Mat Rats I grapplers still unbeaten heading into War at the Shore


Brick Recreation Mat Rats wrestlers are heading into the heart of their schedule in the Jersey Shore Junior League and will host the War at the Shore starting at 9 a.m. on Jan. 30 at Veterans Memorial Middle School.

Along with defending champion Brick Mat Rats I, the tournament includes Mat Rats II, Old Bridge, Paulsboro, Kittatinny, and Roselle Park. Toms River has given a tentative commitment, leaving an opening for one more team.

“It looks pretty good,” said Pete Anderson, one of the coaches for Mat Rats I that has five wrestlers who still are unbeaten. “With the other teams coming down, Kittatinny and Paulsboro always enter a strong team. And Roselle Park is never a slouch, either. They’re always in the running. I think we should do well in that tournament.”

Two weeks later, Mat Rats I will compete in the Jersey Shore Junior team tournament and the following week in the individuals tournament at Long Branch.

Mat Rats I remained unbeaten at 10-0 on Saturday by sweeping Marlboro, 78-26, and Old Bridge, 78-21, as Dan Rackliffe at 76 pounds and Rob Ruggiero at 130 each had two pins to remain unbeaten. Also with two pins were Jon Ghione (68), Kyle Wojtaszek (90) and Brian Matthews (106). Other unbeaten wrestlers who each had one pin amid their two victorious matches were Joe Ghione at 95 pounds, Cliff Ruggiero at 122 and heavyweight Nick Zbranak.

Brothers Carmine and Kyle Marino, 52 pounds and 72 pounds, respectively, also each had a pin and a winning decision on the day. Brian Alexander (56) and Nick Costa (150) each won two decisions.

“Mat Rats I and II from the middle to the top weights looks strong,” Anderson said. “From 76 pounds up, especially 95 [pounds] to heavyweights, have been the high point all year for them.”

Mat Rats II under coaches Jay Sherry and Tom Donovan split its matches, beating Old Bridge, 61-33, and losing to Marlboro, 54-36, to slip to 7-4. Dominick Spampanato led the way with two pins at 130 pounds. Dean Sherry won his two bouts via pin and major decision to remain unbeaten at 95 pounds. Dante Vega included a pin in his two victories at 140 pounds.

Also going 2-0 on the day were John Strich (52), Sean DeCoursey (64) and Eric Romano (76). MatRats III, competing in the Jersey Shore Junior League’s B Division, dropped both ends of its double-dual meet, falling to Long Branch, 75-27, and Shore, 63-27, although heavyweight Justin Szuba pinned both of his opponents. Matt Schleifer at 76 pounds and Nick Pollara at 100 each had a pin and a winning decision, and Matt Wardlaw at 56 pounds won a pair of decisions.

Mat Rats I and II play host to Toms River and Lacey on Jan. 23 in Jersey Shore Junior League action starting at 9 a.m. at Veterans Memorial Middle School.