Clutch Performances By Jay Epperly and Austin Ostrander Help No. 5 Jackson Memorial Nip No. 7 Brick Memorial
JACKSON -- In order to start wrestling to their potential, Jackson Memorial head coach Aaron Gottesman knew his Jaguars had to start doing their jobs from top to bottom.
Jackson, ranked No. 5 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, received exactly that kind of performance on Wednesday night in a 34-29 Shore Conference Class A South victory over No. 7 Brick Memorial in another thrilling dual between the two storied programs. Senior Jay Epperly won a crucial double-overtime bout at 152 pounds, senior Austin Ostrander saved bonus points at heavyweight and freshman Carsten DiGiantomasso clinched the match with a pin in the final bout at 106 pounds as the Jaguars ended a long home losing streak to the rival Mustangs.
"We have a long history and in recent years they've gotten the better of us," said Gottesman, who estimated it has been five or six seasons since the Jaguars head defeated Brick Memorial at Joe Perry Gymnasium. "They've had our number for some time now, so any time you can get a win over a program like them it's a great win. It doesn't matter who wears those singlets. It's a program with tremendous tradition and we have the utmost respect for them."
"Of course it's a big win," Epperly said. "The coaches said it's been a very long time since we've beaten them in our own gym. We came out tough and brought it home."
The teams split the bouts 7-7, but it was the Jaguars' (10-2, 5-1) edge in bonus points that proved to be the difference. Jackson picked up extra points in six of its seven wins, including pins by Mike Spino at 126, Tanner Kelly at 170 and DiGiantomasso at 106. Matt McGowen won by technical fall at 132 pounds and Tim Hamann and Adante Davis used late takedowns to win by major decision at 145 and 195 pounds, respectively.
Epperly's 2-0 win in double overtime over Casey Wines at 152 pounds was a huge swing victory for Jackson, and gave the Jags an 18-14 lead halfway through the match. Scoreless through regulation and sudden victory, Epperly rode out Wines in the first 30-second session of double overtime. In the second 30-second rideout, Epperly scored a reversal with under 10 seconds left for the gutsy 2-0 victory.
"Coming off after that win I felt proud," said Epperly, who improved to 10-7 with the win. "I believed in my conditioning and preparation. I always believe I have more in the tank than my opponent."
Epperly missed a major chunk of the offseason after tearing his meniscus and medial collateral ligament over the summer, and couldn't return to live wrestling until late November.
"I worked hard to get back and it paid off in this match," Epperly said.
The fact that he comes from great pedigree is not lost on Epperly. His father is three-time state medalist Derex Johnson and his uncle is two-time state champion Rob Johnson.
"My family is up here all over the board," said Epperly, pointing to Jackson's wall of champions. "I've worked hard to prove myself and I want to keep the tradition going."
With Jackson leading 28-26 with two bouts left, Ostrander knew he had one job: staying off his back against Brick Memorial junior Nick Rivera, the state runner-up at heavyweight last season. Coming into the match Ostrander had his doubts.
"Everyone knows who Nick Rivera is, and rightfully so," Gottesman said. "With him beating Brody Graham twice last year Austin was a little worried. Brody was like a mentor to him, and when you see your mentor lose twice and you have to wrestle him the following year it might haunt you a bit. He was doubting himself during the week, but we told him he was good enough to wrestle with anybody."
Ostrander was never in danger throughout the bout, allowing only an intentional escape to Rivera in the second period. Rivera had one good sequence where he had a brief hold of Ostrander's leg, but was not able to finish the takedown. Ostrander followed the gameplan to perfection, losing 1-0, but denying Rivera and Brick Memorial (6-4, 4-1) critical bonus points.
"I was expecting to go out there and get packed," Ostrander said. "I didn't expect what I did out there. In the second period when he got my leg and I got it out and went out of bounds, that's when I felt like I could do it."
"He did what he had to do," Gottesman said. "That's not any easy thing to do against Rivera, but he did what we told him. It wasn't like he was getting destroyed, either. There was just one stall call, and he wasn't backpedaling. He was holding center and hand fighting, and at heavyweight that's half the battle."
"When he went hard, I went hard and when he took a break, I took a break," Ostrander said. "I stayed neutral so he couldn't get a turn or a reversal or anything like that."
If Rivera would have won by fall it would have put Brick Memorial up by four points, forcing Jackson to get either a technical fall or pin at 106 pounds. DiGiantomasso ended up delivering anyway with a 28-second pin over Liam Rivera to clinch the match. Jackson knew it had bonus points coming in some form at 106 since Rivera is not the Mustangs' regular starter. Joe Rotundo was injured during a match against St. Peter's Prep on Jan. 9 and has not wrestled since.
Matt Wardlaw and Gianni Ghione staked Brick Memorial to a 10-0 lead after the first two bouts. Wardlaw, the District 23 champion at 106 pounds last season, got down to 113 pounds for the first time this season and scored a 12-2 major decision over Brandon Burkert. Ghione, the state runner-up at 113 last season, made quick work of Tyler Mitrosky with a win by fall in 1:10 at 120 pounds.
Winning the flip allowed Jackson to bump Spino to 126 pounds and away from Ghione, and Spino was able to deliver a pin over Ryan Andrus in 4:24 to make it 10-6. McGowen piled up seven takedowns and a reversal on his way to a 20-5 technical fall over Justin Intile at 132 pounds to put Jackson up 11-10.
Luke Vescovi tilted Mike Christie three times in the second period en route to a 13-2 major decision at 138 pounds that put Brick Memorial back up, 14-11. Hamann used a takedown late in the third period to cap a wild bout with Chris Richardson at 145 pounds and win by 18-10 major decision. Hamann took Richardson down right away to start the bout, but Richardson cinched a headlock and put Hamann to his back for a five-point move. Hamann fought off his back and was in control the rest of the way with eight total takedowns to give Jackson a 15-14 lead.
Epperly's victory at 152 made it 18-14 before Brick Memorial freshman Ean Mueller won a back-and-forth bout with Dan Bergeron at 160 pounds to cut Jackson's lead to 18-17. Bergeron was up 4-1 after the first period, but Mueller hit a five-point move off a throw to take the lead for good. Mueller nearly had Bergeron pinned on three occasions, but the Jaguars sophomore was able to avoid giving up bonus points.
Burkert did the same in avoiding a cradle attempt by Wardlaw at 113, and Christie staved off a potential technical fall at 138 pounds, Those kinds of gritty "lose small" defeats were lacking earlier in the season for Jackson.
"The biggest thing this year is to stay off our back," Gottesman said. "It cost us against Southern and it cost us against Delsea. I hate to say fighting off our back is going in the right direction but in some cases it is."
Tanner Kelly needed just 55 seconds to pin Jack Tango at 170 pounds and give Jackson a 24-17, but Anthony Mitchell did the same for Brick Memorial with a 27-second pin of Justin Martin-Culet at 182 to make it a one-point match, 24-23, yet again.
Davis opened his offense at 195 with six takedowns and two reversals to defeat Ron Hopping by 18-10 major decision. Hopping looked like he might avoid surrendering bonus points when he scored a third-period reversal to make it 12-6, but Davis quickly reversed him and added two more takedowns for the win and a 28-23 Jackson lead with three bouts remaining.
Chris Hayes kept Brick Memorial within striking distance with a 9-4 decision over Chris Mondello at 220. Hayes rolled Mondello with a merkle in the second period but Mondello was able to get out for a reversal to escape harms way.
"We had a tough loss against Southern but we didn't let that hold us back," Epperly said. "We went to work hard in practice and wrestled hard against Delsea. It was a tough loss, but we wrestled much better. We came into this match believing we could take it up a notch and we wrestled all 14 bouts tough."
"For the most part we're starting to wrestle better as a whole," Gottesman said. "To be a great team you have to be able to put 14 guys on the mat who can all compete at a high level. We're getting close to that."
No. 5 Jackson Memorial 34, No. 7 Brick Memorial 29
113: Matt Wardlaw (BM) md. Brandon Burkert 12-2
120: Gianni Ghione (BM) p. Tyler Mitrosky 1:10
126: Mike Spino (JM) p. Ryan Andrus 4:24
132: Matt McGowen (JM) tf. Justin Intile 5:31 (20-5)
138: Luke Vescovi (BM) md. Mike Christie 13-2
145: Tim Hamann (JM) md. Chris Richardson 18-10
152: Jay Epperly (JM) d. Casey Wines 2-0 (2OT)
160: Ean Mueller (BM) d. Dan Bergeron 15-8
170: Tanner Kelly (JM) p. Jack Tango 0:55
182: Anthony Mitchell (BM) p. Justin Martin-Culet 0:27
195: Adante Davis (JM) md. Ron Hopping 18-10
220: Chris Hayes (BM) d. Chris Mondello 9-4
Hwt: Nick Rivera (BM) d. Austin Ostrander 1-0
106: Carsten DiGiantomasso (JM) p. Liam Rivera 0:28
Records: at Jackson Memorial (10-2, 5-1); Brick Memorial (6-4, 4-1).