MIDDLETOWN, NJ: If a wrestling team is not only talented enough, but indeed dedicated and downright resilient enough to succeed in the double tough Shore Conference, then that means they are well positioned to be a top-notch squad in the entire state.
The Middletown North program certainly fits that mold as the Lions were outstanding on the mat this past season.
Senior Tyler Klinsky earned the very substantial honor of being a NJSIAA State champion in the 113 pound weight class. Klinsky finished the season with an overall record of 49-1, with a career mark of 169. He is the all-time single season and career wins leader in the Shore Conference.
Klinsky is a four time District champion, a four time Region champion and placed second in the State in 2019. Fred Luchs was a Region champion and placed eighth in the State at 120 pounds this year. He had a 43-9 record this year. Thomas O’Keefe (126 pounds) was a District champion and had a season record of 42-8.
Eddie Farrell (152 pounds) was a District champion with 28 victories this winter and junior Nico Cerbo (220 pounds) was a District champ with 39 wins.
Lions’ head coach Matt Sirchio was the District 22 Coach of the Year.
“Our Leaders that have been constant for many years were our seniors Tyler Klinsky, Thomas O'Keefe and Fred Luchs,’’ Sirchio said. “However the athletes who really emerged were another group of seniors in Chris McCarthy, Eddie Farrell and Richie Wall. Chris was a District Champion last year and although he was sidelined for most of the year with appendicitis and an ankle injury he kept his focus to place third in the District and third in the Region showing that no matter how tough things can be if you face adversity and put the work in you can still achieve your goals. Eddie was a standout football player here at North but was using wrestling as a vehicle to remain in shape. It wasn't until last season when he decided he was going to start giving the same energy and passion as he did in football to this sport and when he did the transformation has been awesome.
“Richie is a kid that did not wrestle until December of his freshman year of high school. Richie Wall is a kid that will run through a wall for you. Tough as nails and is all heart, he is a kid that would do anything to help see his team achieve success. His commitment to this program is something that you hope all your kids would demonstrate and we were very fortunate to have a kid like Richie serve as a role player for three seasons and a varsity starter as a senior.’’
Middletown North had an overall record of 25-2 and they were 6-0 as champions in the Shore Conference B-North Division. They placed second as a team at District 22 and advanced to the North 2 Group 4 Sectional Tournament semifinal round before losing to perennial power Phillipsburg.
“Our victories over B-North teams stand out the most,’’ Sirchio said. “In every one of those duals we had a wrestler either injured or out sick but every time one of our boys stepped up and delivered to ensure we could win the Division out right.’’
Student athletes at all grade levels showed steady forward progress for the Lions this winter.
“Freshman Collin Oden showed an incredible amount of Improvement,’’ Sirchio said. “He wasn't always locked into the weight room which is very important for a freshman but he came to practice every day looking to improve and always asking questions. I know as coaches we weren't surprised but I think Collin was and with him knowing he can wrestle with some of the best kids in this Conference he is going to be dangerous in the years to come.
“Junior Lucas Santos had a breakout season and was held out of postseason due to Tyler Klinsky, Thomas O'keefe and Fred Luchs being in front of him but he is another that came to practice every day looking to improve. Watch out for him next year.’’
Speaking of the 2020-2021 season, look for more positive results for the Lions.
“Many people think the Lions graduate so many seniors and three of perhaps the best lower weights in Shore Conference history which is true but don't sleep on this Lions team,’’ Sirchio said. “We had a talented freshman class and another freshman that was out all season due to injury. We have two talented freshmen coming in next season that will make an immediate impact and our returning starters were impressive all season long. We have great leadership in 220 pound senior Nico Cerbo and the Lions will be a tough out for many.’’