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Howell’s Reitsma reaches state wrestling final

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Howell High School’s Shane Reitsma developed a fun rivalry with Paulsboro High School’s Brandon Green this postseason.

On Feb. 23 at Toms River High School North in the Region 7 tournament, Reistma won the 170-pound championship with a 6-4 decision over Green, who competes from one of New Jersey’s most storied wrestling programs.

After that dual, the rivals entered the state tournament in Atlantic City as the top two seeds, with Reitsma at No. 1 and Green at No. 2.

But in the state tournament’s 170-pound  title bout at Boardwalk Hall on March 2, Green earned his revenge, scoring a 13-9 decision over Reitsma.

It was the Howell junior’s first loss of the winter. Reitsma finished the season with a 33-1 record.

Even with the state championship loss, Reitsma enjoyed a great campaign. He also won the Shore Conference Tournament and District 25 championships.

“He’s solid in all aspects of wrestling and in phenomenal shape,” said Howell coach John Gagliano.

Reitsma has been a year round wrestler and consistent winner throughout his high school career. He is 102-7 in three seasons at Howell. He also won the Region 6 title as a freshman in 2017.

A state championship is the one accomplishment that has eluded Reitsma in his time at  Howell.

But the 170-pounder is only a junior, so he will get another crack at the title next winter.

“The sky is the limit for him,” Gagliano said.

Two of Reitsma’s Howell teammates, seniors Darby Diedrich and Joe Sardina, also won Region 7 championships on Feb. 23 in Toms River.

Diedrich triumphed in the 138-pound bracket with a 4-3 decision over Camden Catholic High School’s Anthony Croce in the final. Sardina grabbed the 220-pound crown by pinning Lacey Township High School’s Vincent Ceglie in the championship.

Diedrich and Sardina each lost before the semifinals at the state tournament in Atlantic City. But that didn’t take away from a successful final season for both wrestlers.

Diedrich became the second wrestler in Howell history to win three regional championships. Zac Cunliffe, a 2003 Howell graduate, was the first to accomplish that feat.

“I don’t think he puts pressure on himself,” Gagliano said. “He just does what he has to do.” 

“The biggest thing is being in a nice, calm state,” Diedrich added. “Because I know I belong.”

Sardina won a region title and made the state tournament for the first time in his career.

“It was awesome to just wrestle in that atmosphere (in Atlantic City),” he said. 

Diedrich is committed to wrestling at the next level, too. He will join Brown University’s team next winter.

The senior hopes to round out his game at the collegiate level. Diedrich still thinks he wrestles better in practice than he does in matches. He has not yet been able to consistently pull off four or five moves in a row during meets.

“I need to open up and let everything fly,” he said. “The best is still to come.”

Diedrich also plans on majoring in finance at Brown.

“Finance is about attitude and work ethic,” Diedrich said. “Like wrestling.”

Sardina is not sure if he will wrestle in college, but he is leaning toward continuing his career. He is also leaning toward attending Johnson & Wales University. Sardina is attracted to the school’s nutrition program.

The senior would like to concoct his own protein bars one day.

“That would be cool,” Sardina said. “Plus I just love to eat healthy.”



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