Brick Memorial’s Alec Donovan and Brick’s William Scott could be seeing each other in competitive bouts twice more over the next couple of weeks.
However, they already know each other like the back of their hands.
“I’ve been wrestling him since we were in middle school together,” Donovan said. “He’s always been a friend.”
The two, who are both junior 145-pounders, staged a fascinating final to conclude the District 23 Tournament on Saturday at Brick Memorial High School.
In a bout that saw enough funky-style wrestling that one could put to music, Donovan prevailed 4-2 in overtime to remain unbeaten.
“He’s a great opponent,” said Donovan, who also beat Scott, 4-2, in a bout during the regular season.
The latest bout saw Donovan (27-0) ride Scott (28-4) for almost four minutes out of the 6:25 the two were on the mat. Donovan tried his hardest to turn Scott, but Scott, like a contortionist, would squirm his way out of trouble and put Donovan in positions where one mistake could have put him in trouble.
“He’s funky, flexible and gets out of a lot of positions you wouldn’t expect him to get out of,” said Donovan, who won a district title for the second consecutive year. “It’s done him a lot of good. I give him a lot of credit.”
The perfect example of what Donovan is talking about came late in the third period with the score 2-2. Donovan appeared to be close to locking up a cradle, but Scott fought it off and came close to a bout-winning escape.
“He popped his arm out and knowing how crazy and weird he is, I was kind of scared he was going to turn me as I was turning him,” Donovan said. “It’s scary wrestling him because he can get you into weird positions and turn you.”
Donovan rode Scott almost the entire second period as Scott constantly tried to pop his head out and get a reversal. He finally got that reversal with three seconds left in the period to take a 2-0 lead heading into the third period.
“I wasn’t doubting myself because I knew I had another period to wrestle,” said Donovan, who never stops coming at his opponent.
Riding is normally Scott’s best position because he has an outstanding tilt that he constantly uses to turn his opponents. However, it took Donovan only 11 seconds of the third period to reverse Scott and tie the bout at 2.
In the overtime, it did not take Donovan long to go on the offensive.
“I was pretty confident once I got on his legs and I blocked that first shot that he usually does that I was winning,” Donovan said.
The winning takedown came with 35 seconds left in the first overtime period.
Another championship bout against each other could be in Donovan and Scott’s future on Saturday in the Region VI Tournament at Pine Belt Arena on the campus of Toms River High School North.
Donovan will likely be the No. 1 seed at 145 for the Region VI Tournament, when the seeding for the tournament is done Monday morning at Toms River North. Scott, by virtue of his win this year over Southern’s Zach Wilhelm during the regular season, will likely be the No. 2 seed.
Donovan was one of five champions for Brick Memorial as the Mustangs rolled to the team championship for the fifth consecutive year. The Mustangs, who had 10 finalists and will send 11 wrestlers to the Region VI Tournament, finished with 245 points, 72 more than Central Group II champion Wall, which had four champions and eight finalists. Central Group III champion Brick, which had three champions and six finalists, was third.
Brick Memorial’s other champions were Nick Costa (182), Tyler Poling (220), freshman Nick Rivera (heavyweight) and senior Joe Ghione (138). It was the third district title for both Costa and Ghione and the second for Poling.
For Ghione, this district title was probably a bit sweeter than the previous two because of the struggle he had in coming back from a serious elbow injury he sustained on Dec. 21 in the TCNJ Pride Tournament.
“I feel like it’s improving week-by-week,” Ghione said. “There’s a lot of setbacks to it. I came back earlier than I should have (he came back Feb. 1). A lot of the year I was learning to wrestle with one arm. Each week, there’s improvement and I have faith it will be 100 percent at regions.”
Wall’s champions were Brett Donner (160), Tyler Romanelli (195), Denzel Tovar (113) and freshman Chad McClelland (132). It was the second district titles for both Tovar and Donner.
Donner, who majored Brick Memorial’s Cliff Ruggiero, 14-4, has his eyes set on being high up on the medal stand in the state individual tournament at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
“I know I’m one of the top 4-5 kids,” Donner said. “I don’t think there’s anyone who that’s much better than anyone else.”
Donner will be part of a tough 160-pound weight class in the Region VI Tournament, along with Howell’s Joey Schultz, Jackson Liberty’s T.J. Liquori and Toms River South’s Joe Salvato.
Brick’s champions were unbeaten Kyle Wojtaszek (152), Dean Sherry (170) and Daniel Rackliffe (106).
Sherry (32-0) did not wrestle last year in the district tournament because of a knee injury.
“It was so frustrating,” Sherry said. “In the offseason, I concentrated on trying to win a district title.”
Point Boro had the other two champions in past state qualifiers Daniel Nobbs (120) and Ryan Budzek (126), who defeated Neptune’s Nasiyr Brown by injury default. Budzek led the bout 7-3 at the time of the default in the second period.
Wall’s Brian Fischer was the District 23 Coach of the Year and Budzek was the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler.