Shore Regional Wrestling Looking To Build On Winning Track Record By John Sorce

 

WEST LONG BRANCH – The Shore Regional wrestling program has been very consistent over the past few years. That is in large part to the stability at the top, with head coach Dave Porta. 

 

Porta is entering his ninth season leading the Blue Devils on the wrestling mat and has gone 103-99 since taking over for Rich Santangelo, who was the head coach in the late 90’s and early 00’s. 

Having that stability in a program is important, and it enables Shore to attract top individual talent. 

“What separates this team from others is the talent level of our high end wrestlers,” Porta said. “We have always had a good balanced team, but this team has some of the best individuals the program has ever had. 

One of those talented wrestlers is freshman Jack Maida, who has made an immediate impact for Porta with a 14-1 record. 

“He is a year-round wrestler, so we knew he was going to be good as soon as we heard his name years ago with our Rec program,” Porta said. “There was never any doubt he would be on varsity. He is currently ranked in the top four in the Shore Conference as a freshmen at 106 and is poised to have an amazing career.” 

Some of Shore’s other key contributors are Matt Klemser at 113, who won the Pine Barrens Tournament and took second at the Holmdel Tournament. Senior captain Brad Smuro at 120 finished third in both tournaments. Two other captains have contributed this season in big ways. Jarrett Weir at 152 has won both tournaments he has entered and Mike Rosati at 195 is the team’s biggest presence with a second-place finish at the Pine Barrens Tournament. 

Another talented freshman for Shore this season is Mike McGhee at 138. He finished second at the Pine Barrens Tournament and upset returning district runner-up Saif Ali from Ocean. 

Still remaining on Shore’s schedule this season is Point Beach, who is undefeated in B Central and one of the top teams in the Shore. 

“We always mark this down as our biggest match of the year, but our preparation does not really change too much,” Porta said. “We really do approach every match the same in that we ask our guys to be selfless and do whatever the team needs them to do to win. For Point Beach, we try to look and see where we can get the most individual wins out of our team as well as the most bonus points to put us in the best possible position to win. Sometimes that means moving guys around the lineup.”   

Competing with a team like Point Beach year in and year out, Porta knows the importance of that matchup in the larger picture for Shore to achieve its goals. 

“The main goal for the season always starts team first and that is to win the division and compete for a state championship, both of which will go through Point Beach,” Porta said. “After that, we always look to have a 15-20 win season, and try to win or take top three in every tournament we enter.  We hope to have multiple district champions and place winners and several state qualifiers as well.” 

 

Shore schedules in a balanced manner, competing against top level teams, mid-level teams, and lower level teams. Porta believes there is something to learn from every encounter. 

“As a Group 1 school, we have a lot of guys who have little experience in our line-up, so the lower level teams allow them the chance to compete with similar guys,” Porta said. “The mid-level teams make for exciting matches and are a good measuring stick for us. The elite teams like Brick Memorial, Point Beach and Ocean are great for our team too. Even in loss, it helps our elite level wrestlers compete against some of the best in the state. The saying goes, ‘steal sharpens steal,’ and that's our approach with our kids. We want them wrestling top competition because it only makes them better. We always say there are no losses, only lessons learned.” 

Porta mentioned the team is so close that they look at each other like family, and have done some incredible stuff together off the wrestling mat. 

“They are student-athletes first and many of our wrestlers are routinely high honor roll students,” Porta said. “The team also has raised over $10,000 in the past three seasons towards pediatric cancer and we are continuing our Shore Pins Cancer fundraiser again this year hoping to raise several more thousand dollars to donate to children's cancer charities and children in our communities battling cancer. Our parents and wrestlers together have been working hard to get donations, pledges and contributions towards this cause. 

“We are a very tight knit, small school wrestling team with a lot of pride,” Porta added. “We have had five straight winning seasons (each with at least 15 wins or more), and look to continue that as well. We take pride in being able to not only compete with schools of our size, but schools much larger than us as well.  We hope to continue to have success throughout this year and for many seasons to come, and we have the nucleus to do that. 

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