Rockets are gearing up for postseason tourneys

BY WARREN RAPPLEYEAStaff Writer The Raritan High School wrestling team is rolling along with a 9-3 mark thanks to eight competitors who have 10 or more wins apiece. The Rockets are sitting in first place in their conference and are also looking forward to defending their NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II tourney. T.J. Mitchell (10-2 at 103 pounds); Billy Voutsinas (12-3, 112); Phil O’Hara (11-3, 119); Dave Seidenberg (14-1, 125); Kevin Whalen (12-4, 135); Shawn Putnam (13-2, 140); Rich Bryant (12-4, 215); and Jeff King (13-2, heavyweight) are all having outstanding seasons for coach Rob Nucci. In addition, Chris Rafalco is 9-7 at 130 pounds and Jason Sagos is 9-3 competing in the 145-pound division. “We’ve had good consistency throughout the lineup,” Nucci said. “So many guys have stepped up and they’re finding ways to get the job done.” The coach also praised four juniors who have held their own in some of the upper weight classes: Jim Shields (152 pounds), Kevin Gilgannon (160), Anthony Kinzel (171) and Jim Curry (189). And if that isn’t enough, Raritan has received strong contributions from several other grapplers who are likely to play prominent roles in coming seasons, Nucci said. They include junior Stephen Ip, sophomores Greg Alexander, Kevin Moore and Bobby Kolb, as well as freshmen Bob Hornacek and John Boyle. Moore is 5-2 competing mainly at 119 pounds; Hornacek is 5-1 in action at 112 pounds, and Boyle is 3-3 at 189 pounds. Raritan is coming off a tough quad-meet on Saturday, when the Rockets downed both Toms River North and Pinelands but lost to CBA in the final match. “That was disappointing, but our guys wrestled well,” Nucci said. “We have a lot of wrestling ahead of us and we’re anxious to get going in the state tournament. We just can’t look too far ahead, as we’ve got a few more matches left.” Raritan will visit Howell to compete against the host team and Central Regional on Saturday, and will host St. John Vianney on Feb. 9. Mat notes… All eyes will be on Southern Regional this weekend as teams vie for the Shore Conference Tournament championship. The SCT seeding meeting was Monday night, which determines the top 16 teams that will compete for the team title. Division winners receive automatic entry, but the committee has the say in the seeding. First-round action is slated for later today as the top four seeds will play host to three teams each in the opening and quarterfinal rounds. The winners of the first two bouts will match up in the next round. The SCT semifinals and finals will be held on Saturday at Southern. Among the local teams hoping to make some noise in the SCT are Raritan, Middletown North and CBA. The Lions have been a steady team throughout the campaign, while the Colts have been coming on strong lately, with wins over Howell and Raritan last week. Ocean Township is the likely top seed, followed by Jackson, Southern and Wall. BY WARREN RAPPLEYEA Staff Writer Balanced squad hoping to collect more hardware