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  • Writer's pictureDan Russoman

Devils fall to St. Augustine on ‘Alumni Night’


Dan Russoman/THG. Luca Giagunto (top) controls St. Augustine Prep’s Brandon Borman during their match last week. Giagunto went on to win the match 10-5.

HAMMONTON—Dozens of former Hammonton High School wrestlers were in attendance on January 31 as the Blue Devils hosted St. Augustine Prep on the first “Alumni Night” for the storied program.


Spectators cheered as the former grapplers paraded into the gymnasium, but that was the highlight of the night for Blue Devils fans as the Prep came away with a well-earned 48-21 victory.


Hammonton wrestled well in almost every match, but the Blue Devils were only able to win five of them as the visiting Hermits took control with some early victories and held on for the win.


“Obviously, you want to win every time on the mat, but I’m happy with how we performed tonight,” Hammonton coach Dave Mauriello said.


“Our guys went out and competed well against a very good team. They got the best of us in a few matches, but overall, I thought we did very well. Matches like this one help us get ready for [this] week, when we have some tough playoff matchups,” Mauriello said.


St. Augustine opened last week’s meet with a pin at 106 pounds, but Hammonton quickly tied the score when Shane Way took down Emory Dobson in 2:34 at 113 pounds.


At 120, Gavin Morris wrestled well in a loss to the Prep’s Carter Pack, getting pinned in 5:46. The Hermits won again at 126, this time by technical fall, and led 17-6 before Luca Giagunto earned a 10-5 decision for Hammonton against Brandon Borman.


Losses at 138, 144 and 152 pounds put Hammonton behind 30-9, but at 157, Vincent Palermo defeated Colin Olivo 6-2 to keep the Blue Devils in the match.


A pin at 165 all but sealed the decision for St. Augustine, but Hammonton posted two more wins, the first a 175 where Mike Ryan defeated Ryan Small 5-1 and the final victory at 285, as Cam Brodnax pined Slayton D’Amico in 2:55.


The loss did little to dampen the celebratory mood, as many of Hammonton’s former wrestlers, including some from the 2009 South Jersey Group 3 and District 30 championship team, and the Cape Atlantic League championship squads from 1985, 1990-91, 2002 and 2009, along with the program’s 100-win, district, regional and state place winners were recognized.


“This was awesome. It was cool to see so many of these guys come out here to celebrate what they achieved. Probably half of them were guys I had the pleasure to coach over the last 19 years,” Mauriello said.


The event was the first of its kind for the Blue Devils.


“It was an idea we had and it turned out great. It’s something we plan to continue, and I really hope it grows over time,” Mauriello said.


The meet against the Prep as well as a quad meet at Pennsville last weekend served as tuneups for the state playoffs, which began on February 5 when Hammonton hosted the South Jersey Group 4 quarterfinals and semifinal matchups. Those results were too late for this edition, and the winner advanced to the finals on February 7.


“It’s a wide-open group this year, very balanced. I really believe anyone can win it, so we’ll have to see what happens. I think we have a good chance to reach the finals,” Mauriello said.


As for last weekend, Hammonton topped host Pennsville 60-6.


At 120, Way defeated Christopher Daniels 4-2 before Morris scored a 12-2 major decision against Kameron Drummond at 126 pounds. At 132, Logan Walters pinned Ayden Perez in 42 seconds and at 138, Giagunto won a 19-4 technical fall against Travis Hagen in 4:00.


Eddie Niedoba pinned Joseph Maurer in 1:38 at 144 pounds and at 150, Frank Italiano defeated Skylen Eppes 3-0. Palermo pinned Robert McDade in 3:43 to win at 157 and at 165, Julius Witcher pinned Cole Campbell in 1:40.


Ryan scored a 7-2 win against Connor Ayars at 175 and after a loss at 190, Mark Hartley needed only 30 seconds to take down Cristian Blyer at 215. Broadnax won a 4-1 sudden victory against Trevor Waddington at 285. At 106, Tyler Police won 10-3 against Lucas Thomas and at 113, Nicodemo Cirillo pinned Vincent Ciccantelli in 31 seconds.


The Blue Devils also topped Central Regional 61-13. At 113 Way pinned Xavier Collins and at 120, Morris took down Ben Laskowski. Walters pinned Kriztopher Bustamante at 126, Giagunto had a pin against Cole Siller at 132 and at 138 Niedoba took down Nicholas Condello.


Also winning for Hammonton was Palermo at 157, scoring a 9-0 major decision against Alexander Setaro. At 165, Nicholas Abruzzese pinned Aidan Miller. Ryan pinned Donovan Stesner at 175, John Kane took down Isaias Perez at 190 and at 215, Dan Lipari pinned Tyler Alexander. At 285, Broadnax earned a forfeit win.

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