High school wrestling fans from all over New Jersey will invade Atlantic City this weekend for the NJSIAA Individual Championships which begin tonight at Boardwalk Hall. 

Mike Gesicki and his sister Ashley (Southern Regional)

This is expected to be a lean year for the shore area when it comes to state champions with no favorites in the 14 weight classes.  Only three times in the last 25 years has there been no champion from a Shore Conference school and some believe we might not even produce a finalist for the first time since 1970.

Among the local wrestlers considered the best bets to contend in their weight classes are Mike Russo of Jackson Liberty at 120 pounds, 160-pounder Brett Donner of Wall and Nick Costa of Brick Memorial at 182 pounds.  One of the interesting stories this weekend is the Wilhelm brothers from Southern Regional, who both won Region 6 titles last weekend.  Zach is a 145 pound senior while Matt is a junior who wrestles at 138 pounds…their father Eric is the principal at Southern.

Boys basketball teams from Lakewood, Jackson Memorial and Manchester saw their seasons come to an end last night with losses in the state sectional quarterfinals.  For University of Delaware bound center Eric Carter of Jackson it was a double disappointment as he scored 16 points in a loss to Sayreville and finishes his high school career just two points shy of a thousand.  I feel bad for him because he’s an unselfish player and a real nice young man. I wish him the best in college.

Meanwhile a big win last night for the Southern Regional boy’s team and another milestone for senior Mike Gesicki.  The Rams knocked off two-time defending Group 4 champion Atlantic City 57-56 when junior big man Jake Logue drove the length of the court following a missed free throw and made a layup at the buzzer.

Gesicki, who is going to Penn State on a football scholarship, scored 20 points in the win and passed 1975 graduate Robby Hall as the Rams all-time career scoring leader.  He now has 1,852 points and will seek to add to that total when Southern travels to Cherokee tomorrow in the sectional semifinals.

It certainly appears Saturday will be a great day for the Irish and others as the sun is expected to shine on the 30th annual Ocean County St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Seaside Heights which begins at noon on the boulevard.  Crews have been working all week to get roads ready for the anticipated traffic following that mini disaster at the Polar Bear Plunge a couple of weeks ago. 

With help from officials and area law enforcement it’s expected to be a lot smoother tomorrow. Let’s hope so.