Ewing, NJ… The College of New Jersey wrestling team will seek its second straight Metropolitan Conference Championship this weekend as the Lions head to Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, PA for the annual conference tournament.
TCNJ has been dominant at the tournament as the team has captured 24 of the last 29 conference championships.
The Lions finished the regular season with a dual-meet record of 19-3 and are ranked 17th in the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association Brute – Adidas Division III poll. TCNJ isn’t the only ranked team vying for the title this weekend as New York University is ranked 14th, Wilkes is 23rd, York College (PA) is 25th and King’s College (PA) is 30th.
The tournament is also the springboard for the 2008 NCAA Division III Championships as the winners of each weight class will earn automatic qualification to the national event, while seven others will receive “wild card” berths. The NCAA Championships are slated for March 7-8 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa with Coe College and the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference serving as the hosts.
Leading the Lions into the tournament is Greg Osgoodby (Waldwick, NJ/Waldwick). The junior is the defending champion at 174 pounds and is currently ranked sixth nationally in his weight class with a record of 29-4.
Senior Ray Sarinelli (Rockaway, NJ/Morris Hills) seeks his first conference title and return trip to the national championship as he earned a “wild card” selection a year ago. Sarinelli has had a strong season thus far going 25-4, but is in the toughest weight class in the tournament. Returning Met Conference and NCAA Division III Champion Dave Morgan from King’s College is ranked fourth nationally with Centenary (NJ) College’s Mike Gummerson slotted eighth and Sarinelli is ninth.
The Lions have several other grapplers eyeing tournament titles with two of them currently in the same weight class. Junior Al Wonesh (Columbus, NJ/Northern Burlington) and freshman Justin Bonitatis (Cherry Hill, NJ/Cherry Hill East) have each excelled at 165 pounds this season, but one will be forced change to a different weight class. Wonesh is 29-5 this season, while Bonitatis is 31-4, with those 31 wins leading the team.
At 157 pounds, junior Dan DiColo (Budd Lake, NJ/Mt. Olive) has put together tremendous season as he has collected a career-high 28 victories. He is also in a strong weight class as NYU’s Takafumi Hashimoto is ranked seventh and York’s John Niedrich is 10th.
Senior Steve Carbone (Cranford, NJ/Cranford) finished second at heavyweight a year ago and is 24-8 this season, while at 197 pounds Shawn Vanwingerden (Wantage, NJ/High Point) placed fourth last season. Vanwingerden has a current record of 18-5.
A couple of freshman could also make an impact at the tournament in Dan Hughes (Delran, NJ/Delran) at 125 pounds and John Barnett (Oak Ridge, NJ/Jefferson Township) at 149. Barnett has collected 23 wins this season with Hughes picking up 19.