Stafford Leader Winter Sports Preview

Experience, Balance Should Fuel Southern Regional Wrestling Team This Winter

Dec 14, 2018
Photo by: David Biggy Senior Nick O'Connell, an NJSIAA Region VIII champ last year, is one of several seniors leading the way for the Southern Regional wrestling team this winter.

For many wrestling programs, losing five 20-win guys to graduation following a successful season usually makes a pretty good dent in the lineup for the next season – especially when one of them was an NJSIAA Region VIII winner. But at Southern Regional, the Rams had so much depth last winter that it seems head coach John Stout will have little trouble filling the holes left by Owen Kretschmer, Matt Barnett, Dan Gorman, Vin Miele and Matt Mackanic.

“We have a very well-balanced team with a lot of senior leadership returning,” Stout said. “I expect to compete for Group V, District 29 and A South championships this season. Our experienced upperclassmen give us a great deal of mobility in our lineup.”

Indeed, that appears to be the case for the Rams. This year’s squad has not only an excellent group of seniors leading the way, but a solid bunch of juniors behind them. Mix in a fantastic sophomore and some promising freshmen, and it’s no wonder Stout heads into the season with such confidence about contending for more titles.

Of course, one sensational senior expected to be the leader by example is Nick O’Connell, who last year went 28-5 and captured a Region VIII crown. In the 160-pound position, O’Connell provides the hammer Southern needs in the middle of the lineup.

But he’s not alone. Senior Sebastian Delligatti, 27-12 last season, should be the Rams’ hammer among the lower weights at either 126 or 132 pounds, while classmate John Stout, 14-6 and also a region champ last winter, returns at 182 pounds. Also, senior Nick Pepe, who won 24 bouts a year ago, at either 145 or 152 pounds adds clout in the middle, and senior 152-pounder Luke Galan (6-1) will provide additional depth in the middle. Senior 170-pounder Haven Taterek should be improved and will be helpful up high.

While not quite at the same level as most of the senior crew, the Rams’ juniors very likely will be the difference-makers this season. Not only should they be better on the mat, they bring much more experience many other squads on Southern’s schedule will not have.

Out in front of that group is Robert Woodcock, 24-8 last season, at 138 pounds. Woodcock transferred into the Rams’ program last year and immediately made an impact. He likely will have a larger impact this season, as will classmate Jayson Scerbo, who after winning 16 matches last season could be a 20-match winner at either 113 or 120 pounds this winter. Jay Sari (8-7) will help with lineup flexibility at either 138 or 145 pounds.

Adding to the prowess of the junior class are 195-pounder Ben LoParo, who delivered some big victories in critical spots en route to an 11-7 campaign last year, 220-pounder J.T. Cornelius and heavyweight Jayden Smith, who won 16 and nine bouts, respectively, last season and are expected to carry the bulk of the load up top. Junior Gabe Murray (2-3) joins the upperweights in the 220-pound class.

The lone sophomore among the projected starting lineup is Matt Brielmeier, who broke onto the varsity scene as a freshman and went 21-13. This season, Brielmeier likely will take the mat at either 120 or 126 pounds. The freshman class consists of 106-pounders Chris Lubeski, Pat Icovaes and Kellan Bischoff, 113-pounder Nate Bischoff and 132-pounder Nik Lawson.

The Rams get their season started with a Shore Conference Class A South matchup at home against Toms River East on Friday, Dec. 14, and the following day host the annual Robin Leff Tournament. Southern goes on the road to Jackson Memorial on Wednesday, Dec. 19, and visits perennial power High Point on Saturday, Dec. 22.

David Biggy

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.