TOMS RIVER — Point Beach won the first bout of the day against perennial Group I power Kittatinny on Sunday morning, and from there the Gulls refused to go quietly.

Few people inside Pine Belt Arena for the NJSIAA Group Championships thought Point Beach could hang with top-seeded Kittatinny, but throughout the match that’s exactly what the Garnet Gulls did, leading midway through the match and continually fighting back when the Cougars managed to pull ahead.

There was no storybook finish for the Gulls as Kittatinny was heavily favored in the final bout and won by fall to take a 39-33 win, but the growth for Point Beach was obvious.

“Kittatinny’s four losses are to absolute hammer teams (Howell, Phillipsburg, Hunterdon Central and Delaware Valley, all of which will wrestle in state finals),” said Point Beach head coach Jeff Bower. “We wrestled tough, had some falls in critical situations. I’m just real happy wth these guys.”

Will Jarvis started Point Beach off with a 2-1 win over Mike Nelson at 113 points, and after Kittatinny won by fall at 120, Jude Lovgren answered with a pin at 126 to give Point Beach a 9-6 lead. Roddy Rupp’s 3-1 decision over Perry Maio at 132 gave the Garnet Gulls a 12-6 advantage.


Mike Callahan won by 13-7 decision over Jared Hoeler at 138, but saving bonus points was almost as good as a win for Beach. Calvin Brook followed with a pin in 4:26, however, to put Kittatinny up 15-12. Jimmy Sherlock responded by locking in a spladle and pinning Kasey Hotz in 1:49 to give the Gulls the lead back, 18-15. Jason Bowers then defeated Shane Smith, 7-0, for a 21-15 cushion.  

A lightning quick pin by Josh Hiler in 10 seconds at 170 tied the match at 21, but Jack Baker got those points right back with a nasty cement mixer to deck Jacob Mafaro in 1:28 at 182 pounds. Point Beach’s 27-21 lead was short-lived, however, as Kittatinny would win by fall in three of the last four bouts.

Josh Klimek’s pin in 55 seconds at 195 tied the bout at 27 and Zach Mafaro’s pin in 1:41 gave Kittatinny a 33-27 lead with two bouts left. Point Beach felt Nick Kenmure was illegally slammed before being pinned at 220, but with the officials not agreeing on it (one referee thought it was a slam and one did not) the bout was allowed to continue.

Point Beach was also in a precarious spot because Jarvis usually wrestles at 106 but was at 113 Sunday. That left inexperienced backup Jered Kerr as the only option at 106.

Cade Watkins won by fall at heavyweight to tie the bout at 33, but Derek Molfetto was a massive favorite over Kerr in the final bout. He pinned for the win in 42 seconds to send Kittatinny to the Group I final vs. Paulsboro.

“All year they’ve taken it one day at a time and they really do think they can compete with anyone,” Bower said. “Up and down the lineup we wrestled tough as anything.”

Last season Point Beach defeated Manville to win its first sectional title and promptly lost to Kittatinny by 21 points in the Group I semifinals. They were overmatched, no question, but last year was more about just making the trip. This season Point Beach blasted its way to the Central Jersey Group I championship, trouncing Manville, 57-9, in the final. Their attitude entering the final day of the team season was decidedly different.

“Last year I think we were just happy to be here and everything was new to us,” Bower said. “This year we knew what to expect with everything. The step last year was to just make it here. The step this year was to make it to the finals, and even though we didn’t the way we competed was night and day compared to last year.”

“We’ve definitely made strides and hopefully we can continue to do that.”


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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