Rockets blast off to 2-0 start on the mat

first_img The Raritan High School wrestling team is off to a 2-0 start as it seeks its sixth consecutive Shore Conference Class A Central championship. Coach Rob Nucci’s team has downed Red Bank Catholic and Monmouth Regional thus far and also finished seventh overall in the recent Richmond (Va.) Invitational Tournament. The Rockets have been quite successful in recent years, reaching the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II finals each of the past five years. Last season, Raritan compiled a 22-2 mark, with its only losses coming against powerful Jackson in the Shore Conference tourney and South Plainfield in the CJ Group II title match. In addition, the Rockets won the Manchester Hawk tourney. “Our expectations are always high, so we’re looking to do even better this year,” said Nucci, now in his seventh season at the Rockets’ helm. “We’re proud to have won our division five times, and we want to make it six. Ultimately, we really want to win the Group II sectional.” With a strong group of returnees led by 171-pound ace Dan Seidenberg, there’s plenty of reason for optimism in Hazlet. A year ago, the junior posted a 37-4 mark and went on to finish second in his weight class at the Meet of Champions. Seidenberg took second at the District 22 competition and won the Region VI meet, and is already 7-0 this time around. Dan Bilowus (160 pounds) and juniors Cody Mooney (125) and Chris Van Sechtman (119) have all posted six wins in the early going. Bilowus was 24-11 last season, while Mooney went 27-10 and Van Sechtman was 20-13. Both Bilowus and Van Sechtman finished second in District in their respective weight classes, and Mooney took third. Bob Hornacek (140), who won 19 times last winter, is 5-2. Meanwhile, Raritan opened the season without the services of 135-pounder Billy Voutsinas, who is close to returning from a knee injury.Ayear ago the junior posted a 27-4 mark and won the District 22 competition. Freshman Ryan Lynch has filled in admirably, posting a 5-3 record. The Rockets’ lineup also includes seniors Justin Jackson (130), 1-2; Ryan Putnam (145), 5-2; and Pat Susino (152), 4-2; juniors Jon Deangelis (112), 2-2; Nick Hungerford (171), who is off to a fine 6-1 start; and heavyweight Matt Walsh, 3-3, who won nine matches last year. Several sophomores dot the Raritan lineup as well. Aaron Cruz (189), 3-2, and Sebastian Lodato (215), 1-3, both saw some varsity action last year. At 103 pounds, Matt Mitchell moves up from the junior varsity, where he won the MVP award last year. Mitchell is 3-2. “We have a good mix of veterans and some good newcomers, most of whom wrestled quite a bit over the summer to prepare for the season,” Nucci said. “I’m hoping that they can step up and really help us out. So far, everyone has been doing pretty well; they just have to keep their focus, because we have a very difficult schedule.” Raritan faces a tough test on Saturday when it hosts a quad match with St. John Vianney, Hillsborough and Sayreville. During the holiday break, the Rockets will head south on the parkway for the Brick Memorial Tournament. “They’ll both be good challenges for us, and we can assess where we are as a team,” Nucci said. BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer last_img

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