Howell ended Jackson Memorial’s grip on the team title in Manalapan; Brick Memorial and Southern Regional continued their domination of Brick and Toms River respectively; and Ocean Township outslugged rival Raritan in Little Silver.
And on a historic note, Asbury Park High School had its first district champion since 1971 and only the fourth in school history when Domingo Perez pinned his way to the championship at Brick Memorial.
The NJSIAA District Wrestling Tournaments in Monmouth and Ocean counties Saturday provided thrills for wrestling fans across the Shore Conference and began the process of finding the best 14 wrestlers in New Jersey.
The top three wrestlers in each of the 14 weight classes at the four area districts advance to the NJSIAA Region VI Championships at Toms River High School North Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The top three wrestlers in the regionals move on to the state championships at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City March 2, 3, 4.
Jackson Memorial, which was ranked No.1 in New Jersey most of the season, was outscored in District 21 by Howell. It was Howell’s first district team title since 2009.
Howell got first-place efforts from Ashanti Maurice (145) and Ben Esposito (120). Three other wrestlers – Zack Bohm (160), George McCoy (220) and Jim Slendon (106) - were second and Joey Schultz (152) Cody Kirk (170) and Matt Sulkowski (195) all took thirds.
Brian Hamann (126), Brad Royale (132) and returned state-runnerup Dallas Winston (182) won individual titles for Jackson Memorial.
In District 22 at Red Bank Regional High School, Ocean Township outpointed Group II champion Raritan to win the team title. Ocean scored 215 points to 188.5 for Raritan.
Ocean Township received championship efforts from six wrestlers – Max Rollo (106), Zach Herling (120), Orion Rovegno (138), Withler Marcelin (145), Colton Bigelow (220) and heavyweight Kyle Gora.
Ocean wrestlers also won five consolation round matches and placed third.
In District 23 at Brick Memorial, the host Golden Mustangs ended the team portion of the wrestling season on a powerful note, coasting to the team title by nearly 100 points over rival Brick Township. Brick Memorial lost in the Group IV final to Phillipsburg a week ago.
“We were off Monday and Tuesday - it was line a morgue in practice,’’ admitted Brick Memorial coach Dan O’Cone. “It took a while for the kids to get the loss to Phillipsburg out of their system.
“But as the week went on, we started emphasizing the team concept and the kids picked it up. We told the kids how important every point was to the team title. We told the kids how important it was to win as many bouts as possible to get better rankings for next season.’’
Brick Memorial sent 10 wrestlers to the finals and won seven championships. Joe Ghione (106), Alex Donovan (132), Cliff Ruggiero (138), Evan Berti (145), Nick Costa (152), Anthony Miller (182) and Matt Moore (195) all placed first for Brick Memorial. Sean Stephenson (120), Tyler Richardson (170) and Tyler Poling (HWT) were second.
In District 24, at Toms River High School East, Southern Regional won its second straight team title and its 10th in the last 11 years by powering past second-place Toms River South. Toms River South won four of six head-to-head bouts against Southern Regional.
Matt Wilhelm (106), Zach Wilhelm (120), Steve Johns (152), Nick Hem (160) and Steve Hodgson (182) placed first for Southern.
“We put together the best two days of wrestling we had all season,’’ said Southern coach John Stout. “I’m proud of the way the kids performed and they should be proud of themselves. We finished the season as a team very strong.’’
Toms River South received first place efforts from Kevin Corrigan (112), Matt Theobold (126), BJ Clagon (138), Ken Theobold (145) and Nick Osborn (170).
Clagon scored a technical fall in his championship bout and was named the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestling. Clagon, a junior, won this third district title.
“I couldn’t have asked for more from our kids,’’ said Toms River South coach Ron Laycock. “We were missing six starters from our lineup because of injury or sickness, but we pieced things together and the kids did a tremendous job.’’