The undefeated South Plainfield High School wrestling team, featuring incumbent state champions Anthony Ashnault and Scott DelVecchio, is the consensus No. 1 pick in the New Jersey Wrestling Writers Association’s initial Top 20 statewide poll.
The defending Group III champion Tigers, off to a 5-0 start with an impressive season-opening victory over third-ranked Bergen Catholic, the reigning Non-Public A champion, received first-place votes from all 17 NJWWA members.
“It just goes to show you what type of class and group they are,” South Plainfield coach Kevin McCann said of the seven senior starters who helped his Tigers secure the consensus No. 1 ranking in the NJWWA poll. “But there’s still a lot of the season left. It’s nice now, but we’d rather have it in March.”
South Plainfield looks to avenge its only 2011-12 loss to a New Jersey opponent against ninth-ranked St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City on Friday night.
The powerful Shore Conference, regarded as the state’s most competitive league, features six Top 20 teams including an injury-riddled Brick Memorial squad that many believe will be the favorite to win the Group IV title once its lineup is at full strength.
Non-Public schools, including three from Bergen County, account for six of the teams ranked in the Top 20.
The results from a recent quad meet between a quartet of Top 20 schools — High Point, Warren Hills, Howell and Timber Creek — illustrates the challenges posed to voting members each week. High Point lost 29-28 on criteria to Howell, which fell to Warren Hills, which was defeated by High Point.
For the remainder of the season, the NJWWA Top 20 poll will appear every Monday online and every Tuesday in the newspapers of participating media outlets.
Expect significant movement to take place in the ensuing rankings with this weekend’s schedule featuring some outstanding action, including Saturday’s quad meet between state-ranked Jackson Memorial, Long Branch, High Point and Don Bosco Prep.
Hunterdon Central, among schools also receiving votes, could break into the Top 20 with victories over North Hunterdon (Friday) and Watchung Hills (Saturday).
Bound Brook, coming off an impressive ninth-place finish at The Clash Wrestling Duals XI in Minnesota, returns to action Saturday at the Patriot Duals, where they could have a rematch of last year’s Group I semifinal with Kittatiny, a Top 20 bubble team.
The newly formed NJWWA features an All-Star lineup of scholastic wrestling experts from across the state.
Each writer casts a weekly Top 20 ballot. Points are awarded to teams in descending order with 20 points going to the No. 1 team and one point to the No. 20 team on each ballot. Teams are ranked according to that point system and based on the total number of votes they receive from the association’s 17 members.
A bronze trophy, donated by Prestige Imaging of Old Bridge, will be presented at the end of the 2012-13 campaign to the state’s No. 1 team in the final NJWWA poll.
“This new weekly Top 20 is a gift from the most dedicated wrestling writers in the state to the wrestling community they love,” said NJWWA President Bob Behre.
The association strongly encourages readers to visit the blogs and web sites of participating media outlets each week to offer their opinions or to nominate teams for Top 20 consideration. The insight of all readers is valued and will be strongly considered in the weekly Top 20 rankings.
The NJWWA Top 20
The NJWWA Top 20
1. South Plainfield (5-0) (17) 340
2. Brick Memorial (5-0) 301
3. Bergen Catholic (1-1) 291
4. Bound Brook (8-1) 283
5. Phillipsburg (3-0) 280
6. Don Bosco Prep (1-0) 260
7. Southern (1-0) 244
8. Camden Catholic (1-0) 212
9. St. Peter’s Prep (0-0) 203
10. Delbarton (1-1) 199
11. High Point (4-1) 163
12. Howell (3-1) 157
13. Warren Hills (6-1) 140
14. Timber Creek (1-3) 89
15. Jackson Memorial (3-0) 86
16. Long Branch (1-0) 84
17. Toms River South (4-1) 59
18. St. Joseph (Montvale) (0-1) 38
19. Watchung Hills (5-0) 32
20. Delsea (5-0) 27
Others receiving votes: Kittatinny 16, Hunterdon Central 14, North Hunterdon 12, Roxbury 5, East Brunswick 5, Hanover Park 4, Hopewell Valley 1, Paulsboro 1.
NJWWA voting members (in alphabetical order): Bob Behre (Trenton Times); Donald J. Brower (MorrisCountyHSWrestling.com); Patrick Buganski (The Mat Pack); Frank D’Esposito (TheShoreConference.com); Steve Falk (Asbury Park Press of Neptune and Hitting the Mats); Brian Fortner (Express-Times); Harry Frezza (Courier News of Bridgewater); Joe Hofmann (Daily Record of Parsippany); Screwy Louie Lazzari (New Jersey Wrestling Historian); John Lewis (Burlington County Times); Ron Mazzola (On the Mat); Tom McGuirk (Daily Journal of Vineland); John O’Kane (Atlantic City Press); Anthony Spaulding (New Jersey Herald); Greg Tufaro (Home News Tribune of East Brunswick); Mike Weilamann (Open Mike); Joe Zedalis (Trenton Times).