Big Frog of Monmouth Wrestler of the Week: Southern’s Ben LoParo
Every week this season, Shore Conference wrestling fans will have their chance to vote for the Big Frog Shore Conference Wrestler of the Week on our website.
The winner of the Week 3 (Jan. 8 - Jan. 14) readers' vote for the Shore Conference Wrestler of the Week is Southern Regional sophomore Ben LoParo, who, in just his second bout of the season, knocked off a ranked wrestler as part of the Ram's emphatic 47-7 victory over Jackson Memorial that gave them the inside track to the Class A South division title.
A transfer from St. Augustine, LoPara had to sit out the first 30 days of the season in compliance with the NJSIAA's transfer rule. During Southern's match with Jackson, LoParo was matched up with Jaguars sophomore Kyle Epperly, a returning region qualifier who has bounced between 170 and 182 pounds and was ranked in the top 10 at 170 by TheShoreConference.com. Epperly scored the first takedown and led 3-0 early in the second period, but it was all LoParo from there as he stormed to an eye-opening 9-3 victory. LoParo took Epperly to his back for a four-point move that gave him a 4-3 lead, then turned Epperly again in the second period to lead 7-3 after the first four minutes. He added a takedown in the third period to win 9-3.
With Southern possessing a deep lineup, the win over Epperly was LoParo's only match of the week. He's wrestled in just three bouts since becoming eligible and sports a 2-1 record, but he made the most of his biggest opportunity and proved he can be a valuable piece for a Rams team that has its sights set on the NJSIAA Group 5 state championship.
LoParo surged late in the voting period to win with 36.75 percent of the vote to beat Raritan's Ethan Wolf and Lacey's Luke Gauthier.