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Another week filled with big matches has come and gone, and this time the rankings actually held true. Hey, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

As usual, Class A South had some marquee matchups, none bigger than No. 2 Brick Memorial’s epic 27-26 victory over No. 3 Jackson Memorial. The match had so many twists and turns along with heroic performances on both sides. It was one of the best dual meets I’ve ever covered.

The Mustangs then went on the road and beat No. 8 Southern behind a huge pin by junior Anthony Mitchell at 138 pounds to all but lock up the division title. The Mustangs need to beat Lacey in their final divisional match to finish unbeaten in A South and clinch their first outright title since 2001.

No. 5 Brick held off No. 7 Toms River South, 33-29, despite being without 152-pounder Nick Pollara (elbow). Junior Tommy Costanza did it again with a quick pin at 145 pounds to swing the momentum and provide six mega team points.

Several division titles were decided over the week, as well. No. 10 Raritan swept a quad with Monmouth, Manasquan and Rumson-Fair Haven to officially clinch the Class A Central division title, its fifth in a row and 10th division title in the last 11 years. Jackson Liberty defeated Central to claim the B South title, its second division crown in program history. Long Branch beat Ocean and Colts Neck to finish off an undefeated run to the B North championship, its third in a row and seventh title in the last nine years.

Howell just needs to defeat Middletown North to lock up its 10th straight A North title, while Point Beach needs wins over Keyport and Keansburg to capture the B Central title for the fifth straight season and seventh time in eight years.

All the attention now turns to the Shore Conference Tournament. There has been plenty of debate over the years about the usefulness of this tournament, but in featuring several of the state’s top teams it is always a big event.

Defending champion Howell is the top seed followed by Brick Memorial, Brick and Jackson Memorial. Southern opted not to enter for the fourth straight season, while Christian Brothers Academy and Point Beach also chose to bypass the tournament this season.

The monster snowstorm scheduled to hit the northeast on Tuesday has rearranged the schedule, pushing the first three rounds to Friday at the sites of the top four seeds with times of 4, 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. The semifinals and championship match remain as scheduled for 3 and 5:30 p.m. on Saturday at Jackson Liberty High School. What happens over the weekend will have major implications both locally and statewide.

There are no changes from last week’s rankings, but there’s a good chance that won’t be the case next Monday.

Oh, and in news no one was really watching that closely, some kid from Wall named Brett Donner made his season debut. I hear he’s pretty good.



1. Howell (17-0). Last week: No. 1

The Rebels took down Marlboro, 60-10, before an impressive 38-9 win over No. 6 Long Branch in which they won 11 of 14 bouts and surrendered zero bonus points. Howell has done everything right this season, but more big tests await this weekend. As the top seed in the Shore Conference Tournament, the Rebels will host the first three rounds on Friday and will wrestle the Freehold Township/Matawan winner in the round of the 16, and almost certainly meet the winner of the eight-nine matchup between Raritan and Jackson Liberty in the quarterfinals. They will potentially face Jackson Memorial in the semifinals, which they defeated in last season’s SCT semifinals.


2. Brick Memorial (11-1). Last week: No. 2

Seniors Joe Stowers and Kyle Poling and sophomore Nick Rivera were the heroes in the Mustangs’ incredible 27-26 win over No. 3 Jackson Memorial, and junior Anthony Mitchell took his turn to win a crucial bout with a pin at 138 pounds in a 32-28 win over No. 8 Southern. They are the No. 2 seed in the Shore Conference Tournament and will take on the Marlboro/Colts Neck winner in the round of 16 and likely wrestle the winner of eighth-ranked Wall and Middletown North in the quarterfinals. They face a potential rematch with No. 3 Brick in the semifinals. Brick Memorial won the regular season meeting, 37-20.


3. Jackson Memorial (11-3). Last week: No. 3

After a tough 27-26 loss to Brick Memorial, the Jaguars responded with a 49-18 victory over Toms River East. Jackson is the No. 4 seed in the Shore Conference Tournament and will host the first three rounds on Friday, facing the winner between Shore and Ocean in the round of 16. With a win the Jags would take on the St. John Vianney/Long Branch winner in the quarterfinals.


4. Christian Brother Academy (12-2). Last week: No. 4

Snow cancelled a quad with No. 3 Jackson Memorial, state-ranked Hanover Park and Scotch Plains this past Saturday, so the Colts have been idle since Jan. 17. They chose not to enter the Shore Conference Tournament, and will instead compete at the Jack Welch Duals on Friday and Saturday at Moorestown High School.


5. Brick (13-2). Last week: No. 5

Snow postponed matches against Toms River East and No. 8 Southern, but the Dragons were able to get in a match against No. 7 Toms River South and came through with a 33-29 victory that enabled them to grab the third seed in the SCT. Junior Tommy Costanza had another huge dual-meet moment, pinning Indians freshman Conor Panzarella in 11 seconds at 145 pounds to turn the tide of the match. The Dragons host the first three rounds of the SCT on Friday, facing the winner of Manalapan and Point Boro in the round of 16. A victory there would pit them against the winners of Toms River North and Toms River South, and will likely result in a quick rematch with the Indians.


6. Long Branch (13-3). Last week: No. 6

The Green Wave defeated Ocean 35-21 and Colts Neck 61-6 to finish undefeated in B North and take home the division title. They then lost to top-ranked Howell, 38-9. Long Branch is the No. 5 seed in the Shore Conference Tournament and will wrestle St. John Vianney in the round of 16. A win there will likely match the Green Wave with fourth-seeded Jackson Memorial in the quarterfinals.


7. Toms River South (7-3). Last week: No. 7

The Indians fell to No. 5 Brick, 33-29, in their only match of the week. They were without a pair of starters in junior Ajhaun Johnson and senior James Kearny, both of whom are no longer with the team due to a violation of the Toms River Regional School District’s student code of conduct, according to head school Ron Laycock. The good news for the Indians is that they face a potential rematch with the Dragons should they get past rival Toms River North in the SCT round of 16. Toms River South won the regular season meeting with the Mariners, 39-24.


8. Southern (9-4). Last week: No. 8.

The Rams defeated Toms River North 40-21 before falling to No. 2 Brick Memorial, 32-28. The Rams did not enter the Shore Conference Tournament, and will instead face perennial state power Phillipsburg on Saturday. A match against state-ranked South Plainfield was scheduled for Tuesday, but cancelled because of the impending snowstorm.


9. Wall (10-2). Last week: No. 9 

The Crimson Knights welcomed back junior 170-pounder Brett Donner, who made his long-awaited return in a 45-30 win over Point Boro. Donner, who was third in the state last season at 160 pounds and is ranked No. 10 in the nation, won by major decision at 182 pounds in his first bout coming off a high ankle sprain. His presence is obviously a huge boost for the Knights. Junior Max von Suskill also made his Wall debut in a 38-33 win over St. John Vianney. He had to sit out 30 days after transferring from Red Bank Catholic. Wall is the No. 7 seed in the SCT and will face Middletown North in the round of 16. If they defeat the Lions they would face No. 2 Brick Memorial.


10. Raritan (10-3). Last week: No. 10

The Rockets posted a nondivisional win over Manchester before sweeping a divisional quad with Rumson-Fair Haven, Manasquan and Monmouth to officially clinch the Class A Central division title. Raritan is the No. 8 seed in the SCT, and will face ninth-seeded Jackson Liberty in the round of 16. The Rockets defeated them in the regular season, 31-30. The winner will face top-seeded Howell.


Dropped out: none


Teams to Watch: 

Jackson Liberty (15-2): The Lions defeated Central 48-21 to officially wrap up the Class B South division title, then beat Toms River East and Shawnee on Saturday. They are the No. 9 seed in the Shore Conference Tournament, and get an immediate shot to avenge one of their two losses this season in facing eighth-seeded Raritan in the Round of 16. The Rockets won 31-30 during the regular season. The winner faces No. 1 Howell in the quarterfinals.

Middletown North (6-3): The Lions have been idle since last Saturday, but now have junior Chad Freshnock back in the fold. He returned last weekend after rehabbing from offseason knee surgery. They are the No. 10 seed in the Shore Conference Tournament and will take on seventh-seeded Wall in the round of 16. The winner gets No. 2 Brick Memorial in the quarterfinals.