The wrestling teams at Jackson Memorial High School and Shore Regional High School were defeated in their bids to win state group championships.
But, each program can proudly boast the ownership of a state sectional trophy.
On Feb. 10 at Toms River High School North’s Pine Belt Arena, the site of the NJSIAA group wrestling championship matches, Jackson Memorial lost to Kingsway Regional High School, 34-23, in the Group 4 semifinals, while Shore Regional fell to Kittatinny Regional High School, 36-32, in the Group 1 semifinals.
For both programs, though, those defeats did not put a damper on successful seasons that featured state sectional titles
Jackson Memorial dominated the Central Jersey, Group 4 sectional tournament. The top-seeded Jaguars beat three opponents by a combined score of 153-50. Jackson Memorial knocked off Colts Neck High School, 55-8, in the sectional championship bout on Feb. 8.
Jackson Memorial won that state sectional bout the same way it won all year—with a balanced lineup.
Brett Blaess, a 106-pounder, 113-pounder Lance Hobbs, 120-pounder Vincent Scollo, 126-pounder Chris McDonald, 132-pounder Nick White, 138-pounder Damien Lipari, 152-pounder Cartsen Digiantomasso, 160-pounder Hunter Smith, 170-pounder Leo Shimonovich, 182-pounder Brock Winston, 195-pounder Brad Galassi and 220-pounder Kyle Epperly each won his match against Colts Neck in the state sectional title bout.
Shore Regional controlled the Central Jersey, Group 1 sectional tournament. The first-seeded Blue Devils topped three foes by a combined margin of 170-49. They dominated their first two opponents, Highland Park High School and Spotswood High School, 62-18 and 63-12, respectively.
Shore featured a lineup of reliable wrestlers at all weights, and most of them came through in those climactic matches. The lineup featured 113-pounder Matt Klemser, 120-pounder Jack Maida, 132-pounder Gabe Scalise, 138-pounder Al De Santis, 145-pounder Michael McGhee, 152-pounder Ian Smith, 160-pounder Jack McCrae, 170-pounder Jamie Mazzacco, 182-pounder Brendon Denovaes, 195-pounder Taylor Sousa and 220-pounder Cade Torres.
Jackson Memorial finished the team season at 17-5. Shore Regional closed at 25-2-1.
On Feb. 10 at Toms River North, some familiar names emerged as state champions once again.
Paulsboro High School, one of New Jersey’s most storied programs ever, won the Group 1 state title when the Gloucester County school coasted to a 63-3 victory over Kittatinny, which had eliminated Shore Regional in the semifinals earlier in the day. That crown was Paulsboro’s 32nd, a New Jersey record.
Mighty Bergen Catholic High School, rated No. 1 in the state polls, claimed its eighth straight Non-Public A state title with a 65-11 victory over Saint Augustine Prep. That result marked Bergen Catholic’s 13th state championship.
Camden Catholic High School captured its 15th state title when the Cherry Hill school knocked off Pope John High School of Sparta, 33-29, in the Non-Public B championship match.
South Plainfield High School chalked up its fourth straight and 12th title overall when it defeated High Point Regional High School, 46-26, in the Group 2 championship match.
One of the state’s legendary programs, Phillipsburg High School, was denied its 23rd state championship and sixth consecutive title when the Warren County school was surprised by Kingsway, 26-20, in the Group 4 final. Kingsway, which has now won four state titles, had knocked off Jackson Memorial in the semifinals.
Southern Regional High School gained its third state championship when the Manahawkin school edged Hunterdon Central Regional High School, 34-27, in the Group 5 final. Southern Regional had eliminated Howell High School in the South Jersey, Group 5 title bout on Feb. 8.
West Essex Regional High School captured its first state championship when the Essex County school beat Delsea Regional High School, 40-23, in the Group 3 title bout.
Next up for New Jersey wrestlers are the districts that will be held at 32 sites this coming weekend. The eight regions will follow next week and wrap up on Feb. 23.
Then the season will conclude with the state tournament at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall from Feb. 28 through March 2.