St. John Vianney wrestling enjoying success under veteran coaches

July 29, 2019 at 12:37 p.m.
St. John Vianney wrestling enjoying success under veteran coaches
St. John Vianney wrestling enjoying success under veteran coaches


By Rich Fisher | Correspondent

An awakening has occurred at St. John Vianney High School, Holmdel, as a couple of old dogs are teaching the Lancers wrestling program some new tricks.

In 2012, Denny D’Andrea and Tony Caravella came to SJV as assistant coaches. For 20 years, the two produced a powerhouse program at Brick Memorial, with Caravella as the head coach and D’Andrea the assistant. D’Andrea went on to guide Freehold Borough and Manalapan before arriving at SJV.

When the Lancers needed a head coach in 2013, the roles became reversed. D’Andrea took the position as Caravella was content to remain an assistant. Slowly but surely, they are taking St. John Vianney toward the rarified air that Brick enjoyed during their regime.

In 2013, the Lancers went 14-9, a five-win improvement over the previous season. The following year produced a 16-8 mark and a win in the NJSIAA Non-Public A tournament. The improvement continued with a 17-8 record in 2015-16, and last year SJV slipped to 14-9 but had five state qualifiers. Since the program started in the mid-1970s, the Lancers had just two qualifiers prior to the arrival of D’Andrea and Caravella.

This season, the Lancers were 10-1 entering their Jan. 24 dual meet with Holmdel, and a victory would give SJV the Shore Conference’s A Central title. It would mark the first division title in program history. After never sniffing a state ranking, the Lancers are No. 13 in one poll and No. 17 in another.

“Our three big goals,” Caravella said, “are to win our division, win the District 19 title and win South Jersey A, which could be the hardest of the three.”

Just the fact they can be listed as goals shows just how far the program has come under the two veteran coaches with a ton of life experience.

“A couple parents took a chance with us, seeing that we’re older,” Caravella said. “Denny’s 68, I’ll be 62 in May, so between the two of us, we’ve got 130 years. Wrestling is a young man’s coaching sport; we’re probably the oldest duo in the state, but the parents knew we know how to treat kids.

“We had multiple state champs and state place winners at Brick Memorial,” he continued. “They know St. John Vianney has good education and a good reputation. It all came together. We started getting better kids because Denny and I have a pretty good name in the wrestling community. We were able to get two or three good kids a year, and we’ve been able to keep building like that.”

One of their first moves was to strengthen the schedule by dropping several weak dual-meet opponents and entering SJV in some high caliber in-season tournaments. This year, SJV has competed in the loaded-up Robin Leff Tournament at Southern Regional, the Brick Memorial Tournament and the Sam Cali Invitational in West Orange.

The Lancers enjoyed success at each event, despite having just 18 wrestlers and practicing in the school cafeteria as opposed to other schools with state-of-the-art wrestling rooms and massive rosters.

“We have a really good tournament team,” Caravella said. “We have one of the smallest contingents out there, and we keep our fingers crossed every day that no one’s sick or hurt. We have two state-ranked kids in the lower weights and three in the upper weights. In the middle, we’re a little thin so we piecemeal it together there. But when you have seven or eight really good kids and there are 14 weight classes, you usually do pretty well for yourself.”

One of the team’s top wrestlers is freshman Dean Peterson, who was 17-0 entering the Holmdel match. Caravella calls him “a phenom” and feels he has the potential to be a state champion at 106 pounds.

“He’s the real deal,” the coach said. “I don’t want to put that kind of pressure on him, but I definitely believe he can finish top six in the state, and on a given day, he can win the whole thing. Technique-wise, he’s tough. He’s been wrestling since he was 4 years old and has wrestled national tournaments. He’s a seasoned freshman.”

Senior 170-pounder Nick Caracappa  is a returning regional champ and just missed getting into the state’s final eight last year. “He’s a street fighter,” Caravella said. “He’s a throwback kind of kid.”

Sophomore 120-pounder Tyler Pepe is also a returning state qualifier after tying the school record with 37 wins last year. Caravella feels Pepe’s biggest problem is he may be in the state’s deepest weight class.

Another returning state qualifier is senior 220-pounder Stephen Giannios, who is Caravella’s nephew. “He can slip into the top eight,” his uncle said.

Others to watch are junior heavyweight Paul Liseno, a Keansburg transfer,  senior 132-pounder Charlie Peterson (Dean’s brother), freshmen Blake Clayton (152 pounds) and Seth Rotondella (126), and senior 195-pounder Josiah Walker, who is rounding into shape after suffering a football injury.

SJV’s lone loss this year was to state power Pope John, and its biggest win was against Raritan, which cleared the way for a potential division title.

“That was very big,” Caravella said. “That’s the gold standard. They won the conference 14 of 15 years. It’s our rival geographically.”

 

 

[[In-content Ad]]

Related Stories

By Rich Fisher | Correspondent

An awakening has occurred at St. John Vianney High School, Holmdel, as a couple of old dogs are teaching the Lancers wrestling program some new tricks.

In 2012, Denny D’Andrea and Tony Caravella came to SJV as assistant coaches. For 20 years, the two produced a powerhouse program at Brick Memorial, with Caravella as the head coach and D’Andrea the assistant. D’Andrea went on to guide Freehold Borough and Manalapan before arriving at SJV.

When the Lancers needed a head coach in 2013, the roles became reversed. D’Andrea took the position as Caravella was content to remain an assistant. Slowly but surely, they are taking St. John Vianney toward the rarified air that Brick enjoyed during their regime.

In 2013, the Lancers went 14-9, a five-win improvement over the previous season. The following year produced a 16-8 mark and a win in the NJSIAA Non-Public A tournament. The improvement continued with a 17-8 record in 2015-16, and last year SJV slipped to 14-9 but had five state qualifiers. Since the program started in the mid-1970s, the Lancers had just two qualifiers prior to the arrival of D’Andrea and Caravella.

This season, the Lancers were 10-1 entering their Jan. 24 dual meet with Holmdel, and a victory would give SJV the Shore Conference’s A Central title. It would mark the first division title in program history. After never sniffing a state ranking, the Lancers are No. 13 in one poll and No. 17 in another.

“Our three big goals,” Caravella said, “are to win our division, win the District 19 title and win South Jersey A, which could be the hardest of the three.”

Just the fact they can be listed as goals shows just how far the program has come under the two veteran coaches with a ton of life experience.

“A couple parents took a chance with us, seeing that we’re older,” Caravella said. “Denny’s 68, I’ll be 62 in May, so between the two of us, we’ve got 130 years. Wrestling is a young man’s coaching sport; we’re probably the oldest duo in the state, but the parents knew we know how to treat kids.

“We had multiple state champs and state place winners at Brick Memorial,” he continued. “They know St. John Vianney has good education and a good reputation. It all came together. We started getting better kids because Denny and I have a pretty good name in the wrestling community. We were able to get two or three good kids a year, and we’ve been able to keep building like that.”

One of their first moves was to strengthen the schedule by dropping several weak dual-meet opponents and entering SJV in some high caliber in-season tournaments. This year, SJV has competed in the loaded-up Robin Leff Tournament at Southern Regional, the Brick Memorial Tournament and the Sam Cali Invitational in West Orange.

The Lancers enjoyed success at each event, despite having just 18 wrestlers and practicing in the school cafeteria as opposed to other schools with state-of-the-art wrestling rooms and massive rosters.

“We have a really good tournament team,” Caravella said. “We have one of the smallest contingents out there, and we keep our fingers crossed every day that no one’s sick or hurt. We have two state-ranked kids in the lower weights and three in the upper weights. In the middle, we’re a little thin so we piecemeal it together there. But when you have seven or eight really good kids and there are 14 weight classes, you usually do pretty well for yourself.”

One of the team’s top wrestlers is freshman Dean Peterson, who was 17-0 entering the Holmdel match. Caravella calls him “a phenom” and feels he has the potential to be a state champion at 106 pounds.

“He’s the real deal,” the coach said. “I don’t want to put that kind of pressure on him, but I definitely believe he can finish top six in the state, and on a given day, he can win the whole thing. Technique-wise, he’s tough. He’s been wrestling since he was 4 years old and has wrestled national tournaments. He’s a seasoned freshman.”

Senior 170-pounder Nick Caracappa  is a returning regional champ and just missed getting into the state’s final eight last year. “He’s a street fighter,” Caravella said. “He’s a throwback kind of kid.”

Sophomore 120-pounder Tyler Pepe is also a returning state qualifier after tying the school record with 37 wins last year. Caravella feels Pepe’s biggest problem is he may be in the state’s deepest weight class.

Another returning state qualifier is senior 220-pounder Stephen Giannios, who is Caravella’s nephew. “He can slip into the top eight,” his uncle said.

Others to watch are junior heavyweight Paul Liseno, a Keansburg transfer,  senior 132-pounder Charlie Peterson (Dean’s brother), freshmen Blake Clayton (152 pounds) and Seth Rotondella (126), and senior 195-pounder Josiah Walker, who is rounding into shape after suffering a football injury.

SJV’s lone loss this year was to state power Pope John, and its biggest win was against Raritan, which cleared the way for a potential division title.

“That was very big,” Caravella said. “That’s the gold standard. They won the conference 14 of 15 years. It’s our rival geographically.”

 

 

[[In-content Ad]]
Have a news tip? Email [email protected] or Call/Text 360-922-3092

e-Edition


e-edition

Sign up


for our email newsletters

Weekly Top Stories

Sign up to get our top stories delivered to your inbox every Sunday

Daily Updates & Breaking News Alerts

Sign up to get our daily updates and breaking news alerts delivered to your inbox daily

Latest Stories


Pope: Humility is the 'gateway to all virtues’
Though not found on the classical list of cardinal or theological virtues, ...

Pope: Palliative care is 'concrete sign' of solidarity with those who are suffering
Palliative care seeks "to alleviate the ...

St. John Vianney softball rallies to win SCT title game
The process has been completed.

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
This Sunday, the Church throughout the world celebrates the ...

Knights' success built on founder's desire for charity
In many ways, Father Michael J. McGivney was just ...


The Evangelist, 40 North Main Ave., Albany, NY, 12203-1422 | PHONE: 518-453-6688| FAX: 518-453-8448
© 2024 Trenton Monitor, All Rights Reserved.