Category: Wrestling

Manville football, wrestling coach Pat Gorbatuk promoted to Athletic Director

The good news is, Manville’s Pat Gorbatuk is staying in town.

But it’s bittersweet for him to leave his posts as football and wrestling coach, posts he has held for the last 12 and 16 years, respectively, to become the next Athletic Director, replacing Stephen Venuto.

On the football field, his teams went 40-72 with three playoff berths, but that came after 1-9 records the first five seasons. Since 2016, the Mustangs have been .500 or better all but two seasons, one of them the very difficult COVID year, going 35-27 in that span

In wrestling, his teams amassed 230 wins, including a 23-3 campaign this past year, as well as four division titles, three sectional finals appearance, and two state place-winners, both in the last nine years: Brian Kuhlman in 2015 and Michael Tyle in 2018.

Gorbatuk also had two stints coaching boys’ and girls’ track and field for nine seasons between 2009 and 2020.

The draw for Gorbatuk has always been the sense of community in Manville, a small town, and one of the smallest high schools in Central Jersey.

Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko talked with Gorbatuk about his new job, and the ones he leaves behind; click below to hear the interview:

NJSIAA’s Colleen Maguire talks new transfer rule, emphasis on curbing recruiting in HS

The sweeping changes made Monday by the NJSIAA to its rules on student-athlete transfers and recruiting go hand-in-hand.

That’s the theme from NJSIAA Executive Director Colleen Maguire, who talked with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko in a wide-ranging interview Wednesday morning.

The two big changes are this: all student-athletes will be allowed to transfer at least once in their high school careers without penalty – having to sit out a portion of the season – regardless of whether or not they have moved, and that recruiting a student-athlete before high school is now permitted, though it will continue to be banned once a student-athlete enters high school.

That’s defined as either the first day of classes or the first day they attend practice in the fall sports season, whichever comes first.

But Maguire says with no more requirement of a student-athlete to have a bona fide change of address for a penalty-free transfer, the NJSIAA will put more emphasis on policing recruitment.

Anecdotally, it happens all the time, whether public schools or private, at all grades in high school, all sports. But few cases ever get to the point where penalties handed down..

The most recent high profile case happened this fall when Paramus Catholic was found guilty of illegal recruiting in football after allegations were leveled by Belleville High School. The Paladins were ruled ineligible for the postseason and placed on two years’ probation, but on appeal by Belleville, head coach Greg Russo and assistant coach Christian Maldonado were suspended for the remainder of the probation period.

NJSIAA rules adopted Monday also strike language from its bylaws allowing penalties against student-athletes who transfer as a result of recruiting violations.

Click below to hear the full interview as NJSIAA Executive Director Colleen Maguire talks to Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko about the new recruiting and transfer rules:

Groundbreaking new NJSIAA transfer, recruiting rules approved; will be in effect a month early

Sweeping changes first proposed back in January will go into effect June first, allowing for recruitment of student-athletes before they become high schoolers, and – in general – one free transfer during their high school careers without having to sit out, regardless of whether they move or not.

Three ballot proposals – the third of which allows the new bylaws to go into effect June first, whereas most amendments go into effect July first – were overwhelmingly approved by the NJSIAA’s membership at its annual meeting Monday.

Recruiting now allowed before high school

The first of the changes amends the NJSIAA’s “Athletic Recruitment Rule.” It removes removes any penalties for recruiting student-athletes before they enter high school, as well as “potential penalties” against student-athletes. It also adds that if a student moves to a residence provided someone associated with the school, it will be considered evidence of recruiting unless proven otherwise.

Previously, the Athletic Recruitment Rule called for a penalty of one year of ineligibility for students-athletes who transfer as a result of recruiting, but that language was eliminated under the changes adopted Monday.

Scroll to the bottom of this story for the full NJSIAA wording on the rule changes.

It is still against the rules to recruit a student-athlete once they’ve entered high school. That includes “using mail, letters, brochures, or news media to compare high schools and to solely point out the athletic assets of the sender; engaging in proselytizing interviews or communications, initiated by school personnel or associates; offering athletic scholarships, free tuition or other monetary assistance, either from the school directly or indirectly through some affiliated body or individual, to induce a student to attend the school for athletic reasons.”

Athletic recruitment is not only banned by administration, staff, and coaches, but also “students, parents, booster clubs, or any organization having a connection with the school.”

Free transfers, but also limits

The NJSIAA says in its bylaws “it aims to discourage transfers for athletic reasons, multiple transfers, and transfers after a sports season has begun.”

Current rules require any transfer, in general, to sit 30-days before participating – or half the number of games, whichever is less – unless the transfer had a bona fide change of address.

The changes approved Monday eliminate the change of address rule, and allow a free transfer with no penalty any time in a student’s first six semesters of their initial high school enrollment. But a “second or subsequent” transfer at any time will require the typical 30-day sit-out period.

Senior transfers – anyone who transfers after their first three seasons of eligibility in a sport they participated in during the past 12 months – would have to sit 22 days or a third of the contests – whether it’s their first transfer or not.

Transfers still would have to sit it they transfer after the start of practice, and would be ineligible for the NJSIAA postseason if they transfer after regular season play begins – neither of those change.

One difference from when the rules were first proposed in January are the exceptions added in by the NJSIAA along the way. The new rules state “immediate eligibility, without penalty, will be granted for transfers resulting from DCP&P placement (Division of Child Protection and Placement), court placement, HIB transfers (Harassment, Intimidation, Bullying), and military transfers.”

Edison community and beyond comes together to “Fight For Allie,” help local 11-year old girl beat brain tumor

Much has been written and talked about on this website regarding the sense of community fostered by sports in Edison, whether it’s a beloved baseball coach and mentor passing away, or the youth football programs that helped bring the Edison High Eagles their first state championship in more than three decades.

Now, that community is coming together again, to rally behind Alexandra “Allie” Ewing.

She’s just eleven, and not long after the New Year, she was having some stomach issues. Probably nothing major, her family thought.

She was out of school for a few weeks, but couldn’t seem to get over it. She’d been tired, and took a nap. But when she woke up Monday night, she was exhibiting tell-tale signs of a possible stroke. Facial drooping, lack of mobility.

Off they went to the hospital, and an immediate CAT scan discovered what turned out to be a golf ball-sized mass on her brain. Emergency surgery was successful, for now, and she’s spent the last few days recovering, and waiting for results of a biopsy.

A bright, full-of-life pre-teen, Allie and her parents have been active in the local youth sports scene, playing softball, soccer, and even football with the boys of the Edison Jets. She started with Edison boys’ baseball when she was four.

“Since the first day I met her, she had a ‘Never quit” and ‘Don’t tell me I can’t do it’ attitude,” says Edison Boys Baseball League President Brian Calantoni. “Our athletes are always taught to use what they learn on the field and at practice and utilize it in real life situations. We know she won’t ever give up. She will fight and she will win.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up for Allie, which has received over 500 donations totaling over $46,000 as of 10 pm Sunday. The family is in need of funds to cover medical costs and seek multiple opinions, so they can get the best care for Allie.

Her father, Keith, told Central Jersey Sports Radio on Sunday afternoon that they still have a potentially long road to go, and have no idea what the immediate future holds.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Allie’s father, Keith Ewing, about how she’s doing, what little they know of her prognosis, and the tremendous support of the community in Edison and beyond:

Rounding out the Top Ten stories of 2022 on Central Jersey Sports Radio: We’ve got the Final Five!

Back on Tuesday, we began taking a look at the Top Ten most-read stories on Central Jersey Sports Radio. We began our countdown with Numbers 10 through 6 (and if you missed any of it – you can find the first five here.

And now, let’s count you down from No. 5 all the way to the top!

Click on each headline for the complete, original story.

5. Legendary football coach Joe Goerge returns to South Brunswick, where he led Vikings to unprecedented success, and three state titles

Just under a year ago, in early January, South Brunswick brought Joe Goerge back for a second tour of duty. He had stepped down after the 2018 season, and said he wasn’t retiring; he spent a couple of years on Staten Island, where he’d begun his coaching career, but this time at St. Joseph-by-the-Sea.

It would be hard for Goerge to top his first run with the Vikings, where he was 63-17, winning a title in his debut season of 2012, plus two more in 2015 and 2017.

Joe Goerge celebrates with his players after South Brunswick’s 2015 sectional championship over Manalapan at Rutgers University. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

4. Old Bridge’s Lanzafama stepping down after 12 seasons with Knights

Coaching news is always big, and this was was huge: Old Bridge head coach Anthony Lanzafama stepping away from the Knights’ program with a 72-47-1 record in a dozen years at the helm.

Post the merger of Cedar Ridge and Madison Central in the 1990s, he’s just the second coach of “Old Bridge” high school, succeeding Bob DeMarco, for whom Lanzafama was an assistant in his younger years. DeMarco, of course, had coached Madison Central and took over the merged program.

And true to the tradition of keeping it in the Old Bridge family, eventually, Matt Donaghue – the team’s defensive coordinator and also the baseball coach – took over for Lanzafama.

They like their Old Bridge in Old Bridge.

Old Bridge head coach Anthomy Lanzafama addresses his team after winning the 2020 edition of the “Battle of Route 18” against East Brunswick, with the trophy sitting at his feet. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

3. Remembering Ron Mazzola, Mr. Old Bridge

Nothing stunned the high school sports world in Central Jersey and beyond like the sudden passing of Ron Mazzola, the man known as Mr. Old Bridge. But he was also Mr. Wrestling, Mr. Gymnastics, Mr. Trophy, Mr. Anything-You-Need-You-Got-It-With-A-Smile.

Mazzola died in late February at the age of 61, and his passing touched everyone so that the line was out the door for hours at his wake, where those coming to pay their respects were urged to wear their favorite team jersey – and many did – and the background behind the casket was a projection of a Mets baseball game. Yes, you could have also called Ron “Mr. Met.”

This story was a tribute that included comments from former Old Bridge football coach Anthony Lanzafama, Old Bridge Athletic Director Dan DiMino, Old Bridge wrestling coach John Post, longtime friends Kevn Brady and Luca Rispoli, and former East BRunswick Athletic Director and GMC President Frank Noppenberger.

We also shared this story, a long, wide-ranging chat with Ron from five months prior: “Mr. Old Bridge,” Ron Mazzola, does a little bit of everything for Knights, Chargers, GMC.

By the following September, Old Bridge held a ceremony to name its football press box after Ron, and we also provided a video recap of the touching ceremony: A fitting tribute for Mr. Old Bridge, as Knights’ football press box is named for the late Ron Mazzola.

The press box at Old Bridge’s Bob DeMarco Field is unveiled in honor of late P.A. man Ron Mazzola on Thursday, September 1, 2022 (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

2. Edison-North Brunswick lives up to the hype, as Eagles win a wild one to clinch a finals berth for the first time since 1991

The last few years, every Edison-North Brunswick football game seemed like a wacky one. And the Raiders had continuously come out on top. But, in their second meeting of the 2022 season – in the Central Jersey Group 5 semifinals – the Eagles finally soared, although they looked like they’d been shot down for good with under five minutes to go in the game.

It took two touchdowns with two on-side kick recoveries, and then a field goal to win the game – all in the final four-plus minutes of regulation.


It was so stunning, that after our live broadcast that night from North Hunterdon, we sent a text to our reporter covering the game to see if it was over. The response from Chris Tsakonas: “All hell has broken loose here. I’ll explain later.”

Well, we let him get his postgame interviews, and then let him actually explain what type of hell had indeed broken loose at Steve Libro Field, along with reaction from head coach Matt Fulham, quarterback Matt Yascko, and linebacker/kicker Selbin Sabio, who converted the two on-side kicks and booted the game-winning field goal.

Edison, of course, would go on to win the CJ5 title, its first state sectional title in 31 years, and its third overall.

North Brunswick and Edison play in the Central Jersey Group 5 semifinals at Steve Libro Field in North Brunswick on November 4, 2022. (Photo: Chris Tsakonas)

1. Old Bridge head coach Matt Donaghue on one of the wildest finishes you’ll ever see in 27-22 win at South Brunswick

This might be the only ending that could top Edison’s, and we’ll let you debate that if you wish, especially because the end of this story doesn’t end with the end of this story.

Old Bridge missed a chance to take a late lead at South Brunswick when a field goal attempt failed in an early-season game, so first-year head coach Matt Donaghue was consoling his kicker when he was disrupted by screams saying his team had the ball. How was that possible?

After all, South Brunswick needed a first down to take a knee and run out the clock. They got the first down, took a knee, and needed to take one more. But they fumbled the snap, defensive lineman Robert Orzol jumped on it, the Knights scored to go ahead and held off the Vikings.

We caught up with Donaghue, who told us the wild story

Old Bridge head coach Matt Donaghue. (Source: @mattdonaghue23 on Twitter)

That would be a dramatic story on its own, if it wasn’t for the fact that it still wasn’t over yet.

About a month-and-a-half later, on Cutoff Weekend, Old Bridge finished 17th in the South Group 5 supersection, one spot out of the playoffs – right behind South Brunswick.


But once all the ties are broken, the NJSIAA uses a top-down head-to-head tiebreaker. That is, a team cannot finish behind a team it beat in the regular season. The tiebreaker goes from No. 2 (if it beat No. 1, it jumps them) all the way down to 17. And Old Bridge, at 17, beat South Brunswick, which was 16. That put the Knights in the playoffs, and left the Vikings out.

In our 2022 postseason awards, we honored Orzol with the “Full 48” Award – as in, playing the full 48 minutes, like the cliche goes – and got his side of the story. Click here to read about and hear Robert Orzol talk about the win, and how he and his teammates later found out they’d made the playoffs.

OPINION: NJSIAA proposal to allow one “free transfer” to all is a long time coming, and a step in the right direction

Full disclaimer: this is not a hot take.

Most people who know me know that when I’ve got an idea, I’ll tell anyone who will listen. Twice, if they let me.

So when a certain coach I know messaged me Wednesday afternoon to say the NJSIAA “stole” my idea, I had to wonder what it was.

As it turns out, per a published report out today by the USA Today Network, the NJSIAA has a proposal in the works that would allow all student-athletes, regardless of gender, sport or level – freshman, JV, or varsity – one transfer within their high school career without penalty. They would not need to have a bona fide change of address, a rule which has been the standard for many years now, and which also often has proven too difficult to enforce.

Any additional transfers, however, would be subject to the typical 30-day sit-out rule, while seniors would only have to sit out 15 days, per the report.

There are still more hurdles to clear, but in all honesty, it’s about time.

For one, the NJSIAA doesn’t have the personnel to track every single case. And we all know some schools find ways around the rules, both public and private.

I’ve been saying for a year or two now that the idea that kids don’t transfer for athletic advantage needs to be thrown out the window. It’s happening, and will continue to happen. Even when they enroll in a non-public school at the start of ninth grade, and sometimes even when they legitimately move from one town to another. Most times, it’s not about academics.

Everyone knows this. So why keep up the charade?

This proposal – though perhaps not directly – acknowledges that theory.

As I have been saying: “Let them transfer. Everyone gets a free pass – once. After that, if they want to transfer willy-nilly, it’s on them.”

But the proposed rule is also about equity. It levels the playing field: no more advantage to the schools that kind find the loophole.

And, it fits with the national trend – like it or not – of the student-athlete’s rights. It began in the college ranks, with NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) rules, and is filtering down to the high school level.

Meanwhile, per the report, the NJSIAA wants to focus more on illegal recruiting, and punishing the adults involved, not the players. This is also a step in the right direction.

It’s also likely a much less prevalent problem than the copious amount of transfers seen in New Jersey – 242 with more than one move over the past three years, according to the report – as not all of those involve recruiting. And determining whether a coach or administrator took part in recruiting is much easier than determining where a student-athlete’s primary residence is.

To the NJSIAA, and its membership, the new transfer rule is a great idea, and we hope to see it work its way through the system and become official in 2023-24.

A fitting tribute for Mr. Old Bridge, as Knights’ football press box is named for the late Ron Mazzola

He was everything to the Old Bridge community for decades. PA man, coach, mentor, organizer, uniform maker. But perhaps most importantly, a friend.

The passing of Ron Mazzola back in February at the age of 61 sent a tidal wave of shock and grief through the Old Bridge community.

So, less than seven months later, on the first day of September, he was honored in the best way possible: with the press box at Bob DeMarco Field being renamed, “The Ron Mazzola Press Box.

Click below to watch a video recap of Thursday’s ceremony:

St. Joseph alum, MiLB broadcaster John Nolan wins one for grooms everywhere

The average guy, when it comes to wedding prep, is somewhere in the background. Maybe an opinion or an idea here and there, but it’s often the bride-to-be designing and creating the wedding of their dreams.

John Nolan – a 2009 graduate of St. Joseph-Metuchen, who’s getting married this December – had one big idea. It went viral, and now it’ll be a part of the celebration when he marries his fiancee, Nicole.

Nolan – now in his tenth season broadcasting Fort Wayne Tin Caps baseball, a high-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres – grew up a big Mets fan, just like his father, who’s also the President of St. Joe’s. He’s been enjoying – from afar – the Mets’ run this year, leading the NL East through the end of play Sunday by 6 1/2 games over the Braves, after taking four of five from Atlanta at Citi Field this past weekend.

John Nolan and his fiancee, Nicole, take in an 8-5 Mets win over San Diego at Citi Field in New York on July 24, 2022. (Submitted photo)

And so John had the idea that he and his bride make their first public appearance, at their reception, walking out to the song “Narco,” performed by Blasterjaxx and Timmy Trumpet. That’s the tune that has been a sensation this summer, played over the PA in Queens as Mets’ closer Edwin Diaz comes in from the bullpen. The whole ballpark – even Mr. and Mrs. Met, faux trumpets blaring – participates.

Nicole didn’t think much of it, so Nolan took his idea to social media, and the rest, as they say, is history.

As of Monday afternoon, the post had surpassed 16,000 likes, more than four times his goal, and many more times what he ever thought it would get.

Click below to hear how John Nolan’s tweet went viral, and how he and his bride will walk out to “Narco” at their wedding this December:

SPONSORED: New Jersey Recruit Look helps student-athletes find their best fit, on the field and academically

A high school basketball player has multiple offers to play at the D3 level and is simply deciding where to go.

New Jersey Recruit Look is definitely not for her.

Nor is it for the quarterback who’s been on a few official visits, but is waiting for offers from Monmouth, or maybe a couple of HCBUs. He knows they’re on the way, it’s just a matter of time.

New Jersey Recruit Look is not for the kid who has it all figured out.

“Is that coach really interested in me?” “My highlights are online, why aren’t they recruiting me?” “Where can I get the most money for my education?”

Those are the questions they can help you with.

New Jersey Recruit Look – a founding sponsor of Central Jersey Sports Radio – is aimed at helping the student-athlete who’s not the most high profile, and needs a little help standing out in the crowd. Or maybe they’re not being recruited at all, but they’d like to keep playing lacrosse, even if they never get in the game.

What kind of academic scholarship money might be available? How can they find a good fit at any one of the many small colleges across the country?

That’s where New Jersey Recruit look comes in.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with George Ross – NJ Recruit Look’s New Jersey representative – about how they can help make you marketable as a student-athlete, and find the best fit both athletically and academically, as well as about a special offer being made to listeners of Central Jersey Sports Radio:

Remembering Ron Mazzola, Mr. Old Bridge

The high school sports world – especially the Old Bridge community – is heartbroken over the loss of the man who always wore a smile, whether he was calling the PA at home Knights’ football games, organizing the wrestling tournament, gymnastics, or printing t-shirts, or minting trophies.

Ron Mazzola died Monday at the age of 61. A lifelong Old Bridge resident, he rooted for everyone to have success, and always had a positive word to say about everyone and anyone.

Tributes have poured in all over social media for Mazzola, and we caught up with some of them to pay their respects to – and share some memories of – the man who will forever be known as Mr. Old Bridge.

Click below to listen:

Tip: To download the tribute, right click on the player above, and choose “Save Sound As.”

Central Jersey Sports Radio caught up with Ron Mazzola for a “Sunday conversation” this past fall, talking to him about all manner of things he’s done in the high school sports realm.

Click here to read that story and hear our conversation with him.