MIDDLETOWN – Kris Lindemann said he and his teammates on the Howell High School wrestling team had heard the rumblings that people felt the Rebels’ dominance in Shore Conference Class A North could be threatened Friday night by Christian Brothers Academy.
“We weren’t going to let that stop here,” said Lindemann, a junior 138-pounder. “We knew CBA was talking. We knew people thought they (CBA) had a chance.”
Howell, ranked No. 1 in the Asbury Park Press Top 10, made an emphatic statement that is still the king of the Class A North mountain with an impressive 42-14 win over No. 3 CBA.
The Rebels (8-0, 3-0) are now on track for their 10th consecutive Class A North championship. They have not lost a divisional match since 2005, when Ocean, which had powerful teams from 2004-2008, was in the division.
CBA (8-1, 3-1) had impressed in the early season, especially with its win over No. 4 Brick last Saturday.
“It (the threat CBA appeared to pose before the match) motivated us,” Lindemann said. “We knew we weren’t going to let that happen.”
Lindemann, the state sixth-place finisher last year at 132, got the ball rollling Friday night when he bumped up to 145 and pinned Ben Kuhn with a spladle in 4:31. Kuhn recorded the first takedown before Lindemann took over. He put Kuhn to his back four times.
“I knew I was going to start out with a big win, get the team pumped and get the motivation going,” Lindemann said.
Howell coach John Gagliano said he and his coaching staff decided before the match to bump Lindemann, regardless if the Rebels won the flip or not. CBA did win the flip. The move to bump Lindemann also meant on the back end, Nick Ciaccia and Gagliano’s son Anthony Gagliano bumped up to 132 and 138 respectively. They both won in the final two bouts.
“That was our move for the day,” Gagliano said. “We just felt we needed to do that matchup. We needed to set the tone.”
The Rebels, who earlier this season defeated defending NJSIAA Group IV champion Phillipsburg and routed South Plainfield last week, also won most of the tossup bouts in the upper weights.
Nick Lurski (170) rode out Justin Kieslor in the third period for a 1-0 win. Kieslor was 12-2 entering the bout.
Austin Silverstein (182) recorded a reversal with two seconds left in the first period and four takedowns in the final two periods to defeat Jack LaCorte, 12-8. LaCorte was 10-3 entering the bout.
And at heavyweight, Ryan Demian pinned Alex Petrocelli 23 seconds into the third period after the bout was tied 3-3 heading into the final period. Petrocelli was 10-3 entering the bout.
By the time, the match hit the lowerweights, which is the strength of Howell’s lineup, the Rebels led 27-6.
“We told them (before the match), ‘There’s going to be tossup bouts that we have to grind and we have to work,’ ” Gagliano said.
Howell showed the balance and depth it has in its lineup.
Lindemann and freshman 106-pounder Kyle Slendorn, who recorded a hard-fought 7-4 win over CBA’s impressive-looking freshman Richie Koehler, are the standouts in the lineup. But, the Rebels have a wrestler at every weight, who is capable of winning a bout given the right matchup.
The Rebels were solid from all positions, neutral, defense and especially effective from the top position.
“I don’t think we have any holes in our lineup,” Lindemann said. “Every kid has heart when they go out on the mat.”
“We stress all the time about having depth and balance,” Gagliano said. “It’s important. It’s what I believe in.”
Howell will have no time to rest on its laurels. Saturday night, it will host No. 6 Southern in the final match of a tri-match that will also see both teams wrestle Robbinsville. The match could be a preview of a potential NJSIAA South Group V match. Southern defeated Howell twice last year, including in the Group IV semifinal.
Steven Falk: 732-643-4267; firstname.lastname@example.org