Southern Regional Wrestlers Remain Undefeated After Victory Over Brick Memorial

By David Biggy | Jan 15, 2020
Photo by: David Biggy Southern’s Jason Sari drives an arm bar during the 145-pound bout of the Rams' 41-23 victory over Brick Memorial on Jan. 10.

Stafford Township, NJ — As the national anthem blared through the sound system and the subsequent lineup announcements were made, Southern Regional High School senior J.T. Cornelius couldn’t keep still. He bounced around, shuffling his feet, gearing himself up for the Rams’ Shore Conference Class A South clash with Brick Memorial.

“Brick Memorial is always a tough match, and getting the momentum early was the plan,” said the Rams’ big guy, who flattened Mustangs heavyweight Matt Murphy in exactly a minute to set his team on course for a 41-23 victory. “But I don’t get to start a match too often, so I was excited to get out there and get something going for us. I was expected to go out there and pin the kid, so I did what I had to do to get us going in the right direction.”

Since the season started in mid-December, head coach Dan Roy’s squad has been going in the right direction, running off six straight victories before taking on the Mustangs, typically one of the division’s better teams. And the early momentum was a key to another victory on Jan. 10 in front of a packed Southern gym.

After Cornelius gave the Rams a 6-0 lead, the better part of Brick Memorial’s lineup – its lightweights – chipped away at the deficit, won three of the next four contests save a 9-1 major decision from Pat Iacoves, and pushed the Mustangs into the lead following the 126-pound bout, 14-10. But with the choice for the odd-numbered bouts and the deepest section of its lineup still on the way, the Rams weren’t panicking.

“We have a lot of depth, which gives us a lot of flexibility, especially in the middle of our lineup,” Roy said. “When we can move guys around where they can be effective and either score bonus points and not give up any, it gives us a lot of options to get better matchups.”

After Eddie Hummel scored a 14-5 major at 132 pounds to tie the contest, Matt Brielmeier edged Victor DiPianta, 2-1, to give Southern (7-0) the lead for good, before Jason Sari delivered a huge blow to Brick Memorial by pinning Nelson DeJesus in 4:24 at 145 pounds. Sari, who had spent the past two seasons primarily in a backup role, was tied with DeJesus, 2-2, going into the second period before unleashing an onslaught of arm bars, which led to multiple near-falls before he ultimately stuck DeJesus at 5:14.

“I felt comfortable on top and the coaches kept telling me to work the arm bar, and it worked out,” Sari said. “The team needed a win, but it was better that I got the bonus points. We’re wrestling really hard right now, and everybody’s doing their part. Tonight, I did mine.”

Following Sari’s huge, six-point gain, Brock Lefkus won another “tossup” bout at 152, scoring a 7-0 decision over Anthony Albanese. Lefkus took a 2-0 lead into the third period before he, too, scored a takedown and worked an arm bar into a near-fall. Cole Velardi followed with several takedowns and multiple near-falls before pinning J.T. Henderson in 4:55 at 160 pounds, giving the Rams a commanding 32-14 lead.

“I thought we won the tossup bouts and prevented a lot of bonus points, while we were able to get bonus points,” Roy said. “That’s the way you win matches against good teams. Jason Sari’s pin was huge for us, and I’m really happy for him. He’s been in the program for years and always had really good guys around him, so he never really had his shot to make something big happen for us. Tonight he had that shot, and he came through in a big way.”

Senior Ben LoParo pinned in 3:01 at 182 pounds, and Stephen Jennings finished off the Mustangs by registering a 7-2 decision at 220 pounds.

Roy, who took over the head coaching role this season, said the Southern philosophy hasn’t changed much with him at the helm, but he believes his crew is still getting better and its best is yet to come.

“We still preach getting a little bit better every day,” he said. “And this team can still get better. As coaches, we have an idea of where we want them to be, and they’re not there yet. We want them to be at their best toward the end of the season, in February.”

— David Biggy

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