Barnegat Wrestlers Gain Experience as District Tourney Arrives
Short on senior leadership, the Barnegat High School wrestling team headed into the winter season mostly hoping to grab some victories so that many of its younger wrestlers could gain solid experience for when February’s NJSIAA District 32 tournament rolled around. So far, the Bengals have been competitive against comparable teams.
At 5-8, and with eight contests left to the regular season, the Bengals won a pair of bouts during a busy Martin Luther King Day weekend, in which they wrestled six matches. On Jan. 14, Barnegat lost, 48-24, to Shore Conference Class B South rival Manchester, and 43-23 to Holmdel, but then scored a 48-36 victory over Monmouth Regional.
Against the Falcons, Sean Foley pinned in 1:32 at 106 pounds, while Mike DiPianta added a pin in 1:51 at 120 and Charlie Cotton pressed his opponent at 160 pounds in 3:25. At 170, Niam Dakno pinned in a very quick 22 seconds; Noah Mattiello received a forfeit win; and Juan Abraham at 195 pounds also scored a quick pin in 28 seconds. Peter Jennings (220) and Joe Lauer (285) also pinned their way to victory.
Two days later, Barnegat lost a 63-15 contest with Oakcrest, and was bounced by Hammonton, 76-3, but managed to knock off Cumberland, 58-24.
Against the Colts, Jacob Reinhold was given a forfeit at 106, while Foley cruised to a 17-4 major decision at 113 and DiPianta won by disqualification at 120. Ricky Balas was awarded a forfeit win at 145 pounds, Nick Paccione pinned in 4:32 to win at 152, Cotton pinned in 43 seconds during his 160-pound bout and Lauer pinned at heavyweight in 4:30. Dakno, Abraham and Jennings all were given forfeit victories.
On Jan. 18 against B South foe Pinelands, the Bengals fell, 55-12, but Foley, who’s 11-2 so far this season, scored six points with a pin in 3:36 during the 113-pound bout and Lauer pinned in exactly a minute during the heavyweight contest.
During the Rutgers Prep Robert Dougherty Tournament on Jan. 21, the Bengals finished seventh as a team with 32 points. DiPianta ended up reaching the 120-pound final against St. John Vianney’s Isaac Holt and was pinned. Foley and Abraham each finished third at 113 and 195, respectively.
Barnegat had two contests against Lacey and Donovan Catholic remaining on its divisional schedule, and the Bengals will clash with Neptune on Jan. 27, and Red Bank Catholic and Shore on Jan. 28. Beyond those matches, Barnegat will meet Williamstown, Central and New Egypt early in February as they prepare for this year’s district tournament, which could be interesting considering the Bengals were moved to unfamiliar territory during the offseason.
Now as part of Regional VIII, the Bengals will begin the first leg of the NJSIAA individual state tournament in the District 32 tourney, where they will square off against wrestlers from powerful St. Augustine, as well as Buena, Clayton/Glassboro, Hammonton, Winslow, Oakcrest, Cumberland and St. Joseph (Hammonton). The district tournaments are scheduled for the weekend of Feb. 17-18.
— David Biggy