BRICK TOWNSHIP — This season’s version of Jackson Memorial’s wrestling team isn’t a vintage Jaguars team with multiple region medalists that strikes fear into its opponents. What it is - and has to be - is a collection of 14 wrestlers grinding their way to wins by doing the little things better than their opposition.

It was that kind of effort that helped Jackson Memorial, ranked No. 8 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, bounce back from a disappointing loss before the new year to secure a 33-21 Shore Conference Class A South victory over No. 9 Brick Memorial on Wednesday night.

The Jaguars won nine bouts and earned bonus points in four of the victories while minimizing bonus points when on the losing end. It was a stark contrast to a 34-27 Dec. 30 loss to Cherokee where the Jags won eight bouts but were pinned five times and lost by major decision in another bout/

“That shouldn’t happen in high school wrestling,” said Jackson Memorial head coach Doug Withstandley. “One or two pins when you run into a (Brick Memorial’s Nick) Rivera or (Gianni) Ghione, but that’s to be expected. To get pinned five times is unacceptable. We really challenged them after that Cherokee match.”

The team’s response was to bounce back with a win over one of their fiercest rivals in a match that was much closer than the final 12-point gap. Seniors Matt McGowan and Larry Richardson and junior Dave Lemay won by major decision and sophomore Brandon Burkert clinched the win with a pin in the final bout. Senior Dan Bergeron won a crucial bout at 170 pounds while sophomores Vincent Scollo and Chris McDonald and junior Kevin Hogan won three straight bouts from 106 through 120 pounds to give Jackson (2-1, 2-0) a six-point led heading into the final bout. With regular starter Ryan Andrus out with an injury, Brick Memorial was forced to send out junior varsity wrestler Sean Monaghan, whom Burkert controlled from the onset before winning by fall in 3:40.

“Dewey (Withstandley) was talking all week about the rivalry and bouncing back from the loss, and the whole team was excited,” said McGowan, who was the District 21 and Region VI champion at 126 pounds last season. “It was great coming in here and getting an A South win.”

“Today we just did a better job in all situations, whistle to whistle,” Withstandley said. “These guys responded well.”

It was back and forth through the first 10 bouts until Jackson pulled away late by winning the final four matchups. Sophomore Carsten DiGiantomasso won 8-3 over throw-minded Caleb Alvarado at 132 pounds to give Jackson a 3-0 lead. Brick Memorial weighed in senior Gianni Ghione, a two-time Region VI champion and two-time top-four state medalist, up a weight at 138 pounds to try to get him matched up with McGowan. Jackson bumped up McGowan to 145 pounds, but Brick Memorial sent out Ghione at 138 pounds. Ghione locked in his signature cradle in 1:15 to deck Ryan Bohringer and give the Mustangs a 6-3 advantage.


McGowan followed with an 11-1 major decision over Brian Wilson at 145, but Brick Memorial got a huge win at 152 when senior Chris Richardson rallied for a 6-5 win over Tim Hamann. Richardson was trailing 5-1 in the third period when he hit a reversal and headlocked Hamann to his back with around 45 seconds left. Hamann fought off the pin, but the five-point move was enough for Richardson to earn the one-point win and put Brick Memorial head 9-7.  

At 160 pounds, a visibly exhausted sophomore Ean Mueller used his final reserves to secure a late takedown and beat Kyle Epperly, 3-1.

Needing to stop Brick Memorial’s momentum, Bergeron came through with a clutch 5-1 win over Sam Williams, who entered the bout 8-1. Brick Memorial would go on to win the next bout at 182 pounds as Ron Hopping topped Freddie Michel 5-1, so Bergeron’s win prevented the Mustangs from posting a four-bout winning streak.

“Bergeron has put in the time, lifted more than any other guy on the team in the offseason and he goes to Shore Thing (wrestling club) religiously,” Withstandley said. “It’s just his third year wrestling and he has come a long way in a short period of time. He goes hard every day. Him and Matt McGowan are our captains right now and there’s no secret why.”

Richardson won 10-2 over Roberto Herrera at 195 pounds and Lemay backed him up with an 18-5 victory over Willie Garner at 220 pounds to give Jackson an 18-15 lead. Rivera pinned Naj’Zir Humbert in 1:07 to put Brick Memorial back in front, 21-18.

Scollo improved to 7-2 with a big 9-2 win over Rotundo at 106 pounds and McDonald held off Michael Richardson, 2-0 at 113 pounds, to give Jackson a 24-21 advantage with two bouts left. Hogan blanked Liam Rivera 4-0 at 120 pounds, and like McDonald before him held off furious third-period attempts at a cradle by Brick Memorial wrestlers. At 27-21 Brick Memorial needed a pin to win the match, but with a backup wrestler stepping out Jackson had the clear advantage as Burkert proved.


“It was nice to see the team come together, especially after a tough loss give up six bonus wins,” McGowan said.

What Jackson Memorial will become this season remains to be seen, but the Jags know their identity and what they need to do in order to continue the success they’ve enjoyed over the past two decades.

“I think we’re better than people think,” Withstandley said. “This looks like a hard-nosed, well-fought, smart-in-situations Jackson team. Obviously we don’t have the talent we’ve had in years past - McGowan is the only one you can consider a ‘horse’ as a district and region champ. We just need to continue to get these guys to work and not be satisfied at the level they’re at.”

Box Score

No. 8 Jackson Memorial 33, No. 9 Brick Memorial 21

132: Carsten DiGiantomasso (JM) d. Caleb Alvarado 8-3

138: Gianni Ghione (BM) p. Ryan Bohringer 1:115

145: Matt McGowan (JM) md. Brian Wilson 11-1

152: Chris Richardson (BM) d. Tim Hamann 6-5

160: Ean Mueller (BM) d. Kyle Epperly 3-1

170: Dan Bergeron (JM) d. Sam Williams 5-1

182: Ron Hopping (BM) d. Freddy Michel 5-1

195: Larry Richardson (JM) md. Roberto Herrera 10-2

220: Dave Lemay (JM) md. Willie Garner 18-5

Hwt: Nick Rivera (BM) p. Naj’Zir Humbert 1:15

106: Vincent Scollo (JM) d. Joe Rotundo 9-2

113: Chris McDonald (JM) d. Michael Richardson 2-0

120: Kevin Hogan (JM) d. Liam Rivera 4-0

126: Brandon Burkert (JM) p. Sean Monaghan 3:40

Records: at Brick Memorial (2-2, 2-2); Jackson Memorial (2-1, 2-0).


Wrestling 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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