When top-ranked Jackson Memorial and No. 5 Brick Memorial won their sectional semifinal matches on Wednesday you just knew it was going to be another classic between these two rivals on Friday night.
The action certainly did not disappoint.
Brick Memorial captured its 13th sectional title by knocking off previously undefeated Jackson Memorial, 35-29, in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV final in front of a capacity crowd at Jackson's Joe Perry Gymnasium. Freshman Cliff Ruggiero delivered yet another thrilling pin to start a four-bout winning streak and sophomore Tyler Poling found redemption in a 5-3 decision at heavyweight to lift the Mustangs to their third sectional title in since 2008.
Brick Memorial will wrestle No. 4 Southern Regional in the semifinals, 10 a.m. Sunday at Pine Belt Arena on the campus of Toms River North High School. The victor will face the winner of the Phillipsburg-West Orange match in the Group IV final at 3:30 p.m.
“I can't even express how I'm feeling right now,” Poling said. “I'm so happy I'm at a loss for words.”
When Brick Memorial lost to Jackson Memorial, 35-24 on December 21, Poling dropped a 3-2 decision to Mike Lopez in the final seconds. All season he's been waiting for his opportunity to strike back and used a pair of takedowns to secure the huge victory for Brick Memorial. Up 31-29 heading into the final bout, the Mustangs received a 10-1 major decision from sophomore state medalist Joe Ghione to clinch the title.
The spark was once again delivered by Ruggiero, who pinned Jaguars senior Randy Royle in 1:46 at 145 pounds. Ruggiero's clutch pins over Howell's Ashanti Maurice led Brick Memorial to wins in the Shore Conference Tournament final and the sectional semifinals. Senior Evan Berti followed with a pin at 152, Nick Costa won by decision at 160 and Tyler Richardson added a major decision victory at 170 to give Brick Memorial a 22-16 lead.
Jackson Memorial received major decisions from Ken Bradley at 182 and Dallas Winston at 195 to take a 24-22 lead, but junior Matt Moore produced another pin for Brick Memorial, making it 28-24 and setting up Poling at heavyweight. After Fred Terranova won by technical fall at 106 to make it 31-29, Ghione followed with his title-clinching major decision.
Bergen Catholic stops St. Peter's
Thanks to a last-second move by senior Hunter Kiselick, a key victory from sophomore Troy Schaafsma and a pin from sophomore Johnny Sebastian, Bergen Catholic captured its first sectional title and 13th overall with a 28-27 won on criteria over top-seeded St. Peter's Prep.
The Crusaders, ranked 10th in the latest MSG Varsity New Jersey rankings, upset No. 3 St. Peter's Prep on the fifth criteria: most falls. Since there were no disqualifications and the teams split the bouts 7-7, it went to pins where Sebastian's second-period fall at 160 pounds broke the tie and gave Bergen Catholic the one-point victory.
After Anthony Pafumi won by technical fall over Christian Jenco at 195 pounds, the Marauders had pulled to within 21-17 with five bouts left. At 220 pounds, senior Hunter Kiselick led Armond Cox 5-3 in the third period before Cox escaped and secured a takedown to tie the bout at 6 with 20 seconds left. But with under 10 seconds left, Kiselick hit an inside trip to put Cox to his back. The five-point move gave Kiselick an 11-6 win and pushed BC's lead to 24-17.
Ryan Medina edged Carmine Goldsack in overtime at heavyweight and Mike Russo grinded out at 1-0 win over Tyler Casamenti at 106 to make it 24-23 with two bouts left. Schaafsma then delivered a clutch 7-3 decision over Sonny Simonetti at 113 pounds to push the Crusaders' lead to 27-23. Ryan Burkert's 15-7 major decision for St. Peter's in the final bout tied the score at 27 and sent it to the scorers table.
Bergen Catholic will wrestle Christian Brothers Academy in the Non-Public A final, 6 p.m. Sunday at Pine Belt Arena. The Crusaders have won five NJSIAA Non-Public A titles and were finalists in 2009 when they fell to Camden Catholic.
Bound Brook wins in bizarre fashion
No. 11 Bound Brook captured its ninth sectional title on Friday, and the Crusaders didn't even have to take the mat to do so.
In an uncanny turn of events, visiting New Egypt decided to forfeit the Central Jersey Group I final because of concerns regarding two Bound Brook wrestlers that had been treated and subsequently cleared for the contagious skin condition impetigo, which is common in grappling sports such as wrestling. Bound Brook offered to remove one wrestler from the match, and later both, but New Egypt official's still expressed concern over its wrestlers contracting impetigo from other Bound Brook wrestlers and missing next weekend's district tournament. So even though Bound Brook's wrestlers in question had complied with NJSIAA rules regarding treatment and had been cleared by a physician, New Egypt felt the risk was not worth it.
Bound Brook, which was heavily favored in the sectional final, will wrestle North Jersey Section 1 champ Kittatinny in the Group I semifinals at 10 am on Sunday at Pine Belt Arena. The winner will face either three-time defending champion Paulsboro or Hanover Park. Paulsboro has won 28 Group I titles in 30 years. Bound Brook will be searching for its first group title.
Paramus wins No. 6...
Northern Highlands had its bid for its first sectional title thwarted by top-seeded Paramus, which captured its sixth sectional title with a 38-23 victory in the North Jersey Section 1, Group III final. Paramus won eight of 14 bouts and received pins from Justin Cochran at 120 pounds and from Brandon Lopresti at 152. Freshman Joe Trovato at 106 and sophomore Nick Bucci at 170 won by technical fall, and Mustafa Aslami won by major decision at 182 pounds to lead Paramus to victory.
Northern Highlands star Nick Gravina won by major decision, 12-2, over David Arrighi at 145 pounds. Northern Highlands also received a major decision from Brandon Latierno at 160 and a pin from Alexander Capicchioni at 220 pounds.
Paramus will wrestle Central Jersey Group III champion Ocean Township in the Group III semifinals at 12:30 Sunday at Pine Belt Arena. The winner will face either No. 2 South Plainfield or South Jersey Group III champ Timber Creek. South Plainfield defeated Timber Creek 52-10 earlier in the season. Paramus has never won a group title.
...And so does Hanover Park...
Hanover Park became the sixth different team in as many seasons to capture the North Jersey Section 2, Group I title when it defeated Belvidere 40-30 on Friday night. It is the sixth sectional championship for Hanover Park and its first since winning back-to-back titles in 2004 and 2005. Anthony Cefalo at 106, Joe Zecca at 126, Chris Bassolino at 132, Mike Finelli at 145 and Dan Glinko at 195 as Hanover Park won eight of the 13 contested bouts. Aside from the five pins, Hanover Park also received a major decision from Jon Radonski at 152.
The Hornets will take on 28-time Group I champ Paulsboro in the semifinals.
...And also Ocean Township
From 2004-2008 Ocean Township captured five straight Central Jersey Group III titles. After a brief hiatus, the Spartans are back on top.
The No. 9 Spartans dominated Brick Township, 39-9, winning 11 of 14 bouts to advance to Sunday's group semifinals. Freshman Zach Hertling remained undefeated with a first-period pin at 120 pounds and Ocean also received bonus points via a technical fall by Nick Pappayliou at 152 and a major decision from Colton Bigelow at 220. Those were the only bouts that produced bonus points, however, as the Spartans won several close bouts en route to opening a 26-3 lead.
Jordan Eugenis scored the only takedown for a 3-1 decision over Kyle Wojtaszek at 113 and Jason DaCruz edged Brian Matthews 3-2 at 132. Consecutive overtime bouts followed as Orion Rovegno topped Joe Paton 4-2 in overtime before Withler Marcelin eked out a 3-2 win over Steve Cimmino in extra time. At 160 pounds, Mike Andre held on for a 1-0 win over Ray Fattaruso.
Ocean, which has never won a group title, takes on Paramus in the semifinals.
Sunday's Group Championship Schedule
At Pine Belt Arena, Toms River North High School
Semifinals, 10 a.m.
Brick Memorial vs. Southern Regional
Phillipsburg vs. West Orange
Final, 3:30 p.m.
Semifinals, 12:30 p.m.
Ocean Township vs. Paramus
South Plainfield vs. Timber Creek
Final, 6 p.m.
Semifinals, 12:30 p.m.
Raritan vs. High Point
Delsea vs. Brearley
Final, 6 p.m.
Semifinals, 10 a.m.
Bound Brook vs. Kittatinny
Paulsboro vs. Hanover Park
Final, 3:30 p.m.
Non-Public A Final
Bergen Catholic vs. Christian Brothers Academy, 6 p.m.
Non-Public B Final
Camden Catholic vs. DePaul Catholic, 3:30 p.m.
Bob Badders covers wrestling for MSG Varsity. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders