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WEST LONG BRANCH — As one of the smallest schools in the state, and, recently, with one of the state’e elite in its sectional bracket, championships do not come easily for Point Beach.

Unless you’re talking about division titles, that is. The Garnet Gulls have always hung their hats on competing for and winning what is now the Class B Central title, and in the last 25 years, they have dominated.

In the defacto Shore Conference Class B Central title match on Friday night, Point Beach won 10 of 14 bouts against host Shore Regional for a 39-15 win that officially clinched at least a share of its 18th division title and fourth consecutive championship. The Garnet Gulls can clinch the title outright with a victory over Keansburg on Wednesday.

“It started back when my assistant coaches wrestled at the Beach,” said head coach Jeff Bower. “Our goal every year is to compete and hopefully win this division. It’s real important at our school.”

“We have a big tradition at Point Beach, wrestling is our thing, a family thing that’s built into you,” said senior Tore Capriglione. “You understand it’s kind of your duty to go out there and wrestle your heart out for your town. A lot of people’s fathers and grandfathers (wrestled here).”

Point Beach (14-2, 3-0) had the match in hand leading 25-9 when Capriglione took the mat against Shore senior Sam Koenig in the night’s feature bout. Koenig defeated Capriglione 4-2 last season at 138 pounds with a late reversal, and entered the bout with 99 career wins.

“I really wanted the match,” Capriglione said. “Last year I bumped up a lot and at the end of the match I took a bad shot. He’s a great wrestler, and I was really excited for tonight.”

Point Beach senior Tore Capriglione defeated Shore's Sam Koenig 5-3 at 145 pounds during the Garnet Gulls' 39-15 victory. (Photo by Doug Bostwick).

After a scoreless first period, Capriglione scored with a reversal and took a 2-1 lead into the third period. Koenig reversed him to take a 3-2 lead, but Capriglione escaped to tie the bout at three. With under five seconds left, Capriglione scored a takedown on the edge to win, 5-3. The victory also had district seeding implications, as both teams are in District 23, where Koenig was the third-place finisher at 145 pounds last season.

“It was a mental hump for (Capriglione) for sure to get over,” Bower said. “I wanted that match-up. It’s huge confidence-wise, and that’s half the game for him. If he thinks he can beat somebody he can beat anybody, he really can. This should go a long way.”

Forrest Gardner and Tommy D’Amore staked Point Beach to a 6-0 lead after the first two bouts at 220 and heavyweight. Gardner edged Darius Gevas, 3-2, in the ultimate tiebreaker before D’Amore clipped Dave Musselman with a takedown in sudden victory to win, 3-1. D’Amore (17-1) was able to bounce back after a 2-1 loss to Point Boro’s Dominic Infante last Friday.

“Tommy did a great job,” Bower said.  “After losing a close one he came back and won a close one here.”

Vincent Storino’s 3-1 win over Tim Klemser at 106 pushed the lead to 9-0 before Shore’s Danny Welsh got the Blue Devils (9-1, 3-1) on the board with a 3-0 decision over Nick Antognoli at 113 pounds. Beach had the heart of its lineup coming up, however, and won the next three bouts to open a 22-point lead.

Sophomore John Finnerty, who was second in District 23 at 106 last season, pinned Ulises Guzman in 22 seconds at 120 pounds. Sophomore Giancarlo Crivelli then pinned Kevin Newenhouse in 3:04 to give the Garnet Gulls a 21-3 lead. Junior Zack Schaller then produced an 11-2 major decision over John Biagi, locking in a cradle in the second period to open an 8-2 advantage.

Shore broke the momentum when sophomore Alex Johnson pinned James Finnerty in 53 seconds at 138 pounds to cut the deficit to 25-9. Finnerty pinned Johnson last season during the teams’ dual meet. But Capriglione’s victory over Koenig kept the match well in-hand for Point Beach. Shore was without senior 152-pounder Conor Dowd (14-4), who missed the match due to a death in the family. Riley Kelly won by 16-1 technical fall over Luke Lonnie at 152 to give Point Beach a 33-9 lead with four bouts left.

Jake DeLorenzo and Jake Fioretti added decision victories at 160 and 182 pounds, respectively, while Shore picked up wins from Zach Goldberg at 170 and Dom Liana at 195 to close out the dual.

Point Beach won its first division title in 1991, the first of eight straight division championships. It then won four from 2000 through 2004, and has now won four in a row and six in the last seven seasons.

“This is the type of match that’s for the school and for the town,” Bower said. “These seniors get to leave saying they’ve won four division championships.”


Box Score 

Point Beach 39, Shore 15
220: Forrest Gardner (PB) d. Darius Gevas 3-2 (UTB)
Hwt: Tommy D’Amore (PB) d. Dave Musselman 3-1 (SV)
106: Vincent Storino (PB) d. Tim Klemser 3-2
113: Danny Welsh (S) d. Nick Antognoli 3-0
120: John Finnerty (PB) p. Ulises Guzman 0:22
126: Giancarlo Crivelli (PB) p. Kevin Newenhouse 3:04
132: Zack Schaller (PB) md. John Biagi 11-2
138: Alex Johnson (S) p. James Finnerty 0:53
145: Tore Capriglione (PB) d. Sam Koenig 5-3
152: Riley Kelly (PB) tf. Luke Lonnie 3:21 (16-1)
160: Jake DeLorenzo (PB) d. Paul Tietjen 7-3
170: Zach Goldberg (S) d. Cory Gross 8-3
182: Jake Fioretti (PB) d. Austin Lucisano 3-1
195: Dom Liana (S) d. Cody Liguori 8-5 (TB-2)
Records: at Shore (9-1, 3-1); Point Beach (14-2, 3-0)