SJV Pulls Together Special Night On The Mat

February 5, 2018
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SJV’s Dean Peterson wins the 106 pound Shore Conference title as a freshman and is undefeated.

By Jay Cook |

We’re only halfway through the wrestling season and it’s already been a year to remember for the St. John Vianney Lancers.

There’s been plenty of exterior doubts surrounding the Holmdel parochial school for the 2017-2018 team. Some said their roster of merely 18 wrestlers wasn’t deep enough; others said they didn’t have the firepower to compete with some of the Shore’s most decorated programs.

But the Lancers proved those doubters wrong last weekend when they had seven top-three finishers in the inaugural rendition of the individual Shore Conference Tournament, en route to securing their first ever Shore Conference Tournament team title at Red Bank Regional on Jan. 27.

“Well, we are coming along and have some great individuals, but this was a great effort from my whole lineup today,” said SJV head coach Denny D’Andrea. “We had kids that were seeded way down and they fought, okay? This wasn’t just three or four kids winning – in a tournament like this you need to have thirds and prelims where a kid gets a pin.”

St. John Vianney’s Nick Caracappa, left, Josiah Walker and Steven Giannos celebrate after winning the school’s first-ever Shore Conference Tournament team championship with 165.5 team points.

Leading the way for St. John Vianney were their four first-place winners: freshman Dean Peterson (106), seniors Nick Caracappa (170) and Steven Giannos (220) and junior Paul Liseno (285). Sophomore Tyler Pepe (120) finished in second place and seniors Charles Peterson (132) and Josiah Walker (190) walked out of RBR with bronze medals.

St. John Vianney also outlasted Howell on its way to winning the SCT team title. The Lancers finished with an accumulated 165.6 team points, 14 more than Howell’s 151.5. Several media outlets have Howell pegged in as a top five team in New Jersey.

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So, what is it that makes this St. John Vianney team so special? It’s a combination of veteran knowledge, great pedigrees and a tough work ethic. For long-time Shore Conference wrestling aficionados, D’Andrea’s name looks familiar. For two decades he was as assistant coach at Brick Memorial, also one of the most storied Shore wrestling programs in its history. At that time, D’Andrea served under his current assistant coach, Tony Caravella.

It also helps to have some impressive young blood in the room. Peterson, the starting 106 pounder, is an astounding 25-0 in his first season. A six-time USA Wrestling-NJ state champion, Peterson has grabbed gold at several tournaments this year: Robin Leff, Mustang Classic, Sam Cali Invitational and the Shore Conference Tournament.

“We’re tough,” Peterson said after the team win. “There’s no way anyone thought we were beating Howell but we knew we had a chance coming into the quarterfinals with seven guys.”

Peterson even likened his own Lancers to an NFL team in a similar situation this weekend – the Philadelphia Eagles.

“Let them sleep on us,” Peterson said. “Just like the Eagles we’re underdogs, no one expects us to win. And we all feed off of that.”

There was plenty of motivation to go around. Caracappa, the 170-pound champion now sitting just one win away from No. 100, said the Lancers have learned to silence the doubters. It’s seemed to pay off.

“It just says that we’re a hard-working team from start to finish and are never out of a fight,” said Caracappa, who defeated Rumson-Fair Haven’s Nick Addison, 8-1, in the finals. “We always work to get better and we proved a lot today.”

While last weekend did prove to be a milestone moment for St. John Vianney, there’s still plenty of work ahead of them. The team is 11-1 overall, still undefeated in the Shore Conference and should be the second seed in the Non-Public South A sectional tournament. On top of that, many of their starters will likely be trekking south to Atlantic City in March for the NJSIAA State Wrestling Championships. Expect plenty more to come from this team loaded with youthful vigor and elder leadership.

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“They want to be here every day. They go to clubs and work very hard. And they’re friends, and we stress that,” D’Andrea said. “They work so hard and they get the desserts, the rewards.”

The Saint John Vianney Lancers claim the 2018 Shore Conference wrestling championship topping Howell by 14 points on Saturday at Red Bank Regional High Schoolj.


Shore Conference Wrestling Tournament

Final Top 15 Team Scores

1. St. John Vianney: 165.5

  1. Howell: 151.5
  2. Long Branch: 97.5
  3. Raritan: 94.5
  4. Lacey: 84.5

6. Middletown North: 78

  1. Ocean: 67
  2. Point Boro: 65
  3. Jackson Memorial: 53.5
  4. Brick Memorial: 50
  5. Wall: 49

12. Colts Neck: 47 

13. CBA: 44 

  1. Donovan Catholic: 42
  2. Manalapan: 41


Six of the 14 Shore Conference wrestling individual champions hail from the Two River Times area.

SCT Finals Results

106: #1 Dean Peterson (SJV) d. #3 Vin Santaniello (Brick Memorial)  10-3

113: #5 Hunter Gutierrez (Lacey) md. 2 Ryan Zimmerman (Long Branch)  8-0

120: #1 Richie Koehler (CBA) d. #3 Tyler Pepe (SJV)  8-6

126: #1 Darby Diedrich (Howell) tf. #3 Dyon Womack (Colts Neck)  22-7 4:43

132: #1 Kyle Slendorn (Howell) d. #6 Russell Benson (Raritan)  4-2

138: #1 Jake Benner (Ocean Twp) md. #2 Dan Esposito (Howell)  12-0

145: #2 Luke Gauthier (Lacey) p.  #1 Jack Kelly (Wall)  1:48

152: #1 Cole Corrigan (TR South) d. #2 Stanley Wojdylak (Midd North) 7-1

160: #1 Robert Kanniard (Wall) p. #6 Anthony Aquilano (Raritan)  2:59

170: #2 Nick Caracappa (SJV) d. #4 Nick Addison (RFH)  8-1

182: #1 Nicko Cofone (Midd North) d. #2 Christian Murphy (Howell)  1-0

195: #1 Peter Wersinger (Long Branch) d. #3 Eric Quartey (Freehold Twp)  5-3

220: #2 Steven Giannios (SJV) d. #4 Sal DiSalvo (Donovan Catholic)  4-2 SV (OT)

285: #3 Paul Liseno (SJV) by injury default over #1 Kevin Cerruti (Long Branch)  2:03

This article was first published in the Feb. 1-8, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.

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