The trophy case is filling up awful quickly for Don Bosco Prep senior Sal Mastriani.
Coming off another Non-Public Group IV title and the nation's No. 1 ranking as a linebacker for the Ironmen football team, Mastriani kept rolling by capturing the 152-pound title at the prestigious Beast of the East Wrestling Tournament this past Saturday at the University of Delaware.
Mastriani entered the season ranked 16th in the nation at 152 and was seeded second for the tournament after placing in the top eight as a junior. He pinned his first three opponents before defeating No. 7 Tyler Manion of Pittsburgh Central Catholic 9-2 in the quarterfinals, downing No. 11 Garrett Peppelman of Central Dauphin (Pa.) 5-3 in overtime in the semifinals and finally topping Blair Academy's Russell Parsons, 5-3, in the championship bout.
Mastriani should certainly be able to build off this great tournament run. He was already a pick to contend for a state championship this season and could not have sent a better message to start the season.
While Mastriani was the only New Jersey champion (excluding Blair Academy as the No. 1 team in the nation is not an NJSIAA school) the Garden State had a strong showing overall at the Beast of the East. Bergen Catholic standout sophomore Johnny Sebastian placed second at 160 pounds, falling to second-seeded Zach Epperly of Christianburg (Va.) in the final.
Sebastian, the No. 5 seed, was leading 4-2 in the second period before Epperly took him to his back for the fall. St. Peter's Prep senior Anthony Pafumi finished third at 170 pounds, beating Tyler Rill of Mount St. Joseph in the consolation final. Pafumi lost to top-seed and eventual champion Eric Morris from Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) in the semifinals but bounced back with two straight wins to take third.
Pafumi's teammate, senior Lenny Richardson, finished fourth at 145. Also taking fourth was North Bergen's Anthony Giraldo at 120 pounds, Bergen Catholic's Connor Melde at 132 and Jackson Memorial's Dallas Winston at 182.
Coming in fifth was Hanover Park's Anthony Cefalo at 106, Jackson Memorial's Brad Royle at 132, Delbarton's Jorge Lopez at 138 and Don Bosco Prep freshman Zach Chakonis at 220. Timber Creek's Ricky Carter (120), Delbarton's Nick Anderson (126), Northern Burlington's Wayne Stinson (152) and Don Bosco's Razohnn Gross (195) each placed eighth.
Jackson Memorial, ranked No. 2 in the MSG Varsity Power Rankings, had the highest finish for an NJSIAA school with 92.5 points for ninth place. Third-ranked Bergen Catholic was right behind the Jaguars in 10th place with 86 points. St. Peter's Prep finished 12th, Don Bosco 19th and Delbarton tied for 22nd in the nearly 100-team field.
We aren't even one full week into the season and already we are being treated to some highly-anticipated matches between ranked teams.
No. 5 Brick Memorial and No. 2 Jackson Memorial tangled on Wednesday night in a Shore Conference Class A South matchup with the Jaguars taking a 35-24 victory over the host Mustangs.
Brick Memorial was without junior 195-pounder Matt Moore, who injured his collarbone on Saturday and is out 4-to-6 weeks, and the Jaguars took full advantage by taking weights 182 through heavyweight. Seniors Corey Johnson at 220 and Mike Lopez at heavyweight came through with a pair of clutch decisions to help the Jaguars dig out of an early double-digit deficit.
The Jaguars won eight bouts and picked up key pins from juniors Alex Huxford (106) and Brian Hamann (126) and got bonus points via major decisions by Brad Royle and Spencer Young at 132 and 138 pounds.
This is most likely just the first chapter in this season's edition of this great Shore Conference rivalry. The two teams could meat again in the Shore Conference Tournament and will likely have to get by each other in the Central Jersey Group IV tournament. Also, the victory was the first for new Jaguars head coach Aaron Gottesman, so congratulations go out to him.
Flying under the radar a bit is tonight's match between No. 9 Franklin and No. 11 Phillipsburg at the infamous 'Pit”. Not only is this a pair of ranked teams, but holds major implications in the North Jersey Section 2, Group IV state bracket. Franklin advanced to the North 2, Group IV title match last season with a 30-28 win over Hillsborough, but that result was reversed when it was discovered that one of Franklin's wrestlers competed at a weight for which he was not certified at.
The resulting forfeit knocked the Warriors from the tournament. Phillipsburg was in North 1 last season and advanced all the way to the Group IV final. A potential standout matchup may occur at 220 pounds with Phillipsburg state medalist Brandon Hull taking on state qualifier Anthony Messner.
Down to the wire
The roofs of a pair of gymnasiums must have nearly blown off in Morris County on Wednesday night as Roxbury and Morris Knolls earned victories with wins in the final bout.
Unranked Morris Knolls stunned No. 7 Delbarton, 30-29, by taking the final six bouts to erase a 23-point deficit. The Green Wave, the defending Non-Public A champs, raced out to a 29-6 lead thanks to pins by Nick Anderson at 126, Matt Davis a 132 and Josef Johnson at 152 and a technical fall by Max Rogers at 120. Morris Knolls got a key win from senior Jan Rosenberg at 113 pounds when he knocked off fellow state medalist Christian Innarella, 5-4.
Steven Weis started the comeback with a 5-2 win at 160 and decisions by Jon Malazinsky at 170 and Mike Rettino at 182 cut Delbarton's lead to 29-15. Mike Burns came through with a clutch pin at 195 to make it 29-21 before K.C. Smith's 8-4 win over Aaron Slodowitz at 220 pounds pulled Morris Knolls to withing 29-24. In the final bout of the match, Jermaine Eluemunor pinned Corben Davis in 25 seconds to give Morris Knolls the stunning one-point victory.
Randolph and Roxbury added another chapter to their great rivalry when Roxbury won 30-28 on Jake Legotte's 8-1 decision over Jake Federico at 126 pounds. Randolph trailed 27-16 before three consecutive victories gave them a 28-27 lead heaving into the final bout. Roxbury, the defending North 2, Group III sectional champs, only had to send 12 wrestlers to the mat as Randolph forfeited at 182 and heavyweight yet was still able to split the bouts at seven. Roxbury survived, but Mike Suk's Rams proved they will be in the hunt for a sectional title despite their youth.
Christian Brothers Academy senior Vin Favia won his 100th career match on Saturday on his way to capturing first place at 160 pounds in the CBA-hosted Colt Classic. Favia currently has 102 wins and is in line to break the program's victories mark established by three-time state finalist Dave Santamaria, who won 123 bouts from 1995-1998.
Bob Badders covers wrestling for MSG Varsity. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @Bob_Badders