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LACEY TOWNSHIP -- The title of best team in Class B South was on the line Monday night, and Lacey left no doubt as to exactly who that is.

The host Lions, ranked No. 8 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, were dominant from start to finish with 10 victories, six of which came by fall, to steamroll No. 10 Point Boro, 49-24, on and take a major step toward claiming their second straight Class B South division title. Lacey jumped out to a 25-0 lead through five bouts and never looked back to take down the rival Panthers for the second year in a row.

Luciano Ferranti, Matt Coon, John Dodaro, Jordan Lavelle, Matt Gauthier, and Andre Ferrauiolo each registered falls, Jimmy Circle won by major decision, and Jayden Martins, Aidan Ott, and Mason Heck won by decision.

Freshmen Joey DeAngelo and Frankie Burgio and junior Jack Thompson won by fall for Point Boro for the Panthers' on-the-mat victories.

01/17/2022 - Point Pleasant Boro / Lacey Township
Lacey's Matt Gauthier works for the fall against Point Boro's Ryan Aurin (Richard E. O'Donnell)

"We train in the room as hard as any high school team in the state," said Lacey head coach Justin Bonitatis. "I came from a good college program (TCNJ) where I was instilled a certain way and I try to instill that in my student-athletes here at Lacey. These kids are battle-tested. We made our schedule tough every year since I've been here to get them ready for duals like this, moments like this. They put in a lot of hard work over the weeks and tonight was a night for them to go out there and collect."

The Lions were without standout senior Brady Carter, ranked No. 3 at 113 pounds in the latest SSN rankings. Carter had to injury default during a bout with Howell's Xavier Ortega on Saturday, suffering an apparent leg injury as he did not weigh in and was spotted on crutches Monday night. Carter's absence barely hindered the Lions, however, and certainly not enough to affect the final score.

"It's next man up, and that's what we've been trying to build here," said Coon, who won by fall at 215 pounds.

Martins began the match with an 8-2 decision over Tyler Criscuolo at 165 pounds, using a takedown and then two back points with 15 seconds left in the second period to open a 4-0 lead. He chose neutral in the third period and secured two more takedowns to win by decision and give the Lions a 3-0 lead.

Bonitatis then made the decision to bump up Circle, Coon, and Dodaro from their usual spots at 175, 190, and 215 pounds, respectively, and insert junior Luciano Ferranti at 175. Ferranti wasted no time against Sean Ennas with a quick takedown before finishing off the fall in just 54 seconds.

"Luciano Ferranti is a JV kid on paper but a junior who will come in as a senior next year and look to place or win districts," Bonitatis said. "That's what good programs have, depth in weights. He gets to go with Circle and Coon every day and those types of kids, it's great to have them in the room."

Circle, ranked No. 6 at 175, followed with a 13-4 major decision over Brett Leschinski at 190 pounds, securing six takedowns along the way. Then it was Coon locking in a cradle and pinning Justin Krosnicki in 3:22 at 215 pounds to give the Lions a quick 19-0 lead through four bouts. At heavyweight, Dodaro opened up an 8-2 lead on Luke Wilson before taking him directly to his back and pinning him with two seconds left in the first period.

Five bouts, five wins, three pins. The Lions were on their way.

"We just fed off the momentum today," Coon said. "We came out with a couple big wins that maybe on paper we weren't supposed to win and kept feeding off each other's momentum."

Point Boro got on the board when its two standout freshmen, DeAngelo and Burgio, delivered wins by fall at 106 and 113 pounds. DeAngelo, ranked No. 6 in the SSN rankings, used a cradle to pin Brendan Schuler in 3:55 before Burgio needed just 50 seconds to run an arm bar and pin John Downs at 113 pounds.

Point Boro was able to capitalize on Carter's absence at 113 and was looking to start a run of its own, but Lavelle squashed any ideas of a comeback when he pinned Jared Drewes in just 1:20 to give the Lions a commanding 31-12 lead. It was a huge moment for a kid who Bonitatis - also an assistant baseball coach for Lacey - recruited off the diamond and is in just his second year of wrestling.

"I texted him earlier in the day to let him know how proud I am of him for staying the course," Bonitatis said. "That's a kid who has been behind Brady Carter and behind a lot of our other little guys who are tough, and he's only a second-year wrestler. I found him on the baseball field and got him into wrestling. He's a coaches' dream, just a hard worker, a yes sir type of kid. I told him tonight is going to be your moment. It's very rare to get these opportunities and tonight will be one of them, and if you capitalize, this feeling you're going to experience, nothing will come close to that."

Lavelle's pin started Lacey's second stretch of five consecutive wins. Ott won 11-5 over Matt Modzrecki at 126, Gauthier opened a sizeable lead before pinning Ryan Aurin in the second period at 132 pounds, and ninth-ranked Ferrauiolo did the same with a 9-1 lead before pinning Sam Scatturo at the 2:29 mark at 138 pounds.

At 144, Heck, ranked No. 8, used a late reversal and two back points to win 5-4 over Point Boro's Ryan Acquisto, who was an honorable mention selection in the 144-pound rankings. Heck was down 2-0 entering the third period, received one point for an illegal hold on Acquisto, and then hit a reversal with two near-fall points to go up 5-2. Acquisto immediately answered with a reversal to close the gap to 5-4 but Heck was able to hold on in the closing seconds for the Lions' 10th and final victory of the match.

"Mason Heck is one of the toughest kids I've had here," Bonitatis said. We call him the terminator. Once he toes the line in the circle he'll fight to the end."

Thompson ranked No. 10 at 150, won the last contested bout by mounting a 19-5 lead on Kevin Fazio before taking him directly to his back for a fall in 3;57. Lacey then forfeited to Messano in the final bout at 157 pounds.

Lacey still has four more division matches to win before it can officially claim the Class B South title, but the biggest hurdle is now clear. Soon, they'll be able to check goal No. 1 off their list.

"I think tonight was the best example of us wrestling to our full potential and I feel we can be one of the top teams in the state if we do what each and every match," Coon said, "It was a great team win."


Box Score

No. 8 Lacey 49, No. 10 Point Boro 24

165: Jayden Martins (L) d. Tyler Criscuolo, 8-2

175: Luciano Ferranti (L) p. Sean Ennas, 0:54

190: No. 6 (at 175) Jimmy Circle (L) md. Brett Leschinski, 13-4

215: Matt Coon (L) p. Justin Krosnicki, 3:22

285: John Dodaro (L) p. Luke Wilson, 1:58

106: No. 6 Joey DeAngelo (PB) p. Brendan Schuler, 3:55

113: Frankie Burgio (PB) p. John Downs, 0:50

120: Jordan Lavelle (L) p. Jared Drewes, 1:20

126: Aidan Ott (L) d. Matt Modzrecki, 11-5

132: Matt Gauthier (L) p. Ryan Aurin, 3:33

138: No. 9 Andre Ferrauiolo (L) p. Sam Scatturo, 2:29

144: No. 8 Mason Heck (L) d. Ryan Acquisto, 5-4

150: No. 10 Jack Thompson (PB) p. Kevin Fazio, 3:57

157: Jacob Messano (PB) by forfeit


Lacey vs. Point Boro Wrestling




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