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Feb 15, 2022

Red Bank Wrestlers Ruland and Stolfa Claim Tournament Titles

By Les Pierce

Kevin Ruland began his varsity career with a tournament championship.

Red Bank Regional High School wrestlers Kevin Ruland and Phil Stolfa captured weight class championships at the annual Gator Tournament. The tourney was hosted by Gateway Regional High School in Woodbury Heights.

Ruland’s most difficult hurdle was likely getting past a case of the jitters. The freshman was making his varsity debut in a major tournament. If he was nervous, it didn’t show as he started with an 8-1 decision over Tavien Benoit of Gateway Regional in the 106-pound quarterfinal. He then pinned Lower Cape May’s Cade Heacock at 1:23 of the semifinal bout. With that win, he advanced to the final to face the No. 1 seed, veteran Josh Kinchen of Vineland. Kinchen brought an impressive reputation to the tourney and was named Vineland’s “Wrestler of the Year” in 2020. Ruland may have not been familiar with his opponent’s resume as he showed little respect. The frosh Buc promptly took Kinchen to the mat and pinned him in just 24 seconds for the championship.

Stolfa was installed as the top seed of the 132-pound weight class, earning him a bye in the quarterfinal. He didn’t get much mat time as he pinned both opponents in the first period. The senior pinned Gateway Regional’s Chase Rossi at 1:56 in the semifinal. He then required just 59 seconds to dispatch Matt Harris of Lower Cape May for the title. It was Stolfa’s 72nd career win. He is 31 victories shy of breaking the Red Bank Regional High School career win record held by Dillon Stambaugh.

Also medaling at the Gator Tournament were Gabe McGovern Jimenez (126/silver), Michael Meehan (144/silver) and Ansel Bryan (138/bronze).