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BRICK TOWNSHIP – The man in charge may have been different when Southern opened the 2017-2018 season on Friday night, but the result and the manner in which it was achieved remained the same.

With longtime assistant Dan Roy serving as interim head coach, Southern churned out a 31-21 Shore Conference Class A South victory over Brick Memorial to open the defense of its division title. The Rams won nine of 14 bouts including a pin by returning state medalist Nick O’Connell and a major decision by newcomer Robert Woodcock.

“(Our philosophy) it’s always hard-nosed, looking to push the pace and be in shape, and wear down our opponents,” Roy said. “We had a couple guys out of the lineup and kid stepped up and did their part and wrestled hard. I thought it was a great team effort.”

Roy is serving as head coach until Jan. 6 because John Stout is suspended until then by the NJSIAA stemming from last season’s weight certification violation that resulted in the Rams being banned from the NJSIAA Team Tournament. Southern’s administration imposed an additional punishment on Stout and barred him from having contact with the team, as well, until Jan. 6. Stout’s son, also named John Stout, is a sophomore and the Rams’ starting 182-pounder.

“It’s been tough, but I think the biggest thing is he’s not allowed to watch his own son wrestle, and that’s what’s hurting him most of all,” Roy said. “The kids are staying positive and he’s now staying more positive. He’ll be back before we know it. The team is getting better and morale is pretty high right now. There’s a lot of positive energy in the room.”

“I think with what happened last year the kids have a big chip on their shoulders right now to get back and get that state title, so we’re extremely focused. I can’t say enough about these kids and how hard they’ve worked.”

The match was back and forth through the first seven bouts until Southern started to pull away with a key win at 126 pounds by junior Sebastian Delligatti. A pair of takedowns in the first period and a set of two near-fall points in the second led to a 7-2 victory over Brick Memorial sophomore Michael Richardson, giving the Rams a 15-13 lead. The win came after Brick Memorial’s Liam Rivera stunned Southern senior and three-time region qualifier, Owen Kretschmer, 10-4.

Woodcock, a sophomore who transferred from St. Augustine Prep, followed with an 8-0 major decision over Ryan Andrus to extend Southern’s lead to 19-13. Bonus points helped Brick Memorial keep the match close despite winning just five bouts, and junior Caleb Alvarado won by 18-6 major decision over Jason Sari at 138 points to trim Southern’s lead to 19-17 with four bouts left.

Nick Pepe gutted out a 6-4 win over Brian Alexander at 145 pounds to extend the Rams’ lead to 22-17 and Dan Gorman controlled Brian Wilson in a 4-2 decision at 152 pounds. Southern was in great shape with O’Connell waiting in the wings at 160, and last season’s eighth-place finisher in the state tournament delivered a fall in 3:16 over Mustangs freshman Dan Szuba to give Southern a 31-21 lead and clinch the victory.

Stout started the night for Southern with a 13-6 win over Ean Mueller, earning revenge for a major-decision win by Mueller last season. Sam Williams built a big lead and pinned Vin Miele in 5:07 at 195 pounds to give Brick Memorial a 6-3 lead, but J.T. Cornelius tied the match by holding off Chris Mittler, 7-6, at 220 pounds.

Matt Mackanic blanked Willie Garner, 5-0, at heavyweight and freshman Matt Brielmeier shut out Mustangs senior Joe Rotundo, a region qualifier last season, 7-0, to give Southern a 12-6 lead.

At 113 pounds Brick Memorial freshman Vin Santaniello made his debut with an 11-1 major decision victory over region qualifier Jayson Scerbo, cutting Southern’s lead to 12-10. Santaniello is the son of former Brick Memorial great Vinnie Santaniello, who also runs Shore Thing Wrestling Club. A 1990 graduate of Brick Memorial High School, the elder Santaniello was a four-time district champion, four-time region champion and three-time state medalist.

Rivera followed Santaniello’s win with a clutch victory over Kretschmer to give Brick Memorial a 13-12 lead. A takedown by Rivera with a few seconds left in the second period tied the bout at four, and Kretschmer cut him loose to start the third period to make it 5-4. With Kretschmer trying for the go-ahead takedown late in the bout, Rivera was instead able to take Kretschmer to his back for a five-point move. He nearly finished off the fall but settled for a 10-4 decision that put Brick Memorial back in front.

From there Southern did its thing by winning close bouts and grinding out wins to leave Brick Memorial with a 10-point victory.

“We kept working and you could see that we were the more in-shape team,” Roy said. “And we were the aggressors. One thing about (Brick Memorial) is they always go for big moves, they rely on that. We’re all about solid wrestling, positioning and good technique, and good technique always beats the junk.”

Southern will host the Robin Leff Invitational on Saturday while Brick Memorial will head to Robbinsville to compete in the TCNJ Pride Tournament.


Box Score

Southern 31, Brick Memorial 21

182: John Stout (S) d. Ean Mueller 13-6

195: Sam Williams (BM) p. Vin Miele 5:07

220: J.T. Cornelius (S) d. Chris Mittler 7-6

Hwt: Matt Mackanic (D) d. Willie Garner 5-0

106: Matt Brielmeier (S) d. Joe Rotundo 7-0

113: Vin Santaniello (BM) md. Jayson Scerbo 11-0

120: Liam Rivera (BM) d. Owen Kretschmer 10-4

126: Sebastian Delligatti (S) d. Michael Richardson 7-2

132: Robert Woodcock (S) md. Ryan Andrus 8-0

138: Caleb Alvarado (BM) md. Jason Sari 18-6

145: Nick Pepe (S) d. Brian Alexander 6-4

152: Dan Gorman (S) d. Brian Wilson 4-2

160: Nick O’Connell (S) p. Dan Szuba 3:16

170: Ron Hopping (BM) md. Haven Tatarek 11-2

Records: at Brick Memorial (0-1, 0-1); Southern (1-0, 1-0).


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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