Wrestling – A Fight to the Finish: Long Branch 31, No. 9 Wall 23
LONG BRANCH — The score was tied 1-1 and there was less than 10 seconds left in the heavyweight bout between Long Branch’s Joey Jasio and Wall’s Aldo Guisse. This one had rideouts written all over it.
Instead, Jasio bear-hugged Guisse as the clock was ticking toward zero and hit an outside trip for a takedown as time expired, giving him a 3-1 victory and helping the unranked Green Wave top No. 9 Wall, 31-23, in a crucial Shore Conference Class B North match on Friday night.
“I was just thinking I have to get this so my team can be in position to win,” Jasio, a sophomore, said. “I just I had to push him because he was tired. I went for the bear hug and got it.”
“We felt comfortable (going to overtime) because he’s good on top,” said Long Branch head coach Dan George. “Sometimes it’s difficult to score with the big guys. You’re chasing a guy around for six minutes and you don’t want to go to overtime. I was just concerned about him going for it and making a mistake to cost himself the match, but he’s a heady kid. He’s starting to grow a little and learn to score.”
Jasio’s win gave Long Branch (9-2, 5-0) a 21-19 lead with three bouts left. Wall had to forfeit at 106 pounds because its starting and only wrestler at the weight, freshman Nick Wagner, is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury. Denzel Tovar won by major decision for Wall at 113 pounds to bring the Crimson Knights (6-1, 2-1) within 27-23, but Long Branch junior Andy Hernandez won by 11-1 major decision over Joe Demuner at 120 pounds to give the Green Wave the victory. The win puts Long Branch in a position to wrestle sixth-ranked Ocean for the division title this coming Wednesday as long as the Spartans defeat Wall the day prior.
“This was the first step,” said senior Connor Mullan, who bumped up to 195 pounds and scored a 5-1 win over Kenny Dioguardi. “It was a dogfight the whole match. We knew we needed to win eight (bouts) because they have some studs up top. We have a bit of a thin lineup but we knew we could capitalize on their weaker parts.”
Long Branch won nine of 14 bouts, but, aside from the forfeit, picked up bonus points in only Hernandez’s victory in the final bout. Wall won just five bouts, but had a pin from Matt McKenzie at 182, technical falls from Brett Donner at 160 and Tyler Romanelli at 220 and Tovar’s major decision at 113. George chuckled a bit as he pointed up to the banners from Long Branch’s 2008 through 2010 squads that captured three straight Group II championships.
“Those days of winning eight bouts and the match being over, it’s not the case anymore,” he said. “We had to win eight bouts and contain the other six. But we had that kind of effort tonight. The Raritan match (a 28-26 loss last Saturday) was huge for us because it told us we could wrestle with the big boys, but in order to beat the big boys we had to limit the bonus points.”
Junior Tommy Flannigan started the dual by edging Connor Albrecht, 1-0, at 132 pounds to give Long Branch a 3-0 lead. Scoreless through two periods, Flannigan escaped with 40 seconds left in regulation to pick up the victory.
“Every team is big on momentum and we needed that to start us off,” Mullan said.
Wall freshman Chad McClelland followed with a 4-0 victory over Danny Rios to tie the match at three, but the Green Wave would win the next three bouts to take a 12-3 lead. Freshman Austin Cannon made his high school debut by knocking off sophomore Josh Glantzman 3-1, at 138 pounds.
Cannon’s takedown with one second left in the second period proved to be the difference in a bout George called “a huge tossup match.” Cannon, a middle school state champion, began the season at Christian Brothers Academy but did not wrestle in a match for the Colts, meaning he didn’t have to sit when he transferred back to Long Branch, according to George.
Nick Menkin then defeated Jack Wishart, 8-3, at 145 pounds, pulling away with a takedown and three near-fall points in the third period. Brandon Perez gave Long Branch a nine-point advantage with an 11-4 decision over Zack Tiano at 152.
Long Branch’s need to win eight bouts or more became evident in the next several weight classes as Wall was able to close the gap with three emphatic wins. At 160, sophomore Brett Donner, a state qualifier last season and ranked No. 1 at 160 by theshoreconference.com, scored a 16-0 technical fall in 4:28 over Mike Shohet to bring the Crimson Knights to within 12-8. Arturo Rios won a 9-2 decision from Tommy Wishart (No. 7 at 182) in another big tossup bout to keep Long Branch in front, 15-8. Standout freshman Matt McKenzie, No. 5 at 170, pinned Raul Pacheco in 34 seconds at 182 pounds to make it a one-point match at 15-14. No. 6 (182) Mullan’s 5-1 win extended Long Branch’s lead to 18-14, but when Romanelli, No. 6 at 195, moved up to 220 and defeated T.J. Covin by technical fall, it gave Wall its first lead of the match at 19-18.
It turned out to be the Crimson Knights’ only lead. Jasio’s clutch win at heavyweight put Long Branch up by two, and the forfeit coupled with T.J. Conlon staying off his back against Tovar and limiting the damage to a major decision sent Long Branch on its way to victory.
“We wrestle this again…I don’t think the score indicated the match because it was so close on so many different levels,” George said. “We talked about flat-out wrestling - not winning or losing - 14 bouts. Wall winning the toss maybe let us off the hook because our kids just went out there and wrestled.”
Class B North
Long Branch 31, No. 9 Wall 23
126: Tommy Flannigan (LB) d. Connor Albrecht 1-0
132: Chad McClelland (Wall) d. Danny Rios 4-0
138: Austin Cannon (LB) d. Josh Glantzman 3-1
145: Nick Menkin (LB) d. Jack Wishart 8-3
152: Brandon Perez (LB) d. Zack Tiano 11-4
160: Brett Donner (Wall) tf. Mike Shohet 4:28 (16-0)
170: Arturo Rios (LB) d. Tommy Wishart 9-2
182: Matt McKenzie (Wall) p. Raul Pacheco 0:34
195: Connor Mullan (LB) d. Kenny Dioguardi 5-1
220: Tyler Romanelli (Wall) tf. T.J. Covin 5:54 (16-1)
Hwt: Joey Jasio (LB) d. Aldo Guisse 3-1
106: Long Branch won by forfeit
113: Denzel Tovar (Wall) md. T.J. Conlon 10-2
120: Andy Hernandez (LB) md. Joey Demuner 11-1
Records: at Long Branch (9-2, 5-0); Wall (6-1, 2-1)