Brielle Orthopedics/Shore Sports Network Wrestling Top 10 for Feb. 11
We are almost to the finish line of the team portion of the season and, with the end in sight, it's nearly time to crown the No. 1 team in the Shore for the 2021-2022 season.
While the district tournaments technically mark the end of the team season, we will unveil our final top 10 next week after the conclusion of the NJSIAA Team Tournament. With only six teams remaining heading into Friday's sectional final/group semifinal round and head-to-head results leaving only three real contenders for the top spot, there are a select number of matches to watch in terms of deciding No. 1.
On Wednesday, No. 1 Southern Regional, No. 3 Howell, No. 5 Brick Memorial, and No. 7 Raritan won sectional championships while No. 2 Christian Brothers Academy and Red Bank Catholic advanced to sectional finals. Right now it's a two-team race for No. 1 but Howell has to be in the mix because it could get a shot at Southern in the Group 5 final pending the results of the public group semifinals.
The rankings mostly held from last week with only one minor change. Brick Memorial moves up after its head-to-head win over Middletown South in the Central Jersey Group 4 championship match.
1. Southern (17-0). Last week: No. 1
The Rams rolled to their 15th sectional title in program history with an impressive 28-23 win over Kingsway in the South Jersey Group 5 final. The final score doesn't tell the story of Southern's dominance over a very good Dragons team that was ranked No. 9 in New Jersey. Southern, ranked No. 3i in NJ, won the first seven bouts, took out three of Kingsway's top wrestlers, and put the match away early to stamp themselves as the favorites to repeat as Group 5 champion. Southern will host Phillipsburg on Friday in the state semifinals. The winner will square off against the winner of the other semifinal between Howell and Livingston. It's safe to say the Rams control their own destiny to go wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in the Shore.
2. Christian Brothers Academy (17-2). Last week: No. 2
The Colts have an excellent resume and the only thing keeping them from the top spot in the Shore is the fact that Southern has had at least as good a season and remains undefeated after starting the season No. 1. The Shore Conference Tournament champions beat No. 10 Rumson, 56-15, and then crushed St. Joseph (Metuchen), 59-12, in the South Jersey Non-Public A semifinals. CBA will host St. Augustine on Friday night looking to win the program's fourth sectional title and first since 2013. We wrote that Southern controls its own destiny for the No. 1 spot, and that's true, but the team that really does is CBA. It's just that to do so, they would have to pull off the upset of the season in New Jersey. If the Colts, ranked No. 6 in NJ, can defeat St. Augustine in the sectional final they will square off against the Delbarton/Bergen Catholic winner on Sunday in the Non-Public A final. Delbarton is No. 1 in the state, Bergen Catholic is No. 2. BC also defeated CBA, 51-12, on Jan. 21. Unlikely? Yes. Impossible? No. Either way, the Colts are a great team who will put their best foot forward this weekend.
3. St. John Vianney (16-4). Last week: No. 3
The Lancers' dual season came to an end via a 37-34 loss to St. Augustine in the South Jersey Non-Public A semifinals. SJV won the Class A Central division title, owns conference wins over No. 5 Brick Memorial, No. 7 Raritan, and No. 10 Rumson-Fair Haven, and three huge nonconference wins over North 1, Group 5 champion Livingston, North 2, Group 4 champion North Hunterdon, and South Jersey Group 5 finalist Kingsway. While the Lancers have some holes in their lineup, they have multiple hammers who should shine during the individual postseason. The medal count should be high for SJV when all is said and done.
4. Howell (21-4). Last week: No. 4
A walk-off pin in the final bout by sophomore Giovanni Scafidi lifted Howell to a 31-26 victory over Hunterdon Central to claim the Central Jersey Group 5 sectional title, the fifth in program history. Howell has a path to No. 1 in the Shore because it could get a crack at top-ranked Southern in the Group 5 final. Howell will host North 2, Group 5 champion Livingston in one of the Group 5 semifinal matches while Southern hosts Phillipsburg in the other. Howell split matches with CBA during the season, winning the divisional match and losing in the SCT final, so they would have an argument for No. 1 if they can win all of Group 5.
5. Brick Memorial (18-3). Last week: No. 6
Senior Ryan Smith delivered a win by decision in the final bout at 157 pounds to send Brick Memorial to a thrilling 26-25 win over Middletown South in the Central Jersey Group 4 championship match. Senior Evan Tallmadge, a returning state champion, also had a key victory when he bumped up to 126 pounds and defeated two-time state medalist Jack Zaleski, 3-1. It is the 17th sectional title for Brick Memorial, the most in Shore Conference history. Brick Memorial's next goal is to add the program's next group championship. The Mustangs will head to North Hunterdon on Friday night in the Group 4 semifinals.
6. Middletown South (15-5). Last week: No. 5
The Eagles' quest for the program's first sectional title came to an end with a 26-25 loss to Brick Memorial in the Central Jersey Group 4 final. It was still a banner year for Middletown South thanks to a special senior class as the Eagles won a share of the Class A North division title and reached the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals. They will now turn their attention to the individual postseason where they should have a lot of success.
7. Raritan (20-6). Last week: No. 7
A comeback pin in the closing seconds by Braden Kmak at 132 pounds sent the Rockets on their way to a 42-25 win over Rumson-Fair Haven to win the Central Jersey Group 2 sectional title, the fourth in program history. Group 2 is wide open this year, although a non-juggernaut-but-still-dangerous High Point team cannot be discounted. The Rockets can legitimately win all of Group 2, which they did in 2012, and the quest continues Friday night vs. Hanover Park at the Launch Pad.
8. Jackson Memorial (18-8). Last week: No. 8
The Jaguars reached the Central Jersey Group 4 semifinals where they were defeated by division rival Brick Memorial, 55-18. Jackson beat Long Branch, 41-19, in the quarterfinals and also posted regular-season wins over No. 10 Rumson-Fair Haven and Seton Hall Prep. The Jaguars' regular-season win over No. 9 Lacey and loss to No. 7 Raritan has them firmly in the No. 8 spot.
9. Lacey (23-5). Last week: No. 9
The Lions beat Ocean City and Seneca to advance to the South Jersey Group 3 sectional final but in the championship match they were overpowered by top-seeded Delsea, 59-12. Lacey won the Class B South division title, beat No. 7 Raritan early in the regular season, and posted two wins over No. 10 Rumson-Fair Haven.
10. Rumson-Fair Haven (11-10). Last week: No. 10
Rumson advanced to the Central Jersey Group 2 championship match but the Bulldogs' bid for the program's first sectional title was thwarted by division rival Raritan in a 42-25 defeat. Rumson had defeated Delran and Point Boro in the first two rounds to reach the sectional final. Rumson also had a win over Seton Hall Prep and losses to No. 8 Jackson Memorial and Camden Catholic during the week. Led by senior Shay Addison and sophomore Hudson Skove, Rumson has multiple wrestlers in line for individual postseason success.