The Wildcats were certainly in championship form, winning 10 bouts en route to a 43-19 waxing of Jefferson on Friday night in the North 1, Group 2 final at High Point Regional High School.
High Point (16-5) captured the program's 25th sectional title -- the most in Sussex County -- and advanced to face Hanover Park in the Group 2 semifinals on Sunday at Toms River North. In the other matchup at 9 a.m., Delaware Valley will take on Collingswood. Winners will meet for the championship at 2 p.m.
|High Point celebrates with the North 1, Group 2 championship trophy.|
Last time down there, High Point (16-5) captured a second straight Group 2 title with one of the greatest comebacks in the state history -- pinning in the final four bouts to pull off a thrilling 34-33 victory over Hanover Park.
Senior Aric Wingle, who capped the victory with a pin in the final bout at 152 pounds, was a freshman for the 'Cats, and he certainly remembers that remarkable win.
"We do have some history with [Hanover Park]," he said with a wide grin. "We will do the best we can. We really worked hard for this, and we've put in a lot of work to be the best we can be."
Gardner and his staff came up with an excellent plan to juggle the lineup against Jefferson, which probably did not expect Wingle to be down from 160. Things began badly for the Falcons (18-7), who were seeking their first sectional title since 2000, when former region qualifier Rob Ortense dropped a 13-7 decision to Sawyer Fenlon, a district runner-up in 2015.
Senior Matthew McDonnell also came up with a surprising 8-0 major at 182, and High Point grabbed a 7-4 lead through three bouts. That's when Gardner opted to bump the lineup -- moving Hunter Flores from 195 to 220, where he scored a 6-3 win over Jake Carnevale.
At 285, senior Cliff Rutter nearly pulled off a comeback of his own, falling 6-5 to Cole Benfatti. Rutter stormed back from a 5-0 deficit after one period, putting Benfatti on his back twice and tying the bout at 5 before giving up what proved to be a decisive penalty point for loicked hands in the third.
Freshman Devon Liebl, a quality backup, needed just a minute for the pin at 106, while sophomore Brandon LaRue continued his fine season with an 8-0 major at 113. In the marquee matchup at 120, sophomore Devin Flannery pretty much ended any thoughts of a comeback with a 10-7 win over Jefferson state qualifier Mason Godfrey, who was third in the district and second in Region 1 last season.
Flannery is now 3-0 all-time vs. Godfrey -- winning 9-6 in a dual meet and 7-4 in last season's district semifinals.
High Point, which led 23-13 through nine bouts, won four of the last five, including Shane Kobis' technical fall win at 138 that gave the 'Cats an insurmountable 34-19 lead with two to go.
HIGH POINT 43, JEFFERSON 19
160 -- Jr. Sawyer Fenlon (4-5), HP, d. Jr. Rob Ortense (21-10), 13-7.
170 -- Jr. Shane Connolly (28-5), J, md. So. Grayson Sabo (7-11), 13-0.
182 -- Sr. Matthew McDonnell (9-12), HP, md. Jr. Jason Boucher (9-22), 8-0.
195 -- So. Justin Randzio (26-6), J, p. So. Andrew Lewis (4-7), 3:35.
220 -- Jr. Hunter Flores (12-5), HP, d. Jr. Jake Carnevale (10-19), 6-3.
285 -- Sr. Cole Benfatti (14-15), J, d. Sr. Cliff Rutter (15-6), 6-5.
106 -- Fr. Devon Liebl (7-1), HP, p. Fr. Nick Celentano (11-22), 1:00.
113 -- So. Brandon LaRue (26-2), HP, md. So. Ryan Richards (13-16), 8-0.
120 -- So. Devin Flannery (21-2), HP, d. So. Mason Godfrey (22-11), 10-7.
126 -- Jr. Maverick Liebl (16-7), HP, p. Fr. Blake Barthaolomew (14-8), :55.
132 -- Sr. Mark Bohn (23-3), J, p. Fr. Billy Talmadge (17-9), 4:22.
138 -- Jr. Shane Kobis (18-7), HP, tf. So. Ryan Tripodi (16-15), 18-2, 4:23.
145 -- Jr. Trey Osborn (16-9), HP, d. So. Robert Ferucci (24-9), 4-3.
152 -- Sr. Aric Wingle (21-7), HP, p. So. John Bohn (3-12), 3:11.
Records -- Jefferson 18-7; High Point 16-5.
Referees -- Anthony DeFlumeri and Ron Fazio.