Southern Regional wrestling team beats Cherry Hill West for title

Southern Regional wrestling team beats Cherry Hill West for title


Southern Regional wrestling team beats Cherry Hill West for title



The plan was a simple one, and Southern Regional executed it to near perfection Friday night.

“Each wrestler’s job was to go out on the mat, dominate and get off the mat,” said senior 145-pounder Zach Wilhelm, whose Rams captured a fourth straight NJSIAA South Jersey Group IV championship with a bruising 51-9 win over Cherry Hill West. “That was the whole plan, nothing more. Just dominate and go.”

After Frank Amiano won a 3-0 decision over Joe Ioannucci at 103 pounds, the Rams’ dominance kicked when James Knoeller scored a 16-0 technical fall in 3:32 at 113, Chris Crane won a 9-3 decision over Matt Howe at 120 and Andrew Tonneson registered a pin in 1:52 at 126 to push Southern (20-0) to a 17-0 lead.

A 3-0 victory over Bryan Brown by the Lions’ Tyler Brake temporarily slowed the Rams, but Matt Wilhelm came right back with a 15-4 major decision over Connor Rogovich at 138, Zach Wilhelm notched a 4-2 win over Mark Papaneri at 145 and Nick Racanelli pinned in 3:34 at 152 to put the match out of reach.

Sean Bowker edged Wallace Rorke, 3-2, at 160, before Peyton Blauvelt put Southern up 37-3 with a 12-1 major over Mark Marrazzo at 170, and Gerardo Jorge surged to a 23-8 technical fall in 5:31 at 182 to make it 42-3.

“We knew Southern not only had a lot of firepower but they’re really balanced throughout the lineup,” said Cherry Hill West head coach Zach Semar. “Southern’s the best team we’ve faced all season, by far. Everybody in South Jersey looks up to Southern, and we hope to have a program like theirs someday.”

Pat Ferraro added a 7-4 decision over Zachariah Katz at 195 and Jesse Bauta delivered a pin in 1:16 to wrap up Southern’s scoring at 220. Cherry Hill West heavyweight Jose Valentin capped the lopsided contest with a pin in 4:49, as the Rams captured their ninth section crown in 10 years.

“It’s an awesome feeling to win four straight championships,” Tonneson said. “As seniors, we wouldn’t want it any other way than by dominating tonight’s match. I hope this pushes our younger wrestlers to want to keep the streak going next season.”

But for Southern, this is a stepping stone on a bigger mountain, and the Rams will get to go after the Group IV title on Sunday at Toms River North’s Pine Belt Arena, where they will meet Howell in the group semifinals.

“We feel like our greatest shot to win it all is now,” Zach Wilhelm said. “We’re really focused right now. Everybody’s hearts are in it, and it’s going to pure excitement for us when we wrestle on Sunday. We’re going to wrestle hard and just let if fly.

“But Howell is dangerous and we can’t take one minute off in that match.”

Tonneson believes his team has enough balance to win twice on Sunday.

“It’s going to be tough, but we have it seared into our brains that we can win the title,” he said. “We don’t have any pressure on us, but we can’t overthink anybody either. We have to win that first match and then go from there.”

South Jersey Group IV Championship

Southern 51, Cherry Hill West 9

106: Amiano (S) d. Ioannucci 3-0; 113: Knoeller (S) tf. Gibson 16-0 (3:32); 120: Crane (S) d. Howe 9-3; 126: Tonneson (S) p. Segrest 1:52; 132: Brake (C) d. Brown 3-0; 138: M. Wilhelm (S) md. Rogovich 15-4; 145: Z. Wilhelm (S) d. Papaneri 4-2; 152: Racanelli (S) p. Morales 3:34; 160: Bowker (S) d. Rorke 3-2; 170: Blauvelt (S) md. Marrazzo 12-1; 182: Jorge (S) tf. Weingardt 23-8 (5:31); 195: Ferraro (S) d. Katz 7-4; 220: Bauta (S) p. Barnett 1:16; 285: Valentin (C) p. Bento 4:49.

Records: Cherry Hill West 21-4, Southern 20-0.

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