OCEAN TOWNSHIP -- Any time a match ends in a tie and goes to the tie-breaking criteria there are multiple factors that could have went either way. In the end, however, it always comes down to the final bout.

Junior Josiah Schucht helped Wall, No. 4 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, escape with a 29-28 Shore Conference Class B North victory over Ocean on Wednesday night, and he did so in defeat.

Schucht was trailing 9-1 to Ocean's Chris Donnelly at 138 pounds where a major decision would have given the Spartans the win. But with under 30 seconds left in the third period, Schucht got back to his feet for a one-point escape and avoided a takedown in the closing seconds. Donnelly's 9-2 victory tied the match at 28 and sent it to criteria. With each team winning seven bouts, having two pins, no technical falls and one major decision, it came to criteria H: first points scored. Wall held an edge in that department, 8-6, to claim the extra point and get out of town with its division title hopes still intact.

"We went into the last match knowing what we needed to do, and Josiah got the job done," said Wall head coach Brian Fischer. "We knew going into (Nick Wagner's match against Jake Benner at 132) what we needed to do because we knew it would come down to first points scored. We had to get Wagner to score first, and he ended up getting a reversal, which was huge. We knew if we came out of the first period scoreless we had to go down and get one."

Senior Joe Demuner's 8-3 victory over Joe Benner at 126 pounds put Wall (8-0, 4-0) up 28-22 with two bouts left. Wagner could have clinched the match with a win, and he needed to score first in order to give Wall the criteria it needed should the match end up tied.

After a scoreless first period, Wagner scored on a reversal and kept control over Jake Benner to take a 2-0 lead into the third. Benner escaped with 45 seconds left in the third period to make it 2-1, and off a restart Wagner grabbed hold of Benner's ankle with a quick shot. A scramble ensued and Benner (15-0) eventually gained control for a takedown and a 3-2 lead. He also locked in a cradle to put Wagner (11-4) to his back as the final seconds ticked away. Wagner avoided being pinned, which would have all but clinched the match for Ocean, but Benner won 6-2 to set up Donnelly at 138.

"(Benner) is tough as nails," said Ocean head coach Cippy Apicelli. "Their kid did a great job with a dart single where most kids would kind of run away. Jake found a way not just to lock up cradle, but to put the kid to his back. It was pretty close (to a pin) there."

Needing a major decision, Donnelly started fast with a quick takedown and a 2-0 lead after the first period. He took a 4-0 lead on a reversal, then got a turn for three near-fall points to go up 7-0 entering the third. Schucht chose defense to start the third and Donnelly cut him loose before the start to make it 7-1. Donnelly scored another takedown to go up 9-1 and take the eight-point lead required for a major decision and four team points, but Schucht was able to get out and preserve the win for Wall.

"I feel bad for Chris Donnelly because I think he feels the burden of everything, but the match comes down to one point and it could have happened all over the place," Apicelli said. "We had guys on their backs and we let them off. We can't have guys on their backs and let them off their backs."

"Chris did a phenomenal job. I think he's beating himself up because I yelled to him with 1:15 left to cut him and he didn't. That would have made it 9-2 and we have 1:10 to get a takedown. We do that and it's probably over because we can ride him out or get a stall point."

Wednesday's razor-thin loss was the second by criteria for Ocean (5-6, 4-1) this season. They also lost to Point Boro, 31-30, on Dec. 30.

"We wrestled unbelievably, but it comes down, again, to criteria and we come up short," Apicelli said. "It's frustrating. At a certain point I don't know what you say to the kids."

Wall senior Brett Donner (15-0) at 182 and junior Shane Davis (11-3) at 220 each won by fall, and junior Chad McClelland (8-0) won by major decision at 160 pounds. Freshman Rob Kanniard (13-2) at 145, senior Josh Glantzman (12-3) at 170, junior Matt McKenzie (14-1) at 195 and Demuner (12-3) each won by decision.

Wall senior Brett Donner controls Ocean's Esteban Bernard during their 182-pound bout. Donner won by fall in 3:21. (Photo by Bob Badders).

Freshman Mike Rocha came through in defeat at 113 pounds by limiting John Santos to a major decision.

"Hats off to (Rocha), who was overmatched but winds up holding it to a major," Fischer said. "He doesn't hold that to a major and it's game over. He was fighting like crazy and he deserves credit for that. He's still searching for his first win and reality is at any point he could say this isn't for him and forget about it. But he keeps going out there for the team. His job is to save points when he can and he did that."

"It's really a new thing for us," Donner said about having "program wrestlers" saving bonus points and winning key matches. "We don't have guys just going to their backs. We have a lot more maturity now, too. Guys are stepping up and getting wins and when they're losing it's not by large margins."

Senior Pat Tracey (2-1) at 152 and sophomore Adam Manzo (9-6) at 106 each won by fall, and Santos (5-9) won by major decision at 113 for Ocean. Senior Brian Olesen won 8-1 in double overtime over Darryl Valme at heavyweight, and senior Dave Tieto won a crucial bout at 120 pounds over Jack Kelly, 3-1 in overtime.

"They matched up with us probably better than any team in the Shore, and since we don't have a lot of depth we can't bump guys around," Donner said.

Donner, who normally wrestles at 170 pounds where he is ranked No. 19 nationally, weighed in at 182 to matchup with T.J. Saldutti. Unbeknown to Wall, Saldutti weighed in at 170.

The match started at 145 where Kanniard defeated Jeff Andre 12-7. After Tracey's pin of Alex Cortez at 152, Wall won five straight bouts to take a 25-6 lead halfway through the dual. McClelland won by 11-1 major decision over John Loyola at 160 before Glantzman outlasted Saldutti 3-2 in double overtime at 170. Saldutti had the only offensive points of the bout with a reversal in the second period, but Glantzman was able to ride Saldutti out in the first double-overtime period and use an escape, which was awarded intentionally by Saldutti to start the second double-overtime period, to win 3-2.

Donner built a 13-3 lead on Esteban Bernard before finishing off the pin in 3:21 at 182, and McKenzie defeated Tyler Thompson 8-1 at 195. Davis's pin of Clayton Oates at 220 put the Crimson Knights up by 19 points.

In a bout that was tied 1-1 heading to double overtime, Olesen escaped and took Valme right to his back to quickly go up 7-1 before winning 8-1. His win was the first of four in a row for the Spartans to get them back in the match. Manzo pinned Theodore McGowan in 1:47 at 106 to make it 25-15, and Santos's major decision at 113 cut Wall's lead to 25-19 with four bouts left.

At 120, Tieto took Kelly down in overtime for the only offensive points of the bout and a 3-1 decision Ocean needed to have. It reversed a 3-1 loss to Kelly in the third-place bout at the Mustang Classic in December.

"We knew as things started to get going we had to take 120 or 126 to have a shot," Apicelli said. "Once he won we knew if Joey Benner wins we're going to win this match, and if he loses he has to lose small, and he did that. He gave us a chance, and that's all I care about."

Despite the win that put Wall in line for its first division title since 2008, Fischer felt his team missed out on some opportunities.

"Hats off to Ocean, they came out there and wrestled their tails off, but I don't feel my boys wrestled to their potential," Fischer said. "Any time we're not wrestling to our potential I'm not happy about it. I'll never call one kid or one weight class out, but there were definitely some matches in there that I feel we could have won, and spots where we needed to start turning decisions into major decisions."

A sectional finalist last season, the Crimson Knights are once again a title contender there as well as in the Shore Conference Tournament.

"I have some higher expectations for this team, and certainly in some individual areas," Fischer said. "I know 'always' is a tough word to use, but I need those guys to always come through."

"I think it's good in that it will light a fire under some of the guys," Donner said. "We didn't wrestle well but the close matches and losses will motivate guys to step it up."


Box Score

No. 4 Wall 29, Ocean 28

*Wall wins on criteria H: first points scored (8-6)

145: Rob Kanniard (W) d. Jeff Andre 12-7

152: Pat Tracey (O) p. Alex Cortez 2:33

160: Chad McClelland (O) md. John Loyola 11-1

170: Josh Glantzman (W) d. T.J. Saldutti 3-2 2OT

182: Brett Donner (W) p. Esteban Bernard 3:21

195: Matt McKenzie (W) d. Tyler Thompson 8-1

220: Shane Davis (W) p. Clayton Oates 4:39

Hwt: Brian Olesen (O) d. Darryl Valme 8-1 2OT

106: Adam Manzo (O) p. Theodore McGowan 1:47

113: John Santos (O) md. Mike Rocha 15-6

120: Dave Tieto (O) d. Jack Kelly 3-1 OT

126: Joe Demuner (W) d. Joe Benner 8-3

132: Jake Benner (O) d. Nick Wagner 6-2

138: Chris Donnelly (O) d. Josiah Schucht 9-2

Records: at Ocean (5-6, 4-1); Wall (8-0, 4-0).


Wrestling editor Bob Badders can be reached at badders@allshoremedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook.