If it seems like the season just started yesterday, you're not alone. Heck, I feel like it was just yesterday I was covering football training camps, but I digress.

We're at the halfway point of the wrestling season and the picture around the Shore Conference has begun to clear. Barely. This is one of the most even seasons of Shore Conference wrestling I can remember, which should make for a fantastic (finally) Shore Conference Tournament.

Speaking of the SCT, it gets seeded Sunday at Red Bank assuming we don't get two feet of snow dumped on us. Southern has opted out for a fifth straight season and Point Beach has also elected not to participate. The SCT begins next Tuesday, Jan. 26.

There are some small changes to this week's rankings with Brick Memorial sliding down a couple spots and Ocean entering the Top 10. This week has a chance to be cut short by the Nor'Easter that's scheduled to hit our area Friday night into Saturday, which would wipe out a significant number of matches. Batten down the hatches.

 

 

1. Southern (5-1). Last week: No. 1

The Rams defeated Toms River South 50-24 and placed 13th out of 47 teams at the Escape the Rock Tournament at Council Rock South High School in Pennsylvania. Senior Joe Toci placed seventh at 182 pounds. Southern's lone loss this season is to Delsea, which is ranked No. 3 in New Jersey by NJ Advance Media. The Rams travel to No. 7 Brick Memorial on Friday where they can all but wrap up the Class A South division title, and head to Bridgewater-Raritan on Saturday for a quad (weather permitting) with Kingsway and state-ranked South Plainfield.

 

2. CBA (8-3). Last week: No. 2

The Colts continued their march toward the Class A North division title with a 58-9 win over Marlboro and a 53-12 victory over Freehold Township. They followed that up with an impressive 43-21 victory over No. 8 Raritan. CBA travels to Middletown South on Wednesday and is scheduled to participate in the Jack Welch Duals on Friday and Saturday at Moorestown.

 

3. Howell (13-3). Last week: No. 3

The Rebels had a busy week with six matches, going 4-2 in that span. They defeated Freehold Township 58-12 and Manalapan 44-21 before falling to Phillipsburg, a top-five team in New Jersey, 40-24. Howell then reached the finals of the Henry Boresch Duals at Newton with wins over Cliffside Park (66-15) and Northern Burlington (38-23) before losing 45-20 to state-ranked South Plainfield in the championship match. The Rebels host No. 9 Middletown North on Wednesday in their lone match of the week.

 

4. Wall (11-0). Last week: No. 4

The Crimson Knights defeated Ocean 29-28 on criteria, then beat Colts Neck (36-27) and Red Bank (60-16) to clinch the Class B North division title, their first since 2008. Wall also posted a 66-12 win over Shore to remain unbeaten on the season. The Knights head to St. John Vianney on Thursday and host Point Boro on Friday.

 

5. Jackson Memorial (9-2). Last week: No. 6

The Jaguars took down Lacey 42-22 and Jackson Liberty 40-21 before narrowly losing to Delsea, 29-25, despite winning eight of the 14 bouts. They host No. 7 Brick Memorial on Wednesday, travel to Toms River East on Friday and have a quad scheduled for Saturday at state-ranked Hanover Park with Cranford and Scotch Plains-Fanwood.

 

6. Long Branch (7-1). Last week: No. 7

The Green Wave went 2-0 with a 37-24 win over rival Raritan and a 42-19 win over four-time defending Group I champion Bound Brook. They also welcomed senior heavyweight John Tomlinson to the lineup, who made his season debut with two pins. Long Branch hosts No. 10 Ocean on Wednesday and is scheduled to participate in the Jack Welch Duals on Friday and Saturday at Moorestown.

 

7. Brick Memorial (6-3). Last week: No. 5

The Mustangs posted a 45-23 win over Toms River East before being swept in a tri-meet with Roxbury (49-21) and High Point (48-21) to drop two spots in the rankings. Several chances to rebound present themselves this week as the Mustangs travel to No. 5 Jackson Memorial on Wednesday, host No. 1 Southern on Friday and are scheduled to host a tri-meet with state-ranked Paramus and St. Joseph (Montvale) on Saturday.

 

8. Raritan (9-3). Last week: No. 8

The Rockets went 0-2 with a 37-24 loss to No. 7 Long Branch and a 43-21 loss to No. 2 CBA. They host Camden Catholic on Wednesday and welcome Manasquan, Monmouth and Rumson-Fair Haven on Saturday where wins would clinch the Class A Central title.

 

9. Middletown North (9-2). Last week: No. 9

The Lions beat rival Middletown South 51-19 before sweeping a tri-meet with Wayne Valley (48-22) and Passaic Tech (53-18). Senior Chad Freshnock recorded his 100th career victory. Middletown North travels to No. 3 Howell on Wednesday. Senior Anthony Vetrano enters the match with 99 career victories.

 

10. Ocean (5-7). Last week: not ranked

The Spartans went 0-2 with a criteria loss to No. 4 Wall and a 39-24 loss to state-ranked Hunterdon Central. Ocean has lost its last five matches, so it may seem puzzling for it to enter the rankings. Four of the Spartans losses have come to teams ranked in the state top 20, and with their lineup now whole and everybody on weight they get the nod in a very tough week to cap the SSN top 10.

 

Dropped out: Point Boro

 

Teams to watch:

Colts Neck (10-3): The Cougars have wrestled tough this season with their only losses coming to No. 4 Wall, No. 6 Long Branch and No. 10 Ocean. They have just one senior on their roster and all their starters are underclassmen, so there's plenty of excitement surrounding the program.

Jackson Liberty (11-3): The Lions rallied to beat Point Boro 30-29 and take a huge step toward their second straight Class B South title. Chris Pondish came through with a clutch pin over Dom Infante at 220 pounds to help secure the win.

 

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