With Brick winning a second straight NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III championship Friday night, the reaction from Dean Sherry left little doubt that this was the his favorite of the two.
Sherry wasn’t himself a year ago because of a torn meniscus but his return to top form to become one of the Shore Conference’s elite wrestlers in his junior season was on display as he helped the Green Dragons to a 36-23 victory over Ocean.
Sherry upped his record to 27-0 with a viper lock that took out Viet Le for a pin in the first period of the 182-pound bout.
“That’s my job,” said Sherry about racking up bonus points that gave Brick a 33-16 lead, just shy of clinching. “I had to finish it.”
Sherry had a good but not great sophomore season, fighting through injuries to go 11-8 after winning 25 times as a freshman.
Brick coach Matt Opacity said he knew Sherry was sitting on a big comeback season.
“He’s talented and has always been talented,” Opacity said. “He’s an extremely hard-working young man and deserves everything that’s coming his way. I’ve never had anything but the highest expectations of him.”
The match started at 106, where Daniel Rackliffe scored important points for Brick (17-5) with a pin of David Tieto in 47 seconds, but Ocean (12-10) took a 13-9 lead with Andrew MacNeille’s major decision over Thomas Wright at 132 pounds.
Brick won the next four bouts, with pins by Will Scott at 145 and Kyle Wojtaszek at 160. Tyler Thompson kept Ocean’s hopes alive with a decision at 170 pounds, but Sherry’s victory and Ryan Jachim holding Jason Lawhorn to a 2-0 decision gave Brick the clinching points.
Ocean didn’t have two-time state top four finisher Zach Hertling in its lineup. Hertling returned Wednesday after a long injury absence but coach Cippy Apicelli said Hertling didn’t have another bout in him.
“We’ve had guys out and Hertling unavailable and we needed to win the toss and have a lot go our way,” Apicelli said. “I’m proud of the way our guys fought.”
Brick also beat Ocean for the title in 2013 and this was the third straight year and the fourth in the last six the two teams have met. The two also met in a 2010 Central III semifinal. Brick is 4-1 in those meetings. The Green Dragons, besides last year’s win, also took a sectional championship in 2009.