BRICK — It was just last Saturday when Brick Memorial head coach Mike Denver spoke about the importance of the Mustangs’ less-experienced and unheralded wrestlers being ready at all times, because they could be called upon at any moment to grab a potential match-deciding victory

That time came Wednesday night against rival Jackson Memorial.

Jackson winning the coin-flip and getting the matchups it wanted among the upperweights put extra emphasis on a four-bout stretch from 120 through 138 pounds. Brick Memorial was hoping to get two wins in that span, but instead a group of four first-year starters delivered four wins to send the Mustangs, No. 1 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, to a 33-19 Shore Conference Class A South victory over the No. 4 Jaguars.

Decision wins by Luis and Jose Bocalman at 120 and 126 pounds pulled Brick Memorial (8-0, 4-0) from a 13-12 deficit to an 18-13 lead, and an 8-6 win by Anthony Mitchel over Hunter Reese at 132 and a 4-2 decision by Joe Stowers over Tim Hamann at 138 pushed the Mustangs’ lead to 24-13. Brick Memorial won nine of 14 bouts, including seven of eight from 106 through 152, for its third straight win over the Jaguars.

“Losing the flip was a lot,” Denver said. “They got everything they wanted, and we just had to roll with it. Those were toss-up bouts that could have gone either way. I would have been happy with two. We were hoping to split and we got all four.

“Those kids are stepping up big. They came to wrestle and they wrestled tough.”

The Mustangs also got a huge lift from freshman heavyweight Nick Rivera, who outlasted Brody Graham 5-1 in the second tiebreaker period. Tied at one heading to ride outs, Rivera pulled ahead on a penalty point while riding out Graham in the first tiebreaker. In the second tiebreaker, Rivera escaped for a 3-1 lead, then scored a takedown to win 5-1 and tie the match at nine. Senior Nick Costa had started off the match with a pin at 182 pounds, but Jackson Memorial bumped up Connor Bohringer and Ken Bradley to 195 and 220, respectively, and Bohringer’s pin and Bradley’s 6-5 decision over Tyler Poling in a matchup of state qualifiers gave the Jaguars a 9-6 lead.

“It was very impressive, especially after the 220 bout,” Denver said. “For Rivera to come out there to win close and win tough, especially as a freshman, I’m very proud of him.”

“I feel like that win turned everything around,” Costa said.  “We had a setback at 113, but we were on a roll after that.”

Following Rivera’s win to knot the score 9-9, freshman Gianni Ghione followed with a 2-0 decision over Mike Spino at 106 pounds to give Brick Memorial a 12-9 lead. Ghione rode out Spino in the second period, then scored with a reversal in the third. At 113, Fred Terranova put the Jaguars back in front with a 9-1 major decision over Luke Vescovi.

With Jackson Memorial up 13-12, the next four bouts would most likely decide the match. First it was Luis Bocalman scoring a 6-1 decision over Zack Baker at 120 pounds. The junior had all of his offense in the second period when, after taking a 1-0 lead on an escape, he put Baker to his back for a 4-point move and a 5-0 lead. Leading 5-1 heading to the third, Bocalman completed the ride out while earning a stalling point in the process to put the Mustangs up 15-13. His twin brother Jose followed with a 1-0 decision over Austin Clarke at 126. An escape in the second period was all he would need to win the bout, as he rode out Clarke in the third period for the win and an 18-13 Brick Memorial lead.

Mitchel, a sophomore who wrestled in just three varsity matches last season, came through with an 8-6 win over Reese, who went 13-12 as a sophomore. A takedown and three near-fall points in the second period built a 5-1 lead for Mitchel, and he extended the advantage to 7-1 with a takedown to start the third period. The cushion helped him hold off a furious rally by Reese in the third period to win 8-6 and stretch the Mustangs’ lead to 21-13.

“I know when I’m out there I have to step up, but I try not to really think about it too much,” Mitchel said. “Once I got (the takedown and back points) I felt like I had a nice lead and could start working my stuff.”

Stowers, a junior, rode out Hamann in the second period to keep their bout scoreless heading to the third period. He escaped and took Hamann down for a 3-0 lead, then fought to stay off his back when Hamann reversed him to stay in front, 3-2. Hamann let him up and tried for the tying takedown, but Stowers held his ground to win 4-2 and give the Mustangs a 24-13 advantage.

“It shows their heart,” Denver said. “They practice hard in the room and it shows out there to pull out the close matches. That’s how state titles are won.”

The Mustangs now had one of the stronger parts of their lineup on deck, and Alec Donovan’s 7-0 decision over Tanner Kelly at 145 gave them a 27-13 lead before Rob Ruggiero’s pin in 3:35 over Kyle Johnson at 152 gave Brick Memorial a 33-13 lead to clinch the match with two bouts remaining.

Jackson Memorial closed the match with an 11-10 win by Sean Leahey over Tim Santiago at 160 and a 3-2 win by Jarrett DiGiantomasso over Conner Owen in double overtime at 170.

Brick Memorial will wrestle both Toms River North and Toms River East on Friday, and wins there will set up a showdown with No. 2 Southern on Jan. 22 to close out the Mustangs’ A South slate. It will be the first meeting since Brick Memorial’s 34-27 win over Southern in the 2013 NJSIAA Group IV final. Senior Joe Ghione, a two-time state medalist, has been out with an elbow injury since Dec. 21, but Denver indicated it’s possible he could be back for the Southern match.

“He could probably go next week, honestly, but we’ll see how he feels,” Denver said. “The doctors have said that structurally he’s good to go, but we’ll see what happens and take it day by day.”

With or without Ghione, the Mustangs know they’ll have their hands full when the Rams come to town in a match that will likely decide the A South championship. But they also believe they’re still the team to beat.

“We’re just going to keep working hard and trying to get better,” Costa said. “It’s going to be tough without Joey, but we’re definitely capable of being the best. If we wrestle our match nobody is better than us, especially in A South.”


Box Score

Class A South

No. 1 Brick Memorial 33, No. 4 Jackson Memorial 19
182: Nick Costa (BM) p. Adante Davis 4:54
195: Connor Bohringer (JM) p. Bobby Mitler 2:21
220: Ken Bradley (JM) d. Tyler Poling 6-5
Hwt: Nick Rivera (BM) d. Brody Graham 5-1 (TB-2)
106: Gianni Ghione (BM) d. Mike Spino 2-0
113: Fred Terranova (JM) md. Luke Vescovi 9-1
120: Luis Bocalman (BM) d. Zack Baker 6-1
126: Jose Bocalman (BM) d. Austin Clarke 1-0
132: Anthony Mitchel (BM) d. Hunter Reese 8-6
138: Joe Stowers (BM) d. Tim Hamann 4-2
145: Alec Donovan (BM) d. Tanner Kelly 7-0
152: Rob Ruggiero (BM) p. Kyle Johnson 3:35
160: Sean Leahey (JM) d. Nick Santiago 11-10
170: Jarrett DiGiantomasso (JM) d. Connor Owen 3-2 (TB-2)
Records: at Brick Memorial (8-0, 4-0); Jackson Memorial (6-1, 2-1)