Welcome to the 3rd Annual DESPO's! Everyone's favorite awards where the winners don't actually receive anything!
Team of the Year - Howell Rebels
Well, this one was probably a dead giveaway as I had the Rebels as #1 in the Top 10 11. And to save time, and out of sheer laziness, I'll just cut and paste what I wrote there: "The Rebels go wire to wire. No debate here, as the domination came early (from their takeover of the Paulsboro Tournament in December) and often. The Rebels won their 4th Sectional Title in another great bout with Hunterdon Central, and went on to defeat Southern Regional for their 2nd consecutive Group 5 Championship. They also added their 22nd Divisional Title, and their 13th District Title, and sent a small army to the individual State Tournament, where they cam home with three medals."
Small School of the Year - Pt Beach
Three consecutive Sectional Titles. Three consecutive DESPO's! Amazing.
Wrestler of the Year - Cole Corrigan (TR South)
Again, not much of a reach here. Corrigan was the lone State Champion from the Shore Conference this season. The Columbia-bound Corrigan finished the year at a clean 40-0, winning the 8th State Title in TR South history, as well as winning titles at the Region 7, District 28, Shore Conference, Elizabeth Minuteman, and Walter Woods Tournaments.
Freshman of the Year - Dean Peterson (St John Vianney)
Vianney rookie's only two losses came in the State and Region Finals. Captured the District 19, Shore Conference Tournament, Sam Cali Invitational, Mustang Classic, and Robin Leff Tournament Championships.
Coaching Staff of the Year - St John Vianney
Hall of Fame Coaches Dennis D'Andrea and Tony Caravella continue to work their magic after all these years, guiding St John Vianney the program's first ever Divisional and District Team Titles. The Lancers also won the team title at the new individual version of the Shore Conference Tournament and crowned a program-record three medal winners at the NJSIAA Tournament.
Dual Of The Year
Third time in three years I have a tie.
Howell 29 - Hunterdon Central 20 - CJG5 Final
The Rebels rallied to win the final five bouts, highlighted by Kyle Slendorn's late 5-point move to pull off a 10-6 win to put the Rebels up by 6 headed into the final bout, and Daniel Esposito sealed the deal with an overtime win in the closer to give the Rebels the Sectional Title in another great matchup with Hunterdon Central
Long Branch 30 - Brick Memorial 29 - CJG4 Final
A back and forth matchup with the Mustangs picking up some key pins, but it was a takedown in the closing seconds of the final bout by Dan Santos-Silva that left the final score tied, but gave Long Branch the win on criteria (most bouts won) to earn them the CJG4 Title.
Match Of The Year
Ean Mueller (Brick Memorial) vs Shane Reitsma (Howell) - Region 6 170-pound Final
A high scoring affair, Reitsma scored a late takedown to tie the match at 11, but Mueller escaped with 1 second left to get the 12-11 win, and the 170-pound Region Title.
Twitter Account of the Year (Repeat winner)
(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.
The Best New Thing In 2018
The Shore Conference Tournament going to an individual format. Sure, we miss the old Region 6 Tournament, but realignment was necessary. The SCT brought just about all the top stars in the Shore together for two days and delivered some big time wrestling. Should their be a couple minor tweaks? Sure, but other than that, you have to love the new tourney.
Despo's most butchered/misspelled/oops, I called him his brother Honor Roll:
This is ALWAYS my favorite... and serves as an apology as well.
Pete, I mean MATT, Benedetti (Manalapan)
Tyler Klinsky and Thomas O'Keefe, NOT Thomas Klinsky and Tyler O'Keefe (Middletown North)
Dante Morris, NOT former New York Ranger Derek Morris (Lakewood)
David Szuba, NOT Danny Szuba (Brick Memorial)
Constantly mixing up Luke Gauthier and Luke Moynihan (Lacey)
Will Jarvis, NOT former New York Ranger prospect Wes Jarvis (Pt Beach)
Pedro Serrano, NOT Pedro Cerrano from the movie Major League (Neptune)
Justin Acevedo, NOT former New York Met Juan Acevedo (Raritan)
Cole Corrigan, NOT Kevin Corrigan (TRS)
And all the others...
Worst Sport Played During Wrestling Season with a BasketballBasketball (Repeat winner)
Despo's All-I Didn't Mention These Guys Enough During The Season And I Probably Should Have Team
106: Matt Brielmeier (Southern)
113: Avery Clarke (Freehold Twp)
120: Dorrian Hall (Jackson Liberty)
126: Daniel Brewton (RBC)
132: Justin Pierre-Louise (Colts Neck)
138: Curtis Lively (Central)
145: Dymtro Lakusta (Lakewood)
152: Alwayne Mitchell (Matawan)
160: Evan Brown (Marlboro)
170: Victor Wladica (Holmdel)
182: Mike McCahon (Keyport)
195: Shane Ownes (Manasquan)
220: Traevon Stevens (Keansburg)
Hwt: Luke Barlet (Donovan Catholic)
Busiest Website Day Of The Season Award
Region Saturday with over 75,000 hits on the site.
Milestone Of The Year Award
Nico Messina (Freehold Boro) ends a 54-year drought for the Colonials by becoming the program's first Region Champ since Carlos Fontanez in 1964. 54 year drought? New York Ranger fans know what that one's all about.
Runner Up: Jaylen Paige (Asbury Park) becomes the first wrestler from AP to advance to the State Tournament since the program was re-established in 2007.
Weight Of The Year Award
170. Although the Shore sent more reps to AC at 138, that weight was a little top-heavy with Ocean's Jake Benner in it, and he was the lone wrestler from the Shore to medal in AC.
With 170, the Shore had 8 reps down in Atlantic City, with 4 of them reaching the podium. You had the Caracappa/Addison matches, a split with Reitsma and Mueller, Epperly and Stout with wins over Mueller, Hillermeier making a run to the podium. Just a very, solid weight.
The "Maybe He Was Double-Parked" Award
Out of his 41 wins, Raritan's George Burdick only needed to go the full six minutes in just two of those bouts. Quick work.
The Best Burger in AC 2018 - The Madison Square Garden Burger at Broadway Burger (3-time Winner)
8 ounces of Freshly Ground Angus Beef with Bacon, Cheddar, Onion Straws, & BBQ Sauce. To be honest, I didn't even have one this year, but none of the new fare sampled this year came close. In fact, there were lots of letdowns. We have to step it up with the roll people... and I like my bacon crispy.
The Thing I Want To See in 2019 Award
Every team with a Twitter account! (Repeat Winner)
It's Still The Best State Tournament In The Country Because Of The Talent-Level And The Fact That We Wrestle To One True Champion Award, BUT...
The Individual State Tournament is still the best weekend of the year, but the one thing that is getting to become a bit of a bummer is the emptiness of the building come Sunday afternoon for the finals. Yes, it is a LONG weekend, but the Finals still need to be the star of the show. With hotel check-outs at noon on Sunday, most people are grabbing breakfast and leaving to start their drives home and make it home while it's still daylight and catching the finals online. Starting the tournament on Thursday evening, going all day Friday, and closing it out on Saturday, with the finals on the boardwalk on a Saturday night. I really can't imagine the building not being packed with an 8:00pm Finals start on Saturday night. Adds to the big fight atmosphere, and nobody is leaving if the tourney just keeps rolling through on Saturday with a couple hour break after the medal matches before the finals.
How can it work? I'm no expert at planning, but...
Thursday Evening Session 1: Prelims
Friday Session 2: PQ's and 2 WB's
Friday Session 3: Quarters and 2 WB's
Saturday Session 4: Semis and 2 WB's
Saturday Night: Medal Matches at 5:30 followed by Finals at 8:00pm
Sunday: Everyone makes it home to watch the Big Tens!
Monday: Great Idea Despo
Despo's Way Too Early 2019 Preseason Top
3. Long Branch
4. Middletown North
5. TR North
6. Jackson Memorial
7. Brick Memorial
9. St John Vianney
11. Ocean Twp
Despo's Way Too Early 2019 Preseason All-Shore
106: Man, I hate guessing who comes back at 106... Ryan Rosenthal (TR North)
113: Dean Peterson (SJV)
120: Hunter Gutierrez (Lacey)
126: Tyler Pepe (SJV)
132: Darby Diedrich (Howell)
138: Alex Poniros (Ocean Twp)
145: Alex Baran (TR North)
152: Paul Jakub (Howell)
160: Robert Kanniard (Wall)
170: Nick Addison (Rumson)
182: Shane Reitsma (Howell)
195: Christian Murphy (Howell)
220: Jacob Anderson (Middletown North)
Hwt: Paul Liseno (SJV)