April 12, 2022
For the first time in almost 100 years, a New Jersey high school wrestling team has won its division championship.
The 2021-22 Freehold High School wrestling team in Freehold Borough, New Jersey made history by winning the Shore B Conference North Division Championship. The team went 14-7 and were undefeated in their division, beating conference foes Colts Neck High School, Manasquan High School, Matawan Regional High School, Neptune High School, Red Bank Regional High School and Wall High School.
The division championship was the first for the Freehold Colonials wrestling team, which was established in 1924.
The Colonials advanced to the state sectional tournament, in which they defeated Manalapan High School before falling to Middletown South High School in their group’s semifinals.
“It was really nice for us to come together,” Colonials coach Matthew Shepherd said. “It’s really symbolic of our hard work and everything that the boys did.”
On April 4, the wrestlers and coaches were honored by the Freehold Borough Council. Each member of the team received a certificate of achievement from the governing body.
“You are a community of fine young men who worked together as a team,” Freehold Borough Councilwoman Sharon Shutzer said. “A team who cared about each other, took care of each other, cheered for each other and consoled each other.”
Nine of the wrestlers also individually advanced to their regional tournament. Of the nine, senior captain Brandon Smith, junior captain Joseph Berryman and junior captain Angelo Messina advanced to state.
Smith fondly remembered his team’s victory over Wall, which defeated them the previous year.
“When we were wrestling against Wall, we were saying if we beat this team, we’re the champs,” he said. “I remember watching one of my teammates pin one of the kids from Wall and it just showed what our team is working for. We made history.”