JACKSON – Trailing by five points with less than 30 seconds left and his stomach flat to the mat, Ryan Andrus needed a borderline miracle to pull off a win in a critical toss-up bout at 132 pounds.

The Brick Memorial senior had a plan, however, but for it to work he needed Jackson Memorial’s Hugh Mai to stay aggressive. Mai needed three more points to secure a major decision, so he went for a tilt, the same move that delivered him three points in the second period. Andrus now had him right where he wanted him.

Andrus hit a move he called the “Sméagol”, using Mai’s tilt against him with a headlock that suddenly had Andrus pressing Mai’s shoulders to the mat in a stunning reversal. He finished off the fall with 14 seconds left in the bout for a match-turning pin that helped No. 3 Brick Memorial to a 39-28 victory over No. 2 Jackson in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group 4 semifinals on Wednesday night inside Joe Perry Gymnasium.

“Sméagol, like ‘Lord of the Rings’,” Andrus said. “The guy is going to put you in a tilt and you just fish for his head and stick him with a headlock. It was there in the second period when he got three backs points on me. I knew it was there and I knew I could hit it. It felt the tilt coming and I was like, ‘please tilt me, please do it’.”

“I might have already turned away like, ‘man, we lost this one and that was one we really needed’,” said Brick Memorial head coach Mike Kiley of Andrus’ late heroics. “He’s someone that in the beginning of his career was constantly fighting for the team – I was told, I wasn’t here yet – but he was constantly on his back and he learned ways to fight off his back, and the Sméagol was one of them. He is very dangerous in that position so that’s always a threat.”

If you're wondering how a move gets named "Smeagol", Point Boro assistant and former Brick Memorial wrestler Brian Grainer has the answer.

“In these matches you have to not give up pins, and that’s a tough team (Jackson), but on the other end you have to get falls to win,” Kiley said. “If you see bonus you have to capitalize and you have to hold bonus – we all know that – to win these matches.”

“A lot of guys tonight came up big and as a team, this is why we train so hard in the room,” Williams said. “The atmosphere was awesome tonight and I’m so excited for everyone on the team.”

Wednesday’s victory erased a 35-30 loss to Jackson, but more importantly sent Brick Memorial into the Central Jersey Group 4 final where it will face Long Branch on Friday night. The top-seeded Green Wave defeated Colts Neck, 48-17, in the other semifinal.

“The last time I left this place happy was 10 years ago when we won 30-29,” said Kiley, who starred for the Mustangs from 2006-2009 and was a part of two Group 4 championship teams. “It’s not easy to come out of this place with a ‘W’.”

Vinnie Scollo staked Jackson to a 3-0 lead by defeating Liam Rivera, 7-4, in the opening bout at 120 pounds. Michael Richardson got those points right back at 126 with a 3-0 victory over Chris McDonald.

After Andrus’ pin gave Brick Memorial a 9-3 lead the Mustangs bumped Caleb Alvarado to 145 pounds and sent Brian Alexander out against Carsten Digiantomasso at 138. The Jackson junior won 11-1 to pull the Jaguars to within 9-7, but it felt like a win for the Mustangs by limiting bonus points. That was until Nick Tomasiello locked up a cradle and pinned Alvarado in 49 seconds at 145 pounds to put the Jaguars right back in the driver’s seat and, at the time, nullify the pin by Andrus.

Ryan Bohringer followed with a 9-1 major decision over Bryan Wilson at 152 pounds to extend Jackson’s lead to 17-9, but Szuba delivered Brick Memorial’s second pin when he threw Leo Shimonovich to his back and finished off the fall at the 2:33 mark at 160 pounds to cut Jackson’s lead to 17-15.

Brick Memorial made its lineup move at 170 pounds by inserting Jack Tango and running the rest of its upperweights up one weight class. The Jaguars would win the next two bouts, however, to take a 10-point lead. Brock Winston closed furiously with six takedowns in the third period, including one final score as time expired to secure a 23-8 technical fall and give the Jaguars a 22-15 lead. At 182 pounds, Kyle Epperly used a takedown with 22 seconds left in the third period to defeat Ean Mueller, 3-1.

The Mustangs were still in good shape with Williams still set to wrestle and Rotondo and Santaniello being heavily favored in the final two weights. Hopping pinned Brad Galassi in 1:42 to make it 25-21 and Williams sank a cradle on Jack Ford for a fall in 1:26 that put Brick Memorial back in front, 27-25, and all but clinch the match with three bouts left.

Logan Reese defeated Chris Mitler, 4-1, at heavyweight to give Jackson a 28-27 lead but Rotondo pinned Luke Temple in 1:14 to give the Mustangs a 33-28 lead. Santaniello, one of the top freshman in the Shore Conference, then clinched the match by pinning Lance Hobbs in 3:37.

“We stress in the room we have to win big and lose small and that’s really what we did tonight,” Williams said. “We were behind but you can’t let that get to your head. As long as there’s time on the clock there’s time to wrestle.”

“It was the best feeling in the world, and I’m so happy for my team,” Andrus said. “We all worked so hard for this and know we’ll head to Long Branch and hopefully win a sectional title.”


Box Score

Brick Memorial 39, Jackson Memorial 28

120: Vinnie Scollo (JM) d. Liam Rivera 7-4

126: Michael Richardson (BM) d. Chris McDonald 3-0

132: Ryan Andrus (BM) p. Hugh Mai 5:46

138: Carsten Digiantomasso (JM) md. Brian Alexander 11-1

145: Nick Tomasiello (JM) p. Caleb Alvarado 0:49

152: Ryan Bohringer (JM) md. Bryan Wilson 9-1

160: David Szuba (BM) p. Leo Shimonovich 2:33

170: Brock Winston (JM) tf. Jack Tango 6:00 (23-8)

182: Kyle Epperly (JM) d. Ean Mueller 3-1

195: Ron Hopping (BM) p. Brad Galassi 1:42

220: Sam Williams (BM) p. Jack Ford 1:26

HWT: Logan Reese (JM) d. Chris Mitler 4-1

106: Joe Rotondo (BM) p. Luke Temple 1:14

113: Vincent Santaniello (BM) p. Lance Hobbs 3:37


Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at bob.badders@townsquaremedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.


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