Jackson Memorial wins team title, Manalapan’s Jessi Johnson takes OW at inaugural girls wrestling SCT
Jackson Memorial rolled to the team title and Manalapan returning state champion Jessi Johnson put forth a dominant performance at the inaugural girls wrestling Shore Conference Tournament on Sunday at Brick Memorial High School.
The Jaguars had five of the 11 individual champions and ran away with the conference championship by outpointing Manalapan, 167-82.5. Senior Avery Meyers won the 128-pound title, sophomore Skyelar Smith won the 135-pound championship, senior Ally Mayer secured the 143-pound crown, sophomore Jordyn Katz earned gold at 161 pounds and junior Gina Novello placed first at 215 pounds. Placing second were Laurel Flockhart at 121, Chloe Lawler at 128 and Abigail Stanberry at 151.
The top seed at 128 pounds, Meyers (18-2) pinned her way to the title with two first-period falls before pinning teammate Lawler in 2:52 in the final. At 135, Smith upended Manasquan junior America Garay, 4-2, in the championship bout to improve to 16-2. Garay was the state sixth-place finisher at 136 pounds last season. Mayer made it three in a row for the Jags when she pinned Brick’s Jade Huetra in 4:50 in the championship bout. Mayer also won by fall in the semifinals and had a major-decision victory in the quarterfinals to run her record to 14-3. Katz was the No. 1 seed at 161 and made quick work of the field with a 44-second pin in the semifinals and a fall in 1:23 in the final. Novello was trailing 4-0 against Marlboro’s Brianna Golino entering the third period in the 215-pound final but chose top and worked for the fall before putting Golino to the mat for the pin in 4:42, giving Jackson its fifth SCT champion.
Manalapan’s Johnson, a junior who last season captured the NJSIAA 136-pound state title, was flawless in taking the SCT 151-pound title and was voted as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler. Johnson won by fall in 1:10 in the semifinals before scoring a 17-2 technical fall in 3:18 over Stanberry in the championship bout. She is a perfect 11-0 this season.
Other champions included Southern freshman Jade Ferrante at 100 pounds, Lakewood senior Estefani Cortez at 107, Brick junior Gianna Dedreux at 114, Lakewood senior Jessica Rivera at 121 and Marlboro freshman Janel Carty at 180.
Ferrante won by fall in 22 seconds in the semifinals and pinned Manalapan’s Trinity Valentin-Walczak in 1:11 in the final.
Lakewood was the only team besides Jackson with multiple champions, starting with Cortez at 107. The No. 2 seed won by fall in the semifinals and then pinned the top seed, Manalapan’s Julia Manolas, in 1:31 in the championship bout. Cortez is 12-3 on the year and handed Manolas her first loss (8-1).
Rivera was also the No. 2 seed and emerged as the champion in the bracket with the most wrestlers (11). She won by injury default in the quarterfinals, won by fall in the semifinals and pinned Flockhart with four seconds left in the third to cap a back-and-forth championship bout. Rivera led 5-2 early in the third period before Flockhart scored a takedown and three nearfall points to go ahead, 7-5. Rivera closed to within 7-6 on a penalty point, scored a reversal to re-take the lead at 8-7 and then won by fall to take home the title.
Dedreux was the top seed at 114 pounds and cruised to the title with two falls in the opening minute.
The 180-pound weight class had just three wrestlers entered: Carty, Raritan’s Gianna Seely and Lakewood’s Marlene Flores. A round-robin format saw Carty go 2-0, including winning by fall in 3:58 over Seeley in what amounted to the championship bout.
Fifteen schools entered at least one wrestler with Jackson Memorial (15), Lakewood (12) and Manalapan (10) leading the way. Raritan had five participants while Marlboro and Howell had four each.
The next big date on the girls wrestling calendar is the Kingsway Girls Invitational on Saturday, Feb. 1. The girls postseason gets underway on Feb. 23 with the NJSIAA North Region Tournament at Union High School and the NJSIAA South Region Tournament at Williamstown High School. The top three finishers in each weight class will advance to the state tournament, which will be contested from Thursday, March 5 to Saturday, March 7 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at email@example.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.