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Since establishing itself as the favorite in Group 5, Southern has done everything in its capacity to continue on the path toward another state championship. The Ocean County juggernaut took another step on Wednesday with a dominant performance in the sectional final.

The top-seeded Rams won seven straight bouts from 144 through 215 pounds, claimed 11 of 14 bouts altogether, and stormed past Kingsway, 48-14, to capture the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 5 sectional championship. It is Southern's fifth straight sectional crown and the program's 16th all-time.

Photo courtesy of Southern Regional Athletic Department.
Photo courtesy of Southern Regional Athletic Department.

Southern is the top seed among the Group 5 semifinalists and will host Passaic Tech at 6 p.m. on Friday. Passaic Tech defeated rival Clifton, 33-31, to win the North 1 sectional title. North 2 champion Phillipsburg will host Central Jersey Group 5 champion Howell in the other semifinals. Phillipsburg is the defending Group 5 champion after beating Southern in the semifinals and Howell in the final last season. Southern and Phillipsburg wrestled this season with the Rams scoring a thorough 42-12 victory.

Southern (18-1) jumped out to a 14-0 lead with a win by fall from Anthony Mason at 106, a technical fall from Atilla Vigilante at 113, and a 7-4 victory by Scottie Sari over District 29 champion Nathan Lubonski at 120.

Kingsway got on the board at 126 when Nathan Taylor, a two-time region champion who was third in the state at 126 pounds last season, won by 16-1 technical fall over David Ferrante. Southern answered with a hammer of its own when senior Conor Collins, a two-time state top-three finisher, pinned two-time state qualifier Brendan Callahan in 2:52

At 138, Kingsway's David DiPietro edged Southern sophomore Wyatt Stout, 5-4. DiPietro is a three-time state qualifier and Stout was a state qualifier last season when he also won a Region 7 title.

Southern's lead was 20-8 at this point and it grew rather quickly from there. Hayden Hochstrasser won a 7-4 decision from Tommy DiPietro at 144, Nick Bennet won 14-7 over Sean Kirwin at 157 and Matt Henrich won 7-0 over Benjamin Dryden at 157 to extend the Rams' lead to 29-8.

The next two eights produced bonus points with Mitch Bivona winning by 13-0 major decision over Joseph Leone and Cole Velardi needing just 45 seconds to win by fall over Jack Gelato at 175. Collin French followed with a 5-4 win over Luke Van Brill at 190 and Riley O'Boyle added the exclamation point with a first-period fall over Leonard Mears at 215.

Kingsway took the final bout when Christopher San Paolo won by fall over backup heavyweight Alexander Skipper.



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