Wrestling Top 10, 1/1/14
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Happy New Year. It's 2014, and boy did last year go by quickly. It seems like yesterday everyone assembled at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City to watch the state's best battle for championships. It was an action-packed first two weeks of Shore Conference wrestling filled with plenty of tournaments and a decent amount of duals. There have been some surprises, but the season has gone as expected so far. With the new year also comes the relative end to the tournament-heavy part of teams' schedules, however, and the dual-season will ramp up this coming week. This is where teams start to separate from the pack and the picture begins to clear up.
Here is the season's second Shore Sports Network Top 10.
1. Brick Memorial (2-0, 1-0): The Mustangs opened the season by winning the TCNJ Pride Tournament with six champions and a total of 10 medalists, and followed that up with a strong performance at their own Mustang Classic. Junior Alec Donovan and senior Nick Costa won titles at 152 and 182 pounds, respectively, and Brick Memorial finished with eight top-three medalists. The Mustangs also posted dual victories over Lacey and Cherokee. Senior Joe Ghione will miss some time with an elbow injury, and the impact of his absence won't be truly known until the teeth of the A South schedule arrives. They travel to Brick for a quad also featuring Neptune and Shore on Saturday.
2. Southern (0-0, 0-0): The Rams dominated both tournaments they entered in the season's opening weeks with five champions and 12 top-three medalists at their Robin Leff Invitational. They then won their second straight Governor Mifflin (Pa.) Tournament title with 120-pound champion Chris Crane leading five finalists. Southern opens its dual season on Friday at Toms River North in an A South match, then travels to Franklin on Saturday for a quad.
3. Howell (7-0, 0-0): The Rebels won the John and Betty Vogeding Tournament with four champions and 12 top-three medalists. In Florida a the KSA Holiday Tournament, Howell went 7-0 to win the team title, and that included a 41-20 victory over Raritan in which the Rebels took 10 of 14 bouts. The Rebels head up to Newton on Saturday for the Henry Boersch Dual Tournament.
4. Raritan (10-1, 1-0): The Rockets went dual crazy in the first two weeks instead of using individual matches in tournaments and went 10-1 in the process. They beat Delaware Valley in the Rocket Blast-Off, a victory which will likely result in the Rockets finally getting a sectional final at home. At the KSA Holiday Tournament, Raritan went 6-1 with its only loss coming to No. 3 Howell. Dylan Seidenberg came up with an impressive 3-0 victory over Howell's Kris Lindemann at 132 pounds. Raritan is also at Newton on Saturday for the Henry Boersch Duals.
5. Toms River South (0-0, 0-0): The Indians faired well at all three tournaments they entered, finishing second at the TCNJ Pride Tournament and the Walter Woods Tournament. They also sent some of their wrestlers to the Holmdel Holiday Tournament and came away with four medalists. Sophomore Owen McClave and juniors Joe Salvato and Antrez Clagon remain undefeated. The Indians have a key match at Jackson Memorial on Thursday night and host a Saturday quad with Central, Colts Neck and New Egypt.
6. Jackson Memorial (0-0, 0-0): The Jaguars jump up two spots thanks to a strong showing at the Robin Leff Invitational (four champs and seven medalists) and the team title at the Walter Woods Tournament, where junior Connor Bohringer led five total medalists with the 182-pound title. The Jags host No. 5 Toms River South on Thursday in what should be a telling match. On Saturday, they travel to Middle Township for a quad also featuring Lacey and Pinelands.
7. Brick (1-0, 0-0): The Dragons took fourth at the Colt Classic behind junior Dean Sherry's 170-pound title that led seven top-three medalists. At the Hawk Classic, Brick finished second with four champions and eight total top-three finishers. The Dragons host No. 1 Brick Memorial along with Shore and Neptune in a Saturday quad.
8. Ocean (0-0, 0-0): Zach Hertling and Andrew MacNeille each won three matches at the Beast of the East. At the Mustang Classic, the Spartans had three third-place finishers. Ocean hosts Neptune in the B North opener on Thursday before traveling to Freehold for a Saturday quad with Matawan and Red Bank.
9. CBA (1-1, 0-0): Sebastian Rivera, Erik Beshada and Mike Oxley are undefeated with tournament victories at the Colt Classic and Walter Woods Tournament, where the Colts finished fifth and third, respectively. Oxley defeated Jackson Memorial's Ken Bradley, 5-3, to win the Walter Woods 195-pound title in a possible preview of the Region VI final. The Colts also defeated Lawrence in a dual while falling to Monroe, 31-27. CBA hosts Freehold Township in its A North opener on Thursday and travels to Middletown North on Saturday for a quad.
10. Wall (0-0, 0-0): Denzel Tovar and Brett Donner won titles at the Colts Classic to lead the Crimson Knights to a third-place finish that included six top-three medalists. Freshman Joe McKenzie won the Mustang Classic title at 170 pounds while Brett Donner (160) and Denzel Tovar (113) placed second. Wall will participate in the Minutemen Classic at Elizabeth High School on Saturday.
Also considered: Manalapan, Long Branch, Jackson Liberty.