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By Rob Sherrill
The two-team battle between nationally ranked powers Clovis (Calif.) and Massillon (Ohio) Perry went to the Cougars, 302-287, in one of northeast Ohio’s top January tournaments, the Top Gun Tournament at Alliance.
Massillon Perry had four champions to two for Clovis, and a 5-4 edge in finalists. But Clovis placed 12 to win the tournament on balance.
Two-time state champion Nick Nevills (285) stayed unbeaten for Clovis as expected. The Cougars’ other champion, freshman Israel Mejia (106), took a 7-2 third-period lead over Walsh Ironman champion Tyler Warner of Uhrichsville Claymont, eventually winning 7-6.
Hayden Lee (113) of Marysville avenged a Super 32 loss with a 3-0 victory over state champion Jose Rodriguez of Massillon Perry, earning Outstanding Wrestler honors. It was Rodriguez’s first event since returning from an Ironman injury.
David Bavery (126), Casey Sparkman (152), Tony Dailey (60) and Isaac Bast (170) won titles for Massillon Perry.
The mess that is New Jersey wrestling
Barely halfway through the season, the age-old question, “Who’s No. 1?” has been answered emphatically in New Jersey.
Oradell Bergen Catholic has claimed that spot, seemingly for the season, unless the wheels somewhere fall off for the Crusaders.
Instead, the question seems to be this: Who’s No. 2?
It’s one that may go unanswered the rest of the season. No team seems to want it.
Bound Brook, the two-time defending Group 1 dual champion, started the season No. 2, but stumbled badly at The Clash National Duals, going just 3-3. That included a 33-25 loss to the state’s No. 3 team at the time, Jersey City St. Peter’s Preparatory, in Second Bracket action on Day 2.
Meanwhile, Ramsey Don Bosco Preparatory burst into the picture after winning the National High School Division in the Virginia Duals. The Ironmen were No. 2 and unbeaten until Saturday, when Bound Brook rose up, winning 10 of 14 matches to beat Don Bosco, 36-19.
The biggest Bound Brook victory came at 126, where state champion Craig DelaCruz edged state runner-up Kyle Bierdumpfel, 3-1.
So how long did St. Peter’s Prep stand prosperity? Less than 48 hours. In one of two matches involving top-five Garden State teams wrestled on Martin Luther King Day, Don Bosco Prep spilled the Marauders, 30-27.
Trailing 24-18 with three matches remaining, the Ironmen got back-to-back pins from state champion Luis Gonzalez (120) and Bierdumpfel (126) for a 30-24 lead. Needing a pin to give his team the win on criteria, St. Peter’s Prep’s Sonny Simonetti had to settle for a 9-5 victory over state qualifier Sam Cali at 132 to end it.
As that match was taking place, Bound Brook (8-4) rallied to beat No. 5 Morristown Delbarton, 33-29 as freshman Mekhi Lewis (138) rode out state placewinner Christian Innarella for a 2-1 overtime tie-breaker victory.
So who’s No. 2 in New Jersey? Despite their four losses, it’s now Bound Brook once again. In addition to their tough dual-meet schedule, the Crusaders (yes, that’s their nickname, too) won their third consecutive Somerset County Tournament title, crowning a tournament-record eight individual champions.