JACKSON — Southern already had a comfortable lead on Jackson Memorial when Gerardo Jorge took the mat at 182 pounds, and he knew he had the chance to bury the Jaguars by taking out one of their best wrestlers in a match they simply had to win.

“I knew the team needed the win, and as I went out there coach told me the team was putting a lot of confidence in me,” Jorge said. “I wasn’t going to let my team down and let (Jackson) back in the match.”

Jorge, the third-ranked 170-pounder in the Shore Conference, bumped up to 182 pounds and scored a 3-2 decision over Jaguars junior Connor Bohringer, ranked No. 3 at 182, to keep the top-ranked Rams rolling in a 34-15 Shore Conference Class A South victory over the No. 3 Jaguars on Monday night inside Joe Perry Gymnasium.

Down 1-0 entering the third, Jorge forced a locking hands call against Bohringer, then scored a reversal with under 30 seconds left. Bohringer escaped, but Jorge was able to hold on for the one-point win that gave Southern (12-0, 4-0) a 22-3 lead and their seventh victory with six bouts remaining

“I knew coming into today there was a big possibility I would wrestle him,” Jorge said.  “I was confident in my ability to win. I knew his best position was top and when I went bottom I needed to be on his hands and that he was going left-side boot.”

In the previous bout, Southern sophomore Peyton Blauvelt scored a takedown on Adante Davis with 21 seconds left in the third period to win, 3-1, in another key toss-up bout that propelled the Rams to the 19-point victory. There were six bouts decided by two points or less, and Southern won all six of them.

Southern's Zach Wilhelm won by 8-2 decision over Tanner Kelly at 145 pounds to help the Rams defeat rival Jackson Memorial, 34-15.

“They’re working hard and we have a good thing going,” said Southern head coach John Stout. “Winning promotes winning and confidence.”

“We just have an attitude that we can push the pace and go with anyone in the state,” Jorge said. “We’ve talked about it as a group of seniors how much we want it. We’re really all-in this year. We want to finish on top.”

 

The Rams won 10 of 14 bouts against the Jaguars (11-2, 3-2), getting bonus points from Matt Wilhelm at 138 via a major decision over Tim Hamann, and at heavyweight when Jesse Bauta pinned Austin Ostrander.

“We try to push the pace, dictate things, and mentally we can break kids,” said Jackson head coach Aaron Gottesman. “Southern’s not a team you can do that to. With the seniors they have in their lineup, those kids are battle-tested year after year. They came out today and proved why they’re the No. 1 team in the Shore Conference.”

With wins over Brick Memorial and Jackson Memorial, Southern now has the inside track on the A South division title. It needs to defeat both Toms River East (2-11) and Toms River North (6-6) to clinch the title outright and claim its first division crown since 2005.

“They’re just always tough and their kids are tough,” Stout said. “So any time you can come out on the right end of a team like Jackson it feels good.”

The Rams won the first five bouts of the match to open a 16-0 lead. Andrew Tonneson used a reversal in the third period to pull ahead of Austin Clarke, then held off a late takedown attempt to win 4-3 at 126 pounds to open the match. Bryan Brown followed with 7-5 decision over Hunter Reese before Matt Wilhelm’s major decision at 138 gave Southern a 10-0 advantage. Wilhelm was up 4-1 in the third period when he hit a reversal and then piled up three near-fall points in the closing seconds to push his margin of victory to eight and pick up four team points.

Zach Wilhelm’s 8-2 decision over Tanner Kelly at 145 and Nick Racanelli’s 3-1 decision over Sean Leahey gave the Rams early command of the match with a 16-0 lead. Jarrett DiGiantomasso got the Jaguars on the board with a 5-0 win against Joe Toci at 160, but Blauvelt’s win at 170 and Jorge’s at 182 pushed Southern’s lead to 22-3 and all but ensured victory.

Ken Bradley won by fall over Mason Fazekas at 195 and Brody Graham shut out Pat Ferraro, 5-0, at 220 to pull the Jaguars to within 22-12, but Jesse Bauta’s pin over Austin Ostrander at heavyweight gave Southern a 16-point lead before Frank Amiano’s 2-1 win over Matt McGowan at 106 officially clinched the match.

“Jackson had to take some chances to win the wrestling match, and you have to respect them for it,” Stout said. “They tried to win, and that’s what you’re supposed to do. They did the right thing, in my opinion, we just came out on the winning end.”

 

After nearly being pinned in the first period and trailing 5-0 heading into the second, Fred Terranova came back to defeat James Knoeller, 10-5 at 113 pounds, for Jackson’s fourth and final victory. Chris Crane closed out the dual with a 12-5 decision over Zack Baker at 120 pounds.

The Rams will not participate in the Shore Conference Tournament, which gets underway Tuesday with the preliminary round, for the second season in a row. But even without potential rematches with Brick Memorial, Jackson Memorial or Howell in the SCT, the Rams have undoubtedly proven they are the Shore’s best. The NJSIAA sectional tournaments are right around the corner, and the only thing left for the Rams to do is finish the job.

“We have a goal this year and we know what we have to do,” Jorge said. “We came in and wrestled well tonight, and as long as we keep winning as a team that’s all that matters to us.”

 

Box Score

No. 1 Southern 34, No. 3 Jackson Memorial 15
126: Andrew Tonneson (S) d. Austin Clarke 4-3
132: Bryan Brown (S) d. Hunter Reese 7-5
138: Matt Wilhelm (S) md. Tim Hamann 9-1
145: Zach Wilhelm (S) d. Tanner Kelly 8-2
152: Nick Racanelli (S) d. Sean Leahey 3-1
160: Jarrett DiGiantomasso (JM) d. Joe Toci 5-0
170: Peyton Blauvelt (S) d. Adante Davis 3-1
182: Gerardo Jorge (S) d. Connor Bohringer 3-2
195: Ken Bradley (JM) p. Mason Fazekas 3:59
220: Brody Graham (JM) d. Pat Ferraro 5-0
Hwt: Jesse Bauta (S) p. Austin Ostrander 3:05
106: Frank Amiano (S) d. Matt McGowan 2-1
113: Fred Terranova (JM) d. James Knoeller 10-5
120: Chris Crane (S) d. Zack Baker 12-5
Records: at Jackson Memorial (11-2, 3-2); Southern (12-0, 5-0).