The Long Branch High School wrestling team got the winter started with a first-place finish at the Neptune Classic, showing off a strong senior class that is expected to carry the Green Wave this season.
The Green Wave secured the team title with 151.5 points, just in front of North Hunterdon High School (150.0). Fellow Shore Conference member Raritan High School (143.5) placed third.
The championship was led by Lamont Reid, a Green Wave senior. Reid took the gold medal at 182 pounds, while seniors Danny Mullan (152), Mike Shohet (170) and Joey Jasio (heavyweight) earned second place finishes in their respective weight classes. Bronze medals went to Rey Guzman (106), a freshman, and T.J. Conlon (138), another senior.
Long Branch’s veterans will be a major weapon for a team that has few returning starters in lower weight classes.
Reid, Mullan, Shohet and Jasio each recorded 20-win seasons in the previous campaign. Reid led the team with 29 wins, followed closely by Jasio’s 28 successful bouts. The Green Wave has more senior leadership in Conlon, Danny Rios, Vincent Vacarro, Alex Acevedo and John Tomlinson. Juniors Hunter Marhan and Justin Navarro are also in the mix for the top half of the roster. Below 132 pounds is where Long Branch gets younger, although the team sees plenty of upside. Guzman began his high school career on a high note, and sophomore transfer Chris Dean had a standout season as a Shore Regional High School freshman, compiling a 34-7 record and taking second place at 106 pounds in District 23.
The season-opening victory is also an early sign that the defending Shore Conference B North Division champions are primed for another championship run. In a 20-5 season a year ago, the Green Wave advanced as far as the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III semifinals. The team amassed the second-best point total at the competitive NJSIAA District 22 tournament, where Long Branch had seven medalists. The Green Wave even added a silver medal from the Grapple at the Garden.
But it will not be an easy ride to a fourth consecutive division title, given the presence of formidable opposition, including Ocean Township High School and Wall Township High School.
Long Branch faces a tough road in the state tournament as well. The team was moved up to Group IV after spending just one season in Group III. The shift puts Long Branch into competition with Jackson Liberty High School, Jackson Memorial High School and Brick Township High School for a sectional crown.