Balanced Lineup Leads No. 8 Long Branch Past No. 7 Wall in B North
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WALL TOWNSHIP — To say that Long Branch was fired up for a rematch with Wall after its state sectional final loss last season would be putting it mildly.
“There’s no question about it,” said Long Branch head coach Danny George. “You mention Wall, and there’s tension. We felt like we let one get away at the sectionals last year, and it still resonates with the guys on the team.”
The Green Wave, ranked No. 8 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, got some revenge on Saturday morning with a 32-28 Shore Conference Class B North victory over the No. 7 Crimson Knights. Long Branch won seven on the 13 contested bouts, picking up bonus points from Andy Hernandez (126), Lamont Reid (170), Joey Jasio (220) and Justin Farnsworth (106), the last of whom won by fall in the second-to-last match to clinch the victory and give the Green Wave a leg up in the race for the division title.
“They were down a little bit when we were on our run with the big teams, then they started firing back three years ago,” George said. “We know every time now it’s going to be a battle. It was a big match early in the season that we had to be ready for.”
Wall wrestled without star junior Brett Donner, who has still not wrestled this season while recovering from a high ankle sprain. Donner weighed in and warmed up before the 170- and 182-pound bouts, but it was only for show. Wall head coach Brian Fischer estimated Donner, who was third in the state at 160 pounds last season, is at about 70 percent, and is still day-to-day depending on how he feels after practice.
“It’s a tough decision, but we talked about it collectively and he’s not ready yet,” Fischer said. “If we put him out now and that hinders what we want to do down the road we can’t do it. I have to look at the bigger picture. If we don’t win the division but have a chance to do something bigger in states, I’d rather have that.”
Wall won key bouts in the lower half of the lineup as sophomore Nick Wagner pinned Jiovani Gomez at 132 and junior Joe Demuner beat Tommy Flannigan 2-1 in the second tiebreaker period at 138. Long Branch got back on the board when Danny Mullan edged Jack Wishart, 4-3 at 145 pounds. Sophomore Chad McClelland won 8-1 over Pat Tracey at 152 pounds and junior Josh Glantzman earned a 5-2 decision over Mike Shohet at 160 to open an 18-8 lead for the Crimson Knights through seven bouts.
With Donner out, however, it gave Long Branch an opportunity to not only win at 170 pounds, but earn bonus points. Junior Lamont Reid did exactly that when he turned and pinned Nick Iezzi in 5:10 to pull the Green Wave within four points at 18-14.
“Maybe this is my experience, but I’m at peace with our guys because we’re a blue-collar team, and we fight and scramble,” George said. “I can’ control whether Donner is going out or not. I’m not going to lie, I was excited once I didn’t see Donner, but the big thing was getting Lamont on (Iezzi) because he is one of their better upperweights.”
Freshman Peter Wersinger then beat Wall sophomore Kyle Dallicardillo, 9-3, at 182 pounds with a takedown and three near-fall points late in the third period. Sophomore Matt McKenzie kept Wall in front with a 15-2 major decision over John Mimes at 195 pounds, but it was short-lived. Long Branch junior Joey Jasio, who was down to 220 for the first time this year, pinned Tim McGevna in 3:01 to give Long Branch a 22-21 lead, its first since Andy Hernandez’s technical fall gave it a 5-3 lead in the second bout of the match.
“At 182 that was a big match for our freshman to battle like that,” George said. “He’s a fighter and it was really nice to see.”
“Jasio has been our unsung hero so far,” George added.
Jasio getting down to 220 pounds allowed junior heavyweight John Tomlinson to make his season debut, and he won a 3-2 decision over Darryl Valme to put the Green Wave up 26-22. Wall has wrestled without a 106-pounder all season, but didn’t have to forfeit this time as Jake Sabo made his season debut. The result was the same, however, as Farnsworth won by fall in 5:03 to clinch the match.
Long Branch also had a key performance in the opening bout as junior T.J. Conlon held Denzel Tovar, who is ranked eighth in the state at 120 pounds, to a 3-1 decision.
That’s what Long Branch does. It makes you compete at all 14 weights, and that balance and depth has the Green Wave off to a 9-0 start.
Wall, meanwhile, is still getting healthy and should have a much different lineup should the teams meet again. Besides Donner, Wall is without junior 220 Max von Suskill, who had to sit out 30 days after transferring from Red Bank Catholic. McClelland (shoulder) was just cleared on Friday while Wishart was returning from an ankle injury and wrestled in just his second bout.
“I have guys fighting through injuries that are just getting back to into the lineup and haven’t been able to keep their shape yet,” Fischer said. “When I do I think we’ll see a better performance from them.
“We’re right there with them, and with another guy in the lineup I think it’s a different outcome.”
No. 8 Long Branch 32, No. 7 Wall 28
120: Denzel Tovar (W) d. T.J. Conlon 3-1
126: Andy Hernandez (LB) tf. Ryan Valente 5:04 (20-4)
132: Nick Wagner (W) p. Jiovani Gomez 4:50
138: Joe Demuner (W) d. Tommy Flannigan 2-1 (TB-2)
145: Danny Mullan (LB) d. Jack Wishart 4-3
152: Chad McClelland (W) d. Pat Tracey 8-1
160: Josh Glantzman (W) d. Mike Shohet 5-2
170: Lamont Reid (LB) p. Nick Iezzi 5:10
182: Pete Wersinger (LB) d. Kyle Dallicardillo 9-3
195: Matt McKenzie (W) md. John Mimes 15-2
220: Joey Jasio (LB) p. Tim McGevna 3:01
Hwt: John Tomlinson (LB) d. Darryl Valme 3-2
106: Justin Farnsworth (LB) p. Jake Sabo 5:03
113: Jack Kelly (W) by forfeit
Records: at Wall (4-2, 2-1); Long Branch (9-0, 3-0)