Wrestling Top 10, 1/15
With the tournament-heavy part of the season basically over and the dual-meet season in full swing, the Shore Conference landscape is starting to become much clearer. Brick Memorial still commands the top spot in the conference, but No. 2 Southern is hot on its heels after a big 28-19 victory over No. 3 Howell, setting up a potential No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown on Jan. 22.
Jackson Memorial has shown its strength as a program so far with a 6-0 start in a "rebuilding" year while Christian Brothers Academy climbs two spots after a win over Brick. Some big matches loom this week, including tonight's A South clash between Jackson Memorial and Brick Memorial, along with Thursday's dual between Howell and No. 6 Ocean and Friday's crucial B North meeting between No. 9 Wall and a Long Branch team looking to crack the top 10.
Here is the latest Shore Sports Network Top 10.
1. Brick Memorial (7-0, 3-0 A South): The Mustangs haven't done anything to drop from the No. 1 spot, and recently topped No. 8 Toms River South 47-22, although Southern has made a case to overtake them with an impressive first month. Senior Joe Ghione is still out of the lineup with an elbow sprain, but is week-to-week and the Mustangs hope he'll be back sooner than later. The Mustang host No. 4 Jackson Memorial tonight in one of the state's best wrestling rivalries and also face Toms River East on Friday.
2. Southern (5-0, 1-0 A South): It was a big week-plus for the Rams as they swept a quad with Trenton Central, Franklin and Bridgewater-Raritan before a 54-13 win over No. 8 Toms River South and a 28-19 victory over No. 3 Howell. Huge wins by Andrew Tonneson and Jesse Bauta keyed the victory. Southern takes on Lacey tonight and hosts a quad on Saturday with Hunterdon Central, Bishop Ahr and No. 6 Ocean.
3. Howell (12-2, 2-0 A North): The Rebels went 5-2 since the last top 10, finishing third at the Henry Boresch Duals with a win over South Plainfield after losing their first match of the season to Hanover Park. The Rebels came up short in a match versus No. 2 Southern, but it's clear they are in the upper echelon of the Shore this season. They'll take on Manalapan tonight, No. 6 Ocean on Thursday and Monroe, Old Bridge and Freehold Township in a quad on Saturday.
4. Jackson Memorial (6-0, 2-0 A South): Here come the Jags. Jackson Memorial went a perfect 6-for-6 in the last two weeks with wins over No. 10 Brick and No. 8 Toms River South, along with a dominating performance at the Hammonton Duals and another victory over crosstown rival Jackson Liberty. A huge test comes tonight as the Jaguars visit A South rival and top-ranked Brick Memorial where a win would seriously shake up the top 10. They also have a tough tri-meet on Saturday with South Plainfield and No. 9 Wall.
5. Raritan (16-2 2-0 A Central): It's tough to drop a team off a 6-1 week, but it was more about how solid Jackson Memorial looked than anything Raritan did wrong, which was minimal. A 6-1 stretch included a criteria win over South Plainfield, which ended the Tigers' 57-match winning streak against New Jersey teams, in the Henry Boresch Duals semifinals. The Rockets then fell to Hanover Park, a top-10 team in New Jersey, 41-23, in the final. This past weekend the Rockets topped rival Long Branch, 28-26, and Jackson Liberty, 41-21. They face Middletown South tonight and have a quad at Delsea with Passaic Valley and No. 8 Toms River South on Saturday.
6. Ocean (7-1, 4-0 B North): The Spartans went 7-1 to start the dual season with their only loss coming to St. Peter's Prep, a consensus top-5 team in the state. A solid win came against Roxbury, 30-27, during a quad. The Gaels, like the Spartans, are one of the top contenders to win a wide-open Group III bracket this season. Jason Lawhon's clutch pin set up Dan Loizos' 1-point victory to clinch the win in the final bout. The Spartans can climb the rankings as they have matches against No. 3 Howell and No. 2 Southern this week.
7. CBA (8-1, 4-0 A North): The Colts jump two spots thanks to a 7-0 week that included a 34-28 victory over No. 10 Brick. Sophomore Sebastian Rivera has emerged as one of the Shore's top 106-pounders and sports a 14-0 record. Also undefeated are seniors Erik Beshada (138) and Mike Oxley (195). CBA travels to Colts Neck tonight and has a quad at Ridgewood with Wayne Hills and state-ranked DePaul, which should be a great test for the Colts.
8. Toms River South (3-3, 0-3 A South): Tough stretch for the Indians, who dropped matches to Jackson Memorial, Southern and Brick Memorial in A South to fall two spots. Those are not bad losses by any stretch, although their big guns were all picked off in a loss to Southern. They'll try to get back on track with matches against Toms River East and Lacey, and will have a chance to climb back up the rankings in a quad at Delsea with Passaic Valley and No. 5 Raritan.
9. Wall (6-0, 2-0 B North): The Crimson Knights move up one spot after a 6-0 stretch that also included the team title at the Elizabeth Minutemen Tournament. Eight of their wrestlers have already reached double-digit wins, including sophomore Joe Demuner (14-2) at 120 and freshmen Chad McClelland (10-5 at 132) and Matt McKenzie (13-1 at 170). A big B North clash looms on Friday versus Long Branch before a Saturday tri-meet with South Plainfield and No. 4 Jackson Memorial. Wall has the chance to make a major statement in the next few days.
10. Brick (6-3, 2-2 A South): A 5-3 span for the Dragons with losses to Brick Memorial, Jackson Memorial and CBA has the Dragons falling three spots to hang on to the final slot in the top 10. They have a tough match with No. 2 Southern on Friday and a nondivisional match with Barnegat on Saturday.
Long Branch (8-2); Jackson Liberty (5-3); Point Beach (11-1); Point Boro (7-0); St. John Vianney (4-2); Manalapan (5-2).