Four Straight Pins Help Jackson Memorial Rally to Beat Brick for the Central Jersey Group IV Title
BRICK TOWNSHIP - When Jackson Memorial's senior class entered the school four years ago, there were high expectations for a talented group of wrestlers.
However, despite lofty state rankings and gaudy win totals over the past three seasons, that group of Jaguars had exactly zero tournament titles to its name as a concrete symbol of its accomplishments. This year's NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV Tournament offered them one last chance to separate themselves in Jackson Memorial history.
"Four years ago, I told these kids they could be great as seniors, and in four years we haven't won a Shore Conference (Tournament), we haven't won a state title, and I told them that you finish Top 15 in the state every year, but you're going to be one of those teams that has nothing to show for all those years,'' Jaguars coach Aaron Gottesman said. "Either that, or you can be one of the great teams in school history, win a Central Jersey title, and have a shot to win it all."
The second-seeded Jaguars seized the moment on Friday night, rallying from a 15-point hole with four straight pins to avenge a regular-season loss to top-seeded Brick and knock off the host Green Dragons in a 34-31 thriller to capture the Central Jersey Group IV championship. It's the seventh sectional title in Jackson's storied history, the first since 2011, and the first in its four seasons under Gottesman.
Jackson advances to the Group IV semifinals on Sunday at Sun Bank National Center in Trenton, where it will wrestle South Jersey Group IV champion Clearview in its quest to win the Jaguars' fifth Group title in history and first since 2011.
"That (earlier loss to Brick) stuck with us all the way through the whole year,'' said senior 120-pounder Fred Terranova. "We had that in the back of our head coming into this match, and we wanted to get revenge. Plus we wanted to have something to show for all of our hard work."
Terranova's pin in 1:29 over David Santiago at 120 in the penultimate bout was the fourth straight pin for the Jaguars and allowed them to forfeit the final bout and claim the victory. Terranova was working on top and was able to lock in a cradle to get six and draw a roar from the visiting crowd as he jumped up and down in celebration of a championship.
"(Mike) Spino and (Matt) McGowan both got pins, and that got me real excited,'' Terranova said. "That made our decision to send me out there instead of (Ryan) Bohringer because if I got a pin or a tech, then we would win. I went out there and did what I had to do."
Gottesman was hoping for a three-point lead going into 120 so that he could send out the heavily-favored Terranova to get enough bonus points to wrap up the victory. That is exactly what happened as sophomore Matt McGowan secured a pin in 1:03 at 106, and junior Mike Spino pinned Brick's Trent Adams in only 12 seconds at 113 for a 28-25 Jaguars' advantage. That meant Terranova only needed a major decision to ice the victory, and he ended up finishing it in style with a pin.
"When they picked 132 as the start bout, I was real excited because I knew I was going to be that last match,'' Terranova said.
Brick had built a 25-10 lead with its formidable upper weights before Jackson senior heavyweight Brody Graham reversed the momentum for good when he was able to turn Brick's Chris Kimbiz to his back while working on top, pinning him in 2:34 to ignite the Jaguars crowd after Brick had won six straight bouts.
"When they send out a kid that I know I'm better then, I have to go out there and get six for my team,'' Graham said. "I've got to turn the tide and get us going, and it worked out tonight. They're really good up top, and we know that we can bang down low and get a lot of bonus points, so we just needed a win to get some juice and get us going."
"Once Brody got that pin and the crowd erupted, I knew it was over,'' McGowan said. "The momentum was all in our favor."
The Jaguars' victory was deja vu for Graham, a first-team All-Shore defensive lineman, as Jackson's football team lost to Brick in the regular season before beating the Green Dragons 44-0 in the sectional semifinals on its way to winning the Central Jersey Group IV title and finishing No. 1 in the Shore.
"Just like football, we remembered, we came back, and we got them when it counts,'' he said. "It's always good beating Brick."
Jackson was also able to reverse two results from its regular-season loss on criteria to the Green Dragons, starting with junior Mike Christie in the first bout of the match at 132. Christie got a rideout and then escaped with two seconds left in the first tie-breaker to claim a 2-1 decision over Anthony Costanza, who beat him 7-3 in their earlier meeting.
The Jaguars then made it 6-0 when sophomore Tim Hamann (23-6) edged Brick sophomore Jack McLafferty (20-7) with a 3-1 decision thanks to a second-period takedown on the boundary. Senior Hunter Reese, who was caught by a Peterson roll for a one-point loss to Tommy Costanza in the first meeting with Brick, emphatically turned the tide on Friday with a 10-1 major decision over Costanza at 145 in which he secured a bonus point with his fourth takedown of the bout with 11 seconds left in the third period.
A 9-3 decision by Nick Pollara over Sean Leahey at 152 got Brick on the board and started a streak of six straight wins by the Green Dragons. Senior Will Scott, who has the state record for career technical falls, added another one to the list with a 15-0 win over Jackson's Jarret DiGiantomasso in which he tilted him for two back points with 10 seconds left in the match to secure the bonus point and cut Jackson's lead to 10-8.
Undefeated Brick senior Kyle Wojtaszek (29-0) then did his job by pinning Kyle Johnson in 1:07, becoming the Green Dragons' career wins leader in the process with his 113th victory.
Sophomore Dean Helstowski (23-5) followed by outlasting Jackson's Tanner Kelly 4-2 in the first tiebreaker at 182 to give Brick a 17-10 lead. When Kelly took bottom, Helstowski was able to turn him for two back points before cutting him loose to make it 3-2. Kelly then intentionally cut Helstowski loose from bottom to make it 4-2, and Helstowski held on from there for the win.
That set the stage for a titanic showdown at 195 between undefeated Brick senior Dean Sherry and undefeated Jackson senior Connor Bohringer. Sherry secured a first-period takedown, and then after the two traded escapes in the next two periods, Sherry (29-0) fought off Bohringer's final takedown attempt to claim a 3-2 win in a match-up of state-ranked wrestlers for a 20-10 Brick lead.
Brick senior Ray Fattaruso then pushed the lead to 25-10 with a 15-0 technical fall over Jackson's Adante Davis in 5:29 at 220, but Graham soon brought a halt to that momentum to get things headed in a championship direction for the Jaguars.
"The momentum was in their hands there for a second, but I knew we were going to finish strong, so I wasn't too worried,'' Terranova said. "Now we get our shot to win it all."
Jackson Memorial 34, Brick 31
132: Mike Christie (J) d. Anthony Costanza, 2-1 TB2
138: Tim Hamann (J) d. Jack McLafferty, 3-1
145: Hunter Reese (J) md. Thomas Costanza, 10-1
152: Nick Pollara (B) d. Sean Leahey, 9-3
160: Will Scott (B) tf. Jarret DiGiantomasso, 16-0 5:50
170: Kyle Wojtaszek (B) p. Kyle Johnson 1:11
182: Dean Helstowski (B) d. Tanner Kelly, 4-2 TB2
195: Dean Sherry (B) d. Connor Bohringer, 3-2
220: Ray Fattaruso (B) tf. Adante Davis, 15-0 5:36
Hwt: Brody Graham (J) p. Chris Kimbiz, 2:34
106: Matt McGowan (J) p. Joe Ferigne, 1:03
113: Mike Spino (J) p. Trent Adams, 0:12
120: Fred Terranova (J) p. David Santiago, 1:29
126: Thomas Wright (B) wins by forfeit.