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STAFFORD – The band is back together.

Wrestling with their most complete lineup of the season and with their head coach back on the bench, Southern, ranked No. 3 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, trampled eighth-ranked and heated rival Jackson Memorial, 47-7, in a Shore Conference Class A South match on Thursday night. The Rams won 12 of 14 bouts, picked off three of the Jaguars’ best wrestlers and took a major step toward securing their third straight division title.

Two-time state qualifier Matt Barnett, who returned from injury this past weekend, defeated Carsten Digiantomasso at 138 pounds, state medalist Nick O’Connell, who also returned over the weekend after not wrestling since Dec. 23, scored a technical fall at 160 pounds and sophomore Ben LoParo took out Kyle Epperly with an eye-opening performance at 182 pounds. Senior Dan Gorman won a double-overtime thriller over Ryan Bohringer at 152 pounds and Nick Pepe topped Nick Tomasiello at 145 pounds to highlight a dominating all-around performance by Southern.

“The kids really, really wrestled well and there were a couple tight bouts so the score is a little more lopsided than what the match really was,” said Southern head coach John Stout. “In all fairness, Jackson is struggling right now with the injury bug and some other things so you can’t beat them up too bad. It’s tough when you’re in the position they’re in now and you compete in the A South. But our kids wrestled very well and I’m very pleased.”

The Rams also had Stout back leading the team at home for the first time this season. Stout was serving a suspension as a result of last season’s weight-certification violation that led to Southern being disqualified from the NJSIAA Team Tournament. Stout returned over the weekend during Southern’s road quad with Mount Olive, Paramus and West Morris. Stout was suspended from coaching by the NJSIAA but was additionally barred from having contact with the team by the school. His son, Jon, is a junior 170-pounder for the Rams.

“It was horrible,” Stout said. “Your kids are battling and you want to be there with them. You want to share in the good stuff and also feel like you’re the guy who should be there taking the bad stuff with them, so it was very, very hard. It was hard on me and hard on the family, but we made it through it and we’re on the other end now.”

It was all Southern from the beginning as Sebastian Delligatti and Robert Woodcock won by fall at 126 and 132 pounds, respectively. The Rams would win the first six bouts to take a 26-0 lead and put the match away before it reached the midpoint. Barnett followed Woodcock with a 7-2 decision over Digiantomasso and Pepe used a takedown with five seconds left in the third period to top Tomasiello, 6-4, in a matchup of region qualifiers.

At 152 pounds, Jackson appeared on its way to picking up its first win when Bohringer took a 4-0 lead into the third period versus Gorman. The Rams senior was able to rally, however, with an escape and two takedowns to send the bout to overtime. After a sensational, period-long scramble in sudden victory where both wrestlers somehow avoided being taken down, Gorman rode out Bohringer in the first 30-second tiebreaker period. In his turn on defense, Gorman was able to score a reversal and take the 7-5 victory to give the Rams a 21-0 advantage.

“Once I got that first score I knew I had him,” Gorman said. “No matter what the score is I know I have the heart to come out on top. Whether you’re down 14-0 or 4-0 it doesn’t matter, you can always turn the kid to his back. You just have to keep wrestling until the match is over.”

“That’s what a senior leader should do and he was determined,” Stout said. “He said before the match he was going to pull it out and he did it. It was a great match for him.”

O’Connell followed with a 17-2 technical fall over region qualifier Leo Shimonovich at 160 pounds to give Southern a 26-0 lead. Jackson finally got on the board when Brock Winston blanked Haven Tatarek, 3-0, at 170 pounds.

A region qualifier last season as a freshman, Epperly has been arguably Jackson’s best wrestler this season and entered Thursday’s match with a 13-2 record. His opponent was LoParo, a sophomore with a 1-0 record who just became eligible after transferring back to Southern after spending his freshman year at St. Augustine Prep. The edge was clearly to Epperly, or so it appeared.

Epperly scored with a takedown in the first period and LoParo was hit for a stalling warning but the second period was all LoParo as he scored a takedown and turned Epperly twice for a total of five near-fall points to take a 7-2 lead. LoParo added a takedown in the third period and rode Epperly out the rest of the way for a huge 9-3 win.

“He’s a kid that would have been with us anyway but spending last year at St. Augustine he had to sit his 30 days,” Stout said. “Don’t get me wrong, that was a little bit surprising but he did wrestle very well.”

Vin Miele then defeated Brad Galassi, 7-3, at 195 pounds and Matt Mackanic made quick work of Logan Reese with a 24-second pin at 220 pounds to open up a 38-3 lead. Jayden Smith’s 5-0 decision over Antonio Farias at heavyweight made it 41-3.

Jackson’s second win came via a 15-2 major decision by Vinnie Scollo over Matt Brielmeier at 106 pounds. Southern closed out the match with Jayson Scerbo defeating Luke Temple, 8-4, at 113 pounds and Owen Kretschmer scoring an 8-2 win over Chris McDonald at 120.

“I know we had a couple kids out in the beginning and have had a couple shifts in the lineup, but now we’ve been in the room and it’s getting near the heart of the season,” Gorman said. “I think everybody is pulling it together and we’re getting really strong.”

“We’re a very solid team from 106 to heavyweight,” Stout said. “We have some depth and can move some guys in and out and I think we showed a little bit of that tonight. How good can we be? I don’t know and I don’t want to prognosticate but it’s a good team and if we get healthy and things go right we can go pretty far in the postseason.”

Jackson wrestled without regular 132-pound starter Brandon Burkert, who did not weigh in, and 220-pounder Dave Lemay, a returning state qualifier, who is no longer with the team.

Box Score

No. 3 Southern 47, No. 8 Jackson Memorial 7

126: Sebastian Delligatti (S) p. Kevin Hogan 4:45

132: Robert Woodcock (S) p. Damian Lipari 2:40

138: Matt Barnett (S) d. Carsten Digiantomasso 7-2

145: Nick Pepe (S) d. Nick Tomasiello 6-4

152: Dan Gorman (S) d. Ryan Bohringer 7 -5 (2OT)

160: Nick O’Connell (S) tf. Leo Shimonovich 5:26 (17-2)

170: Brock Winston (JM) d. Haven Tatarek 3-0

182: Ben LoParo (S) d. Kyle Epperly 9-3

195: Vin Miele (S) d. Brad Galassi 7-3

220: Matt Mackanic (S) p. Logan Reese 0:24

Hwt: Jayden Smith (S) d. Antonio Farias 5-0

106: Vinnie Scollo (JM) md. Matt Brielmeier 15-2

113: Jayson Scerbo (S) d. Luke Temple 8-4

120: Owen Kretschmer (S) d. Chris McDonald 8-2

Records: at Southern (9-1, 4-0); Jackson Memorial (5-5, 3-1).


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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