Over the last five years Jackson Memorial has had no trouble amassing district, section, group and league championships. But the Shore Conference Tournament title is another matter.
The Jaguars haven’t won the SCT since 2007 but took a step toward addressing that void by beating Long Branch 32-28 Thursday night in the quarterfinals.
“It’s a huge deal to us especially because we haven’t won it in recent past years,” said twice state-placed senior Brian Hamann, who was among the Jaguars to provide vital bonus points with the teams splitting the 14 bouts. “We would really like to get an SCT championship under our belts. It’s one of our top goals this year.”
The Jaguars (14-5) were the top seed in the tournament a year ago but their wrestling program had to be shut down for five days at the end of January due to skin issues, forcing the team to withdraw from the competition.
Hamann (24-3) paired off with Nick George (21-3) at 145 pounds and scored a takedown off a sweep single, then tacked on a near fall to gain a 5-0 lead in the opening 40 seconds. Hamann registered a 9-1 major decision.
The result capped a powerful run through the middle weights for Jackson Memorial. Spencer Young, who has qualified for regions multiple times, also majored in his bout at 138 pounds.
Earlier, 120-pound senior Alec Huxford continued his comeback by pinning Danny Rios in the opening minute of their bout.
Illness kept Huxford sidelined for much of his junior season and he separated his shoulder in December, delaying his comeback.
“Now he’s back and wrestling well. He’s helping our team out,” coach Aaron Gottesman said. “We’re very happy to have him back in our lineup.”
Jackson Memorial won 48-15 over Wall (10-4) in the round of 16, with Huxford winning his bout by pinning. He’s 3-2 since he returned to action.
Huxford used cradles for both his pins Thursday.
“The cradle is my main move, the thing I go to when the team needs me to pin,” he said.
Long Branch is 13-6. The Green Wave won 40-18 over Toms River North (7-9) to start the night.
Long Branch and Jackson Memorial met Jan. 5 and also split the bouts then. The result was the same. Jackson Memorial won 29-22.
“Our kids competed again but when you split 7-7, you have to find a way to minimize the bonus and maximize the bouts you win. Jackson did a better job of it,” Long Branch coach Dan George said.