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HAZLET – Point Boro entered the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group 2 tournament with its sights set on winning a sectional championship, but just four bouts into the opening round the Panthers were much closer to getting on the bus and heading back home than they were to advancing.

Point Boro’s quarterfinal match versus Holmdel could not have started worse. The Hornets raced out to a commanding 21-0 advantage through the first four bouts, including a stunning six points at 126 pounds where Point Boro standout junior Frankie Burgio, a two-time state tournament qualifier, had to injury default in the third period of a bout he was winning.

The situation looked bleak, but over the next 23 bouts on Monday night at Raritan High School, a young Panthers team had its breakthrough moment to return to a sectional final.

Pins by freshman Jake Clayton, sophomore James Bradley, senior Ryan Acquisto, and junior Tanner Hynes keyed Point Boro’s rally as it clawed back to win eight bouts and overcome Holmdel, 38-29, in the quarterfinals. The momentum carried over to the semifinals where the Panthers also won eight bouts with several key performances to defeat Raritan, 37-31, and advance to the Central Jersey Group 2 sectional final.

Bob Badders | rpbphotography.com
Bob Badders | rpbphotography.com
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Acquisto and Hynes also won by fall versus Raritan while Bradley scored a major decision and senior Ryan Jankowski won by fall during a five-bout winning streak from 157 through 215 pounds that helped the Panthers avenge last season’s loss to the Rockets in the sectional final.

Point Boro will travel to top-seeded Rumson-Fair Haven for the sectional championship match on Wednesday night.

“This was definitely a turning point,” said Point Boro head coach Pat Brady. “We started the night down 21-0 to Holmdel and our senior leadership showed these young guys that you’re never out of it, to keep fighting and keep believing in each other.”

“We believed,” Acquisto said. “We’ve been down a lot this year; we had our opportunities losing close matches against Lacey and Jackson Liberty. But we trust each other and we want to do it for each other.”

Down 21-0 to Holmdel in a match that began at 120 pounds, sophomore Brayden Clark put Point Boro on the board with a win by decision at 144 pounds. Holmdel was also deducted a team point for unsportsmanlike conduct that occurred at the conclusion of the bout. After a decision by Holmdel at 150, Clayton, Bradley, and Acquisto followed with wins by fall from 157 to 175 to pull the Panthers within two points at 23-21. Holmdel standout sophomore Alex Reyes won by fall at 190 to give the Hornets a 29-21 advantage, but that was the last win Holmdel would get. Hynes won by fall at 215, sophomore George Walsh earned a 3-0 decision over John Gann at heavyweight, and brothers Mike and Joey DeAngelo won by decision and technical fall at 106 and 113, respectively, to send Point Boro into the semifinals.

The matchup with Raritan was filled with toss-up bouts and Point Boro remained without one of its best wrestlers with Burgio out of the lineup. That made the opening bouts at 126 and 132 even more important. Senior Jared Drewes got the Panthers off on the right foot when he used a takedown and three near-fall points in the third period to score an 8-4 win over Owen Brackett. At 132, sophomore Jack Barger was inserted into the lineup and won 3-2 over Matt Askander on the strength of a takedown in the scone period.

Senior Jared Drewes secures back points at 126 pounds when Point Pleasant Borough defeated Raritan, 37-31, in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group 2 semifinals on Monday, February 5, 2024 at Raritan High School in Hazlet, NJ. (Bob Badders | rpbphotography.com).
Senior Jared Drewes secures back points at 126 pounds when Point Pleasant Borough defeated Raritan, 37-31, in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group 2 semifinals on Monday, February 5, 2024 at Raritan High School in Hazlet, NJ. (Bob Badders | rpbphotography.com).
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“That gave us a lot of momentum,” Hynes said. “They are two of the nicest kids in the world and they’re always working their butts off. Today they had to win and they delivered.”

“Huge,” Acquisto said. “We always preach ‘next man up’ because you never know what’s going to happen.”

The strength of Raritan’s lineup is from 138 to 157 pounds and during that stretch the Rockets were able to take three of four bouts to gain a seven-point lead. Senior Aidan Davis won by major decision over Luke Renna at 138 and senior Zach Reilley, last season’s 138-pound state fifth-place medalist, won by fall in 51 seconds at 144 to give Raritan a 10-6 lead. Junior Alex Delaurier, a returning state qualifier, then won by fall over Clark in 1:43 to extend the Rockets’ lead to 16-6 through five bouts.

Point Boro was able to halt Raritan’s momentum at 157, however, when Clayton, this season’s 157-pound Shore Conference Tournament champion, beat Raritan senior Logan Acevedo, 9-4. Clayton’s victory ignited a five-bout winning streak that produced 27 points and sent the Panthers on their way back to the sectional final. Bradley posted six takedowns, including four in the third period, for a 13-3 major decision over Giacobe Manon at 165 and Acquisto pinned Anthony Gin in 2:34 at 175 to give Point Boro a 19-16 lead.

Ryan Acquisto secures a takedown versus Raritan's Anthony Gin when Point Pleasant Borough defeated Raritan, 37-31, in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group 2 semifinals on Monday, February 5, 2024 at Raritan High School in Hazlet, NJ. (Bob Badders | rpbphotography.com).
Ryan Acquisto secures a takedown versus Raritan's Anthony Gin when Point Pleasant Borough defeated Raritan, 37-31, in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group 2 semifinals on Monday, February 5, 2024 at Raritan High School in Hazlet, NJ. (Bob Badders | rpbphotography.com).
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The Panthers still had an ace in the hole with junior Joey DeAngelo, a two-time state qualifier and this season’s 113-pound SCT champ, lurking at 113 pounds, but plenty of work remained to get to that point. Hynes sent them one step closer to victory when he pinned Ryan Settle just before the buzzer sounded to end the second period at 190, putting Point Boro up 25-16 with five bouts left. Settle scored the first takedown and rode Hynes out for the remainder of the first period while nearly turning him to his back multiple times. Hynes chose defense in the second period and this time Settle was able to turn him for two back points and a 4-0 lead. Hynes stayed active on bottom and his persistence was rewarded with a reversal that cut his deficit to 4-2. He then went to work on top before securing a hammer lock and using it to turn Settle to his back for the buzzer-beating pin.

“I had a really tough loss vs. Princeton this year where the kid was riding boots, so every day in practice I’ve taken a couple minutes to just work boots,” Hynes said. “I was getting ridden out but I knew I was getting out, I believed in my training. And once I had the hammer in I knew it was going to be six.”

“He’s just a tough, throwback, blue-collar Point Boro kid,” Brady said. “He comes from a great family and has that never-quit, never-die attitude.”

Jankowski followed with another clutch fall when he pinned Nate Pereira in 2:13 at 215 pounds to stretch Point Boro’s lead to 31-16 with four bouts left. Raritan staved off elimination at heavyweight where junior Jonathan Gazerwitz eked out a 6-5 victory over sophomore George Walsh. Junior Nick Sheldrick then delivered a pin over Mike DeAngelo at 106 to pull the Rockets within six points at 31-25, but Point Boro had its biggest hammer waiting at 113 to close it out. Joey DeAngelo built a 9-1 first-period lead over Raritan freshman Justin Card and added a takedown and an escape in the second before securing the pin at the 3:35 mark to clinch the match. Point Boro forfeited the final weight at 120 pounds.

“Last year I got teched here and this year I came back and pinned,” Hynes said. “Sometimes you have bad matches. Sometimes you get put to your back. Everyone knew their time was coming and a lot of people came together tonight when we needed it most.”

“We’ve been getting better every time we step on the mat whether it’s the practice room or a match,” Brady said. “We lost three duals by a total of five points so we understand that every point matters. Just keep fighting and see what the score is at the end. We were waiting for that spark that was going to help us get over the hump and tonight we got it. Twice.”

On Wednesday night, the Panthers will travel to Rumson in search of its second sectional title and first since 2018. The Bulldogs are aiming to win the program’s first sectional championship and boast an impressive lineup that includes defending 215-pound state champion Hudson Skove, star freshman Sonny Amato, returning state qualifiers Conor Delaney and Cole Pangborn, and several other standouts. It will be Point Boro’s biggest challenge this season but the team will enter the championship match in peak form.

“We’re ready to go,” Acquisto said. “This is what we train for. We want moments like this.”

 

At Raritan

Semifinals

(3) Point Boro 37, (2) Raritan 31

126
Jared Drewes (Point Pleasant Boro) over Owen Brackett (Raritan) (Dec 8-4)
132
Jack Barger (Point Pleasant Boro) over Matthew Askander (Raritan) (Dec 3-2)
138
Aidan Davis (Raritan) over Luke Renna (Point Pleasant Boro) (MD 15-4)
144
Zach Reilley (Raritan) over Jack Watson (Point Pleasant Boro) (Fall 0:51)
150
Alexander Delaurier (Raritan) over Brayden Clark (Point Pleasant Boro) (Fall 1:44)
157
Jake Clayton (Point Pleasant Boro) over Logan Acevedo (Raritan) (Dec 9-4)
165
James Bradley (Point Pleasant Boro) over Giacobe Manon (Raritan) (MD 13-3)
175
Ryan Acquisto (Point Pleasant Boro) over Anthony Gin (Raritan) (Fall 2:44)
190
Tanner Hynes (Point Pleasant Boro) over Ryan Settle (Raritan) (Fall 4:00)
215
Ryan Jankowski (Point Pleasant Boro) over Nate Pereira (Raritan) (Fall 2:13)
285
Jonathan Gazerwitz (Raritan) over George Walsh (Point Pleasant Boro) (Dec 6-5)
106
Nicholas Sheldrick (Raritan) over Michael DeAngelo (Point Pleasant Boro) (Fall 0:36)
113
Joseph DeAngelo (Point Pleasant Boro) over Justin Card (Raritan) (Fall 3:35)
120
Charles Geoghan (Raritan) over Unknown (For.)

 

Quarterfinals

(2) Raritan 51, (7) Manasquan 22

120
Charles Geoghan (Raritan) over Donovan Havard (Manasquan) (MD 12-2)
126
Owen Brackett (Raritan) over Logan Milancewich (Manasquan) (TF 19-4 4:04)
132
Aidan Davis (Raritan) over Charlie Hunt (Manasquan) (Fall 2:35)
138
Michael O`Connor (Manasquan) over Matthew Askander (Raritan) (Fall 1:03)
144
Zach Reilley (Raritan) over Torrin Tracey (Manasquan) (Fall 1:17)
150
Alexander Delaurier (Raritan) over Dax Klein (Manasquan) (Fall 1:06)
157
Michael McNulty (Manasquan) over Giacobe Manon (Raritan) (Dec 11-5)
165
Logan Acevedo (Raritan) over Connor Brewer (Manasquan) (Fall 0:28)
175
Brian Lee (Manasquan) over Ryan Settle (Raritan) (Dec 10-4)
190
Noah Mammeri (Manasquan) over Anthony Gin (Raritan) (MD 10-2)
215
Nate Pereira (Raritan) over Gianni Scaramellino (Manasquan) (Fall 4:59)
285
Jonathan Gazerwitz (Raritan) over Shaun Etienne (Manasquan) (Fall 5:17)
106
Nicholas Sheldrick (Raritan) over Shane Kerstetter (Manasquan) (Fall 2:56)
113
Nico Princiotta (Manasquan) over Justin Card (Raritan) (Fall 2:34)

 

 

(3) Point Boro 38, (6) Holmdel 29

 

 

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