TOMS RIVER – If a 27-point win over one Shore Conference wrestling power in December wasn’t convincing enough, then perhaps Thursday’s win over another juggernaut hammered the point home.

Toms River North is an elite team in the Shore.

Consecutive pins by Nick Mancuso and Jack Oleske at 170 and 182 pounds in the latter half of the dual proved to be the difference as the Mariners, ranked No. 4 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, knocked off No. 2 Jackson Memorial, 32-28, in a pivotal Shore Conference Class A South match at RWJBarnabas Health Arena.

Toms River North and Jackson split the bouts, 7-7, but the Mariners were able to secure bonus points in five of their victories with three pins and two major decisions. Junior standout Nick Boggiano also won by fall at 145 pounds while senior Nick Reilly and junior Mark Fedeli secured major decisions at 126 and 132 pounds, respectively.

With Toms River North's 32-28 victory over Jackson Memorial, head coach Bill Wilbert reached 100 career wins. (Photo by Robert Badders).
With Toms River North's 32-28 victory over Jackson Memorial, head coach Bill Wilbert reached 100 career wins. (Photo by Robert Badders).

Toms River North has never won an outright division title, and although there is still plenty of work to be done in the A South gauntlet, the Mariners took a major step with the win over the Jags. Jackson beat Southern earlier in the season, so as of now Toms River North and Brick Memorial are the only two unbeaten teams in the division. At the minimum, it looks like the Mariners have the inside track to secure at least a piece of the division title, which would be their first since sharing the A Division crown with Middletown and Lakewood in 1971. It's their second ranked win of the season along with a 48-21 triumph over defending Central Jersey Group 4 champion Long Branch.

“This was a special one because even though we beat Jackson last year they weren’t at full strength,” Oleske said. “This time they were. We don’t beat this team all the time but tonight we came to fight. They came to fight too but we proved to be the tougher team.”

“It wasn’t the way you draw it up but sometimes it works out that way,” said Toms River North head coach Bill Wilbert, who also earned his 100th career coaching victory. “Just some good stuff all the way around.”

After a 13-5 major decision by Reilly over Chris McDonald at 126 and an 11-2 major decision by Fedeli over Nick White at 132 pounds gave Toms River North a 14-9 lead, Jackson’s Hugh Mai edged O’Neill Forbes, 7-5, at 138 pounds, to make the match score 14-12. Boggiano is usually the Mariners’ 145-pounder, but Wilbert had plans to match him up with Jackson’s Carsten DiGiantomasso at 152 pounds. Jackson’s regular 145-pounder, Rob Lagravenis, did not weigh in, so Wilbert decided to insert Jake Colalilo at 145 against Jackson’s Damian Lipari, who was making his season debut.

It was a toss-up bout on paper, but Lipari came through with what looked like a match-turning pin by locking in a cradle for the fall at 3:14, giving the Jaguars an 18-14 lead. Boggiano came out at 152 but Jackson bumped DiGiantomasso up to 160. The Mariners needed a swift response from their most accomplished wrestler and got just that when Boggiano pinned Mike Rauch in just 54 seconds to give North a 20-18 lead.

“That’s what Boggiano does,” Wilbert said. “I’ll throw Boggiano in any big match I can find. That kid thrives on that stuff. He was looking for Carsten, that’s what he wanted, so he was ready for a big match and he was a buzz saw.”

At 160, however, DiGiantomasso scored a takedown with one second left to secure a 13-5 major decision over Matt Spalletta to give Jackson a 22-20 lead with four bouts left. Considering Jackson still had standouts Brock Winston and Kyle Epperly left, they looked to be in good shape.

That all changed at 170, however, when Mancuso, a sophomore, threw Hunter Smith to his back for a thundering fall at the 56-second mark to give the Mariners a 26-22 lead with three bouts left.

“Mancuso is a kid who can wrestle; he’s a big judo guy and he loves to throw,” Wilbert said. “We get into a situation where he can launch somebody and he doesn’t hold back, he goes, and it happened in that moment.”

At 182, Oleske and Jackson’s Leo Shimonovich, both of whom are normally 170-pounders, squared off in what Wilbert figured was a toss-up match. A win by Jackson with Winston and Epperly looming would have been huge, but instead, Oleske delivered six points to all but clinch the match.

After a takedown in the first period gave him a 2-0 lead, Oleske chose defense to start the second period. Shimonovich went to a leg ride but Oleske caught him riding too high and began to tilt him over to his back. First the right, then the left, Oleske eventually maneuvered Shimonovich’s shoulders to the mat for a stunning defensive pin at the 2:46 mark to give Toms River North a 32-22 lead with two bouts left.

“We had a strategy to move light on our feet and get ahead of the throwing offense Shimonovich likes to employ, and it worked out pretty well when we got the takedown late in the first,” Oleske said. “In the second he was on top and put the leg in and I put him over my head and on his shoulder. I actually couldn’t see where he was, all I could hear were my coaches saying ‘Put him on his back! Put him on his back!’. I just moved, grooved and stuck him there.”

“It happened so slow,” Wilbert said. “He tilted him up, one shoulder was down and then two shoulders were down. It happened so gradually we we’re like ‘just keep walking toward the head’ and then that second shoulder tapped down.”

The Mariners only needed to avoid giving up bonus points at 195 to clinch the match, and Mike Nakano did just that against Winston. The bout went to ultimate tiebreaker with Winston winning, 6-5, but that result clinched the match for Toms River North. Epperly won 9-2 over John O’Donnell at 220 in the final bout.

A result that shouldn’t be obscured by the late-match fireworks was Mariners senior Louie Gagliardo handing Jackson sophomore Brett Blaess his first loss of the season at 106 pounds. Gagliardo had a takedown in the first period and two more in the second en route to a 7-2 win.

That’s what it’s all about,” Boggiano said. “This is how you win the close matches. Not all the matches are going to go the way you want so everyone has to step up and get their job done.”

While Thursday’s victory cleared a major hurdle and showcased their ability, the Mariners have several more tests ahead of them. In addition to A South matches with Southern and Brick Memorial, they’ll compete in the Henry Boresch Duals on Saturday with Paulsboro, South Plainfield, Hanover Park and Kingsway and later in the season will host a quad with South Plainfield, Delsea and High Point.

“It’s not going to get any easier,” Wilbert said. “I want them to know this is just one step along the way and we’re not done yet.”


No. 4 Toms River North 32, No. 2 Jackson Memorial 28

Hwt: Brad Galassi (JM) p. Jake Szigeti 3:18

106: Louie Gagliardo (TRN) d. Brett Blaess 7-2

113: Alex Danelson (TRN) d. Lance Hobbs 4-3

120: Vin Scollo (JM) d. Ryan Rosenthal 5-2

126: Nick Reilly (TRN) md. Chris McDonald 13-5

132: Mark Fedeli (TRN) md. Nick White 11-2

138: Huge Mai (JM) d. O'Neill Forbes 7-5

145: Damian Lipari (JM) p. Jake Colalilo 3:14

152: Nick Boggiano (TRN) p. Mike Rauch 0:54

160: Carsten DiGiantomasso (JM) md. Matt Spalletta 13-5

170: Nick Mancuso (TRN) p. Hunter Smith 0:56

182: Jack Oleske (TRN) p. Leo Shimonovich 2:46

195: Brock Winston (JM) d. Mike Nakano 6-5 UTB

220: Kyle Epperly (JM) d. John O'Donnell 9-2


Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at 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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