Tuckerton-Little Egg Harbor Leader

Pinelands Wrestlers Aim to Reach Higher This Winter

Dec 07, 2018
Courtesy of: Scott Beaton Senior Evan Burton spent much of last winter sidelined with an injury but wrestled well enough late in the season to place third in NJSIAA District 31, and he returns to lead the Wildcats at 195 pounds this season.

If there’s any proof to the fact that Joe Adelizzi is a good wrestling coach, all you’d have to do is notice the number of youngsters who had walked into the wrestling room during the preseason. It seems the buzz about the wrestling program is again becoming prominent.

“The numbers within our program are way up,” Adelizzi said. “With 36 kids on our roster, and only five seniors, it is the largest that number has been in well over a decade.”

While the program wasn’t stellar last winter, Adelizzi’s first season at the helm was a decent one, as the Wildcats finished 8-11 in dual matches and delivered several wrestlers to the NJSIAA Region VIII tournament. However, anybody who knows anything about Adelizzi realized he wasn’t going to settle for mediocrity. He implored many of his wrestlers slated to return this season to get to some clubs during the offseason and challenged them to get better.

“We’re coming off our best offseason of wrestling in quite some time, with several kids going to clubs and camps throughout the summer and fall,” he said. “If we stay healthy, it will be the most balanced Pinelands lineup in over a decade, and we will have a chance to break the .500 mark as a team and contend to qualify for the state sectional tournament.”

Among the seniors leading the way will be 195-pounder Evan Burton, who had a short season last year due to an ankle injury but managed to get in some solid matches toward the end of the season, went 5-4 and finished third in District 31. The only other two wrestlers on Pinelands’ roster last year who reached the Region VIII tourney – Brennan Richardson and Jacob Mena – have since graduated.

The other seniors expected to be among the regular starters this winter will be 138-pounder Sam Cardillo, who went 10-10 last season; 113-pounder Hayden Jeannotte, who finished 11-12 a year ago; and heavyweight Bryan Mendez, who ended last season at 0-3.

Behind the senior crew, Pinelands has quite a lot of depth, particularly in the middle weights. Projected at 132 pounds, junior Travis Brown returns following a 14-16 season a year ago, while juniors Kyle Princiotti (1-7), John Morrin (9-14) and Avery Maski (10-16) are slated to occupy the 145, 182 and 220 weight classes, respectively. Sophomores Bryce LeFevre (8-14) and Gavin Stewart (2-4) mostly will fill the spots at 120/126 and 160 pounds.

“Avery, Travis Brown, Bryce, Kyle and John all spent the offseason wrestling at clubs and should be much improved,” Adelizzi said. “Mendez enters his second year of wrestling and has shown tremendous growth athletically, following an exceptional football season.”

And then there’s a younger crew which should bolster the lineup, including sophomores Tyler Conrad (120/126), Aaron Harris (152) and Connor Harris (170); and freshman Eric Helfrich (106). Junior 120-pounder Olivia Mena – who may be one of the top contenders in the girls’ state tournament following the NJSIAA’s institution of girls wrestling for this year – and junior 145-pounder Matt Albanese also will add more depth and see significant mat time.

The rest of the team includes senior Kyle Rasmussen; juniors Ethan Roberts, Karl Lambert and Cody Spader; sophomores Nathan Jeannotte, Ricky Rasiul, Tom McNeil and Matt Perez; and freshmen Shane Oldham, Nick Muso, Dylan Servis, Thomas Exel, Thomas Reilly, Nick Rasmussen, Joel Mott, Lance Rodgers, Dan McNemer, Jesse Bartlett and Mateo Mena.

Pinelands’ season gets underway on Saturday, Dec. 15, in the Garden State Classic at Barnegat High School. On Wednesday, Dec. 19, the Wildcats open up their regular season at home against Barnegat, starting at 6 p.m.

David Biggy

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