Southern Regional Community Mourns Loss of Former Wrestler Kyle Casaletto

Jun 06, 2018
Photo by: David Biggy Kyle Casaletto (right) with Southern assistant wrestling coach Dan Roy during the Southern Regional Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on March 25, 2017.

During the 2017 Southern Regional Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Dinner, former wrestler Kyle Casaletto said his transition from Lacey to Southern Regional High School at the outset of his sophomore year was made easy by the Rams’ community, which welcomed him with open arms. On Monday, June 4, hundreds from the Southern community who had made Kyle’s time at Southern memorable said goodbye through tears. At 25, one of Southern’s greatest warriors on the wrestling mat died suddenly on May 31.

“He was a warrior in life and on the mat,” said Southern wrestling head coach John Stout, who was in Casaletto’s corner for three years. “He’s, by far, the toughest guy I ever coached. He was an incredible competitor and athlete, and he gave everything he had when he was on the mat. It was a true pleasure to coach him and have him in my life.”

Stout is just one of the many coaches and wrestlers who took the journey with Casaletto during his three years at Southern, during which he helped the Rams capture three straight NJSIAA South Jersey Group IV championships and reached the Group IV final in 2009.

While at Lacey High School as a freshman, Casaletto compiled a 35-6 record at 103 pounds and placed second in District 24. With the Rams, Kyle went a combined 88-11 en route to three consecutive district and Region VI titles, and finished on the medals podium in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall each year. He went 20-5 and finished eighth at 103 pounds in 2009, 29-3 and was the state runner-up at 112 pounds in 2010, and 39-3 as a senior in 2011, when he again went to the state championship bout, at 125 pounds, and was the runner-up.

“You can still go on Flo Wrestling right now and watch his match against Ken Theobold in the region final, and it was one of the most incredible wrestling matches at the high school level you’re ever going to see,” Stout said. “Kyle just kept coming and coming, and wouldn’t let up until he won. That’s the kind of wrestler he was.”

Casaletto finished his career with a 123-17 record – his 123 victories fourth on Southern’s career wins list behind Frank Molinaro, Glenn Carson and Luke Lanno, and six ahead of Stout’s brother, Bryan. Off the mat, Kyle enjoyed fishing and volunteering his time as a youth wrestling coach.

At the Southern Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Dinner on March 25, 2017, Casaletto smiled when given the names of other wrestlers who had preceded him to the Hall of Fame.

“This is like a cherry on top of the sundae,” he said at the time. “Southern has had a lot of great athletes and some great wrestlers, so it’s a very special thing to be a part of the Hall of Fame here.”

Inside Thos. L. Shinn Funeral Home in Manahawkin on Monday, dozens of photos showed Kyle pinning opponents and his arms raised in victory, along with a stack of newspapers with his name in headlines and various mementos from his days with the Southern wrestling program.

“It’s horrible that all these guys – his coaches, teammates and contemporaries – have to deal with this,” Stout said. “I was just talking to a colleague of mine the other day, and he said we should be going to these guys’ weddings, not a funeral. This is never going to be right for anybody. This is a tough loss for our community.”

On the Shinn Funeral Home website, former field hockey and track and field star Brooke Angellella – one of Kyle’s classmates and also inducted into the Southern Athletic Hall of Fame the same day – wrote a memory and posted a photo of her and Kyle at a party.

“I remember when Kyle first came to Southern from Lacey. He fit right in,” Angellella wrote. “I will always remember him as a fun guy to be around. He got along with everyone and always had a smile on his face. We all admired his hard work and determination in his success with wrestling. Rest easy, Kyle.”

— David Biggy

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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