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POINT PLEASANT BEACH – Jared Kerr has come a long way since his varsity debut four years ago.

When Kerr was a freshman he was thrust into an impossible situation, weighing just 95 pounds and having to step in for Point Beach’s regular 106-pounder in the NJSIAA Group 1 state semifinals vs. Kittatinny. The match came down to the final weight class at 106. Kittatinny had a hammer and Kerr was the nail.

Now a senior, Kerr has worked hard for the moment where he is now a starter at 160 pounds, and on Tuesday night he delivered a clutch win to help the Garnet Gulls exact a measure of revenge.

After falling behind 5-0 in the first period, Kerr rallied for an 11-9 decision in sudden victory over AJ Stuart to help Point Beach surge to a 45-23 victory over rival Shore Regional in the de facto Shore Conference Class B Central championship match. After being taken to his back in the first period, Kerr clawed back with seven points in the third period before scoring the winning takedown in the first overtime period.

“I was really happy; I knew if I could just keep going and get the job done my teammates would follow,” Kerr said. “And they did.”

“That kid has been one of the most pleasant surprises of my entire career,” said Point Beach head coach Jeff Bower. “His first match of his career we’re at (RWJBarnabas Health Arena at Toms River North) and our 106-pounder didn’t make weight and it comes down to 106 against Kittatinny. I had to send that poor sheep out to the slaughter against a stud in his first time going out. Then sophomore year he’s stuck behind guys, and even junior year I think he was like 9-4. But he worked his butt off and put in a lot of time. It’s one of the greatest stories we’ve had since I’ve been here.”

“I put in the work all offseason and I was really excited for the season to come,” Kerr said. “I really like where I’m at and where our team is at. I’m ready for the year and everything that comes my way.”

Shore led through the first nine weights of the match, which started at 106 pounds, but everyone knew what was coming with Point Beach’s strong group of upperweights. Kerr’s victory cut Shore’s lead to 23-18 and junior Jason Schulz won by fall at 170 pounds to give the Garnet Gulls a 24-23 lead. Senior George Kaiafas followed with a pin at 182 to make it 30-23 and Shore forfeited the next two weights to Josh Ramos at 195 and Jason Sherlock at 220. Senior Liam Buday closed out the dual with a 7-3 decision over Joe Graci at heavyweight.

Point Beach also received wins from Riley Simon at 132 and Jesse Bowers at 145. Point Beach also won by forfeit at 126 pounds as Rowan McGloughlin got his hand raised. The Garnet Gulls finished with wins in nine of 14 bouts.

Shore was not at full strength, however, most notably missing standout junior Jack Maida at 120 pounds. Maida was sixth in the state at 106 pounds last season and did not weigh in. His absence forced Shore to put Ross Dougherty at 120 pounds and forfeit at 126. Sophomore Jamie Mazzacco (182) is out for the season and junior Cade Torres (220), a 27-match winner last season, was also revealed to be lost for the season after suffering an injury earlier this season.

“He didn’t weigh in today, it was a coach’s decision,” said Shore Regional head coach Dave Porta regarding Maida. “It’s not discipline or anything, he just didn’t weigh in today. We lost by 22 and he’s probably a 12-point swing but we still lose by 10. (At 195 and 220) it wasn’t just ‘let’s go home’, I don’t have any able bodies to put out there.”

Last season, Shore stopped Point Beach’s streak in both B-Central and in the Central Jersey Group 1 tournament, ending the Gulls’ three-year reign as sectional champions to claim the program’s first sectional crown. To say Point Beach had Jan. 7 circled on the calendar would be...accurate.

“They were pumped, it was tough trying to dial them back in the preseason,” Bower said. “We want to preach one at a time. They (Shore) have some studs, kids you normally don’t beat in a few spots, so we just tried to get to our kids and win big, lose small.”

“I think we were all super-pumped for tonight,” Kerr said. “We were ready to take back what’s ours. We’re really excited to see them again in the (sectional) finals and take it to another level.”

Shore jumped out to a 13-0 lead after three weights thanks to an 11-2 major decision by Brendan Nichols over Teddy Jarahian at 106 and a pin by Jake Herschenfeld at 113. Dougherty scored a 6-0 decision over Justin Mazzatta at 120.

With Maida out of the lineup, Shore had to forfeit at 126 and Simon followed with a 14-8 decision over Gabe Scalise at 132 in a matchup of returning district runners-up.

“Where we really got going was with Simon at 132,” Bower said. “We say if we can get to Riley without too much damage we’re going to be okay. The little guys are inexperienced and we just have to do a better job saving bonus down there. We have quite a bit of depth through the lineup once we get to 132.”

Shore’s Al De Santis, a three-time state qualifier, won by 13-1 major decision over Kip Lovgren at 138 pounds before Bowers pinned Tanner Smuro in just 47 seconds at 145. The fall pulled Beach to within 17-15, but Mike McGhee, a two-time state qualifier, built a 15-0 lead before pinning Jake Sage in 2:57 at 152 pounds to increase Shore’s lead to 23-15.

Then came Kerr’s win and two weights and two pins later Point Beach was ahead for good. The Gulls still have to beat Keansburg and Keyport to officially clinch the division title but are heavily favored against both teams.

The two main goals for both Shore and Point Beach are to win B-Central and to win Central Jersey Group 1. Beach crossed one off the list on Tuesday night but both squads know to attain the latter they’ll likely have to go through one another again.

“They outmanned us today,” Porta said. “They were more able from 160 and up and they probably have two or three more guys than us. They’re one of the best teams in the Shore year in and year out. The goal is to get them again, hopefully in the sectional final. We know we have adjustments to make. Maida will be back and hopefully we can move things around and have a little bit of a different lineup.”

“I think (we’ll see them again),” Bower said. “Hopefully everyone can stay healthy and be to the best of our abilities come February. They’ll make adjustments and we need to make adjustments, as well. We can’t just sit on this.”


Box Score

Point Beach 45, Shore Regional 23 

106: Brendan Nichols (S) md. Teddy Jarahian, 11-2

113: Jake Herschenfeld (S) p. Michael Storino, 3:14

120: Ross Dougherty (S) d. Justin Mazzatta, 6-0

126: Rowan McGloughlin (PB) by forfeit

132: Riley Simon (PB) d. Gabe Scalise, 14-8

138: Al De Santis (S) md. Kip Lovgren, 13-1

145: Jesse Bowers (PB) p. Tanner Smuro, 0:47

152: Mike McGhee (S) p. Jake Sage, 2:57

160: Jared Kerr (PB) d. AJ Stuart, 11-9 in sudden victory

170: Jason Schulz (PB) p. Dylan Drahos, 3:56

182: George Kaiafas (PB) p. Chris Krousos, 1:13

195: Josh Ramos (PB) by forfeit

220: Jason Sherlock (PB) by forfeit

Hwt: Liam Buday (PB) d. Joe Graci, 7-3

Records: at Point Beach (7-0, 3-0); Shore (3-3, 0-1).


Managing 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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