this year.
“He’s not giving away any point, he’s in every match,” Castellari said. “He’s really complete.”