Matt Theobold thought for a second he might have been defeated in the 138-pound championship bout of the Walter Woods Tournament on Thursday at Middletown South.
Theobold, a senior at Toms River South and a two-time state tournament participant, was leading Watchung Hills’ Matt Coppola by a point in the final seconds.
But, then Coppola, the Region III third-place finisher at 132 last season, took Theobold down and appeared to have won the bout.
However, Toms River South coach Ron Laycock immediately leaped to his feet in protest and said the takedown had occurred after the buzzer went off to end the bout.
“I was in the air and I heard the buzzer go off,” Theobold said. “But, it was kind of fast-paced so I really didn’t pay attention (to whether the buzzer had gone off after the takedown). I really had no idea. I thought there was a really good chance he was going to win.”
After a conference at the scorers’ table, it was ruled the takedown had come after the buzzer and Theobold had a hard-earned and quality 3-2 win that left him with mixed feelings.
“It feels kind of bad (to win the way he won) because you almost lost,” Theobold said. “You need to think to yourself what could I have done to not have almost lost in the last few seconds. I was disappointed in the way I wrestled the last 10 seconds.”
Theobold had to walk a fine line in the final seconds. He wanted to stay away from Coppola. But, he also had a stall warning. Another stall call would have given Coppola a point and sent the bout into overtime.
“I had to push the pace and I had to play defense,” Theobold said. “My head gear kept falling so I had to pay more attention to that than wrestling and then he got me.”
Theobold was one of five champions Toms River South had as it rolled to the team championship. The Indians, who had six finalists in all, had 170.5 points, 51 more than Jackson Liberty. Manalapan was third with 111.5 points.
The Indians’ other champions were Clagon (145), who recorded three pins in a combined 3:19; Kevin Corrigan (113), the state fifth-place finisher at 113 last year; Joe Salvato (160) and Marvin Hayden (220). Hayden pinned No. 1 seed Joey Bibbo III, the District 13 champion at 195 last year, in the semifinals and then Middletown North’s Amani Rodriguez in the final.
Jackson Liberty had three champions in Mike Russo (106), T.J. Liquori and Nick Zak (182), the state sixth-place finisher at 170 last year.
Mike Russo, the Region VI runner-up at 106 last year, defeated Holy Spirit’s Patrick D’Arcy, 4-0. D’Arcy was seventh last weekend in the prestigious Beast of the East.
Russo said he will likely spend most of the dual-meet season wrestling at 113 and then go down to 106 for the District 21 Tournament, when the weight will actually be 108 because of the two-pound allowance that kicks in late January.
John Appice, the state seventh-place finisher at heavyweight last year, was Manalapan’s champion. He defeated Monroe’s Tom Tehan, the District 20 runner-up at heavyweight last year. Appice was named the tournament’s Outstanding Upper Weight Wrestler.
Point Boro’s Ryan Budzek (132) and Middletown North freshman Chad Freshnock (195) were the other champions from the Shore.
Budzek, the District 23 runner-up at 119 in 2011, defeated Voorhees’ Tyler Yarnell, the District 17 runner-up at 120 last year, 3-2. Freshnock remained unbeaten.
Other champions were Monroe’s Sal Profaci (120), the Region V champion at 120 last year, Watchung Hills’ Mike Magaldo, the state champion at 120 last year and Voorhees’ Jadaen Bernstein (170), the state runner-up at 160 in 2011 and seventh-place finisher at 160 last year.
Profaci, who majored Jackson Liberty’s Matt Russo, a state qualifier last year, won the tournament’s deepest weight. Magaldo, who won by technical fall over Christian Brothers Academy’s state tournament qualifier from last year Erik Beshada, was named the tournament’s Outstanding Lower Weight Westler.