Jags ready to make second place a thing of the past

Staff Writer

Staff Writer

JACKSON — For the last three years, the Jackson High School wrestling team has finished runner-up at the Shore Conference Tournament.

It has not been an easy pill for the Jaguars and coach Scott Goodale to swallow.

In fact, last season the Jags suffered a heartbreaking loss to Manalapan.

Goodale hopes the sting left by three consecutive second-place finishes sparks the Jags to reverse their fortune this time around.

Jackson, the top seed in the event for the fourth straight year, squared off against No. 16 Point Beach in the opening round last night. The semifinals and finals are scheduled for Saturday afternoon at Southern Regional High School.

Goodale’s approach to the event this season is a little different.

"We’re trying to downplay the event and not put as much pressure on the kids," he said. "I think that might be the best way to go into the tournament.

Right now, we’re doing a pretty solid job. If the guys are confident and relaxed, we feel we’ll get their best performances out of them. We have a nice mix of leadership and younger wrestlers. We need that mix to gel this week."

Last weekend, Jackson scored a huge win over Eastern. The Jags captured nine bouts en route to a 34-27 nonconference victory to improve to 11-0 on the season.

"They are a quality team year after year," Goodale said. "We wrestled much better than I thought we would. We won more matches than I had expected, so we were pretty excited about that. It’s a great win for this program."

Sophomore Matt Bradley looked impressive in knocking off one of Eastern’s top wrestlers in Derek Sharp. In fact, Sharp beat Bradley last year. But this time around, Bradley got the better of the fight, posting an 8-2 victory in the 112-pound weight class.

"Matt is a lot better wrestler than he was last year, and Sharp found that out quickly," Goodale said. "Matt has been working extremely hard and his workout partners put him through a rugged workout each day. I think that has made the major difference."

Bradley spends a lot of his workout time on the mats with Jeff Pascarella, Glen Booth, Nick Keshecki and Joe Eurell.

"He can’t help but get better when he has those guys to grapple with every day," Goodale said. "Those are some tough, experienced wrestlers he goes against day after day.

Alex Ginsberg clinched the match for Jackson with a win at 171 pounds. Ginsberg replaced the injured Adam Berking, sidelined with a bad knee, and did an outstanding job, Goodale said.

Ginsberg trailed 3-0 early, but then rallied with a headlock at the close of the second period to forge ahead, 5-3.

"He had a very solid second period," Goodale said. "When he got that kid in a headlock, you kind of knew he was going to go on and win the match. Team-wise, that win put us over the top."

Booth was a 12-9 winner over Doug Sharp at 130 pounds. It was a close match that saw several lead changes.

"That match went back and forth a number of times," Goodale said. "Booth scored a couple of takedowns late that gave him the win."

Other winners for Jackson included Keshecki (102), Pascarella (119), Eurell (125), Preston Brown (145), Kevin Shelly (160) and Ken Carney (189).

"We’re looking forward to this weekend," Goodale said. "Anything can happen. We’re going in there with the attitude that we don’t have anything to lose. If we wrestled the way we’re capable of, then we are going to be right there at the end."