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HAZLET — Joey Jasio wasn’t worried about what to do when taking the mat at 220 pounds, he was just hoping he would get a chance.

Freshman Peter Wersinger went out at 195 pounds with Long Branch, ranked No. 7 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, trailing bitter rival Raritan by six points with two bouts left. The Rockets were in position to clinch the match with a decision, which would have left the 11-1 junior powerless to help his team.

“It was nerve-wracking; all I could do was hope,” Jasio said. “But Pete did a great job winning that match to put our team in a winning position.”

Wersinger outlasted Raritan junior Mike Gillen 1-0 in double overtime to cut Long Branch’s deficit to three, setting the stage for Jasio, who only needed to win by a decision to give the Green Wave the win. Jasio stamped the victory with authority, pinning Rockets freshman Ethan Wolf 24 seconds into the second period to give Long Branch a thrilling 30-27 Shore Conference nondivisional victory over the Rockets on Wednesday night.

“I was hoping he could get the job done because if it came down to me I knew I’d be able to do it,” Jasio said.

“He knew he just had to win because we had it on criteria (eight bouts to six),” said Long Branch head coach Danny George. “But he had one thing on his mind. There isn’t anyone else I would want on that mat at that point the way he’s been wrestling this year.”

Wersinger entered the match with a 5-7 record, but for the second straight match came though with a clutch victory. He won a key bout at 182 pounds during Long Branch’s win over Wall last Saturday.

“It’s just confidence,” Wersinger said. “I don’t care if they have me at 182 or heavyweight, if it’s a state champ or a district champ. My mindset is to go all-out, non-stop for six minutes.”

Long Branch (10-0) led through the first seven bouts, which included a 9-0 start through the first three, before Raritan fired back to take the lead and force the Green Wave to play catch-up. John Tomlinson rode out Malcolm Daniels in the third period at heavyweight for a 1-0 win, and senior Justin Farnsworth erased a two-point deficit in the final 25 seconds with a reversal and near-fall points to clip Rockets freshman Christian Sookdeo, 6-4 at 106 pounds. Farnsworth hit a reversal with 24 left to tie the bout at four, then got the two count he needed for a pair of back points that clinched the decision.

Long Branch senior Justin Farnsworth (left) hit a reversal and scored two near-fall points in the final 25 seconds to defeat Raritan's Christian Sookdeo, 6-4 at 106 pounds, for a key victory in the Green Wave's 30-27 win over the Rockets. (Photo by Bob Badders).
Long Branch senior Justin Farnsworth (left) hit a reversal and scored two near-fall points in the final 25 seconds to defeat Raritan's Christian Sookdeo, 6-4 at 106 pounds, for a key victory in the Green Wave's 30-27 win over the Rockets. (Photo by Bob Badders).

“I was hoping to hop over his hips and I was able to get the reversal,” Farnsworth said. “When I was going for back points I wasn’t expecting to turn him. I‘ve done that before and it’s worked a couple of times, but it was a last-resort move. I was fortunate enough to pull it off.”

“Farnsworth embodies what is not left in many high school sports,” George said. “He’s a senior in the lineup for the first time and he cut 20 pounds to make 106 to be in the lineup. He wanted to be involved and got really into it his junior year. Kids now, if they’re not starting, they’re moving on, so it’s awesome to see (him succeed).”

Senior Jason Hernandez continued Long Branch’s strong start with a 10-4 decision over freshman A.J. Even at 113 pounds to give the Green Wave a 9-0 lead. Raritan (6-3) answered back starting with freshman Russell Benson winning an amazing back-and-forth battle with Long Branch junior T.J. Conlon, 7-5 in sudden victory at 120 pounds.

Benson led 2-0 after the first period, and extended the advantage to 5-0 with an escape and takedown in the second period. Conlon responded swiftly, however, with a reversal and two near-fall points just as the second period expired to cut Benson’s lead to 5-4. Conlon chose bottom in the third and was ridden out, apparently, by Benson for the win. But a stalling call at the buzzer on Benson, his second, tied the bout at five and sent it to sudden victory overtime. Benson got the takedown in the extra session to get Raritan on the board.

Senior Andy Hernandez gave the Green Wave their fourth win in the first five bouts by taking a 10-2 major decision from Jimmy VanFechtmann, scoring four takedowns along with a set of two back points in the second period. Raritan would win the next four bouts, however, to take its first lead of the match.

Senior Eric Drake started the run with a 4-2 win in sudden victory over Danny Rios at 132 pounds. Senior Dylan Seidenberg followed with a pin of Tommy Flannigan at 138 to cut Long Branch’s lead to 13-12. Flannigan took a shot near the boundary in front of Raritan’s bench, but Seidenberg blocked it off and pancaked him to his back for the pin in 3:18 to remain undefeated (16-0).

Senior Mike Chadwick brought the Rockets all the way back when he locked in a bar and wrist on Danny Mullan 16 seconds into the third period of their 145-pound bout and pinned him to give Raritan an 18-17 lead. Chadwick was leading 8-4 at the time after hitting a reversal and scoring two near-fall points late in the second period.

Then at 152 pounds, senior Isaac Richardson made a second-period takedown hold up in a 3-2 decision over Pat Tracey that extended the lead to 21-13. The Green Wave cut into the Rockets lead when Mike Shohet piled up 26 points in a technical fall win over Joe Stablie at 160, but Nick Bohal then delivered a first-period pin at 170 pounds, decking sophomore Hunter Marhan in 1:24 to put the Rockets up 27-18 with three bouts left.

Long Branch would win the final three bouts to take the dual and remain undefeated. Junior Lamont Reid shut out Adam Bryant, 5-0 at 182 pounds, to set up Wersinger and Jasio to clinch the match.

Wednesday night’s classic was one of many in a long line of great matches between the arch rivals. Long Branch, without Mike Jones (120) and John Mimes (195), didn’t have the flexibility it’s used to, but showcased its depth and balance. Raritan had three freshmen and two sophomores take the mat, and used three more who had little to no varsity experience entering the year. Both teams learned a lot about themselves.

“They bring out the best in us and we bring out the best in them, it’s that simple,” George said. “It’s such a rivalry that you get another level from each side. We wrestle in middle school and it’s heated. We wrestle in the rec league and it’s heated. We wrestled in their summer tournament and it’s heated. That’s just Raritan-Long Branch, and the kids put a lot of pressure on themselves to do well.”

“I think both programs got better tonight,” said Raritan head coach Rob Nucci. “We’re young and we brought it tonight, so I’m real proud of my guys.

“But we don’t like to lose to Long Branch, I’ll be quite honest. The town of Hazlet does not like to lose to Long Branch on any level. They’re well-coached and a great program, and we love to go toe-to-toe with them every year. It was a lot of fun tonight in a great high school wrestling atmosphere. The crowd got its money’s worth.”


Box Score

No. 7 Long Branch 30, Raritan 27

Hwt: John Tomlinson (LB) d. Malcolm Daniels 1-0

106: Justin Farnsworth (LB) d. Christian Sookdeo 6-4

113: Jason Hernandez (LB) d. A.J. Erven 10-4

120: Russell Benson (R) d. T.J. Conlon 7-5 SV

126: Andy Hernandez (LB) md. Jimmy VanFechtmann 10-2

132: Eric Drake (R) d. Danny Rios 4-2 SV

138: Dylan Seidenberg (R) p. Tommy Flannigan 3:18

145: Mike Chadwick (R) p. Danny Mullan 4:16

152: Isaac Richardson (R) d. Pat Tracey 3-2

160: Mike Shohet (LB) tf. Joe Stabile 5:44 (26-8)

170: Nick Bohal (R) p. Hunter Marhan 1:24

182: Lamont Reid (LB) d. Adam Bryant 5-0

195: Peter Wersinger (LB) d. Mike Gillen 2-1 (TB)

220: Joey Jasio (LB) p. Ethan Wolf 2:24

Records: at Raritan (6-3); Long Branch (10-0).

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