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Apr 01, 2022

Middletown South Wrestling Claims District Championship

By Les Pierce

David Hussey pins Raritan’s Alex Auletta.

By any measure, it has been a banner year for the Middletown High School South wrestling team. A month ago, they landed a share of the A-North Division title. It was their first division title in 35 years.  

Most recently, the Eagles captured the District 20 championship, a feat they last achieved in 1996. This was not just a victory; it was truly a domination.  

South scored 274 points, far ahead of closest competitors Raritan (188) and Red Bank Catholic (143). The squad picked up a total of 13 medals, a program record. Furthermore, seven teammates attained individual championship crowns: Jack Zaleski (126), Robert Generelli (138), David Hussey (144), Alex Quintano (150), Jason DeSanctis (157), Harrison “Harry” King (165) and Jack Willi (190).

Jack Zaleski (top) battles with Colin Oden of Middletown North.

Zaleski recorded a 20-5 technical fall over Colin Oden of Middletown North in the 126 final. He required just 13 seconds to pin Raritan’s Jake McCully in the semifinal. The junior is now a two-time District champion.

In the 138 final, Generelli scored a 6-2 decision over Zach Reilly of Raritan. He pinned Red Bank Regional’s Ansel Bryan in the semifinal match.  

The 144 final ended just 61 seconds into the bout when Hussey pinned Raritan’s Alex Auletta. He also pinned Matt Castelli of Middletown North in the preceding match. Hussey, like Zaleski, is a junior and two-time District champion.  

Quintano advanced through the 150 brackets by pinning Perth Amboy’s Gael Noyola at 1:06 and scoring a 12-6 decision over Damiano Rotolo of Matawan. He clinched the top spot on the podium via a 9-4 decision against Raritan’s Quinn Peters.

Just 44 seconds were needed for DeSanctis to pin Middletown North’s Shaun Sullivan and capture the 157 title. However, this was not his shortest match of the tournament. Brian Mahoney of Highland Park fell victim at just 23 seconds into the quarterfinal clash.

Alex Quintano controls Raritan’s Quinn Peters.

King’s ascent to the top of the 165-pound heap is somewhat of a Cinderella story. Middletown South is loaded with talent in the middle weights, and King, now a senior, was not able to land a starting role. He participated in a small number of matches at 150 and 157 pounds during the season, and with success, as a replacement wrestler. Coming into the Districts, the 165-pound slot became available due to an injury, enter King. Weighing in at 154, he was relegated to the No. 4 seed of the 165 bracket. A No. 4 seed implies a wrestler will likely not earn a medal of any kind. A clue that King might find some success came in the quarterfinal stint when he pinned Highland Park’s Seamus McKinnon at just 1:05. However, the win earned him a matchup in the semifinal with the No. 1 seed, 22-bout winner Omir Fraser of Red Bank Regional. It was a “from the frying pan into the fire” scenario, but the South senior looked confident from the onset. He never took a step back, stayed on the attack throughout and recorded a lopsided 12-2 upset victory.

In the final, King took on Raritan’s Robert Mulligan. Mulligan come on to the mat with 19 wins under his belt and had pinned every opponent he faced on the day. Yet another upset was required, and King delivered with a 5-2 decision to clinch the championship.

The most exciting match of the day came in the 190-pound final that pitted South’s Willi against Nazareth Pina of Perth Amboy, who boasted a 27-1 record. Willi trailed by a 7-5 tally in the last period with time running out. With just nine seconds on the clock, the Eagle senior lunged for a two-point takedown, deadlocking the score and sending the match into an overtime period. The combatants were then engrossed in a test of strength, with each looking for an opening. Pina suddenly took control and flung Willi to the mat. However, the South wrestler seemingly bounced off the mat and flipped into position for a stunning takedown of a shocked adversary to clinch the title.   

South wrestlers earning silver medals were Ryan Madden (113), Kaden King (120), Jack Reiter (175) and Dante Miranda (Hwt). Bronze went to Alec Holland (132) and Matt Cody (215).