By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr.
There is no question that the B North wrestling division of the Shore Conference has some of the toughest teams competing this season. Wednesday night, January 3, the Green Wave of Long Branch hosted Colts Neck, which is currently sitting on top in the division with the 43-24 victory.
Colts Neck came into the city with a 4-1 overall record and were 2-0 in the B North. The Cougar’s only loss this year was on December 16, when Holmdel, a nondivisional opponent, beat them 37-25. However, they had big wins over Manasquan and Ocean Township, both divisional foes.
Long Branch started the night with a 2-1 overall record and were 1-0 in the division, as they beat Red Bank Regional 43-23 on December 20. However, they suffered a big 50-15 loss to Red Bank Catholic on December 23.
The starting weight for the night was 285 pounds. Colts Neck didn’t have their big heavyweight senior Matt Liggo available for the Long Branch match. So, Brett Jankos, head coach at Colts Neck, asked Amir Shakhnavazov, who weighed in at 209 pounds, to jump up to the heavyweight bout. His opponent was Justin Sunnerville, senior, who weighed in at 260 pounds.
After the first period ended, it was scoreless. Colts Neck had the choice for Shakhnavazov to start on top or bottom, and Jankos selected bottom. Within 16 seconds of the start of the second period, Shakhnavazov was able to escape the grips of Sunnerville, earning himself a one-point lead. Just over a half-minute later, he scored a two-point takedown on Sunnerville and was up 3-0, when he was able to get him on his back for the pin. That opening match gave Colts Neck a quick 6-0 lead and momentum.
The next match featured the smallest wrestlers on the squads with the 106 pound wrestlers. For the Green Wave, the wrestler was Danielle Silva De Jesus, a freshman. Her opponent was Griffin Walsh, a very fast and strong athlete. Silva De Jesus was able to hold her own in the first period, but with his experience Walsh was able to secure a pin in the second period.
Colts Neck then won the 113-pound match with a 12-3 major decision for Nicholas Zecchino over Jordan Vieria. At 120 pounds, Colts Neck took another victory, this was due to injury. Colin Barone beat Dominic Lugo. Cougars scored another pin at 126 pounds when Michael Borao put Aidan McVey on his back. Colts Neck was now up 26-0.
Matthew Munson, junior at Long Branch, finally put the Wave in the winners column. He was leading 2-0 after the first period of his 132-pound match with Blake Robinovitz. Munson was up 4-0 with 1:07 left in the second period when he scored a pin, giving Long Branch six points.
Sophomore Javier Guzman of Long Branch was wrestling his 138-pound match against Matthew Anderson with a hurt shoulder. However, during the first round Anderson head butted Guzman causing a nose bleed. After the first period Guzman was up 4-1. The second period, Guzman had a 5-3 lead going into the final period. The match had to stop several times so Long Branch athletic trainer Kim Smalls could attend to the bloody nose. Neither wrestler scored any points in the third period, giving Guzman the 5-3 victory and back to back wins.
Long Branch was down 28-9 going into the 144-pound match. Colts Neck then won the next four matches. Mykhailo Shvets scored at pin over Pedro De Souza at 144 pounds. Tyler Russ then took a close 6-5 decision over Daniel Ramirez at 150 pounds. The 157-pound bout had Nicholas Fisher getting a 10-3 decision over Nick Miller. At 165 pounds, Brody Kaplan beat Devon Smith 4-2. Colts Neck was now beating Long Branch 43-9.
The Green Wave won the last three matches of the night. Cristian Cunalata had a scoreless first period at 175 pounds with Dean Natale. Then in the second period, leading 2-0, Cunalata put Natale flat on his back with 1:04 left in the period.
At 190 pounds, Tornick Kajaia of Long Branch had a 4-1 lead going into the second period with Landon Roth. With 1:38 left in the second period, Kajaia scored a pin and Long Branch was now down 43-21.
The last match of the night was 215 pounds. Tyler Taylor, junior at Long Branch had a 2-1 advantage over Anthony Moriano after the first period. Taylor then entered the final period up 4-2. He ended up taking a 6-3 decision.
Colts Neck with the 43-24 win improved to 5-1 overall and undefeated in the B North at 3-0. Following them in the standings are Red Bank Regional, Ocean Township, Long Branch, Manasquan, Matawan and Neptune.
A big night at Long Branch will be on Wednesday night, January 17, when the Green Wave host cross-town rivals the Spartans of Ocean Township.
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