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JACKSON TOWNSHIP -- A No. 2 seed going down in the quarterfinal round of the NJSIAA Region 6 Tournament is a major storyline, and this instance is no different in that regard. But this time, there was no triumphant upset from the lower-seeded opponent. This became a situation with no winners.

In the second period of the 144-pound quarterfinal between Ocean junior James Farina and Point Boro senior Sam Scaturro, Farina attempted to take Scaturro down to the mat but was called for an illegal slam in the process as Scaturro went down on his head/neck area. According to referee John Fiorentino, who was not officiating that particular bout but was the head official in charge on Friday, Scaturro was evaluated by the athletic trainer and it was determined he could not continue. Because the injury occurred via an illegal move, Farina was disqualified and Scaturro advanced. Farina, who is a two-time state qualifier, was leading 5-0 after the first period and was about to go up 7-0 when the slam occurred 42 seconds into the second period.

However, Scaturro's injury will prevent him from wrestling in Saturday morning's semifinal round. His season and career are now over. Scaturro (15-9) was seeded 10th and reached the quarterfinal via a 49-second pin over Long Branch's Daniel Ramirez.

Farina is allowed to continue in the tournament but now drops into the wrestlebacks.

There was a discussion over whether the result of the bout could be changed to a medical forfeit, which would have allowed Farina to advance in the championship bracket. Point Boro head coach Pat Brady and Ocean head coach Cippy Apicelli were both on board with that possible conclusion. After conferring with NJSIAA wrestling rules interpreter Joe Knipper, the National Federation of High School (NFHS) was contacted to get an official ruling. The NFHS ruled that the result could not be changed and the DQ would stand.

The cascading effect of the DQ means that Howell senior Kieran Bruen will advance to the final via a medical forfeit over Scaturro. Bruen, the No. 3 seed, has clinched a spot in the state tournament.

Additionally, Colts Neck's Tyler Russ now has an incredibly difficult path to reach the state tournament even though he won his quarterfinal bout by a 6-4 decision over Freehold Township's Liam Flanigan in the 4 vs. 5 matchup. Russ faces the No. 1 seed, CBA senior two-time state medalist and returning state finalist Julan George, in the semifinals. If Russ is defeated by George and drops into the wrestlebacks he will likely have to face Farina in the wrestleback semifinals (blood round).

The top four finishers in each weight class qualify for the NJSIAA State Championships, March 2-4 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Farina can still wrestle back for third and will meet Robbinsville's Alex Messinger, the No. 6 seed, in the first round of wrestlebacks. Wrestlers who were defeated in the quarterfinals need to win two bouts to reach the consolation final and become a state qualifier, while wrestlers who advance to the semifinals need to win one more bout, either in the semifinals or in the wrestlebacks, to reach the state tournament.

Wrestling resumes with the semifinals and wresteblacks at 9 a.m. from Jackson Liberty High School.


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