Everyone's favorite awards where the winners don't actually receive anything!
I apologize in advance for the informalness of these awards. I had something huge lined up, but host Chuck Woolery pulled out at the last minute and there were venue issues as the Sizzler in Eatontown closed down 20 years ago. So here we go anyway:
Team of the Year - Howell Rebels
A no-brainer here. The Rebels won their first ever Group Championship by avenging an earlier season to Hunterdon Central by defeating them 28-27 in the Group 5 Finals. Further accolades for the Rebels include winning their 3rd Sectional Title, their 2nd Shore Conference Tournament Championship, their 12th District Team Title, their 21st Divisional Title, and finished 5th in the NJWWA Top 20, and #1 in the Shore Conference.
Coach of the Year - John Gagliano (Howell)
The Shore's all-time winningest coach hit the 400 mark this season and was the man in charge behind the Rebel's 2017 championship season.
Small School of the Year - Pt. Beach
Back to back Small School Despo's for the Gulls who repeated as CJG1 State Sectional Champions and won their 20th Divisional Title.
Cop-Out of the Year Award
All the media that took the easy way out when it came to announcing Shore Conference Wrestler of the Year and picked both Ocean's Jake Benner and Howell's Eric Keosseian as co-winners of the award. Lame.
Wrestler of the Year - Jake Benner (Ocean Township) & Eric Keosseian (Howell)
See what I did there?
Freshman Of The Year - Shane Reitsma (Howell)
Finished the season with a record or 41-2, not tasting defeat until Atlantic City where he finished just one win short of a medal. All the potential in the world to be the next great one at the Shore.
Dual Of The Year
I had a tie for this one last year, and I have tie for this one again:
Pt Boro 31 - Pt Beach 26
"The best rivalry in the Shore" went down to the final bout with Boro getting the win in front of a packed house.
Howell 28 - Hunterdon Central 27 - Group 5 Final
Did this one get fun at the end or what? Hunterdon Central takes the lead with back to back pins at 182 & 195. Just when they seem like they're going to wrap things up, Eric Keosseian avenges an early season loss with a buzzer beating takedown at 220. Nash wins at Hwt to tie it. Liptzin gets a huge bonus point at 106 to put the Rebels up by 4 with one to go. Rada saves bonus at 113, and the Rebels win a 28-27 thriller to win the Group 5 Title.
Match Of The Year
Twitter Account of the Year
(Live updates, videos, and more) Give him a follow, won't you?
The Big Assist Award - Steve Falk - Asbury Park Press (Repeat winner)
Helps in countless ways and makes this (nightmare of a site at times) much easier to get info. (Repeat blurb)
Get Well Soon Award
To the foot of the youth wrestler who inadvertently kicked Murph in the head. We're pulling for ya buddy!
Rally Of The Year Award
Down 20 points with 4 bouts to go and criteria already locked the other way, Brick Memorial got a decision, followed by three pins to stun Ocean in the SCT, 33-32.
The Best New Thing In 2017
The formation of the J.S.I.W.A. Follow them on Twitter, won't you?
Despo's most butchered/misspelled/oops, I called him his brother Honor Roll:
Pete, I mean MATT, Benedetti (Manalapan), Jacob Konstantoulas (Brick Twp), Eric Keosseian (Howell), Jack... I mean LUKE Rada (Howell), Carlos Irizzary (Long Branch), Dylan Ownes (Manasquan), Cristian Rial (Marlboro), Jason & Jimmy Sherlock (Pt Beach), Steven Cmielewski (RBC), Sam GoldZweig (Red Bank), Augustus Setteducato (Wall)
The BOOOOOOOO Award
Randy Edsall of UConn!
Despo's Preview Of The Year Award
2017 Raritan preview with 7, that's SEVEN, Rocket-themed puns. I love me some puns, and I had a BLAST doing it. PUN!!!
The This Change Messed Me Up More Than The District Realignment Did Award
Central and Lacey swapping divisions. A move I consistently forgot about until late January.
The Frank Vitchard "I Did Not See That Coming" Award - Kevin Cerruti (Long Branch)
After placing 4th in District 23, Cerruti was a replacement for Wall's Darryl Valme in the Regions and would go on to place 3rd to punch a ticket to Atlantic City,
Worst Sport Played During Wrestling Season with a Basketball.
Basketball (Repeat winner)
Best Chef - Jake Benner (Ocean Township)
For serving up a 5-point pancake in the State Finals to win the 138-pound title, 7-6.
Despo's All-I Didn't Mention These Guys Enough During The Season And I Probably Should Have Team
106: Cael Rankin (Donovan Catholic)
113: Michael Holland (Middletown South)
120: Alan Lipovetsky (Marlboro)
126: Jude Lovgren (Pt Beach)
132: Tyrone Bailey (Asbury Park)
138: Ryan Bohringer (Jackson Memorial)
145: Brennan Richardson (Pinelands)
152: Juan Nakano (TR North)
160: Mike DeGennaro (TR North)
170: Steven Cmielewski (RBC)
182: Dylan Ippolito (Pt Boro)
195: Liam Riecks (Keansburg)
220: Reid Osolin (Freehold Boro)
Hwt: Jalen Paige (Asbury Park)
Worst Email Of The Year
Any "move States back to Jadwin" email. Seriously, people...
The Despo wants more of _____ & less _____ Award
More Friday and Saturday night Rivalry Matches and less quads. (Repeat winner)
Busiest Website Day Of The Season Award
Group Championships on February 12 with 35,456 hits. A huge upset as the busiest day has always been District or Region Saturday. The Rebels = Ratings!
The Best Burger in AC 2017 - The Madison Square Garden Burger at Broadway Burger (Repeat winner)
8 ounces of Freshly Ground Angus Beef with Bacon, Cheddar, Onion Straws, & BBQ Sauce. This was going to be a lock, but the Borgata Breakfast Burger made a serious run.
The Thing I Want To See in 2018 Award
Every team with a Twitter account!
Despo's Way Too Early 2018 Preseason Top 5
4. Long Branch
5. Middletown North
Despo's Way Too Early 2018 Preseason All-Shore
106: Nico Messina (Freehold Boro)
113: Hunter Gutierrez (Lacey)
120: Richie Koehler (CBA)
126: Darby Diedrich (Howell)
132: Kyle Slendorn (Howell)
138: Russell Benson (Raritan)
145: Jake Benner (Ocean Township)
152: Cole Corrigan (TR South)
160: Robert Kanniard (Wall)
170: Nicko Cofone (Middletown North)
182: Shane Reitsma (Howell)
195: Peter Wersinger (Long Branch)
220: Steven Giannios (St John Vianney)
Hwt: Paul Liseno (Keansburg)
The Thing I Promise To Do More Of This Offseason
Random updates and thoughts on both wrestling and non-wrestling stuff. Got to keep that off-season web traffic up. I have sponsors to answer to, ya know? Not that I cater or bow down to my sponsors in any way. Just ask the folks at RON'S WEST END PUB located on 103 West End Avenue in Long Branch.
The I Can't Believe You Actually Read All Of This Stuff Award Winner
You. Yes, you! Congratulations, and thanks.