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POINT PLEASANT BEACH – In their many meetings over the last 21 years, the one constant has been Point Beach having to watch rival Point Boro walk off the mat as the victor. Every. Single. Time.

There have been blowouts and there have been thrillers but Point Boro has been dominant largely because of its ability to do the little things right. The Panthers have wrestled tough, wrestled clutch and received heroic performances from the expected and unexpected alike. Those traits just had not been present for Point Beach.

Every year the question for Point Beach was, ‘Is tonight the night?’. On Friday night, it finally was.

In an instant classic, Point Beach turned the tables on eighth-ranked Point Boro by winning the final three bouts to rally for a 28-27 Shore Conference nondivisional win, giving the Garnet Gulls their first victory over Point Boro since 1998. A necessary pin by senior Jason Sherlock at 220 pounds was preceded by a win by senior George Kaiafas at 195 pounds, and senior Liam Buday closed the dual with a 5-3 win over Patrick Frawley at heavyweight to tie the match at 27. Buday’s win was the eighth for Beach and provided the tiebreaking criteria.

Click here for a photo gallery by Richard O'Donnell

This time, Point Beach did the little things right. Jesse Bowers bumped to 152 and took out one of Point Boro’s hammers, Jack Bailey. At 160, Jason Schulz was dead to rights in the first period locked in a Ty Bailey cradle, but fought his way free and held Bailey to a 7-1 decision. Sherlock, battling the flu, up two weight classes from his usual spot at 182 and giving up around 45 pounds to Point Boro’s Josh Henderson, summoned his last remaining energy to lock in a spladle and secure a fall Point Beach absolutely had to have.

Friday night’s win is a huge moment for the program; for the final result, sure, but more because of the way the Garnet Gulls ended two decades of frustration.

The match began at 106 pounds and Point Boro -  knowing it needed a fast start against a young and inexperienced Point Beach group of lowerweights – received consecutive pins from Lucas Torre, Lucas Sabo and James Latendorf to race out to an 18-0 lead after three bouts.

Junior Riley Simon, a returning district runner-up, got Point Beach on the board with a 7-3 win over Charlie Latendorf at 126 pounds but Point Boro freshman Jack Thompson answered with a 9-3 decision over district medalist Jonah Bowers at 132. At 138 pounds, junior Kip Lovgren, also a returning district runner-up, scored an 8-3 decision over Peter Karras to cut Point Boro’s lead to 21-6.

Now it was Point Beach’s turn to flex its muscles. Winning the pre-match flip allowed the Garnet Gulls to dictate certain matchups, one of which would come at 152. At 145, senior Jared Kerr took the mat against Connor Robinson end eked out a 4-3 decision to make it 21-9. At 152, Point Boro sent out Jack Baily and Beach countered with Bowers.

Bailey entered with a 20-2 record and was a District 23 champion last season. Bowers was also a District 23 champion a year ago in addition to reaching the state tournament and entered with a perfect 19-0 mark. A third-period takedown by Bowers was the difference in a massive 3-2 victory that was also Bowers’ 100th career win. Talk about an unforgettable moment.

The win cut Point Boro’s lead to 21-12 with the Panthers’ best wrestler, Ty Bailey, set to take the mat at 160 pounds. Opposite Bailey was junior Jason Schulz, who knew more than anything else he needed to stay off his back. That’s no easy task against Bailey and his lethal cradle. Early on it looked like Bailey would secure six for Boro as he quickly took Schulz down and snapped on a cradle. Schulz was close to being flattened but was able to get out of the hold and eventually escape.

The bout and the match turned in the second period when Bailey chose defense and Schulz went to work on top, riding Bailey for 90 seconds before Bailey was able to escape and make it 6-1. It was Schulz’s choice in the third and he took top, riding Bailey again for a bit before another escape made it 7-1. Bailey needed one more takedown for a major decision but Schulz was able to hold him off and keep it to a regular decision. Point Boro now led, 24-12.

Senior Macky Liotta, who has been out with a broken leg, jumped in at 170 pounds. A seven-point first period that included him putting Gavin O’Connor to his back paved the way for a critical 10-3 win that cut Beach’s deficit to 24-15 with four bouts left.

At 182 points, Andrew Witkowski defeated Josh Ramos, 5-3, to give Point Boro a 27-15 lead with three bouts left. Those 12 points would not be enough thanks to Kaiafas, Sherlock and Buday.

Kaiafas used a first-period takedown to defeat Nick Rebimbas, 3-2, and cut Beach’s deficit to 27-18. One down, two to go.

Then came Sherlock, the Garnet Gulls’ biggest hammer, at 220. A returning District 23 champion and a state qualifier, Sherlock entered with a 19-1 record. His job was to pin, nothing less. Normally that would be a given against most wrestlers, but Sherlock had been sick all week and struggled just to weigh in above 182 pounds so he could bump up to 220. By the time he took the mat against Henderson he was giving up close to 50 pounds.

Sherlock came out hard and fast, lifting Henderson and taking him down directly to his back. The place was ready to explode, but Henderson fought off his back, got to his feet and escaped. Sherlock took him down again to make it 7-1 but then he hit the wall. His illness and the weight disadvantage had caught up to him and he could barely move. He was issued a stalling warning and in the second period was hit with another stalling call. He escaped in the second and was issued a point when Henderson was called for fleeing the mat but also had to take injury time. Sherlock led 9-4 heading into the third period.

Sherlock chose defense in the third and was able to get free before taking down Henderson on the edge of the circle to go up 12-4. He now had a major decision in hand, but he knew that wasn’t enough. Off the restart, Sherlock fastened a spladle and rolled Henderson to his back before finishing off the fall at the 4:29 mark. The Beach bench and crowd went bananas. It was now 27-24 with one bout left.

With Point Beach now at seven bouts won, all Buday had to do was win as a tie would result in the Gulls winning on criteria. After a scoreless first period, Frawley escaped to take a 1-0 lead before Buday took him down to go up, 2-1. Frawley escaped again to tie the bout 2-2 heading to the third, but Buday had choice, chose defense and quickly escaped to take a 3-2 lead. Frawley pushed forward late in the bout to try to secure a go-ahead takedown but Buday countered with another score to go up 5-2. A late escape by Frawley made it 5-3 but that was it. Beach had done it. The streak was over.

 

Point Beach 28, No. 8 Point Boro 27

Point Beach wins on criteria - bouts won (8-6)

106Lucas Torre (Point Boro) over Teddy Jarahian (Point Beach) (Fall 1:23)
113Lucas Sabo (Point Boro) over Justin Mazzatta (Point Beach) (Fall 2:41)
120James Latendorf (Point Boro) over Michael Storino (Point Beach) (Fall 1:08)
126Riley Simon (Point Beach) over Charles Latendorf (Point Boro) (Dec 7-3)
132Jack Thompson (Point Boro) over Jonah Bowers (Point Beach) (Dec 9-3)
138Kip Lovgren (Point Beach) over Peter Karras (Point Boro) (Dec 8-3)
145Jared Kerr (Point Beach) over Connor Robinson (Point Boro) (Dec 4-3)
152Jesse Bowers (Point Beach) over Jack Bailey (Point Boro) (Dec 3-2)
160Ty Bailey (Point Boro) over Jason Schulz (Point Beach) (Dec 7-1)
170John Liotta (Point Beach) over Gavin O`Connor (Point Boro) (Dec 10-3)
182Andrew Witkowski (Point Boro) over Joshua Ramos (Point Beach) (Dec 5-3)
195George Kaiafas (Point Beach) over Nick Rebimbas (Point Boro) (Dec 3-2)
220Jason Sherlock (Point Beach) over Joshua Henderson (Point Boro) (Fall 4:22)
285Liam Buday (Point Beach) over Patrick Frawley (Point Boro) (Dec 5-3)

 

Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at bob.badders@townsquaremedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.