The championship round of the NJSIAA Region VI Tournament was full of surprises.
There was Christian Brothers Academy’s Mike Oxley stunning Brick Memorial’s previously unbeaten and state championship contender Matt Moore with a reversal and two back points in the final nine seconds of the 195-pound final. Moore was seventh in the state at 195 last year and had been quickly pinning almost everybody in sight this year.
Howell’s Ben Esposito defeated Ocean’s Zach Hertling, the state third-place finisher at 120 last year, in the 132-pound final to avenge two dual-meet losses to Hertling last year.
Point Boro’s Ryan Budzek and Southern’s Chris Serpico (152) both came from the No. 6 seed spot to win championships.
Budzek beat three wrestlers, who had previously been to the state tournament, during his run to the title. Serpico beat Long Branch’s Jake George, now a two-time state qualifier, in his final.
Another surprise champion came in the 220-pound weight class where Neptune senior John Seidle was impressive in winning the title with an 8-6 win over Brick Memorial’s Tyler Poling.
Seidle, even though he was a District 23 champion in 2012 and the No. 3 seed, was not seriously considered by many to be a contender for a top three finish and a berth to the state tournament, which will take place Friday-Sunday at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
Seidle had been beaten, 9-2, by Poling in the District 23 final. He had gone 0-2 last year in the Region VI Tournament.
However, Seidle stunned Lacey’s two-time District 24 champion Pat Schinder in the semifinals, when he threw Schinder to his back with a lateral drop a little over a minute into the bout. He then dominated Poling on his feet.
Seidle he changed his game plan against Poling from the District 23 final. He said he did not try to force the lateral drop, like he did in the District 23 final.
“Once I adjusted to the way he wrestled on his feet, it was definitely the best way to wrestle him,” said Seidle, who along with senior 170-pounder Dae’Sean Brown are Neptune’s first region champions since 1995 and first multiple region champions since 1978.
Seidle struggled somewhat early in the season. On Jan. 11, he was 10-6. He has gone 20-1 since.
“I definitely started to peak a couple of weeks ago,” Seidle said. “I’m in way better shape. I’ve had a lot of good practices at Long Branch with Dae’Sean Brown and a lot of guys.”
STATE TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE
The addition of a wrestleback-round for the losers of the preliminary-round bouts involving the second and third-place finishers from each of the eight regions has resulted in schedule changes for this year’s NJSIAA Individual Championships.
The tournament begins at 5 p.m. Friday with the preliminary-round bouts and concludes on Sunday with the championship bouts at 3 p.m.
Here is the complete schedule: Friday, 5 p.m. preliminary round; 7 p.m., pre-quarterfinals. Saturday: 10 a.m., first round of wrestlebacks for the losers of the preliminary round; Noon, quarterfinals and wrestleback round 1; 5 p.m., wrestleback round 3; 7 p.m., semifinals and wrestleback quarterfinals; Sunday: 10 a.m., wrestleback semifinals; 11 a.m., third, fifth and seventh-place bouts; 3 p.m., championship bouts.
STATE TOURNAMENT SEEDING
The seeding meeting for the state tournament will take place at 9 a.m. today at NJSIAA headquarters, Robbinsville.
Wrestlers will be seeded in two brackets for each weight — a top half and a bottom half. The seeding process places a heavy emphasis on past state tournament advancement and head-to-head results.
Only region champions and runners-up will earn a top eight seed in a half bracket. Region third-place finishers will be placed against a region runner-up from another region.
Region runners-up and third-place finishers will be in the opposite half bracket from their region champion.
COACHES STATE TOP 25 POLL
Group IV state champion Brick Memorial was ranked No. 3 in the New Jersey Wrestling Coaches Association Top 25. The poll was compiled by the eight region ranking chairmen and places a heavy emphasis on head-to-head results.
Five other Shore Conference teams are ranked in the poll. Group III runner-up Toms River South is No. 4; Group IV runner-up Southern is No. 10; Central Group IV runner-up Howell is No. 13; Jackson Memorial No. 15 and Group II runner-up Long Branch No. 18.
Group III champion South Plainfield is No. 1 and Non-Public A champion Bergen Catholic is No. 2.
REGION VI BREAKDOWN
Twenty-one schools are represented among Region VI’s 42 qualifiers for the state tournament.
Brick Memorial leads the way with six qualifiers. The Mustangs had one region champion in Joe Ghione (120) four runners-up and a third-place finisher. Toms River South and Jackson Memorial are next with four qualifiers. The Indians had two champions in returning state champion B.J. Clagon (145) and returning state fifth-place finisher in Kevin Corrigan (113), a runner-up and a third-place finisher. Jackson Memorial had three runners-ups and a third-place finisher.
Neptune, Howell and Jackson Liberty each have three qualifiers. Neptune has two champions and a runner-up. Jackson Liberty had two region champions for the first time in its six-year history and a third-place finisher. Howell had a champion, a runner-up and a third-place finisher.
Brick, with the Wojtaszek brothers of Dan (the 160-pound champion) and Kyle (the third-place finisher at 132), Long Branch, Wall and Lacey all have two qualifiers.
Districts 21 and 23 each have 14 qualifiers. District 24 has eight qualifiers and District 22 has six qualifers.