Southern Regional Wrestlers Stay Undefeated in 2017 After Win Over Jackson Memorial
Days before the wrestling season got under way, Southern Regional coach John Stout provided a typical Stout-ism when offering an outlook to what might have been coming for his Rams this winter.
“Everything’s up in the air right now,” he said back in December. “Every time you go out on the mat, you only have to be better than the team you’re up against that day. So it’s hard to determine just how good this team can be. They’re certainly capable of having a great season.”
Well, the Rams are roughly five weeks through, and it’s safe to say they’re, so far, having a pretty darned good season. Coming out of their annual tussle with Jackson Memorial on Tuesday, Jan. 17, the Rams were 8-1 thus far, with their only loss coming against a very tough High Point squad on Dec. 30.
But so far in 2017, Southern is undefeated in six bouts, and Stout’s crew received plenty of individual tests during the weekend of Jan. 14-15, when they visited Council Rock South High School in Pennsylvania and wrestlers from 49 of the nation’s best teams battled on the mat in the Escape the Rock Tournament.
At Council Rock, Nick O’Connell finished sixth at 145 pounds and Seon Bowker took seventh at 182 pounds. As a team, Southern placed 21st with 60 points, one behind Paulsboro. Delbarton was the highest-scoring team from New Jersey, with 85.5 points.
O’Connell scored an 8-7 victory in his opening bout but dropped a 9-4 decision in his second-round contest to get bumped into the wrestlebacks. From there, O’Connell ripped off four straight victories with a pin in 2:31, an 11-2 major decision, and 6-2 and 7-4 decisions before losing an 8-1 bout and taking on Nick Santos of St. Peter’s Prep for fifth place. Santos won the match, 7-1.
For Bowker, he had a shorter road through the wrestlebacks after he scored a pin in 1:12 during his first-round bout and followed it with a 7-3 decision in the second round. Following a 3-2 loss in the quarterfinals, Bowker scored a 3-2 decision before losing, 6-5, to end up in the seventh-place contest, which he won, 3-1, over Delbarton’s L.J. Castellano.
In the dual match against the Jaguars, Southern spotted its opponents five points in the first bout at 138 before O’Connell started the Rams with an 11-3 major decision at 145 en route to a 35-24 team win. After John Stout won a 7-4 decision at 160 and Bowker pinned his way to victory in 44 seconds at 182, the Rams held a 13-12 lead after six bouts.
Vin Miele extended the lead to 16-12 with a 5-2 decision at 195, before heavyweight Dan Lynch made it 22-15 with a pin in 2:48. Owen Kretschmer sealed the victory with an 11-3 major at 113 pounds, before Nick Pepe won a 5-0 decision at 126 and Matt Barnett capped the scoring with a pin in 3:49 at 132.
With the win, the Rams improved to 5-0 in the Shore Conference Class A South division with two bouts to go on the divisional schedule – Jan. 21 at Brick and Jan. 31 at Toms River North.
After the loss to High Point, Southern routed Toms River East (53-12) on Jan. 4, knocked off West Morris Mendham (34-21), Mount Olive (39-24) and Cedar Grove (49-16) on Jan. 7, and crushed Central Regional (73-3) on Jan. 9.
Still, the Rams have some bigger tests ahead, first when they host South Plainfield on Saturday, Jan. 21, in a 6:30 p.m. contest, and then when they host Phillipsburg on Saturday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m. Southern is slated to close out its regular season in a home tri-match with Haddonfield and Buena on Saturday, Feb. 4
— David Biggy