Ritchings, Corio capture Region 5 titles for Bears

By Richard Jerome


he East Brunswick High School wrestling team may have compiled an unspectacular 7-8 record, but Coach Glenn Pazinko’s Bears have plenty to be proud of. To begin with, their ledger is a significant improvement over last season’s 4-8 mark, and most recently two winners in the NJSIAA Region 5 tournament.

Sophomore 112-pounder Keith Ritchings won a 5-4 decision over Bridgewater’s Josh Shearer, while at 171 pounds senior Tom Corio came back from a 5-4 deficit with a reversal and a takedown posting a 9-7 triumph over Sal Iodaci of Old Bridge, whom he’d defeated four times previously.

"Keith is wrestling his best right now," Pazinko said of Ritchings, who is 24-6 and placed third in the region last year as a freshman and is making his second trip to the states.

"There are a lot of tough kids in his division," noted the coach. "Keith has worked very hard in the off-season and has turned out to be a very smart tactical wrestler."

In last night’s Super Regions meet, Ritchings was slated to face the winner of a match between Brad Galeta of Bound Brook (31-4) and Rob Jimenez of Brick Memorial, who is 28-3.

As for the 27-1 Corio, Pazinko feels he has only begun to reach his peak.

"He’s had a tremendous year, his one loss coming in the county finals," he said. "If you look at the other regional champs, he’s right there with them, and yet I don’t even think he’s wrestling as well as he can. Tom’s a tough kid who won’t back down, but I think he’ll perform even better than he has."

Corio got his next chance last night against either Rudy Medini of Woodbridge (27-3) or Jake Butler, who has a 25-7 mark for Point Pleasant Beach.

East Brunswick had some other fine efforts by its grapplers. Junior heavyweight Dennis Bruno placed fourth in the regions and has run up an excellent 17-8 record.

At 189, junior James Gagnon was second in the districts, while 215-pound junior Adam Fleischhauer was second.

Two other 11th-graders, Nick Yannazzo (130) and Mark Blackborow (119), were third in district competition, as was freshman John Clay, who grapples at the 152-pound level.

The Bears have another freshman, Brian Ackerman, who has shown solid potential.

"He’s wrestled well in a tough weight class," said Pazinko, who is assisted by Joe Csatari, Andy Scanlon, freshman coach Mike Vinella and eighth-grade boss Jay Adochio.