Team Jackson rolls to wrestling crown


 Members of Team Jackson celebrate their victory at the Jersey Shore Junior Wrestling League tournament. Team Jackson defeated Toms River, 57-39, on Feb. 12. Members of Team Jackson celebrate their victory at the Jersey Shore Junior Wrestling League tournament. Team Jackson defeated Toms River, 57-39, on Feb. 12. Sebastian Rivera continued unbeaten through his career with Team Jackson as the talented squad of grapplers rolled to its seventh straight Jersey Shore Junior Wrestling League team title with a 57-39 win over Toms River on Feb. 12 at Jackson Memorial High School.

With Team Jackson trailing, 15-12, Rivera won by forfeit at 72 pounds to give Jackson the lead for good and lead a parade of winners in 11 of the 19 weight classes. Six wrestlers won by pin as Team Jackson had an easier time with Toms River than when it scored a one-point victory during the league season last month.

In a fitting finish, Matt Russo, who has the most career victories on the team with just over 100, nailed down the clinching victory at 107 pounds. Russo also got the clinching victory in a 57-40 semifinal victory over the Brick Recreation Mat Rats in the four-team playoff bracket. Jackson also won 11 of the weight classes in that victory.

The championship marked the 110th straight league victory for Team Jackson, which got pins from Josh Bollard, who moved up a weight class to 64 pounds; Paul Piccione, Fred Terranova, Jeremy Bollard and Mike Russo.

The Russo brothers and Terranova finished the 2010-11 dual meet season unbeaten, along with Rivera.

“I am very proud of the way the kids came through. They came ready to wrestle,” said coach John Reese. “What really helped was a number of wrestlers [four] beat kids they lost to earlier in the season in the two meets.”

Those winners included Tyler Mitrosky, Michael Spino, Piccione and Matt Russo.

“It was a total team effort; that’s what it takes to win this,” said Reese, who also credited a coaching staff that included assistants Charlie Giantomasso and Adam Berkin, as well as the supportive families. “Everybody had to do their job.

“There are 40 years of wrestling tradition in this town, with the high school kids coming back to give their support, including the ones from Jackson Liberty that opened just a few years ago, and their coaches [coming out] to root these kids on, and the middle school program,” he said.

Reese said it was gratifying to see some of the wrestlers make major strides of improvement in the course of the season, including the Bollard brothers, Spino, Jaret Giantomasso (122), Connor Boehringer (130), Dominick Regina (122), Hunter Reese (114) and T.J. Gordon (150 or heavyweight).

“What makes us so proud is that you lose eighth-graders, and we lost a lot of them [from last season], and everybody wants to do their best,” Reese said. “Teams see us and how we’ve done it the last few years and they think this is the year they can catch us and beat us. We had seven or eight new kids who stepped up, and I am proud of the way they worked so hard against the pressure and supported each other.”

Reese, in his first year as head coach, said that for him personally, it was a “very challenging year” carrying on the program’s legacy of success.

“We are always trying to do the right things. It’s all about the kids,” he said. “I am happy with how the kids responded.”

The young wrestlers will look to continue their bid for more glory on Feb. 20 when they compete in the league’s individual tournament at Toms River East High School starting at 9:30 a.m. and in the state championships next month.