Shore Sports Network Wrestler of the Week: Southern’s Nick O’Connell
Every week this season, Shore Conference wrestling fans will have their chance to vote for the Shore Sports Network Wrestler of the Week on our website.
The winner of the reader's vote for Week 7 is Southern Regional senior Nick O’Connell, who remained undefeated with a 2-0 week that was highlighted by a dominating win over the No. 1-ranked wrestler in the state.
Southern did not enter the Shore Conference Tournament, but that didn’t prohibit O’Connell from earning a huge win over a top opponent. The Rams hosted five-time defending NJSIAA Group 4 champion Phillipsburg and came away with an emphatic 32-16 victory in which they won nine of 14 bouts. At 152 pounds, O’Connell squared off with Stateliners senior and Rutgers recruit Cody Harrison, who entered the match ranked No. 1 in New Jersey at 152. The bout was no contest as O’Connell dominated with an 11-3 major decision, giving Southern an 11-0 lead through three boats. From there, the Rams were off and running toward their biggest win of the season.
The Rams’ victory over Phillipsburg helped them secure the No. 1 seed for next week’s NJSIAA South Jersey Group 5 tournament. Not only do the Rams get to wrestle at home through the sectional final, they also avoid having to wrestle either top-ranked Howell or No. 2 Toms River North until the final. The Rebels and Mariners are expected to meet in the semifinals as the second and third seeds, respectively.
O’Connell also won by major decision over South Plainfield’s Sebastian Santos during the week.
O’Connell has wrestled most of the season at 160 pounds and is unbeaten at 21-0. He wrestled at 152 for the first time this season on Jan. 16 and won by fall in a match vs. Central. After the win over Harrison, it seems certain O’Connell will be at 152 when the individual postseason begins. He is now ranked No. 1 in the state at 152 by NJ.com.
O’Connell was the runaway winner of the readers’ poll with 32.46 percent of the votes to win Wrestler of the Week.