ATLANTIC CITY – Twelve wrestlers from Region VI, including four from Brick Memorial, advanced to the semifinals of the NJSIAA Individual Championships Saturday afternoon at Boardwalk Hall.
The number of semifinalists is seven more than Region VI had last year, when the Shore Conference did not have a state finalist for the first time since 1970.
Brick Memorial is 9-0 so far this weekend after semifinal wins from sophomore Gianni Ghione (113), senior Alec Donovan (145), senior Cliff Ruggiero (160) and sophomore Nick Rivera (heavyweight).
There are six wrestlers from the Brick Township schools in the semifinals as Brick seniors Will Scott (160) and Dean Sherry (182) also advanced.
Christian Brothers Academy is the other Region VI school with two semifinalists as freshman Richie Koehler (106) and junior Sebastian Rivera (113) also advanced.
Region VI’s other semifinalists are Toms River South junior Owen McClave (120), Jackson Liberty senior Mike Russo (126), Keansburg senior Tyree Sutton (195) and Jackson Memorial senior Brody Graham (heavyweight).
All semifinalists have clinched a top six finish.
All of Brick Memorial’s wrestlers were impressive.
Ghione put top bracket No. 1 seed Alec Kelly, the third-place finisher at 106 last year, to his back twice and majored him 16-5. He will wrestle Morris Knolls’ Garrett O’Shea in the semifinal
Donovan, the state seventh-place finisher last year at 145, rode top bracket top seed Travis Vasquez out in the second period, reversed him in the third period and then pinned him with 30 seconds left. Vasquez was third in the state last year at 138. He will wrestle High Point’s Jason Gaccione in the semifinal.
Ruggiero threw Clearview’s Ed Lenkowski to his back and pinned him in 44 seconds. Ruggiero will wrestle Phillipsburg’s Max Elling in the semifinal.
Rivera recorded two takedowns in recording a 5-0 win over River Dell’s Joe Longobardi. He will wrestle Sayreville’s Anthony Porcaro in the semifinal.
Scott put on a titling exhibition in defeating Piscataway’s Michael Petite by technical fall in 3:25. He will wrestle DePaul’s Dave McFadden, last year’s state champion at 145, in the semifinal.
Sherry defeated DePaul’s Nick DePalma, 6-4. He will meet top bracket No. 1 seed Kevin Mulligan in the semifinal.
Rivera defeated New Milford’s John Burger, 5-2. He will wrestle bottom bracket No. 1 seed Brandon Cray of Hamilton East in the semifinal.
Koehler, who was the No. 5 seed in the Region VI Tournament before he won the region title, defeated Nick Duca of Paulsboro, 8-4 with a takedown in the third period and then two backpoints.
He will meet Delbarton’s Pat Glory in the semifinal. Glory defeated top bracket No. 1 seed Jonathan Tropea, 12-10, in overtime on a takedown at the buzzer after Tropea had rallied from a 7-2 third period deficit and forced overtime on a takedown at the buzzer.
McClave defeated Hanover Park’s Lou Raimo, 3-1, on takedown with four seconds left in overtime. He will meet two-time state champion and unbeaten for his career Nick Suriano in the semifinal.
Russo, a two-time state top four finisher, reversed Randolph’s A.J. Vindici in the third period after he rode Vindici out in the second period and then held off a Vindici takedown attempt at the right edge of the mat in the final seconds to record a 2-1 win.
He will meet Hanover Park’s two-time state champion Anthony Cefolo in the semifinal. Cefolo defeated Russo 2-1 in double overtime last year in the semifinal. Cefolo pinned Bergen Catholic’s Pete Lipari with one second left in the second portion of the second overtime after Lipari had reversed him earlier in that portion
Sutton advanced to the semifinal for the second straight year with a 6-2 win over St. Joseph (Montvale’s) Michael Carfagno. Sutton will wrestle Queen of Peace’s Jeff Velez.
Graham reversed St. Peter’s Prep Jose Palomino in the second period for a 2-0 victory. He will wrestle Don Bosco Prep’s two-time state runner-up Zach Chakonis in the semifinal.
Steven Falk: 732-643-4267; email@example.com