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Jackson wrestlers look to rebound from conference meet

By Wayne Witkowski

Jackson Memorial High School and Jackson Liberty High School will look to bounce back from a tough week and pick up some victories this week for a favorable seeding in next week’s NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV meet.

Jackson Memorial, the defending sectional champion that lost in the Group IV finals last year, comes off a 32-31 Shore Conference Tournament semifinals loss to Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) Jan. 30. Earlier in the day, the Jaguars beat Long Branch High School, 30-19, in the quarterfinals and had advanced off a 33-19 prequarterfinals victory Jan. 28 over Shore Conference A South Division rival Brick Township High School.

Jackson Memorial, which is seeded No. 1 in Central Jersey Group IV, is 13-3 overall and 6-1 in A South, with its lone loss coming to Southern Regional High School.

Jackson Liberty, meanwhile, was missing four starters in a 61-6 Shore Conference Tournament prequarterfinals loss to Raritan High School Jan. 28. It also dropped both ends of a tri-meet to larger Group V schools Kingsway Regional High School, 44-30, and Hunterdon Central Regional High School, 60-9, Jan. 30.

The Lions, who clinched the Shore Conference B North Division championship Jan. 20 with a 53-13 victory over Central Regional High School to finish 7-0 in the division, are 12-6 overall. Jackson Liberty is seeded No. 6 in Central Jersey Group IV, which it was moved to this year.

“We’re just getting guys back healthy for this week, and we’re just looking to make states. We should have close matches this week with Monroe and Toms River South and hope to do well in those matches,” Jackson Liberty coach Mike Eddy said.

Chris Pondish, who is 17-4 at 220 pounds, and Jerald Goodman, who is 17-3 at 195, were back in the lineup Jan. 30, while heavyweight Jared DiZenzo (19-1) and Jeremy Bollard, who is 14-3 at 152 pounds, are expected back for the state sectionals and may return this week.

On Feb. 3, Jackson Liberty was at home against Howell High School (18-4 coming into this week), which lost in the Shore Conference Tournament finals, 34-28, to CBA Jan. 30. Jackson Liberty travels to Monroe Township High School (11-3) Feb. 5 before a quad-meet at Toms River High School South (13-5) Feb. 6 with Matawan Regional High School (5-6) and Marlboro High School (1-12).

Along with the sidelined wrestlers returning to Jackson Liberty’s lineup, the Lions also rely on Tyler Kalmowitz, who is 22-2 and just moved down to 160 pounds, and Nick Pellegrino, who is 20-3 at 113 pounds.

Jackson Memorial lost a lot of points in the lower weights, where CBA picked up two major decisions and a pin to help wrap up the conference semifinals. CBA’s Jack LaConte pulled out a 1-0 victory over Adante Davis at 195 pounds. Davis is 17-4. Tim Hamann of Jackson Memorial, who is 18-1 at 145 pounds, won by major decision, while fellow Jaguars Tanner Kelly at 170 pounds and Mike Spino at 120 pinned their respective opponents.

Spino has lost only once in 15 bouts, and Matt McGowan is 17-2 at 126.

Kelly and Davis won by decision to wrap up Jackson Memorial’s quarterfinals victory over Long Branch. Spino, McGowan and Jay Epperly, who is 11-8 at 152 pounds, all won by technical fall against Brick Township.

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