After Mike Rutter earned a last-second victory at 195 pounds, all Marvin Hayden wanted to do was finish Timber Creek.
“I was thinking six the whole time,” said the senior 220-pounder, who pinned Nick Spero in 1:37 to end any threat of the Chargers of coming back, as the Indians captured their first South Jersey Group III championship with a 37-14 victory. “I would have been fired up whether Mike won or lost. I went out there to break him down and go for the pin. That’s what I was doing.”
Before Hayden electrified the South faithful, Rutter came from behind in the third period to win a tight, 5-4 bout against Kashon Gordan at 195. Down 4-3 with the clock winding down, Rutter scored a takedown at the edge of the circle with 0.7 seconds left.
“It felt like it was in slow motion,” said Rutter, who gave the Indians an 18-13 lead, before Timber Creek’s bench and coach were docked two points for unsportsmanlike conduct. “It wasn’t pretty but a win’s a win. I wrestled sloppy. But I got in on the first shot and didn’t finish, so I felt I could do it again. I just had to finish.”
After Hayden’s pin, heavyweight James Kearney extended the Indians’ lead with a 3-1 win over Joe Morett, before Owen McClave won an 11-2 major decision over Alex Tran at 106 and Kevin Corrigan all but finished off the Chargers (16-9) with a pin in 3:47 against Chris LaRoda at 113.
“It’s exciting to finally win it,” said head coach Ron Laycock, whose squad had been in the previous four sectional finals and fell short of the title, the last three times against Timber Creek. “We knew we had to win a couple of the toss-up bouts and keep it close going into Marvin’s match. We knew we’d be good at 220, 285, 106 and 113. Mike’s match was a big win. It wasn’t the prettiest win, but they needed it more than we did.”
The Chargers got the early lead when Lorenzo Ruggiero won a 2-1 bout in overtime against Zach Maikisch at 126, but Matt Theobold knotted the match at 3-all with a 4-1 win over Isiah DeGuzman at 132. Timber Creek regained the lead with a 10-2 major from Brandon Keller, but a forfeit to B.J. Clagon gave the Indians (23-3) a 9-7 lead four bouts into the contest.
Garrett Applegate pushed South’s lead to 12-7 with a solid, 5-1 victory over Brandon Virgilio at 152, but the Chargers rebounded and regained the lead with back-to-back decisions from Dom Ruggierrio and Bryce Shade at 160 and 170, respectively.
South’s Quentin DeCarlo put the Indians back in front, 15-13, with a 5-1 decision over Keith Bauberger at 182 pounds.
The Indians will face Shore Conference Class A South rival Brick in Sunday’s Group III semifinals at Pine Belt Arena on the campus of Toms River North.
“We’re not going to look past anybody,” Laycock said. “We believe we can win, but I’m sure Brick will be better prepared to face us this time around.”
Hayden said he believes his team can make a run at the Group III title.
“We have to be physically and mentally tough on Sunday,” he said. “If we are, and wrestle our best, we can win the whole thing.”