Stokes reaches finals in helping Swamprats to a third

Jan. 31, MCT Wrestling
Nottingham's Devion Stokes battles West Windsor-South's Vinny Porreca in the 220-pound finals of today's Mercer County
Tournament (Photo by Dennis Symons Jr./purchase photos at
Stokes reaches finals in helping Swamprats to a third-place finish
By Ken Weingartner
Jan. 31: Devion Stokes was surprised by his performance in the Mercer County wrestling tournament.
His coach, Jason “The Rock” Marasco, was not.
Stokes, a Nottingham High junior, was seeded sixth at 220 pounds in the MCT, but advanced to the
championship bout before losing today to undefeated Vinny Porreca of West Windsor-Plainsboro
South. It was Stokes’ first appearance in the county tourney, in only his second season of wrestling.
“He’s surprised, but I’ve known that kid has got it inside of him,” Marasco said. “He doesn’t know it yet,
but he’s finding out. This was a big stage for him. And he did good until he just made a rookie
Stokes pinned his first two opponents in the tourney, including third-seeded Austin Soriano of
Hightstown in 26 seconds in the quarterfinals. He beat No. 2 seed Will Ortman of Hopewell Valley, 8-6,
in the semis before getting pinned Porreca in the title match.
Porreca is 21-0 this season and last season finished third in the MCT and second in District 20.
“I really didn’t think I was going to make it this far,” Stokes said. “My coach helped me a lot with all the
preparation and got me ready to go. This will give me a lot of confidence.
“I wasn’t really expecting (to reach the final), but I really wanted to win it. I tried to do it for my team
and my coaches.”
Stokes started wrestling because he thought it was interesting.
“So I tried it out and I liked it,” he said. “I enjoy how only a certain amount of people can make it far.
It’s just you out there, you don’t have to count on anyone else. You win or lose on your own.”
Stokes led a strong showing from Nottingham, which finished third in the team standings, just six
points behind runner-up Robbinsville. Hopewell Valley won the tourney for the fifth consecutive year.
The Swamprats had nine wrestlers finish among the top five in their respective weight classes.
Steinert, which was led by third-place finishes from Jon Bernstein and Schnieder Simon, finished 12th
and Hamilton West was 14th. Na’eem Shuman led the Hornets with a fifth-place finish.
The Swamprats saw Greg
Daloisio (106), Kem Montina
(182) and Richie Vincent
(285) earn third-place
finishes while Lucas Quattro
(113), Trott Montina (160)
and Zach Grehan (170)
finished fourth and Levens
Jean-Gilles and Kervens
Basile were fifth.
Daloisio lost his preliminary
bout, 4-3, but won five times
in the consolation bracket to
finish third. Vincent lost to
eventual champion Stefanos Kem Montina takes control in his third-place consolation bout against Princeton's Victor
Karpontinis of Notre Dame in
Bell (Photo by Ken Weingartner).
the heavyweight
quarterfinals, but won his next four bouts all by pins – in 2:31 or less. Kem Montina also lost to an
eventual champ, Allentown’s Zach Turner.
“It was a great tournament,” Marasco said. “The kids scrapped and grinded out matches. Greg
Daloisio got better every match. And he loves it. Vincent has been in and out of the varsity lineup,
sharing time with Stokes, so for him to come in and fight hard – he even fought off his back – and take
third is awesome. It’s great stuff. We just got great efforts all around.
“And the guys that didn’t medal, they gave it all they had. I can’t ask for any more than a hundred
percent. They tried as hard as they could and I know it. There’s nothing to be ashamed about. I’m
really impressed with their effort. I’m really proud.”
Marasco expects his wrestlers to learn from their MCT performances and make adjustments for the
district tournament, which is in three weeks.
“When you lose in a tournament it’s a tough way to learn, but it’s a good indicator where you’re at,”
Marasco said. “It’s a gauge for how much improvement is needed for the postseason.
“But it’s an eye-opener. If they just get on board, we can ride this ship and continue to impress people.
I think we could have multiple guys make it through [districts] to the region. To come out here and
show the county – top three with two seniors – I’m tickled. It’s a really bright future for this team.”
The Spartans were without 2014 MCT champion Brandon Cray because of illness and entered
wrestlers in a total of only nine weight classes.
Bernstein finished third at
126 and Simon was third at
152. Bernstein’s loss was 32 to Princeton’s James
Verbeyst, who finished
second in the tourney, and
Simon’s setback came to
eventual champion Jordan
Rugo of Allentown.
Also for the Spartans, Sean
Gallway finished fourth at
285 and Alex Rubio was fifth
at 160.
“The guys that we entered
all wrestled tough,” Spartans
coach Adam “The
Postmaster General” Jankos Steinert's Schnieder Simon works on Lawrenceville's Nick Shupin en route to victory in
said. “We had four guys grab the third-place consolation bout (Photo by Ken Weingartner).
a medal, so we’re happy about that. For entering nine guys in the tournament, I don’t think it was too
Bernstein won two of his first five matches this season, but since then has captured 14 of 16.
“I think Jon Bernstein is coming on strong,” Jankos said. “He had a little difficulty at the beginning of
the season and one day he just opened his eyes. We gave him a little pep talk, and he’s been
wrestling tough ever since. He’s coming on strong right now.”
Cray, who placed fourth in last year’s state tourney, is expected to return to the Spartans’ lineup soon.
“He should be back next week,” Jankos said. “At this time of year you don’t want to let [an illness]
linger. You want to knock it out of his system as quickly as possible and take the proper time to rest.”
The Hornets saw Shuman lose his preliminary match at 220 by a point, but the junior battled back to
win four of his next five bouts to finish fifth.
In addition, Va’Zay Child (170), JP Cruz (182) and Burnell Barnes (285) all finished sixth.
“I’m very impressed,” West coach Matt Merrigan said. “We have a young team and a lot of guys really
did well in the wrestlebacks, which is great.
“Our goal is to finish above our seeds, and for the most part most of our kids accomplished that. Our
two captains, JP Cruz and Va’Zay Child both came in sixth. Shuman, this is his first year in the
program with me, and he placed fifth and really did an excellent job. Barnes, heavyweight is difficult
and he’s been battling an injury, but he’s going out there and giving all he can.
“This seems like a stepping stone for us to get ready for districts. I’m really very pleased with our