Thrive Spine & Sports Rehab Wrestler of the Week: Southern’s Nick Bennet
Every week this season, Shore Sports Network presents the Thrive Spine & Sports Rehab Shore Conference Wrestler of the Week on our website.
The Shore Conference Wrestler of the Week for the NJSIAA Team Tournament is Southern Regional freshman Nick Bennet, who came through with two huge victories during a three-win week to help the Rams secure back-to-back NJSIAA Group 5 state titles.
Bennet won by technical fall in the South Jersey Group 5 quarterfinals when Southern wallopped Washington Township, 55-11. In the sectional semifinals, the Rams took on Class A South rival Toms River North, which handed Southern its only loss of the season when they met on Jan. 14. This time, Southern emerged victorious in large part thanks to Bennet's last-second 11-10 victory over Mark Fedeli at 126 pounds where he won with a takedown at the buzzer.
Southern won the South Jersey Group 5 sectional title with a 36-30 victory over Howell and although Bennet was defeated, he limited bonus points by allowing just a major decision to Howell standout Nieko Malone.
In the Group 5 final against Manalapan, Bennet helped swing the pendulum Southern's way when he defeated Calvin Burke, 4-2 in sudden victory. Burke led 2-0 after the first period but Bennet rode him out the entire second period, getting two stalling calls and one point in the process. Bennet took top in the third period, rode out Burke again and forced another stalling call to produce the bout-tying point. He quickly got on Burke's leg in overtime and finished off the takedown for the thrilling victory, sending Southern on its way to a 38-24 win and its second straight state championship.
Bennet sacrificed much for the greater good this season, weighing down at 120 pounds often to give Southern flexibility. He was routinely asked to face one of the Rams' opponents' top wrestlers and try to save bonus points, and he did his job well. With senior Jayson Scerbo going 120 and junior Matt Brielmeier going 126 for the individual postseason, Bennet did not have a spot. He concludes his freshman season with a 16-15 record. His attempt at individual accolades will have to wait, but he was an invaluable asset for a championship team.
Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.