The wrestling rooms are thinning out as the region tournaments begin tonight. That means it’s time to hand out some notebook awards. Keep in mind these are just for fun and have no bearing on the Daily Journal All-Area team and Wrestler of the Year, which will be announced in a few weeks.
Match of the year: St. Augustine vs. Shawnee, Jan. 26 — Sure it made ranking all the South Jersey teams a real headache, but the Prep’s 33-22 triumph in the final match of a quad that also featured Clearview was one of the bigger wins in school history. It came down to the final two bouts — heavyweight and 106 — and Prep won both to make the score a little more convincing.
Pin of the year: Rian Lamanteer, Delsea — Lamanteer used his trademade spladle to deck Clearview’s Rob Wittman on Jan. 5 in the final bout of the South Jersey Duals finals. The pin gave Delsea its trademark win and set them on the path to being the No. 1 team in South Jersey.
Bout of the year: Schalick’s Dylan Manno vs. Kingsway’s Rory Bushby — The 152-pound consolation final at District 31 may not have featured household names or any gold medals, but it did have five tied scores, a stalling call and triple overtime. Bushby prevailed, 10-9, with a rideout in the final overtime, but not before both wrestlers looked to nearly put the other to their back in the final 30 seconds.
This award typically goes to a district consolation final, and not just because the bouts are fresh on the mind, but because there’s so much on the line and they typically have the most passion and guts of any round in the entire tournament. Region semifinals are a close second though.
Most valuable wrestler: Dylan Dobzanski, Delsea — Sure, his younger cousin Bryan had more team points (180 to 166) during the season, but Dylan wrestled three different weight classes, competing anywhere from 170 to 195, often giving up a healthy chuck of weight to his opponents.
Top freshman: Keith Mahoney, Millville — His district tournament didn’t go the way he wanted with the 138-pounder being upset in the quarterfinals, but he still won 25 matches for an 18-win Thunderbolt team.
Lifetime achievement award: Doug Castellari, Buena — The coach of 24 years is unlikely to return as the team’s leader for a 25th season. He hasn’t ruled out the possibility of returning in a limited capacity. He’ll finish with 318 wins, which ranks 10th all-time in South Jersey.
What are you listening to?
Vineland’s Josh Pineda is a two-time district finalist, and the sophomore is now a district champion after Saturday, when he won the title at 106. So what does Vineland’s newest district champ listen to before matches?
“I usually listen to rap and R&B, sometimes I listen to rock a little bit, just to get me pumped up,” he said.
What was he listening to before he stepped onto the mat before Saturday’s finals?
“Honestly, I forget,” Pineda said. “I was just pumped once the match started and before it too. I was just ready to go out there and win it.”
As Greg Halikman’s season and career record were read during spotlight introductions at District 31 Saturday, the crowd let out a bit of a laugh. That’s because the Delsea junior’s only varsity matches came earlier that day.
He went 2-0 to reach the finals, upsetting second-seeded Todd Batten, of Woodstown, from his No. 7 seed at heavyweight in the quarterfinals before beating Millville’s Fred DeMary to ensure a spot at regions.
Most other wrestlers had single-digit losses on the year and a few have over 100 wins, so hearing such a small number caught the fans off guard.
“I was laughing,” Halikman said. “I don’t know, it was pretty cool.”
Halikman missed the bulk of the season with a high ankle sprain suffered during the football season. He was cleared a few weeks ago, but wasn’t ready to hit the mats until Saturday.
“It felt pretty good to be out there,” Halikman said.
It was exciting for the Crusader faithful to see the heavyweight in action finally.
“To see him go out there and see him perform from such a low seed, it’s pretty exciting,” Delsea coach Greg Sawyer said.
Sawyer said he knew Halikman had potential, but he hadn’t had the chance to really prove it.
“I don’t think many people expected it at all,” Sawyer said. “We knew he was tough and solid, but he’s coming into his junior year now and it’s been hard to get a read on him. I think he turned a lot of heads.”
Worth the wait
The most anticipated finals matchup at District 31 was the final one of the day — which should come as no surprise despite it being a “random draw.”
Delsea’s Dylan Dobzanski beat Penns Grove’s Nick Elmer 3-2 in the 170-pound final. It was a bout that featured wrestlers who are now a combined 70-2.
Dobzanski took the early lead in the bout with a first-period takedown.
“As soon as I got my first takedown, I knew that was going to be key for the match,” Dobzanski said.
That didn’t mean the match was easy from that point on for Dobzanski.
“Every time I got on his legs, I felt like the weight of the world was on me,” Dobzanski said. “He’s a very athletic kid. It was a great match.”
Dobzanski was also warned for stalling in the third period, meaning he had to be careful and remain aggressive down the stretch.
“Those last 10 seconds were really scary, but I was just happy to get the ‘W,'” Dobzanski said.
Log on, follow along
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