The week before the Shore Conference Tournament saw three division titles wrapped up and three more teams take significant steps toward clinching their respective division championships.

Middletown North in Class B North, Point Beach in Class B Central and Point Boro in Class B South all clinched the outright division championships, while Howell in A North, Raritan in A Central and Southern in A South need either one or two more wins in matches they’ll be heavily favored.

Since none of the top 10 teams from last week suffered any losses within the Shore Conference, the rankings are unchanged heading into the SCT. That’s bound to change next week with several head-to-head matchups in the Shore Conference Tournament. We could even have a new No. 1 next week, not to mention movement up and down the top 10.

For now, some stability before the postseason begins.

 

1. Howell (16-1). Last week: No. 1

The Rebels won their only dual of the week, beating Neptune 53-18, before traveling to Florida for the Chase Life Invitational. The Rebels placed second with five champions, two runners-up and three third-place finishers. Darby Diedrich (120), Kyle Slendorn (126), Dan Esposito (132), Christian Murphy (160) and Shane Reitsma (170) won individual titles while Luke Rada (113) and Eric Keosseian (220) finished second. This week: Howell is the top seed for the Shore Conference Tournament and will host pre-quarterfinals and quarterfinals matches on Thursday.

 

2. Southern (9-2). Last week: No. 2

Southern won a pair of Class A South matches to clinch at least a share of the division title for the third time in four years. The Rams topped Jackson Memorial, 35-24, and beat Brick, 42-9. Senior Seon Bowker had a big win against Brick when he defeated previously-undefeated Dean Helstowski, 3-2, at 182 pounds. The Rams then fell to South Plainfield, 38-16. This week: The Rams will not participate in the SCT for the sixth straight season. They will instead host Phillipsburg in a marquee nonconference match on Saturday.

 

3. Raritan (18-1). Last week: No. 3

A 4-0 week that included three Class A Central wins moved the Rockets one win away from clinching the outright division championship for the seventh straight season. A 45-17 win over St. John Vianney cleared the main hurdle, and was followed by a 72-9 win over Donovan Catholic, a 78-0 win over Red Bank and an 84-0 win over Monmouth. Next week: Raritan is the No. 2 seed in the Shore Conference Tournament and will host pre-quarterfinals and quarterfinals matches on Thursday.

 

4. Middletown North (17-0). Last week: No. 4

The Lions went 5-0 and clinched the Class B North division title with a 64-9 win over Manasquan and a 61-9 win over Middletown South. It is the first outright division championship for Middletown North since 1996. The Lions then swept a quad with Teaneck, Wayne Hills and Garfield to remain undefeated on the season. This week: The Lions are the No. 3 seed in the Shore Conference Tournament and will host pre-quarterfinals and quarterfinals matches on Thursday.

 

5. Colts Neck (24-1). Last week: No. 5

The Cougars continued to rack up wins with a 6-0 week. Colts Neck defeated CBA 42-27, A.L. Johnson 54-30, Bishop Ahr 56-24, Marlboro 53-12, Freehold Township 54-24 and Neptune 55-18 for their 24th win of the season. This week: Colts Neck has its highest ever seed in the SCT at No. 4 and will host pre-quarterfinals and quarterfinals matches on Thursday.

 

6. Jackson Memorial (10-7). Last week: No. 6

The Jaguars suffered another loss to a top team in falling to Southern, 35-24, but rebounded with four straight wins to get over .500 on the season. They defeated Toms River North 38-27, Central 69-6, Lakewood 65-15 and Jackson Liberty 53-18. This week: Jackson is the No. 7 seed in the SCT and will wrestle Point Boro in the pre-quarterfinals.

 

7. Brick Memorial (10-4). Last week: No. 7

The Mustangs had a 3-1 week with wins over Toms River South (69-6), Toms River East (64-7) and West Deptford (34-30) after a 38-30 nonconference loss to Garfield. Senior heavyweight Nick Rivera earned his 100th career win to become the 19th Brick Memorial wrestler to win 100 bouts. This week: The Mustangs are the No. 8 seed in the SCT and will wrestle Ocean in their first match.

 

8. Long Branch (14-5). Last week: No. 8

The Green Wave went 3-3 with a 33-31 win over Wall in Class B North, then a 37-22 win over Haddon Township and a 48-16 win over Delran at the Jack Welch Duals. Long Branch then lost to Haddonfield (36-23), Cherokee (30-24) and Northern Burlington (35-22). This week: The Green Wave are the No. 5 seed in the Shore Conference Tournament and have a rematch with Wall in their first match.

 

9. Manalapan (14-2). Last week: No. 9

A lopsided 52-15 win over Paramus highlighted a 4-0 week that also included a 54-12 win over Marlboro, a 51-12 win over Mahwah and a 45-21 victory over Ramapo. This week: The Braves are seeded No. 6 in the SCT and face Brick in the pre-quarterfinals.

 

10. Ocean (13-2). Last week: No. 10

Ocean went 4-0 to push its winning streak to seven. The Spartans beat Toms River East 53-21, topped Freehold 41-18, had a 56-21 victory over Pinelands and posted a 55-15 win over Manchester. This week: The Spartans are the No. 9 seed in the SCT and face Brick Memorial in the pre-quarterfinals.

 

Dropped out: none

 

Teams to watch:

Brick (11-3)

Point Beach (14-0)

Point Boro (8-4)

 

Wrestling editor Bob Badders can be reached at badders@allshoremedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights. 

 

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