Cape wrestlers working hard to get ready for season

Young team coming on heels of a 15-2 season
November 25, 2017

Cape’s hard-rock wrestling room boomed with tunes and saturated sweat the Monday afternoon of Thanksgiving week, as grapplers got after each other in one-minute matches in preparation for the long 2017-18 season.

The wrestling room is the only place a student-athlete can get pinned after school by his guidance counselor and social studies teacher in the same afternoon.

Chris Mattioni enters his 23rd season as Cape’s head coach, and he will be assisted by Shane Jensen and Ian Eckrote.

The Vikings are coming off a 15-2 record last year, losing a close match to Sussex Central in the semifinals of the Division I tournament. The Golden Knights went on to defeat Smyrna for the state title.

“Maybe I should have retired after last year,” Mattioni said with a smile before going to the mat to grapple with Finbar Rishko.

Cape graduated eight state placers from last year’s team, including two-time state champion Cory Lawson along with Brock Maloomian, Holden Kammerer, Zach Flores, Max Norquest, Vinnie Diego, Dante Jacquet and Zeke Bean.

“We have a young team this season,” Mattioni said. “We will start several first-year varsity lettermen.” 

The team will be led by two-time state placer and 2016 state champion Anthony Caruso, and state placers Chris Handlin and Billy Ott.

Coach Mattioni provided a breakdown by weight class:

At 106 pounds, Cape will have four guys, but one may be moving up to 113. LB Harrington and Arthur Bennett both wrestled at Mariner last year. New wrestlers Jason Tucker and Darryl Sykes will challenge and push the two middle school experienced wrestlers. Senior David Naselli will start at 113. At 120, senior Darnell Bailey is looking tough in the preseason and should have a great year. His freshman younger brother Dajour Bailey will wrestle JV at 120.

Caruso will compete at 126. Vying for starting spot at 132 are Finbar Rishko, Joseph DelGuadio, Reese Winkfield and Richard Garcia. Sophomore Andre Currie and freshman Bryan Garcia are contenders at 138 pounds, and freshman Juan Lares will fill the 145-pound slot.

The Vikings have several guys vying for the starting job at 152. They are led by senior Zane Kesler, freshman Jackson Handlin and senior Dylan Ketchersid.

Transfer junior Roy Jones, who wrestled for Sussex Tech last year, looks to fill the 160-pound class, while senior Eesa Johnson, sophomore Colin Lawson and junior Eduardo Saez will wrestle at 171.

Handlin, a junior, and freshman Noah Johnson will compete at 182 pounds, with sophomore Cameron Smith, a transfer from New Mexico, at 195.

Ott leads the pack at 220, chased by Tyler Lecates, Brandon Mays-Harp, Ja’von McNair and Chase Robertson.

Jonah Robertson will fill the 285-pound slot.  

“He was injured last year,” said Mattioni. “He is looking good for this season.”

Cape will open the season Wednesday, Dec. 6, on the road at Lake Forest.