Return of the Rivalry: Point Boro-Point Beach Wrestling Match Delivers Another Special Night
POINT PLEASANT BOROUGH -- At this point, most everyone in the Shore Conference understands that the annual Point Boro vs. Point Beach wrestling match is more than just a match between neighboring schools. It's an event, a show, an opportunity for two small, prideful, and tight-knit communities to remind everyone just how special high school sports can be.
After Point Boro avenged its 2020 loss with a dominant 53-2 victory over Point Beach on Friday night at Memorial Middle School, Panthers head coach Pat Brady certainly could have basked in the afterglow of returning bragging rights to his alma mater. Yes, the win of course matters, but when these two teams meet inside of a packed gymnasium each January, it's about so much more than the final result.
"Everything these kids have been through the last two years, to see them have a moment like that, in an environment like this; to see them happy means the world to me," a choked-up Brady said after the match.
Point Beach ended a long losing streak with a win on criteria in 2020. Last year, the match was canceled, another scheduling casualty of Covid. The everpresent theme for this year was Point Boro's quest for revenge after two years of stewing on a rare loss to Beach, but the importance of the match for both teams runs deeper.
"I'm just so happy for the kids," Brady said. "For them to be able to experience this environment, it's special. Both programs have great tradition and to see the communities behind it, it's something special that these towns take a lot of pride in."
How many wrestling matches have cheerleaders, a marching band, takedown towels courtesy of Jersey Mike's, and raucous student sections? The atmosphere of the match is more akin to a big football or basketball game, sports that are certainly more mainstream and digestible to the average high school student. But when you have two small schools that can produce a night where kids are competing in front of a large portion of the student body, it creates magic. Kids can become school legends during their six minutes on the mat. Point Boro's Gabe Fatizzi did it in 2015. Two years ago, it was Point Beach's Jason Sherlock providing the heroics. Do something memorable in the Beach-Boro match and it will become lore.
Point Boro had only one wrestler take the mat on Friday who also competed in the dual two years ago: junior Jack Thompson. Senior Charlie Latendorf was also a starter in 2020 but he is out with an injury this season. This was a chance for a new crop on both sides to put their stamp on the rivalry. Point Boro senior Ryan Aurin did just that when he rallied for a 9-7 victory over Jude Bowers at 132 pounds. Aurin scored a third-period takedown to cut his deficit to 7-6 and then hit a Peterson Roll for three back points to lock up the thrilling win.
"I've worked so hard for this and I didn't want to give it up in the last minute," Aurin said. "I just couldn't let myself give it up in the last 30 seconds of the match."
"For Ryan Aurin, that's a senior who's been through it," Brady said. "He's been behind some pretty good wrestlers and just keeps coming in the practice room and puts his head down; he's a worker. He had his moment tonight."
Aurin had experienced the match before but this was his first time competing in it.
"It just felt like we were missing something during last season," Aurin said. "It's not the whole season without Beach-Boro. It's the match everyone looks forward to. You know that everyone is here and cheering for you, all your friends and everyone you know. But at the end of the day, it's just you on the mat and there's no excuses. You just have to be better than him."
There wasn't much drama on Friday night thanks to Point Boro racing out to a 17-0 lead and winning 13 of 14 bouts, but it didn't take away from the overall atmosphere. You cannot say that would be the case in a match between any two other teams in the Shore, or the state for that matter. We've covered this match every season for many years now, and we do so because it is a unique night and an example of what high school sports are at their core. A small percentage of high school athletes go on to compete in college and an even smaller number of them will compete at the highest level. For most of them, high school athletics are their final opportunity to play the sport they love and make memories that will last a lifetime.
"It's always electric and that's a credit to how special these two communities are," Brady said. "It's a special place to live, work, and be a part of, and I think this is the best example of it."
Point Boro 53, Point Beach 2
Point Beach was deducted one team point following the 132-pound bout*
285: Luke Wilson (Boro) d. Ryley Thomas, 4-1
106: Jared Drewes (Boro) p. Gavin McLoughlin, 3:34
113: Joey DeAngelo (Boro) md. Luke DeBenedett, 15-2
120: Frankie Burgio (Boro) md. PJ Niethe, 9-0
126: Rowan McLoughlin (Beach) d. Matt Modzrecki, 5-3 in sudden victory
132: Ryan Aurin (Boro) d. Jude Bowers, 9-7
138: John Tornquist (Boro) d. Owen DeBenedett, 6-4
144: Ryan Acquisto (Boro) d. Jonah Bowers, 2-1
150: Jack Thompson (Boro) p. Jack Schulter, 0:38
157: Jacob Messano (Boro) d. Joey Beley, 12-8
165: Tyler Criscuolo (Boro) p. Connor Loughran, 1:45
`175: Tanner Hynes (Boro) d. Radek Kacmarsky 7-1
190: Brett Leschinski (Boro) p. Dawson MacPherson
215: Justin Krosnicki (Boro) d. Reid Niebling, 3-2 in ultimate tiebreaker