BERKELEY – Circle Sept. 7 and Sept. 8, on your calendar.
Take a stroll down Memory Lane.
The latest members of the Central Regional High School Athletics Hall of Fame will be honored.
A banquet will take place at the B2 Bistro in the Bayville section of Berkeley Township at 6 p.m. Sept. 7. For ticket information, contact Central athletics director John Scran at firstname.lastname@example.org. The inductees will also be cited at halftime of the Golden Eagles’ home football game against Toms River East at 7 p.m. Sept. 8.
The honorees are Erin Trapp (2015), Amanda Carolan (2015), Ibn Moye (2009), Paul Fay Jr. (2006) and the 2004-05 and 2005-06 wrestling teams.
Erin Trapp earned nine varsity letters, playing soccer, basketball and softball. In soccer, she was a four-year varsity starter and a two-year team captain. She was one of the Golden Eagles’ career points leaders with 121 on 41 goals and 39 assists as an offensive midfielder.
“Scoring is so fun,” she said, “but giving an assist is the most rewarding as it is my nature to help others. Central Regional is always competitive in soccer and assisting is fun as it helps us toward our goal of winning. That is why assisting is the most rewarding. I was very good in the air where I did a lot of work. I had a real great read of the game. I had awareness on the field. Center midfield was the right position for me.”
With the 5-foot-5 Trapp in the lineup, the Golden Eagles won three Shore Conference Class B South titles. Central earned a berth in the Shore Conference Tournament championship match and qualified for three NJSIAA Group III sectional finals.
Trapp was a three-time All-Class B South division team member. She was a first and second-team All-Ocean County selection and a third-team All-Shore honoree as a junior and senior. With Trapp on the roster, the PDA Arsenals won the high school U-17 national title in 2015. She played four years at Columbia University. She played in 33 career matches and started 16, competing in 277 minutes.
Trapp began her softball career as a sophomore and played in the outfield as a junior and senior.
“Of course, soccer was my favorite sport,” she said, “and I had always played basketball since I was a little kid. The softball coach, Steve Stout, said, ‘C’mon over. Let’s see you try it out.’ I had been a manager for the team and he was looking for some runners. He said, ‘You can run and you played soccer.’ He let me play the outfield and hit. I really enjoyed trying something new. It was a challenge to play it. I played soccer year round. Softball was something new. I am a pretty competitive person. We had a pretty awesome team when I was a senior. We had an awesome win against Lacey. The team was competitive and that made it just as much fun.”
Trapp played basketball under head coach John Truhan.
“He made me tough,” she said. “He recognized my talents and made me tough. He said I could be a decent basketball player. He wanted me to reach my potential. He said, ‘This is what I see that you can achieve and here is how I will help you.’ It was super important that he saw the potential in me and helped me achieve my goals.”
Ranked third in her class, Trapp owned the highest grade point average on the softball team in 2014 and the top GPA on the girls basketball team in 2013-14. She was on the honor roll during each semester.
Trapp, 25, graduated from Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a 3.20 grade point average. She is an athletic academic counselor at Mississippi State University where she works with the Bulldogs’ football and women’s golf teams. She works with 47 football players and eight golfers. Her Columbia jersey hangs in her office. She played in 33 career matches and started 16. She was scoreless in 277 career minutes.
Columbia offered me a balance of academics and athletics,” Trapp said. “The Ivy League is very, very challenging and the academics would help me develop as a person. New York City was intimidating to me, but I wanted to be in a place that would grow me. Columbia was not too far from home and I could go home easily. I had the chance to compete at the Division I level and that was important to me.”
Trapp said competing at Central made her strong off the field and the court.
“It helped me with my leadership skills,” she said. “It gave me the opportunity to be creative. A lot of times, I was hurt playing soccer with a couple of injuries. I wound up leading the team from the sideline. I was not the best in softball or basketball, but I still had opportunities to lead. When I was at Columbia, I had a great freshman year, then got Compartment Syndrome and led the team from the sideline.”
Prior to MSU, she was an assistant academic coordinator at the University of South Florida where she worked with its football, soccer, tennis, golf and softball teams. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a master’s degree in sport leadership and served as a women’s soccer graduate assistant coach. She posted a 4.00 grade point average at VCU.
These days, she coaches a U-9 girls soccer team in the Tupelo FC in Starkville, Mississippi, her new hometown. It brings back memories of when she played in the Berkeley Township Soccer Association under head coach Jimmy Dellapietro and her mom. Trapp played four years of varsity soccer under head coach Kristee Paknis, a former Manchester Township High School standout. Trapp’s mom coached Paknis at Manchester.
“I am the head coach,” she said, “and I love it.”
Trapp will drive four hours from Starkville to Atlanta where she will fly two hours to Philadelphia before being honored. She will attend the ceremony and the game.
“I am very excited,” she said. “I am super honored to be a part of this and super grateful to have the opportunity to go to my hometown and reconnect with Amanda. During my years at Central, a lot of people were invested in me as an athlete and student. I will reconnect with them and thank the people who transformed my high school career.”
News of the inductions reached social media.
“The athletic department posted the news and the girls soccer team congratulated me with a tweet,” Trapp said. “It’s crazy to think that I am still remembered. It’s awesome. When I saw that, it made me realize that there is still such a supportive environment.”
Trapp said she learned of the honor “a few months ago” from Scran. The administrator reached Trapp through her mother, Victoria, a former Jackson Memorial High School player.
“I am grateful,” she said. “My first thought was a little bit of shock as I did not expect it. I am grateful for all at Central Regional who helped me achieve those stats. I am especially grateful for my dad, Brian, brother Jason and my mom. I have always had a love for the game. I was determined to always be better and keep developing. My folks put me in the position to play for the PDA (Player Development Academy), which is near Hillsborough.
“They drove me a long way to play there since I was eight years old. They knew I loved the game and I wanted the best training and development. I am so grateful they put in all of that time and energy into my training when I was really young.”
Amanda Carolan was a four-year starter and a two-year captain of the soccer team. She set school records for career goals (108), career assists (47) and career points (371). With Carolan in the lineup, the Golden Eagles won 63 matches and three Class B South championships. Central competed in the SCT championship match and in three Group III sectional title matches.
With Carolan erupting for a school single-season record 45 goals, the Golden Eagles posted their best record in school history (19-3). She was named the Star Ledger Ocean County Player of the Year and second-team all-state. She was a two-time first-team All-Group III selection, a two-time first-team all-shore selection and a four-time All-Class B South selection. She was named the Golden Eagles’ Most Valuable Player in two seasons. She scored 36 goals and added 15 assists as a junior. She captained the Golden Eagles’ girls lacrosse team as a senior.
“Over my four years (in soccer), I had the fortune of playing on such a strong team,” she said. “Goals start with a brick wall as the goalie. We had real strong midfielders (Carolan was a forward). We had great chemistry and so many great players. We all enjoyed playing together and we let that show on the field.”
Carolan said she did not have a powerful shot on goal.
“I definitely did not have a hard shot,” she said. “Erin had a rocket for a shot. My shot was more on the finesse side on a breakaway. I was coached by so many people who enabled me to understand defenses well. I read the back line and figured out how to penetrate through it.”
At Central, Carolan earned the Scholar-Athlete Award (2011-14) and the Athletic Academic Award for Outstanding Scholar-Athlete for having the highest grade point average on the soccer team (2012-14). She was a member of the National Honor Society, the Math Honor Society, the Science Honor Society and the Spanish Honor Society. She was the Salutatorian of her senior class.
She received an athletic scholarship to play for Georgetown University where she netted 34 career goals and added 16 assists for 84 points. She twice played in the College Cup. As a graduate student, she led the Hoyas in points with 29 on a team-high 11 goals and seven assists.
She was a unanimous All-Big East first-team selection and was named to the Big East All-Tournament team. She was named to the United Soccer Coaches All-East Region first team and to the Scholar All-Region second team. She was a second-team Scholar All-American and an All-Eastern College Athletic Conference selection.
In 2018, she was fourth on the Hoyas with 12 points. In 2017, she tied for first on the Hoyas with nine goals and added two assists for 20 points. She was named to the United Soccer Coaches All-Midwest Region second team. She was a first-team All-Big East selection. She earned three Big East weekly awards, including two Offensive Player of the Week honors.
Carolan was named the Big East Freshman of the Year in 2016. She was a unanimous selection to the Big East All-Freshman team. She was a Big East Academic All-Star. She tied for third on the team in points with 23 and was fourth on the team with 10 goals scored. She hoped to compete as a freshman in 2015, but did not play because of injuries. However, she was named a Big East Academic All-Star.
“In high school,” Carolan said, “I relied a lot more on my speed. In college, everyone was faster than me. I had to study the game better and do a lot more preparation work. I went from more of a forward and attacking player to posting up on the center backs rather than running down the sideline.”
The 5-foot-9 Carolan chose Hoyas over the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Delaware and Villanova University. She owns a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics and Statistics and a Master’s Degree in Applied Intelligence from Georgetown.
“Georgetown offered me the perfect combination of competing in a Division I program with outstanding coaches and great players who would challenge me,” Carolan said. “It also offered rigorous academics. Everyone on the team was academically focused. I was surrounded by so many girls who cared about academics. It was inspiring and made you want to be the best person you could be. There was the trifecta of location (in Washington, D.C.), academics and athletics and it was hard to look away.”
Carolan works as a management consultant with the United States Department of Defense. She plays recreational soccer with colleagues.
“I work on emerging technologies and bolstering our cyber security defense posture,” she said. “It’s definitely a passion of mine and I am fortunate to find my way into this career. I uniquely navigated myself to it and I have been in this field for a couple of years.”
Carolan, 26, credited her parents, James Carolan, a former Brick Township High School and Oklahoma State University pitcher, and Lori Carolan for a large part of her success. Another key member of Team Carolan is an older sister, Breanna, who attended Sacred Heart University.
“My dad is an inspiration,” she said. “Our basement is flooded with newspaper clippings and medals from when he played,” she said. “It’s good to look back on that. My grandmother, Edna Carolan, saved those things. From a young age, sports were always something I shared with my parents. I felt I could be the same because of the support and dedication they put in.”
Carolan said her parents instilled strong values.
“I could not be more thankful for my parents and for all of the support they provided me,” she said. “They instilled morals in me and the belief that you can achieve things if you work hard. I have carried that belief through my high school, college and my career. When you find something you love doing and are surrounded by people you love being with, they will support you, challenge you and lift you up. Everything starts to come together in a way that is really beautiful.”
It promises to be a memorable weekend for Trapp and Carolan.
“This is one of those full circle moments for Amanda and I – all of the work we put in for 18 years,” Trapp said. “To be a part of this ceremony will be something that I will never forget. We’ve played soccer together since we were about three or four years old. We played on the same team (in the Berkeley Township Soccer Association) growing up. We were in all of the same classes. She is a huge reason I kept developing. We were side by side. She continued to push me and make me better. I am super excited for all of the success she had at Georgetown.
“Her skill set was impressive at Central as was her speed,” Trapp said. “When we ran sprints, I tried to match her speed. She was super humble, I felt we were like a duo. Her ability to finish and find the net was pretty incredible. Her drive to the net made her an impressive soccer player and it showed up in the stats.”
Carolan, who will hop on a red eye flight from her San Diego home to attend the events, said she looks forward to reconnecting with Trapp.
“It’s definitely nice to be inducted with Erin,” Carolan said. “We learned the game together and developed together. It’s real special to be inducted alongside her. She had a huge impact on my career. She made the people around her better.”
Carolan said Scran informed her of the honor.
“Oh wow,” she said. “My first thought was that it was honestly such an honor. Central Regional High School has produced some really great athletes over the past few decades and even farther back. Being inducted is such a privilege. I have such fond memories and I really cherish those times. Being inducted is a culmination of what I still to this day cherish and hold very near and dear to my heart.”
Ibn Moye starred in basketball for the Golden Eagles and earned second-team All-Class B South honors as a freshman. He continued his career at St. Benedict’s Prep of Newark as a sophomore and returned to Central for his junior and senior seasons. He led the Golden Eagles to the Class B title as a junior. He was named second-team all-shore and first team all-division, averaging 18.8 points per game.
During his senior year, he was named first-team all-shore and the Ocean County Player of the Year, averaging a Shore Conference-best 23.8 points per game. He scored 1,298 career points and set five school records – two of which still stand today. He captained Central as a senior.
Moye, 32, learned of the honor through Scran.
“I was like wow, shocked,” he said. “When I learned of the honor, I was down and out as I was hurt playing basketball in a men’s league. This honor reminds me of the hard work I put in over the years. The honor just happened. When I was playing, I never thought of it. I was just out there having fun. I was not chasing anything. Before I played, we had several 1,000-point scorers. They said I was close to it and I said, ‘Go for it.’ “
Moye said he will attend the events.
“It will be cool,” he said. “When I was a freshman, a lot of the wrestling guys were like big brothers to me. It will be good seeing them.”
A former Delaware State University student, Moye continued his career at Stockton University during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons. He averaged 8.5 points, 2.7 rebounds per game during his career. He buried 65 shots from deep where he shot 45.8 percent in 38 career games. He was twice named the New Jersey Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Rookie of the Week in 2010-11. He led the league in three-point shooting (47.3 percent) and tied for eighth in the conference in three-pointers per game (1.7) in 2011-12. He scored a career-high 19 points against Kean University on Feb. 16, 2011.
Moye played under coach Gerry Matthews, who retired as New Jersey’s career wins leader at all levels among men’s basketball coaches. Matthews guided the Ospreys to a 603-243 record in 30 seasons. His teams never had a losing season.
“He was tough, a good coach, very analytical,” Moye said. “He utilized percentages. He wanted us to hold teams to under 30 percent from the field to give us a better chance of winning. He made the game a science. Coach Clemente had a good system, the same one that coach Matthews used. I was able to fit right in. On defense, the systems were pretty much the same. Be aggressive. Play with high intensity. Coach Clemente was analytical, but not as much as coach Matthews.
“I have a few (10) players in the hall of fame and I certainly feel Ibn deserves it,” said Mike Clemente, his coach at Central. “It took a little bit of time. Ibn is a very talented kid. He’s one of the few freshmen to play varsity for me as he was that talented. I don’t feel St. Benedict’s was such a great move as he was not a big kid (at six feet) and he did not play much there.”
Moye drained a game-tying three-point shot from the top of the key in the waning seconds against Monsignor Donovan and the Golden Eagles prevailed over the Griffins in overtime of his senior year.
“I knew I could shoot the ball from anywhere,” he said. “When I made the shot, the whole gym was silent.”
Moye helped the Golden Eagles to a share of the Class B South title with Donovan as a junior.
“Ibn was a clutch shooter who was quick and made a lot of steals,” Clemente said. “He was an exciting player to watch. He could really light it up and score. In one state tournament game, he made seven three-point shots. He hit the jumper from real far out and went to the basket. He made quite a few steals in our pressure defense. He had lightning speed. That was his thing. He was really, really fast and a good shooter.”
Moye works with the Golden Eagles of Clemente’s younger son, Mike, a former Central standout.
“Ibn still goes to the Central games and coaches our young kids,” the elder Clemente said. “My son said he is a heck of a coach and communicates well with the kids. His basketball knowledge and personality are really good.”
“I love working with them,” Moye said. “I am still learning basketball. As a player, I was raw. I am still learning how to run an offense and direct defenses.
In football, Moye was a three-year varsity letter winner and a two-year starter. He threw for 690 yards at quarterback. He continued his basketball career at Delaware State University and finished his career at Stockton University.
Moye owns a Beachwood trucking firm, Logistics Carriers. He built the company by himself.
Paul Fay Jr. earned letters in track, baseball and cross country. As a junior, he became a high school all-American after placing sixth at the 2005 Nike Indoor Nationals. As a senior, he sped to South Jersey Group III outdoor titles in the 200 meters and the 400. He also won the Eastern States title in the 400 in an Ocean County indoor record 48.66. He qualified for state competition in all four years, totaling nine trips and bringing home five combined medals in the 200 and 400.
He brought the Golden Eagles 10 Ocean County titles and five Shore Conference championships in four events. He was a five-time first-team all-shore selection, a five-time All-Ocean County selection and a five-time team Most Valuable Performer. He competed in six seasons and qualified five times for national competition in the 400. He owns three individual school records. He helped Central to four school records in the relays. His school record of 47.65 in the 400 is among the top five in Shore Conference history.
“I watched Paul do his thing,” Moye said. “He was good, a natural. He worked hard. He ran effortlessly. Michael Jordan was a good coach. With Paul’s natural ability and coach Jordan’s coaching, it was a perfect mix, a perfect fit.”
Central’s 2004-05 wrestling team won South Jersey Group III – the first sectional championship in program history – and Hawk Classic titles. Team members were Bryan Davis, Mike Santonastasso, Nick Tenpenny, Matt Van Houten, Sean DeDeyn, Josh Rossi, Bill Tenpenny, Ryan Lyons, James Daly, Jack Weaver, Brian Powers, Len Forsyth, Ray Kenny, Juergen Spalding, Rich Perretti, John Mackie, Nick Weaver, Mike Denver and Rick Foster.
Kenny won his weight class at the Hawk Classic. Nick Weaver was fourth in the state, first in District 24 and first in Region VI. He earned first-team All-Ocean County and all-shore honors. The host Golden Eagles captured the SJ III crown with a 37-26 win over four-time defending champion Kingsway Regional.
“We were the new kids on the block and I don’t think the other teams in our section had a feel for us,” then-Central coach Mike Bischoff said. “A quad we had scheduled just before the cutoff down in Absegami was cancelled because of snow so Kingsway missed out on a good opportunity to scout us if they wanted to. On the other hand, we had them very well scouted.”
The Golden Eagles entered the match optimistic of success.
“We were very confident in the horses we had in the stable,” Bischoff said. “I don’t want to say we were Herb Brooks and the USA team going against the Russians in the 1980 Olympics, but it was kind of like that. Brooks had a plan to defeat the Russians and the players to enact it. Well, we watched the movie ‘Miracle’ a lot during the season before our matches and we knew Kingsway better than they knew themselves. We had a plan and we knew we had a good shot at them. They were the four-time defending SJ Group III champions and to us they were the Russians.”
The Golden Eagles carried Bischoff, then a 6-foot, near 235-pounder, in celebration around the mat several times after the match.
Nick Weaver’s work ethic played a vital role in the Golden Eagles’ success. He had competed for a private prep school before transferring to Central.
“When I was still new to the program at Central, I found out we had a very good wrestler living in Bayville,” Bischoff said. “As fate would have it, we were able to get him to come back and compete for us at Central. He was a stud and a proven winner who oozed confidence on the mat. I think his demeanor and work ethic rubbed off on the other guys on the team. He used to run along Route 9 with a backpack full of bricks. This was long before guys today started using fancy weighted vests. He would go into the woods and chop down trees. He was a game changer for us and the final chess piece.”
Nick Weaver spoke privately to the team prior to the match against Kingsway. He received permission from Bischoff.
“Whatever he said to them worked,” Bischoff said. “I can remember when we went out to warm up for the match a couple of guys broke from their usual routine to go over and touch the South Jersey Group III trophy at the head table as if it had already belonged to us.”
The team will never be forgotten. A banner signed by each team member hangs in Central’s main gymnasium.
“It forever immortalizes the team in school history,” Bischoff said.
Central’s assistant coaches were Todd Cucci, Bryan Rybosack, John Weinlein (a hall of fame member), Paul Kenny, Mike Tsucalas and Alan Hackel.
“John Weinlein is probably the smartest person I know,” Bischoff said. “He has a brilliant wrestling mind. Part of being a great coach is that you have to be a fan of the sport. To this day, John and I and a few other coaches travel to the NCAA Division I Tournament each year because we are fans of the sport. It may seem like a small thing, but to be successful as a wrestling coach you have to be a fan of the sport as well.”
Tsucalas had competed under the previous regime. His dad was on the Central Regional School District Board of Education and a huge wrestling fan.
Bischoff also credited Joe Birmingham and his “crew with the Berkeley Mat Rats” for the team’s success.
“Joe had college wrestling experience and was uber supportive of me when I got the job as head coach,” Bischoff said. “He is well respected in the wrestling community and is a huge fan of the sport. He’ll spend hours talking wrestling with anyone he meets and runs a great program with the young ones. His work with the Mat Rats was a big part of our success.”
Central had a strong fan base.
“Our parents were great,” Bischoff said. “Many of them had been on the wrestling circuit for a while and knew the routine. They took a chance on me and fought with the board of education to get me the job despite the fact this was my first head coaching job after having been an assistant coach elsewhere. They were willing to put the care and development of their children in my hands and I am forever grateful for that trust. Although wrestling wasn’t the most popular sport in the township at the time, the community came together and rallied around us. It was fun to watch and be a part of. They really packed the gym on the night of the Kingsway match.”
The Golden Eagles finished their season at 12-6 overall, including 5-1 in Class B South. Bischoff visited the United States Marine Corps’ base on Parris Island during a summer as part of an educational program the Marines offered to teachers and administrators across the nation.
“I learned that everything the Marines do has a purpose,” he said. “I had purposely chosen this league specifically because many of the South Jersey Group III teams were also there. I took copious notes each week with names, wrestling styles and wrestler’s builds, etc., so that when the time came during the season we had more to go on as we scouted the teams we needed to defeat. It was no small coincidence that five of the six teams that qualified for that year’s sectional tournament had competed in the summer duals that past July.
“Oh, by the way, we won the summer league, leaving many coaches scratching their heads asking, ‘Who are these guys?’ As the saying goes, ‘Summer wrestlers make winter champions.’ ”
“The previous season, which was my first, we were predicted to finish second and we ended up winning the first outright divisional title in wrestling for Central since 1989,” Bischoff said. “We were definitely turning things around quickly yet we failed to qualify for the sectional tournament because the schedule put in place prior to my arrival was weak. Despite our record, which was something like 15-6, we did not have enough power points to qualify. It’s not like some other sports where just about every team gets in. Only the top six teams qualified so power points were key. We needed to strengthen our schedule.
“I never cared about our team record. We tried to schedule tough teams so that our guys would be ready for the postseason, which we called ‘Championship Month.’ I always thought Warren Reid operated in a similar fashion back in the day at Toms River East. The only caveat was that your team needed to be either .500 or better to qualify. Anyway, one of our strong points was our strength of schedule and I felt as though we were battle tested.”
Leading the Golden Eagles into battle in 2004-05 were Billy Tenpenny and Kenny.
“Billy spoke softly and carried a big stick,” Bischoff said. “A few months earlier, Billy had torn his knee up pretty badly. It required surgery and the doctors said he would never wrestle that season. His family was understandably upset. I told his parents not to tell him what the doctors said and have him go through his therapy with the belief that he would be okay. Kids are resilient. Billy put in the work and was able to return to the team a few weeks into the season. He did a great job for us.”
Kenny also provided leadership. His nephew, Paul Kenny, a former Central Regional Middle School standout coached by Bischoff, won a world championship in the U17 age group in Istanbul, Turkey, earlier this summer and will compete for Christian Brothers Academy.
“Ray was the heart and soul of the team,” Bischoff said. “A wrestler I knew from Southern Regional once said wrestling Ray Kenny was like wrestling a bear. He did anything and everything I asked him to do for the team. He was the toughest kid in the school and a great leader for us.”
The Golden Eagles’ slogan was Anything But Typical.
“As the story goes, when I was new to Central. I was full of energy and had all sorts of ideas to improve the team,” Bischoff said, “but I was a North Jersey guy and an outsider. I was told the things that worked in other schools like Hasbrouck Heights, St. Joe’s Montvale and Southern – successful schools where I previously coached – wouldn’t work at Central because these are just ‘typical kids from Bayville’ and that ‘I would understand once I had been around awhile.’ The statement was offensive to me and I was frustrated with the lack of motivation to be better than average. Long story short, I went home and told my wife that if I ever got the head coaching job at Central the first thing I would do is get a bunch of T-shirts made up with Anything But Typical on the back.”
The slogan sticks with DeDeyn to this day.
“There’s more to the story and only a few people know the whole thing, but I leave the names out not to embarrass anyone, but the saying stuck and Central continues to use it today,” Bischoff said. “I’m not sure anyone now knows the true origins of it, but a bunch of guys have gotten Anything But Typical tattooed on themselves. Sean, who owns his very successful business, uses it everywhere. The guys have it on their business cards, T-shirts, etc. Sean even has it in big fluorescent lights in his office.
“It’s cool and I’m happy it continues to inspire people years later. In short, Anything But Typical stands for rising above people’s preconceived notion of one’s own innate ability and demolishing their low level of expectation.”
The Golden Eagles made several sacrifices to achieve success.
“In the words of Dan Gable, ‘Wrestling is not for everyone, but it should be,’ ” Bischoff said. “I originally got hired very late in the summer so for my first season we didn’t get to have an off season program. Consequently, after that first season and winning our division, expectations were high for us and the off season program was key. We had practice twice a week for three hours though the last hour was usually some fairly intense games of ping pong.
“We entered a summer dual meet league out west somewhere. It was a bit of a haul, but the parents and I would drive our guys out to compete each week, knowing win or lose it was about getting valuable experience. One of the guys, I think it was John Mackie, said, ‘The summer is great because win or lose you get the opportunity to eat ice cream afterwards.’ “
The team’s motivational music was “Sleep Now in the Fire,” by Rage Against the Machine.
“Man,” Bischoff said, “every time our music hit the atmosphere in the gym became electric. Muscle memory and mental preparation was something we strived for and once that music hit the goose bumps arose, the goal came into focus and we were ready to roll. In a dual match, each wrestler competes one time. For me, I wrestled 14 times. I felt the pain and the agony as well as the thrill of victory for every wrestler. By the end of a dual, I’d be exhausted.
“I think that was a big part of it. Experiencing and dealing with their different personalities was humbling for me and I’m grateful to have been granted access to it. Wrestling is often considered an individual sport, but when 14 different personalities come together and achieve something no one else in the school has done before it can be quite a thrill.”
Central won its second SJ III title with a 34-27 victory over host Kingsway. Team members were Jack Loizos, Garret Lavaggi, Matt Weaver, Mike Denver, Randy Faiges, Ricky Zieser, Nicholas Weaver, Dan Duddy, Brian Powers, John Mackie, Nicholas Tenpenny, Rick Foster, Mario Lynn, Len Forsyth, Ryan Lyons and Sean DeDeyn. The latter, a heavyweight, clinched both titles with wins at heavyweight, the final bout of the match.
“We were still riding on the strength of the energy we had captured from winning our school’s first South Jersey Group III title the year before,” Bischoff said. “Expectations were high now that we had established ourselves as one of the better teams in our area. The Shore Conference, especially Ocean County, was loaded at the time. The fact we were ranked ninth in the state and only fifth in Ocean County speaks volumes to the level of elite competition in our area. Anything is possible when you’re anything but typical.
“Our team battled through injuries and whatnot. We were no longer going to catch anyone by surprise. We had a number of good wrestlers, but it was difficult to find places in the lineup for everyone. Lyons (160) and Denver (160) competed at 170 and 189, respectively. We had a lot of experience returning. Powers, Forsyth, Nicholas Weaver, Nicholas Tenpenny and DeDeyn had tasted success and were hungry for more. They were prepared to sit at the head of the table.”
Powers passed away a short time ago.
“He stood out in a room full of characters,” Bischoff said. “He came up big for us numerous times during his four years with us and always showed up in the spotlight where lesser wrestlers often wilted.”
The Golden Eagles were 17-7 overall, including 6-0 for first place in Class B South. They won the Hawk Classic and placed second in District 24. They were ranked 10th in the Gannett New Jersey Poll. The Golden Eagles crowned a program school single-season five District 24 champions in Nicholas Weaver, Nicholas Tenpenny, Powers, Lynn and Lyons. Bischoff was named the District 24 Coach of the Year.
Lynn, Lyons and Nicholas Tenpenny were first at the Southern Regional Robin Leff Tournament. Nicholas Weaver, Nicholas Tenpenny and DeDeyn muscled to titles at the Hawk Classic. Nicholas Weaver was first in Region 6.
“Forsyth, Nicholas Weaver and DeDeyn were the heart and soul of the team,” Bischoff said. “They competed together since they were kids and are still close today, all these years later. Sean and Lenny are business partners in a highly successful recruiting firm.”
Central wrestled tough competition prior to competing in South Jersey Group III.
“Being that I am a North Jersey guy, I knew that some of the top Group III teams in other sections were not as strong as those schools in the Shore Conference,” Bischoff said. “We started to schedule out of area teams that had inflated power points to help manipulate the power points system. By defeating those teams, we were able to score a lot of power points and then some to help raise our seed in the South Jersey rankings and overall state rankings. We wanted a strong schedule. I didn’t care about our record. I wanted us battle tested and ready for the postseason in February. No one cares in February what you did in December.”
An assistant coach was Chris Clerico, who hailed from North Jersey.
“He and I immediately connected,” Bischoff said. “He is a big fan of wrestling. He was more level headed than I. He was influential in helping scout our opponents and in building match strategy. The guys on the team really liked him.”
Paul Kenny, who competed for Central, was a volunteer assistant coach for two seasons.
“The kids looked up to him,” Bischoff said. “His style was slick and he could still roll with the light guys.”
Bischoff learned of the honors at his home from Scran. Bischoff had been discharged from a hospital.
“I was happy to say the least,” Bischoff said. “Those of us in the program were beginning to think it would never happen, but times are changing at Central in a positive way and more sports are being recognized. Mr. Scran arranged for a banquet. I am very happy for the guys who were a part of these teams. I know they are looking forward to it. I told Mr. Scran those guys deserve it not because of the championships they won but because I put them through hell and back again with some insane workouts to develop them mentally and physically.
“I guess I had to capitulate every so often to let them play rap music in the wrestling room. I do not enjoy rap music, but if it gets us wins so be it. We had some talented thoroughbreds in the stable. They just needed the right jockey to help steer them across the finish line. I was fortunate to be influential in their success.”
Bischoff’s wife, Patty, and parents, William and Sandra, have supported him in his success and the success of the teams.
“My wife knew she was marrying a wrestler,” he said. “We dated when I was still competing in college and she witnessed some of the craziness that goes along with it. Our twin boys, Nathaniel and Kellen, (they have a sister, Raegan) were born the year I first became head coach so she had a lot to deal with on her own when I was busy with other people’s children.
“My dad was also a huge part of it. When I was an active wrestler, he never once missed a match of mine. All through rec, high school and college, he never missed one match. One time when I was young, he was going to have to miss a match due to a personal commitment. As luck would have it, it snowed that night and the match was postponed. The streak remained intact. He was super supportive and a guiding light for me.”
Bischoff said even those who come up short in the sport’s statistics are still winners.
“Wrestling builds character,” he said. “Unlike other sports, there are no losers in wrestling – only those who fail to try. There are not many activities that offer a sensation as satisfying as having one’s hand raised in victory.”