Brick swimmers shine in Ocean County championships

BY WAYNE WITKOWSKI Staff Writer

Brick Memorial High School’s Peter Kellner expected to be “in the top two” in the 500-yard freestyle at the Jan. 9 Ocean County swim championships at the Ocean County YMCA in Toms River.

That prediction didn’t leave much wiggle room. But Kellner left little doubt as he won the 500 in a school record 4:53, decisively smashing his own previous mark of 5:01.

“He was just consistent all the way through,” Brick Memorial boys coach Don McCarrick said. “I feel good for him that he realized training pays off.”

McCarrick’s sophomore star was pressed by a swimmer from Toms River High School North, who led through the first half of the race before Kellner won by a six-second margin.

And it didn’t stop there. Kellner came in second in the 100-yard breaststroke in :58.02, two seconds off the winning time. What made that all the more impressive was that Kellner had raced the last heat in the individual medley and then the fourth heat in the backstroke, so he didn’t have much time to rest.

Zack Milko was sixth in the 100 butterfly in :58.7. Both swimmers swam the opening legs in the medley relay that finished fourth, along with Jay Spiegel and Tom Vroman. McCarrick also praised the efforts of distance freestylers Nick Brown and Tim Choma.

As for Brick Township High School’s boys team, Tyler Huizing was second in the individual medley in 2:03.74 and second in the butterfly in :55.93, both personal best times.Nick Essington was third in the 200 freestyle in 1:57.98 and fifth in the 500 in 4:58.23. His brother Matt was third in the 100 free in a personal best :51.25 and also placed in the 50 as the Green Dragons placed eighth in the team standings.

“They all swam very well and dropped their times, with 25 of 28 having their best times,” coach Barbara Floyd said.

She also praised Andrew Bajor with a fine 1:11.97 in the backstroke and Kon Goulas with a 1:02.57 time in the 100 free.A

s for the girls, Brick Memorial’s Sonya Pearce broke the school record in the 50 free with a :26.43 that tied her for third place. She was seventh in the 100 free in :58.35, just two hundredths of a second off the school record.

Pearce also swam the butterfly on the medley relay that finished eighth in 2:09.14, just one hundredth of a second off the school record.

Abby Wulfekotte led it off in the backstroke, her sister Jesse anchored in the freestyle, and Shanna Rodgers swam the breaststroke.

Rodgers was ninth in the 500 free in 6:07.95. She swam on the 200 free relay with the Wulfekotte sisters and Pearce that clocked a school record 1:52.51. That time was good for sixth place, but the team was later disqualified because of movement on the starting block.

“I thought the girls did a really nice job, one of their best showings in the last five years,” coach Todd Estelle said.

Estelle praised the efforts of Deanna Amodeo (1:21.47) and Jessica Urciuoli (1:21.77) in the butterfly and Kim Rusoff (1:34.43) in the backstroke. Jesse Wulkekotte clocked a :27.98 in the 50 free that qualified her for the Shore Conference championships next month in that event.

BMHS’s DiGiacomo bowls a third 300 career game

BY WAYNE WITKOWSKI Staff Writer

Franklin DiGiacomo believes that every bowler “has a week,” and last week the Brick Memorial High School junior had his.

DiGiacomo bowled his third-ever 300 game, first in the Shore Conference A South, and had three 700 series last week to move to the top of the conference in average with a 228 coming into this week. The Mustangs, who finished first in A South last year, lead the way at 25-2.

“I didn’t know it [a 300 game] would come that early in the season, but I felt it as soon as I got to my eighth or ninth shot,” said DiGiacomo, who was clean all the way through on his 300 in the first game of a 732 series of a sweep against Toms River High School South on Jan. 5. He also had a sanctioned 300 game and a nonsanctioned one, both in open league play.

“We had no doubt about it. He was right on,” coach Mike Russomano said.

And DiGiacomo came close again last Thursday when he reeled off strikes on his first four balls and settled for a 279 game in a 783 series against Manchester. He ended the week with a 718 against Lakewood on Friday.

DiGiacomo and his teammates, who won NJSIAA Group IV South and Group IV titles last year, are looking to defend their Brick Tournament title that takes place at 9 a.m. Saturday at Ocean Lanes.

“We’re ready,” Russomano said. “We have our sights set on this.”

His team is slated to play Toms River High School North on Jan. 12 and Brick Township High School on Thursday in a match-postponed match from last month, because of snow.

“We really wanted to do well in the Winter Classic [a fourth-place finish on Jan. 9 at Carolier Lanes in South Brunswick] but didn’t do as well as we should have,” Russomano said. “We had a little bit of an off day and missed some spares.”

Dominick Romano was tied for second in high game for the tournament with a 279 and had a 715 series, which was second highest. The Mustangs led after the first game, slipped back in the second and recovered in the third game, but not enough to make up all of the lost ground.

But this is a new week, and confidence remains high with the Mustangs.

“I’m pretty sure we’re going to win the Brick Tournament again,” DiGiacomo said.

And with good reason.

Brick Memorial has five of the top six bowlers in A South, based on average, with Domenick Luongo and Dominick Romano following with 225 averages, Brandon Barboza just one pin behind in fourth and Matt Clark in sixth place with a 213 average.

“We’re just as good now as last year when we won the state championship,” DiGiacomo said. “We lost one starter, and Matt Clark came up from the junior varsity and is keeping up the standard. I felt this could be a great year, and we just have to make sure our shots stay consistent.”

Brick Township High School girls, meanwhile, lead Shore Conference A South with a 22-2 record and are ready to shoot for the top of the Brick Tournament, which has a loaded bracket for the morning and afternoon sessions. Brick Township was third last year. Brick Memorial girls coach David Thompson is league secretary.

“We’re doing pretty good,” said coach Linda Sarraf whose team finished third in the Winter Classic last Saturday after sitting in second place midway through behind Ashley Lane, who had the second highest game with a 255 and a 693 series. Freshman Sydney Scelfo chipped in with a 247 game and a 592 series. Brick Memorial finished in fourth place.

“We bowled very well in the Winter Classic, and I’m very happy,” Sarraf said. “The competition was absolutely fantastic. I’m very pleased with how they have done this season. We have six girls who are very strong, but everybody has to perform their very best in our [Brick] Tournament. What I like is their team concept. They stay in the game and don’t lose their composure.”

Brick Township was third in the Brick Tournament last year and this season has three bowlers among the top four in the Shore Conference in A South on average. Kaitlyn Nardiello leads the conference with a 209 average and Scelfo is second at 204 while Katarina Kiseli is fourth at 202 coming into this week.

Photo


Brick Township High School’s Tyler Huizing plows through the butterfly portion of the 200-yard individual medley race during the Ocean County swimming championships at the Ocean County YMCA in Toms River on Jan. 9. See story, page 14. CHRIS KELLY staff Brick Township High School’s Tyler Huizing plows through the butterfly portion of the 200-yard individual medley race during the Ocean County swimming championships at the Ocean County YMCA in Toms River on Jan. 9. See story, page 14. CHRIS KELLY staff

Both high schools have good shot at NJSIAA hockey quarterfinals

BY WAYNE WITKOWSKI Staff Writer

It’s more than a rivalry this time around. For the first time in recent years, the midseasonmatch up between Brick Memorial and Brick Township high schools slated for Jan. 11 at the Ocean Ice Palace pitted two teams enjoying great starts that are likely to qualify for the NJSIAA Tournament.

Both made it last year and ended their seasons in the NJSIAA Public School quarterfinals. But the solid start by both teams make it a likely bet that they will return this year, which adds some bite to the cross-town showdown.

“The boys have a lot of hustle and are working together as a team,” said Brick Township coach Bob Auriemma, whose team came into the week with a 7-0-2 mark. “They need to stay out of the penalty box and play solid defense.”

Brick Township’s Green Dragons remained unbeaten after a 3-3 tie against Red Bank Catholic on Jan. 8. Red Bank scored the equalizer in the final minute. The Dragons walloped Toms River East, 11-1, earlier last week.

They succeed with the reliable goaltending of Ed Rafferty and Dylan Beaver, who are alternating starts in the nets, and the balanced scoring of Ryan Graf, Connor Noonan, Mike Auriemma, Brendan Dowd and Matt Gumina and defensemen Patrick Kearns, Brian Murphy and Tyler Martin. Graf has been playing with a bruised knee.

Brick Memorial, meanwhile, comes into the week with an 8-3 record that includes a 4- 3 victory over Middletown South, the team that beat the Mustangs in the Handchen Cup finals by the same 4-3 score last season.

“I think we’re playing pretty good hockey,” coach Chip Bruce said. “We played pretty well defensively against Middletown South. I’m pleased with where we are.”

Adam Person scored with :16 left in the second period for a 4-2 lead over Middletown South. Anthony Lobianco scored his teamleading 16th goal, and Sean Hogan connected for his first of two goals for a 2-0 first-period lead. Middletown South pulled to 2-1 before Hogan struck again with less than two minutes left for a 3-1 lead. Middletown South made it 3-2 when Person struck for his key goal. Kevin Talty made 26 saves and has been steady in goal with defensive support from Jason Franceschini and Tom Lindquist.

“The boys are ready,” said Bruce, whose team is off after Monday’s game until next Monday afternoon, when they host Toms River East. “If we play good solid hockey for three periods, we do well.”

There were times in the past when the Mustangs had lapses that left them shorthanded in breakouts by opposing teams and costly penalties in losses. But the Mustangs have minimized those problems and have won their last three games.

Mat Rats update

Dan Rackliffe at 76 pounds and Cliff Ruggiero at 122 pounds pinned both of their opponents as Brick Recreation Mat Rats I swept Bayshore Youth Athletic Association I, 53- 39, and Hazlet, 70-24, in recent Jersey Shore Junior League action.

Kyle Marino (72 pounds) scored a pin and a major decision, and Brian Alexander (56), Jon Ghione (68), Jack Baker (80), Rob Ruggiero (130), Nick Costa (150) and heavyweight Nick Zbranak each included a pin in two wins. Christian Caselli (100) won by a technical fall and a decision in his two matches as Mat Rats I stretched its unbeaten record to 8-0. Joe Ghione (95) decisioned his two opponents.

Mat Rats II split its two matches, beating Hazlet, 51-38, and losing to BYAA I, 67-32, to go to 6-3. Eric Romano (76) pinned both opponents while Kadin Hickman (56) and Logan Sprague (80) each included a pin in two wins. Dean Sherry won his two bouts by a pin and a technical fall. Conner Mulligan (90), Matt Lyon (100) and Ryan Jachim (114) each won by a pair of decisions.

Mat Rats II lost to Ocean, 60-36, and beat Rumson, 78-24, to go to 6-3 as Matt Schleifer pinned both of his opponents.

— Wayne Witkowski

BMHS swimmers gear up for O.C. championships

BY WAYNE WITKOWSKI Staff Writer

BRICK TOWNSHIP — Peter Kellner of Brick Memorial High School’s boys swim team will be in familiar surroundings when he competes for the Mustangs in the Ocean County championships at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 9.

The girls compete at 3 p.m. on Sunday, with Brick Memorial senior co-captains Sonya Pearce in the sprint freestyles and Shanna Rodgers in the distance freestyle events leading the way.

Kellner exudes confidence as he looks to surpass last year’s third-place finish in the 500 freestyle for the boys team.

“I’m looking to be at least in the top two in the 500 freestyle and the top three in the 100 backstroke,” the talented sophomore said.K

ellner set a school record 5:01 in the 500 freestyle in a dual meet against Jackson Memorial High School before the Christmas break, the only time he was pressed in that event all season. And he has a season-best :58.2 in the backstroke that puts him in the company of the top contenders. Both times, he easily made the cut for the Shore Conference championships coming up in March.

And Kellner will be swimming at the same pool where he competes for the Ocean County YMCA team. He qualified for the state Y championships in March in the 100 and 200 butterfly events, the 200 backstroke, and the 200 and 500 freestyle events.

“That program helped me get ready for this season because of all the dry-land work we did beforehand,” Kellner said.

“He’s one of the top six in the 500 in the county,” Brick Memorial coach Don McCarrick said. “He’s maturing physically and has a great attitude toward the sport. He could be a [NCAA] Division I prospect.”

Zack Milko, another Brick Memorial sophomore with experience as a year-round swimmer with the Atlantic Club team, has qualified for the Shore Conference meet with a 1:01 time in the butterfly and a 2:12 in the individual medley. Milko and Kellner will swim on the medley and 400 freestyle relay teams.

Kellner also is excited about his high school teammates, who have performed better than the 3-2 record in dual meets thus far would indicate. The team is rebuilding from last year, when it had its first winning season at 8-3.

“Things are going pretty well, which shows what kind of team we have,” said McCarrick, whose team’s only losses so far were to defending Ocean County champion Toms River High School South and a close loss to Jackson Memorial High School.

“I’m just happy with how we’re doing, because we lost so many seniors from last year,” Kellner said. “But I’m not surprised.

We were confident going into the season.”

Certainly, there is a dedicated supporting cast inspired by the team’s success last season.

“That gave them reason to work harder,” McCarrick said. “Success breeds success. They want to continue to do well. Our top guys set the example and give them the others the push to want to do that.”

Four seniors share the captain role. Nick Brow is a distance freestyler, Chris Pionegro qualified for the Shore Conference meet in the butterfly, Jay Spiegel qualified in both sprint freestyles, and Tom Vroman qualified in the breaststroke.

Tim Choma, a junior, qualified for the Shore Conference in the 500 free and can help in the distance events on Saturday.

“He grinds it out,” McCarrick said. “He always gets points for the team.”

Pat Brow, Nick’s brother, swims the sprint freestyles and the breaststroke. Pat Vaughn, a junior, swims the individual medley and the breaststroke.

“We lost 12 from last year’s team, but we have 11 juniors this year who will be coming back,” the coach said.

As for Brick Memorial’s girls, who are off to a 2-4 start in dual meets, Pearce and Rodgers each qualified for the Shore Conference meet in their two freestyles. They also will be the key for the Mustang girls in the county meet on Sunday in the medley and 200 freestyle relays, along with sisters Abby and Jesse Wulfekotte. Abby is a senior and Jesse is a junior.

“The thing is, their times have kept going down,” coach Todd Estelle said.

Kim Rusoff, a senior, swims the breaststroke and also is on the 400 freestyle relay with senior Stevie Schipani, junior Jessica Urciuoli and sophomore Jessica Dow.

DeAnne Hahn making her mark at University of Minnesota

BY WAYNE WITKOWSKI Staff Writer

DeAnne Hahn of Brick is revamping her style in the shot put as she trains for the start of the indoor track and field season at the University of Minnesota.

“I’ve switched to a spin (move),” said Hahn, whose glide move in high school rated her among the best in the nation and a perennial Meet of Champions medalist. “In practice, I’m hitting anywhere from 40 to 50 feet. I just started working on it in October.”

The new move takes some of the strain off her knees, she said.

“It’s brand new, but I’m not expecting a miracle,” Hahn said.

She will put it to the test in her first indoor meet Jan. 9, a four-team invitational at Minnnesota. It’s the only meet until the Big 10 championships in March.

“By outdoors, I’m hoping to throw in the 50s,” Hahn said. “The farthest I’ve thrown was 48-11, and that was gliding. Hopefully this will put a lot less stress on my body. I see better things coming from spinning than gliding.”

Although Hahn had her quietest indoor season of her career as a freshman at the University of Minnesota, she started recapturing the spotlight by the outdoor season last spring.

In the Big 10 championships, Hahn was third in the hammer throw with a measure of 176 feet, 6 inches, which put her 3 feet away from second place. She hit the best throw on her second attempt in the preliminaries. It was short of her 181-foot measure earlier this season that put her in sixth place on the all-time list at Minnesota.

“I felt good,” Hahn said. “It was a pretty decent throw.”

She also got the last medal spot in the shot put with an eighth-place distance of 46-6. In the discus, Hahn threw 137-1 for 13th place, leaving her short of reaching the final round.

Hahn’s efforts helped Minnesota finish in third place in the team championships. In the Midwest Region of the NCAA championships at the University of Oklahoma, Hahn fell short of advancing in the hammer throw with a 165-7 best for the day and in the shot put where she got off a fine throw of 46-9½.

Now, she is getting ready for the weight throw, an 8.8-pound weight on a metal trianglewith two chain links. Then, she gets ready for the outdoor season for the shot put and hammer throw, which has become her favorite event, as she had expected after graduating from high school.

Her interest in the hammer throw has prompted her to abandon the discus that she competed in for Minnesota last spring and where she perennially ranked among New Jersey’s high school elite outdoors. The hammer is a 20-pound weight on a 2-foot wire.

“You have to have a stronger back, a stronger core and tighter turns,” said Hahn, who remembers her high school days when her strength helped her get off some explosive throws in the shot put that electrified the crowds at the state meets.

She credits her development in the shot put to the coaching staff at Minnesota.

“(Bill) Brunner (her coach at Brick Township High School) was great and helped me get over the humps,” Hahn said. “I miss him so much. But here, I have a throwing coach and a weightlifting coach. I can’t ask for a better staff to help me move on to the next level.”

Mat Rats update

Kyle Marino pinned both opponents at 72 pounds, while Dan Rackliffe at 78 pounds, Brian Matthews at 107 and heavyweight Nick Zbranak raised their records to 60 as the unbeaten Brick Recreation Mat Rats I swept both matches in the Jersey Shore Junior Wrestling League at Stafford.

The double-dual meet was rescheduled from last month because of a scheduling conflict with Ocean County middle school wrestling teams competing in a major meet.

All three unbeaten wrestlers each had one pin as Mat Rats I beat Stafford I, 58- 26, and Barnegat, 81-15.

Jon Ghione (68) and Rob Ruggiero (130) each had a pin included in two wins.

Brian Alexander (56), Joe Ferigne (60), Joe Ghione (65), Cliff Ruggiero (122), Rob Triano (140) and Nick Costa (150) each won two bouts by decision. Joe Ghione, Cliff Ruggiero and Triano are 6-0.

Mat Rats II, meanwhile, beat Barnegat, 62-33, and lost to Stafford, 58-40, to slip to 4-2 on the season as Bill Breen (60) and Ryan Jachim (114) each had two pins. Kyle Wojtazzek (90) had a pin and a major decision. Alec Donovan (107) had one pin while Eric Romano (76) and Dan Sherry (95) each won two decisions.

Mat Rats I and II will host BYAA I and Hazlet, and Brick II will wrestle Ocean and Rumson at Colts Neck starting at 9 a.m. Jan. 9.

— Wayne Witkowski

BMHS girls basketball working to fill void

BY WAYNE WITKOWSKI Staff Writer

BRICK TOWNSHIP — It’s early for Brick Memorial High School girls basketball coach Rayna Post to get a reliable reading, especially with the havoc of postponements from the snowy weather during the first two weeks of the basketball season.

But Post is encouraged with what she has seen so far, despite her team’s 2-2 start.

“Jackie Caravella and Stephanie Fish are doing a good job doubling in the post and getting rebounds,” Post said. “When they do a good job of that, we do well. If not, it affects our game. It’ll come.”

What the Mustangs miss in their veteran lineup from last year that went all the way to the NJSIAA Group IV Central Jersey semifinals is the outside touch of Kathyrn Lamastra. Lamastra is now at Montclair State University, where she has scored 10 points in four games played for the 7-5 Red Hawks coming into this week.

“I think we’re doing OK,” said Post. “In our conference [Shore Conference A South], there are no easy games. We’re just missing some of that outside shooting we got from Kathryn Lamastra stepping up.”

But Post praised the “nice job” Kristen Brown has done running the offense at the point.

The Mustangs showed balance in their season-opener one-point victory over Toms River High School South, with three players hitting double figures.

Brick Memorial lost two games in its own holiday tournament against Mater Dei and Hunterdon Central, along with a victory in the tournament over Monroe. The title game was postponed because of the weather, but Mater Dei was declared tournament champion because of its record.

“Jessica Ball also is doing it in some games with rebounds and some points,” Post said. “It’s a good core group. They’re on or they’re off; there’s no in-between.”

As for the boys’ team, Brick Memorial lost in the finals of the WOBM Classic for the second straight year, this time to Shore ConferenceASouth rival Jackson Memorial High School, 57-43, on Dec. 30. Ironically, both teams were slated to resume their schedule after the holidays in a head-to-head game on Jan. 4 at Jackson.

Joe Perri scored 12 points, and he and Alex Sliazis were selected from Brick Memorial (4-1) for the WOBM All-Tournament team.

Jackson Memorial (4-1) coach Joe Fagan said after the game that it was “by far our best game of the season.” The team took control in the second quarter, when it widened its 15-11 lead to 31-18.

Brick Memorial coach Ed Sarluca faulted his team’s defense in the first half.

“We didn’t come out the way we wanted, and [Jackson Memorial] did a good job of getting their shots,” Sarluca said.

Sports Shorts

Dan Rackliffe at 77 pounds and Nick Zbranak at 171 pounds pinned their respective opponents in the championship finals while Dean Sherry, at 97 pounds, Brian Matthews, at 112, and seventh-grader Dom Spampanato, at 134, also were weight-class champions as Lake Riviera Middle School finished second in the Brawl at the Beach Tournament in Point Pleasant.

Sherry and Matthews dramatically won their weight classes in overtime. Spampanato pulled out a 4-3 decision in his final.

Southern won the tournament with 152 points, and Lake Riviera had 132. Lake Riviera won last year’s tournament.

“The kids wrestled very well,” said Lake Riviera head coach Mike Elmendorf, who was assisted by Dennis Hill. “We wrestled great as a team and came out ready. Spampanato and Zbranak beat the first- and second seeded kids, and both beat the No. 2 seeds in their finals.”

Finishing in second place for Lake Riviera were Kyle Marino (72 pounds), Dante Vega (140) and Eric Tober (187), while Connor Mulligan (102), Ryan Jachim (107), Ray Fattaruso (122) and heavyweight Nick Rivera, a sixth-grader, finished in third place.

Fourth-place finishers included Chris Lopez (87), Kyle Wojtazek (90), Brian DeAlmedia (128) and Mike Muratore (160) for Lake Riviera.

The team was slated to swing back into action on Jan. 6, against McAuliffe and then travel to Central on Jan. 11.