Wrestling – ‘Clear’-ed Out – Group III Final: Clearview 34, Brick 25
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TOMS RIVER — History was written on Sunday night at Pine Belt Arena, just not in the book Brick was hoping for.
Clearview defeated Brick, 34-25, to win the NJSIAA Group III championship for the first state championship in program history. Brick, which won its third sectional title on Friday and defeated Roxbury in the Group III semifinals, was also looking for its first group championship. In fact, all four of the semifinalists had never won on the group level.
The Pioneers took eight of 14 bouts from the Dragons, including pins by Zack Firestone, Mike Van Brill and Kyle McMahon. Brick received pins from Dan Rackliffe and Ray Fattaruso, but fell in its bid to bring home a title in its first appearance in a group final.
“I’m extremely proud of this team,” said Brick head coach Matt Opacity. “They’ve come a long way this year. I thought they wrestled well, but we just didn’t have enough horses in the stable.”
Brick defeated Roxbury, 37-25, in the semifinals by winning eight of 14 bouts with pins from Fattaruso, Rackliffe, Connor Mulligan and Dean Sherry.
The championship dual began with Clearview's John Bonner outlasting Kelvin Tomasello, 2-1 in double overtime, in a tossup bout at heavyweight. Rackliffe pinned John Seybold in 1:26 at 106 pounds, but standout Zack Firestone pinned Kyle Marino in 2:26 to give Clearview the lead again at 9-6. The Pioneers would never trail again in the match.
Mulligan held off Austin Lee, 5-3 at 120 pounds, to tie the score at nine before Clearview won the next two bouts to open up a nine-point lead. Ronald Mestichelli edged Thomas Wright 2-0 at 126 thanks to a first-period takedown, and Mike Van Brill pinned Kyle Brown in 2:21 at 132 to make it 18-9. Jack Mclafferty got Brick within six points with a 6-3 decision over George Kerasinis at 138, but for every bout the Dragons would win, Clearview would answer with two wins of its own.
Brick was a victim of matchups at 145 and 152 as two of its best wrestlers, Will Scott and Nick Pollara, faced two of the Pioneers’ best in John Van Brill and Ed Lenkowski. Van Brill is a two-time Region VIII champ while Lenkowski was a region runner-up last season. Scott entered the bout with Van Brill with a 25-2 record but lost by 12-4 major decision as the Pioneers opened a 22-12 lead. Lenkowski shut out Pollara (19-6) 4-0 to push the lead to 25-12.
At 160 pounds, Kyle Wojtaszek won by 7-1 decision over Harry Eisenhart to pull the Dragons to within 10 points, but Kyle McMahon put the match out of reach when he pinned Ryan Jachim in 18 seconds at 170 pounds. Normal 170-pounder Dean Sherry weighed in at 182 for the day so the Dragons could move him away from state champion Dillon Artigliere in the Roxbury match. The plan again was to bump Sherry to 195 and have him and Fattaruso to close out the dual. But by the time the Dragons got to those final two weights, they were powerless to control the final outcome.
Clearview officially clinched the Group III title when Joe Sindoni topped Dante Vega-Anfuso, 5-0 at 182 pounds, to give the Pioneers a 34-15 lead with two bouts left. Sherry won by major decision, 18-8 over Gary Searle at 195, and Fattaruso pinned Zach Stecher in 10 seconds at 220, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Clearview.
“Guys that have gotten us here just came up a little short in those matches, and that’s what it came down to,” Opacity said. “We wanted to come here and get to the groups and win it from the start. That was our goal. We didn’t get it, but we wrestled extremely well just to get here.”
Group III Final
Clearview 34, Brick 25
285: John Bonner (C) d. Kelvin Tomasello 2-1 TB-2
106: Dan Rackliffe (B) p. John Seybold 1:26
113: Zack Firestone (C) p. Kyle Marino 2:26
120: Connor Mulligan (B) d. Austin Lee 5-2
126: Ronald Mestichelli (C) d. Thomas Wright 2-0
132: Mike Van Brill (C) p. Thomas Costanza 2:21
138: Jack McIafferty (B) d. George Kerasins 6-3
145: John Van Brill (C) md. Will Scott 12-4
152: Ed Lenkowski (C) d. Nick Pollara 4-0
160: Kyle Wojtaszek (B) d. Henry Eisenhart 7-1
170: Kyle McMahon (C) p. Ryan Jachim 0:18
182: Joe Sindoni (C) d. Dante Vega-Anfuso 5-0
195: Dean Sherry (B) md. Gary Searle 18-8
220: Ray Fattaruso (B) p. Zack Stecher 0:10