Bergen Catholic Downs Brick Memorial in Matchup of Top 10 NJ Teams
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BRICK -- Bergen Catholic, the consensus No. 1 team in New Jersey and No. 12 team nationally, won nine of 14 bouts on Saturday against host Brick Memorial, picking up bonus points in all nine wins for a 49-26 win over the host Mustangs, who entered ranked No. 2 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10.
The Mustangs (1-1) did not wrestle starters Matt Wardlaw (106), Jose Bocalman (126), Anthony Mitchell (145) or Connor Owen (182) because of either injury or strategic reasons, but it wouldn't have made much of a difference against the powerful Crusaders. Seniors Pete Lipari (132) and Connor O'Brien (220), juniors Joe Grello (170) and Nick Suriano (126) and sophomore Damion Maver (120) each recorded pins while junior Kevin Mulligan and senior Laurien Anghelina won by technical fall and junior Dan De Lorenzi won by major decision.
Brick Memorial did pick up bonus points in four of its five wins, including closing the match with three straight victories. Sophomore Gianni Ghione won by 16-1 technical fall over Evan Quinn at 113 pounds, senior Alec Donovan pinned Brady Ford in 5:06 at 145 for his 100th career win, and seniors Rob and Cliff Ruggiero each won by fall at 152 and 160, respectively. Sophomore Nick Rivera won by 9-3 decision over Joe Caggiano at heavyweight.
"They were even better than I thought," said Brick Memorial head coach Mike Denver of Bergen Catholic. "Physically they looked bigger than us in probably every single weight, and it seemed to me they were in tip-top shape. They're definitely a powerhouse team and it's hard wrestling them, but it's my fault I didn't get my kids ready and prepared enough to give them them the best match possible. We had some guys out of the lineup, but that's besides the point. It always comes down to the coach, and I didn't go a good enough job."
For Brick Memorial, however, Saturday's loss didn't do anything to derail its ultimate goals of winning the Shore Conference Class A South division title and NJSIAA Group V title. If anything, the loss to one of the nation's best teams can serve as a foundation for improvement before matches against Jackson Memorial, Brick, Toms River South and Southern in a grueling A South schedule.
"From the guys who pinned to the guys that got pinned, everybody made mistakes," Donovan said. "But overall I believe it was a match where we saw where we need to work more. Some kids need conditioning, some kids need technique. Throughout the next couple practices heading into the A South grind we're going to make corrections and come ready to wrestle."
The Crusaders (2-0) jumped on the Mustangs (1-1) early by taking the first four bouts to storm out to a 21-0 lead. Grello and Mulligan, fresh off their individual titles in the Bergen County Tournament, picked up right where they left off with bonus points at 170 and 182 pounds. Grello took down Brick Memorial senior Joe Stowers immediately and turned him for two near-fall points in the first period. In the second period, Grello scored a reversal and put Stowers to his back, eventually finishing off the fall in 3:16 for a 6-0 Crusaders lead.
Mulligan was all over senior Kyle Angersbach with a takedown and two three-point tilts for an 8-0 lead after the first period. He reversed Angersbach in the second period and put him to his back against for three more points and a 13-0 advantage. He completed the 15-0 technical fall with a takedown 34 seconds into the third period to give Bergen Catholic an 11-0 lead.
DeLorenzi wore down Mustangs senior Bob Mitler for a 15-2 major decision at 195 pounds, and O’Brien pinned senior Kyle Poling at 220 to put BC up 21-0. O’Brien led 2-0 after the first period, but Poling was starting to get comfortable with a leg-heavy top game in the second period. He got a little too loose, however, and O’Brien was able to reverse him and toss him to his back for the fall in 2:59.
The Mustangs finally got on the board at heavyweight when Rivera defeated Caggiano, 9-3, to get the home crowd going. With an injury to Wardlaw at 106 pounds, the Mustangs forfeited to freshman Carmen Ferrante to extend Bergen Catholic’s lead to 27-6.
Ghione injected some life into the Mustangs with a 16-1 technical fall victory over Quinn at 113 pounds. Ghione scored the first points when he threw Quinn to his back in the opening 30 seconds, nearly finishing off the fall. He kept his foot on the gas throughout the bout, piling up seven points in the first period, five more in the second with a tilt and a takedown late in the third period to secure five team points.
The Crusaders made some lineup moves to alter their usual starting 14, bumping up Suriano to 126 and Lipari to 132. That knocked talented freshman Shane Griffith from the lineup, but allowed Bergen Catholic coach Dave Bell to insert Maver. After a scoreless first period, Maver flashed a strong top game by pinning Luis Bocalman in 3:19 to extend his team’s lead to 33-8.
The Mustangs sent out a pair of backups in the next two bouts and Suriano and Lipari made quick work of them with first period pins. Suriano decked sophomore Chris Richardson in one minute flat to run his career record to 93-0. Lipari, who returned to the lineup after missing the Crusaders’ opening dual versus Hanover Park and the BCCA Tournament with an illness, pinned Ricky Davis in 50 seconds to put the match away at 45-8.
At 138 pounds, senior Laurien Anghelina showcased his phenomenal skills on his feet with a 25-10 technical fall over Luke Vescovi. Anghelina piled up 25 points without recording a single near-fall point. He had four takedowns in the first period, three more in the second and three in the third.
Brick Memorial closed strong by winning the final three bouts with bonus points. At 145 pounds, Donovan recorded his 100th career victory by pinning junior Ford in 5:06. Donovan, who is a three-time District 24 champion, two-time state qualifier and last season’s seventh-place finisher in the state tournament at 145 pounds, was leading 2-0 in the third period before turning Ford for the pin.
Rob Ruggiero then pinned senior Jared Rolon in 54 seconds to make it 45-20. In the final bout, senior Cliff Ruggiero scored an impressive pin over senior David Brennan, a BCCA finalist at 160 pounds. Ruggiero threw Brennan to his back in the first period and led 9-2 after the opening two minutes. Brennan chose defense in the second period and escaped to make it 9-3, but Ruggiero put him to his back twice more, eventually securing the pin in 3:28, to complete the dual match.
“Our first few matches, I think our guys saw the 'BC' and they had already taken themselves out of the match mentally,” Denver said. “But we ended well in the last three weights, so it was a good way to go out.”
"You learn more from a loss than a win, so the kids will take more away from this,” Denver added. “Now we can look back and see what we need to work on. We’ll go back to the board and see where we need to work in specific areas. Nothing but good things are going to come from this.”
Bergen Catholic 49, Brick Memorial 26 (Final)
170: Joe Grello (BC) p. Joe Stowers 3:16
182: Kevin Mulligan (BC) tf. Kyle Angersbach 4:34 (15-0)
195: Dan DeLorenzi (BC) md. Bob Mitler 15-2
220: Connor O'Brien (BC) p. Kyle Poling 2:59
Hwt: Nick Rivera (BM) d. Joe Caggiano 9-3
106: Carmen Ferrante (BC) by forfeit
113: Gianni Ghione (BM) tf. Evan Quinn 5:43 (16-1)
120: Damion Maver (BC) p. Luis Bocalman 3:19
126: Nick Suriano (BC) p. Chris Richardson 1:00
132: Pete Lipari (BC) p. Ricky Davis 0:50
138: Laurien Anghelina (BC) md. Luke Vescovi 23-10
145: Alec Donovan (BM) p. Brady Ford 5:06 - *100th career win*
152: Rob Ruggiero (BM) p. Jared Rolon 0:54
160: Cliff Ruggiero (BM) p. David Brennan 3:28