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HOLMDEL -- For Saint John Vianney to win a team state championship this season, it will need a balanced effort with all 14 wrestlers working to accomplish their different but equally important tasks. One like Wednesday night's performance against Rumson-Fair Haven.

The Lancers, ranked No. 3 in the Shore Sports Network Shore 16, won nine of 14 bouts and stormed their way to a 44-26 victory over No. 4 Rumson-Fair Haven to clinch at least a share of the Class A Central division championship. St. John Vianney can clinch the outright title with a win over Wall on January 31. It is the Lancers' third straight division title and fourth overall.

Two-time state champion Anthony Knox won by fall at 120, two-time state medalist Patrick O'Keefe won by fall in just 10 seconds at 132, two-time state qualifier Dezmond Leneghan picked up a pin at 150, two-time state qualifier Cole Stangle won by major decision at 175, state medalist Matt Gould scored a late takedown to win a ranked matchup at 113, and two-time state qualifier Jake Zaltsman received a forfeit at 138. The hammers did what the hammers do, but those guys alone aren't enough to win a big dual meet.

Freshman Ryan Gavrish won by fall at 157 pounds to help the Lancers build an early double-digit lead and freshman Riley Correal won by major decision at 106 pounds. Sophomore John Saraiva won a close bout at 165 during a key stretch in the middleweights. SJV fought well in defeat, too, especially at heavyweight where senior Luca Minardo nearly knocked off Rumson junior Matt Smith before falling 3-2 in ultimate tiebreaker. Minardo is SJV's usual 215-pounder and was yielding over 50 pounds to Smith, who was coming off an eye-opening win over Red Bank Catholic's Lorenzo Portella last week and is ranked No. 2 in the Shore by ShoreConferenceWrestling.com.

SJV sophomore John Saraiva is turning RFH junior Evan Ridgway onto his back in the 165 lb match during the St John Vianney vs Rumson Fair Haven Shore Conference Wrestling Match at SJV HS Gym in Holmdel, New Jersey. 1/24/24 Photo Credit: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com
SJV sophomore John Saraiva is turning RFH junior Evan Ridgway onto his back in the 165 lb match during the St John Vianney vs Rumson Fair Haven Shore Conference Wrestling Match at SJV HS Gym in Holmdel, New Jersey. 1/24/24 Photo Credit: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com
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Rumson also had wins by fall from freshman Sonny Amato at 144, senior Hudson Skove at 215, and sophomore Joaquin DuQue at 126 along with a win by injury default from junior Conor Delaney at 190.

"We're just going out there and fighting," Knox said. "That's what we were talking about in the locker room before we went out, just go out there and give them all you got. Our 215 Thomas Foley weighted in a 190, knew he was wrestling (state champion Hudson) Skove. I asked him how he felt and he said, 'I'm ready to fight'. That's what you like to see even in matches where they're clearly outmatched, that they go out there and fight."

"It's the accountability that these guys have," said Saint John Vianney head coach Chris Notte. "The approach these guys have and the way they carry themselves is very encouraging and very inspiring."

Zaltsman received a forfeit to begin the match before Rumson answered with a 25-second pin from Amato at 144. SJV won the next four weights to open a 25-6 lead and allow them to absorb the points earned by the heart of Rumson's lineup from 190 to heavyweight. Minardo nearly pulled the upset over Smith at heavyweight but Smith was able to escape in the ultimate tiebreaker to earn the win by decision.

The Lancers were still in great shape holding a 25-21 lead when the match made the turn to 106. Correal won by 11-1 major decision over Henry Marshall and Rumson then had a team point deducted for unsportsmanlike conduct. At 113, Gould used a takedown with five seconds left for a 3-1 win over Eamon Fry before Knox pinned Elijah Bayne in 4:44 to give SJV a 38-20 lead that clinched the match.

SJV sophomore Matthew Gould and RFH sophomore Eamon Fry have each other locked up in the 113lb match during the St John Vianney vs Rumson Fair Haven Shore Conference Wrestling Match at SJV HS Gym in Holmdel, New Jersey. 1/24/24 Photo Credit: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com
SJV sophomore Matthew Gould and RFH sophomore Eamon Fry have each other locked up in the 113lb match during the St John Vianney vs Rumson Fair Haven Shore Conference Wrestling Match at SJV HS Gym in Holmdel, New Jersey. 1/24/24 Photo Credit: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com
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"This team, I'm the captain now and I feel like these are my guys, and my guys are cooking right now," Knox said. "We're getting close to the postseason, to where it matters, and we're starting to get into peak form, and it's showing. I think everybody has gotten better since the season started. We're coming for everybody."


Knox confirms postseason weight class

For two-time state champion Anthony Knox, the proper weight class for him to compete at comes from a combination of comfort and competition. When the individual postseason begins, that weight class will be 120 pounds.

"I'm going to be sticking down at 120," Knox confirmed on Wednesday. "Like I said at (the Beast of the East), I felt a little small (at 126) and this is a better weight for me. I'm eating super clean, going to the sauna and ice bath every day, and I just feel great here."

Knox won the 113-pound NJSIAA championship as a freshman and was the 120-pound state champion last season.

Initially, Knox was looking to stay at 126.

"The plan was to see how big I could get because I'm going to wrestle 125 in college so I was eating a good amount, but I still felt I was small," Knox said. "I was decisioning guys I felt I should major and that wasn't the only reason but it was part of it. It's more of a speed and agility thing. I feel like I had excessive weight on my body that I didn't need and now that I'm down here I feel like a mean fighting machine."

SJV junior Anthony Knox is flipping RFH junior Elijah Bayne for the takedown in the 120lb match during the St. John Vianney vs Rumson-Fair Haven Shore Conference Wrestling Match at SJV HS Gym in Holmdel, New Jersey. 1/24/24 Photo Credit: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com
SJV junior Anthony Knox is flipping RFH junior Elijah Bayne for the takedown in the 120lb match during the St. John Vianney vs Rumson-Fair Haven Shore Conference Wrestling Match at SJV HS Gym in Holmdel, New Jersey. 1/24/24 Photo Credit: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com
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Knox began the season at 126 pounds before weighing in at 120 on January 17. During his stretch at 126, he won his second Beast of the East title and a Shore Conference individual championship. He also helped the Lancers earn a road victory at Bergen Catholic with a win over state medalist Brian Melamud. At the Beast of the East, he beat Camden Catholic standout sophomore Sammy Spaulding and also Howell senior Sebastian Ortega (who is now out for the year with an injury). This past Saturday, Knox went back up to 126 and scored a 12-4 major decision over Pope John's Dalton Weber.

"I want to wrestle the toughest guys. I want to beat everybody," Knox said. "If King Kong could make 120, we could wrestle."

"There's two state champs (at 120). I've wrestled (Delbarton's Daniel Jones) a bunch of times and I've wrestled (Old Bridge's Logan Roman) twice in the past. I like to be at the weight where it's more impressive to win. I was talking to my dad about dropping down right after the Beast but I wanted to take out who I think is going to win 126 and I took out all the guys I think are contenders. I think Spaulding is the guy to beat. Ortega got hurt but he was also one of the guys to beat, and Dalton Weber from Pope John is really good. When the season is all said and done I can say I'm the champ of two weight classes."

SJV junior Anthony Knox and RFH junior Elijah Bayne trying to gain control in a roll in the 120lb match during the St John Vianney vs Rumson Fair Haven Shore Conference Wrestling Match at SJV HS Gym in Holmdel, New Jersey. 1/24/24 Photo Credit: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com
SJV junior Anthony Knox and RFH junior Elijah Bayne trying to gain control in a roll in the 120lb match during the St John Vianney vs Rumson Fair Haven Shore Conference Wrestling Match at SJV HS Gym in Holmdel, New Jersey. 1/24/24 Photo Credit: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com
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Box Score

No. 3 St. John Vianney 44, No. 4 Rumson-Fair Haven 26

RFH deducted one team point for unsportsmanlike conduct at 106

138: Jake Zaltsman (SJV) by forfeit

144: Sonny Amato (RFH) p. Christopher Pohl, 0:25

150: Dezmond Lenaghan (SJV) p. Walker Skove, 1:11

157: Ryan Gavrish (SJV) p. Ryder Izzo, 3:50

165: John Saraiva (SJV) d. Evan Ridgway, 11-9

175: Cole Stangle (SJV) md. Luke Dougherty, 14-5

190: Conor Delaney (RFH) by injury default over Daniel Breen, 0:37

215: Hudson Skove (RFH) p. Thomas Foley, 0:33

Hwt: Matt Smith (RFH) d. Luca Minardo, 3-2 in ultimate tiebreaker

106: Riley Correal (SJV) md. Henry Marshall, 11-1

113: Matthew Gould (SJV) d. Eamon Fry, 3-1

120: Anthony Knox (SJV) p. Elijah Bayne, 4:44

126: Joaquin DuQue (RFH) p. Ryan Kearney, 3:42

132: Patrick O'Keefe (SJV) p. Andrew Newell, 0:10

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