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Dragons Wrestlers Looking Ahead After Tough Playoff Loss

BTHS falls short of championship, but much to look forward to in 2015

BTHS Wrestling Team (Photo: Brick Twp. Schools)
BTHS Wrestling Team (Photo: Brick Twp. Schools)

Article courtesy of Brick Township Schools:

Brick senior Daniel Rackliffe fired up his teammates by catching his opponent in a crossface cradle in the first period of his state Group III championship bout Sunday night but the road ahead wasn’t as easily traveled.

Rackliffe’s pin could not overcome the realities that Brick needed to win the toss and that opponent Clearview’s lineup with four undefeated wrestlers was as good as advertised.

Clearview won 34-25 at Pine Belt Arena in a battle of two teams thirsting for their first state crown. Brick’s time could come in 2015, however. The Green Dragons have won two straight South Jersey Group III titles and only lose three seniors going forward, including Rackcliffe.

Brick (19-6) defeated Roxbury 37-25 earlier in the day in the Group III semifinals. Rackcliffe also notched in a pin in that match.

“It feels good to think about what we accomplished and where the progress of the team is headed but it’s also sad to leave because all these guys are like family to me now,” Rackcliffe said.

Rackcliffe (27-2) scored right away at 106 pounds on a double leg takedown against Clearview’s John Seybold (20-9) and decked Seybold at 1:26 to give Brick its only lead at 6-3.

Another Brick senior, Connor Mulligan, picked up a 5-2 decision over Austin Lee at 120 pounds that tied the match at 9-9. But that was the last time Clearview (25-1) didn’t have the lead. The Pioneers were able to negate Brick’s middle-weight power by putting the undefeated tandem of John VanBrill and Ed Lenkowski on two of Brick’s top wrestlers.

VanBrill notched a 12-4 major decision over Will Scott at 145 followed by Lenkowski’s 4-0 decision over Nick Pollara at 152. Scott and Pollara are both winners of 20-plus bouts.

“We knew they were very good between 145 and 182 where some of our better guys are,” Brick coach Matt Opacity said. “We knew we were going to have to win some of those matches.”

Brick wasn’t able to gain as much leverage as needed in Kyle Wojtaszek’s victory at 160, with Henry Eisenhart able to fight off bonus points in a 7-1 decision, and the Pioneers were home free on Kyle McMahon’s pin in 18 seconds over Ryan Jachim at 170 pounds.

Clearview’s semifinal 36-21 victory over Wayne Valley apparently gave McMahon some motivation. He lost in overtime. His record now stands at 26-4.

Otherwise, Brick picked up victories from freshman Jack McIafferty (138 pounds) and juniors Dean Sherry (195) and Ray Fattaruso (220). Sherry and Fattaruso kept their season records perfect.

Opacity said the future looks bright for the Green Dragons.

“We’re only losing three guys, so that’s great for us. We’ll be getting some help from the middle school level and hopefully the guys here grow as a team a little bit and we get our upper weights a bit stronger,” Opacity said. “Our goal this season was to get here. We knew we had the ability. We’re going to try to do the same thing next year and hopefully win it next year.”

In the semifinal against Roxbury, Brick won the flip and rode into control with some favorable matchups that erased deficits of 8-6 and 19-18. The feature bout was at 145 when Scott’s 6-2 decision over Craig Roumes marked the last lead change. Scott upped his record to 26-2. Roumes is 16-9.

That started a run of four straight victories for Brick that included Pollara’s decision at 152, Wojtaszek’s decision at 160, and Jachim’s major at 170. Sherry clinched with a pin of Pete Sutton in the 195-pound final bout.

Clearview’s semifinal 36-21 victory over Wayne Valley apparently gave McMahon some motivation. He lost in overtime. His record now stands at 26-4.

Otherwise, Brick picked up victories from freshman Jack McIafferty (138 pounds) and juniors Dean Sherry (195) and Ray Fattaruso (220). Sherry and Fattaruso kept their season records perfect.

Bookcop February 18, 2014 at 07:52 PM
Didn't know they had all those girls on the team. Look on the left of the photo.

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