COLTS NECK, NJ: To surmise the situation as directly as possible let it be stated that on both an individual and team wide level, the Colts Neck wrestling program was very good and at times even excellent the past season.

   The Cougars navigated through a very tough schedule and still finished with an impressive overall record of 14-8. They placed seventh in the ultra- tough Shore Conference Tournament and tied for second place in the Shore Conference B North Division. Colts Neck also advanced to the semifinal round of the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group 4 Sectional Tournament.

   To cap it all off, the Cougars earned the District 22 team championship.

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   “I was most impressed by how we were wrestling at the end of the year,’’ Colts Neck head coach Brett Jankos said. “Between the Team State Tournament and the individual tournament run, we were wrestling extremely well. We lost to a very tough Brick Memorial team in the CJG4 semifinals and that is a team who had three State finalists and four State place winners. 

   “Winning the District 22 tournament for the first time in school history was a great accomplishment as well. The goal is always to be prepared at the end of the season and I feel we were.’’

   Senior Luke Rada (41-3 season record) won the District 22 and Region 6 titles in the 182 pound weight class. He then finished second at the State Tournament in Atlantic City. Fellow senior Kenneth Koenig (195 pounds) won both the District 22 and Region 6 championships. Michael Lyristis (sophomore, 106 pounds), Logan Waller (junior, 138 pounds) and Thomas Lidondici (senior, 285 pounds) all won District 22 crowns.

   Waller, Lidondici and Joseph Barsky (junior, 160 pounds) each placed third in Region 6 to advance to the States.

   “Our team captains this year were some of the best I’ve ever coached,’’ Jankos said. “These individuals are not just great wrestlers but great young men and great scholar athletes. Rada finished second in New Jersey and will be wrestling at Harvard University.  Lidondici finished top 12 in NJ and will be playing football at Pace University. Koenig was two wins from a State medal and finished with 98 career wins. He will wrestle at Stevens Institute of Technology next year. Waller had a difficult draw in the State Tournament but I feel he is one of the best wrestlers in NJ who did not place this year. 

   “In addition to the captains, junior Nick Moldaver and Lyristis both wrestled well at the end of the year and each finished one win away from advancing to the State Tournament in Atlantic City. Each of these individuals represented themselves, our program and CNHS the way we want as a coaching staff. After missing the second half of the season his sophomore year, Barsky advanced to the State Tournament from the No. 10 seed in the Region Tournament. Joe lost in the quarterfinals then pinned his next three opponents to take third and advance. He pinned Jared Tracey of Ocean Township for third place (Tracey beat Barsky 9-2 in a dual meet).’’

  There were improvements made by several wrestlers on the roster this winter.

  “Our 220 pound tandem of Matt Jannucci and Ray Santiago have been our most improved wrestlers,’’ Jankos said. “These two individuals should both be wrestling varsity, but they were both trapped between Koenig and Lidondici. They are both expected to play huge rules for our program at 220 and 285 next season.’’

  Speaking of the 2020-2021 season, look for Colts Neck to once again be well represented on the mat. 

  “Our seniors this year are irreplaceable,’’’ Jankos said. “The effort they have given to the program over the years is second to none. We are excited to see some of our upper weights who have been behind our seniors get their chance next year. We should fill out the top half of the lineup extremely well. 

   “We also have wrestlers coming back with lots of experience on the bottom half [of the lineup] such as Lyristis, Moldaver, Waller, and Ford Zajac. If some freshmen can make an impact down low, it could be another strong year.’’