OCEAN TOWNSHIP – In the end, it was a thorough team victory and a convincing win. But it came at a price.

Ocean won 10 bouts with five wins by fall and another via major decision to earn an impressive 46-18 Shore Conference non-divisional win over Point Boro on Friday night at Wayne Walton Memorial Gymnasium. Among the six pins was sophomore Tah-Jay Phillips stunning two-time state qualifier Spencer Robinson at 160 pounds.

The cost, however, was steep.

The Spartans appear to have lost standout junior Alex Poniros for the rest of the regular season after he re-injured his shoulder during a loss by fall to Ty Bailey at 145 pounds. Poniros, who was the state seventh-place finisher at 132 pounds last season, originally injured his shoulder during the season-opening Wendy Pandy-Leh Tournament at Delaware Valley High School.

Despite being medically cleared to wrestle Friday night, Poniros was favoring his shoulder the entire bout with Bailey, a returning state qualifier. He had to take one minute of injury time during the second period but still held a 6-1 lead in the third period. Bailey, however, reversed Poniros before locking in a cradle and securing the fall at the 5:45 mark, and during the pinning combination, Poniros’ shoulder popped out of the socket, according to Ocean head coach Cippy Apicelli. He was immediately attended to by Ocean athletic trainer Katelyn Zimmerman and helped off the mat and had his arm in a sling following the match.

“He’s a tough kid and one of the best wrestlers around,” Apicelli said. “I feel bad for him but I know he’ll be back. We’re a team and we have to pick up our guy, and at the end of the year it’ll be a boost to our lineup.”

While the injury to Poniros hung a cloud over the evening, the Spartans showcased a balanced lineup that only to figures to get better as the season moves along. Six of Ocean’s 10 wins accrued bonus points and the other four featured two one-point wins and a match-turning victory in a toss-up bout.

The match went back and forth through the first six weights until Ocean began to pull away with some key wins from 120 to 138 pounds. Senior Ryan Moran opened with a 4-3 win over Patrick Frawley at 182 pounds before Point Boro answered with a 1-0 win by Scott Franceschini at 195 pounds The Panthers took a 9-3 lead at 220 pounds when senior state qualifier Billy Borowsky built a 12-0 lead before pinning Dino Poniros in 3:59. Ocean was able to get the response it needed when sophomore heavyweight Joe Teresi pinned Josh Henderson in 3:37 to tie the match at nine.

“That was huge because after he ties it you roll into a string of toss-up matches,” Apicelli said. “106 brought it back to us and they took it right back at 113. I think 126 is where everything changed.”

At 106 pounds, sophomore Blake Tarnowski used a five-point move in the third period to defeat freshman Lucas Torre, 7-3, and give Ocean a 12-9. Point Boro answered to tie the score at 12 when sophomore Nick Torre, a District 23 third-place finisher last season, bested District 21 champion Demetri Poniros, 4-3, on an escape with 25 seconds left in the third period.

Ocean picked up bonus points at 120 pounds when district runner-up Will Tisony won by 11-3 major decision over Point Boro freshman Lucas Sabo, giving the Spartans a 16-12 advantage. Perhaps the biggest 50/50 bout was at 126 with Ocean junior Nick Schneider and Point Boro junior James Latendorf, and it was Schneider who came away with a 10-3 decision thanks to a pair of four-point moves in the first and second periods.

At 132 pounds, freshman Nick Benner pinned Chandler Jamarino in 1:55 to stretch Ocean’s lead to 25-12 and then two-time district medalist Jack Nies used a third-period reversal to clip Jack Bailey, 2-1, and give Ocean a commanding 28-12 lead.

The surprising fall by Ty Bailey over Poniros at 145 pounds kept Point Boro alive, but to the Spartans’ credit, they didn’t allow the injury over their top wrestler to have a trick-down effect. Freshman Jared Tracey came out at 152 pounds and clinched the match for Ocean by pinning Gavin O’Connor in 3:37.

The match was now decided, but a major result was still on its way for Ocean. Point Boro sent out Robinson, a two-time state qualifier, at 160 pounds and Ocean normally would have sent out senior Anthony Esposito at that weight and senior Evan Romein at 170. But with Poniros now out for an extended period of time, Phillips is going to be a key component in the middle weights. There was no sense in waiting to get him mat time.

Late in the first period, Phillips countered a shot by Robinson with double-underhooks and launched Robinson to his back, eventually securing the fall with one second left in the first period. Phillips, a sophomore who didn’t begin wrestling until last season, had just four career bouts to his credit coming into Friday’s match.

“I didn’t know anything about him, I was sitting on the bench and didn’t expect to wrestle,” Phillips said. “I thought it was just another match. They didn’t put our starter out there so I thought it was just another JV kid.”

“He’s probably the most athletic kid in our room but he’s still learning,” Apicelli said. “Last year was his first year wrestling; I literally saw him in the hallway and got him to wrestle. He does things that are very unorthodox but what you saw tonight can happen to anyone. He’s dangerous.”

Friday wasn’t the first time Ocean put Phillips out for a match against a hammer without telling what he was up against. His first and only varsity match last season came against Robbinsville three-time state qualifier Garrett Bilgrav.

Phillips’ win didn’t do anything to change the final outcome but it could end up being the ignition point for a young wrestler with potential.

“It shows our kids that you can beat anybody,” Apicelli said. “Anybody in this gym who knew what was going on had that as a win for [Point Boro] with bonus. It shows that if you give great effort anything can happen. For him, a win like that is going to drive him and make him believe. It shows him his coaches aren’t lying to him when we tell him he can be good. I hope he buys in.”


Box Score

Ocean 46, Point Boro 18 

182: Ryan Moran (O) d. Patrick Frawley 4-3

195: Scott Franceschini (PB) d. Ruan Faria 1-0

220: Billy Borowsky (PB) p. Dino Poniros 3:59

Hwt: Joe Teresi (O) p. Josh Henderson 3:37

106: Blake Tarnowski (O) d. Lucas Torre 7-3

113: Nick Torre (PB) d. Demetri Poniros 4-3

120: Will Tisony (O) md. Lucas Sabo 11-3

126: Nick Schneider (O) d. James Latendorf 10-3

132: Nick Benner (O) p. Chandler Jamarino 1:55

138: Jack Nies (O) d. Jack Bailey 2-1

145: Ty Bailey (PB) p. Alex Poniros 5:45

152: Jared Tracey (O) p. Gavin O’Connor 3:37

160: Tah-Jay Phillips (O) p. Spencer Robinson 1:59

170: Anthony Esposito (O) p. Nick Rebimbas 2:58

Records: at Ocean (1-0); Point Boro (1-1).


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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