Wrestling's conference tournament moves ahead

Wrestling's conference tournament moves ahead

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Wrestling's conference tournament moves ahead

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POINT PLEASANT

The question comes up every year:

“What is the future of the Shore Conference Wrestling Tournament?”

The answer: The tournament, which began in 1975 and is the only conference dual-meet tournament in New Jersey, will continue even though there has been talk in recent years among the wrestling community that the tournament has outlived its usefulness.

“I understand the problem because of how competitive one division is and they’re constantly wrestling each other and how competitive they are at the state level,” said SCT director Dave Kirk, the Point Pleasant Boro athletic director and former Point Boro head coach.

The division Kirk is referring to is Shore Conference Class A South.

In the 35 prior SCTs (the tournament was canceled in 1992 because of a herpes outbreak and again in 1994 because of a snowstorm), the schools that currently reside in Class A South have accounted for 30 championships. That includes 1980 when Brick and Jackson Memorial shared the title after a 25-25 tie and Brick Memorial’s run of 10 straight championships from 1985-96.

Manalapan (1981, 1982 and 2003) and Long Branch (2008-2010) are the only schools currently not in Class A South to have won the SCT.

The top three seeds in this year’s SCT, which was seeded Sunday morning at Point Boro, are Class A Souths schools Toms River South, defending champion Brick Memorial and Jackson Memorial, in that order.

The 20-team tournament begins Tuesday night with the four preliminary round matches, pitting seeds 13-20. It is the second straight year the SCT has consisted of 20 teams. For many years through 2011, the tournament consisted of 16 teams.

The round of 16 and quarterfinals are Thursday night at the top four seeds, Toms River South, Brick Memorial, Jackson Memorial and Howell.

The tournament concludes Saturday at Pine Belt Arena on the campus of Toms River North with the semifinals and championship match at 3 and 5:30 p.m. respectively.

One of the problems with the tournament is the Group IV Class A South schools could wind up wrestling each other three times in the same season.

Example: Brick Memorial and Jackson Memorial already wrestled each other on Jan. 16, would wrestle each other in the SCT semifinals, if the seeds hold, and could wrestle each other again less than two weeks after the SCT semifinals in the NJSIAA Central Group IV Tournament.

When the SCT was created in 1975, there was no state team tournament. The NJSIAA Team Tournament was not created until 1980.

For years, Brick Memorial, which has a Shore Conference-record seven state group championships was the only Shore Conference school that was a consistent contender to win a state group championship.

Over the last decade, many Shore Conference schools have become consistent contenders to win NJSIAA sectional and group championships.

One of those schools is Southern, which has won the SCT three times, including 2011. The Rams hosted the SCT semifinals and championship match from 2002-11.

Southern, which has won the South Group IV championship seven of the last eight seasons, did not enter the SCT for the second straight year. Christian Brothers Academy also did not enter the SCT. Both schools notified the Shore Conference, by rule, before the season started they wouldn’t be entering the SCT. Southern is a Class A South school.

“You could look at it (Southern not being in the tournament) as half full, half empty,” Kirk said. “But, I understand why (Southern chose not to enter). If I’m Southern, do I really want to see Brick Memorial again? They have that right not to enter the tournament. That’s in every Shore Conference Tournament in the bylaws.”

If Southern wins South Group IV, it could have to wrestle either Brick Memorial or Jackson Memorial in the Group IV state semifinals.

If the Rams had entered the SCT, they probably would have been seeded third and been in the same semifinal bracket as Brick Memorial, who they just wrestled last Wednesday night.

“You obviously don’t want to see a team multiple times,” Kirk said. “We all know what the problem is. But, it’s a Shore Conference Tournament and the Shore Conference sponsors a tournament in each sport except football.”

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