Wrestling: Southern and St. Augustine Prep look to win South Jersey titles at home
The St. Augustine Prep and Southern Regional High School wrestling teams will each look to play the role of bad host today.
The top-seeded Hermits will host rival Christian Brothers Academy for the South Jersey Jersey Non-Public A title.
The top-seeded Rams, meanwhile, are hosting Shawnee in hopes of winning a third straight South Jersey Group IV title.
Each match begins at 7 p.m.
The Prep, No. 7 in The Press Elite 11, is making its third appearance in the sectional final in the last four seasons. CBA beat the Prep 42-14 in last year's final in Lincroft in Monmouth County.
The Hermits won a sectional crown in 2010.
"We have a lot of unfinished business to do," Prep senior captain Tom Gattinella said. "We have to get a little payback from CBA for last year and hopefully turn the tables around on them."
Gattinella doesn't like talking about last season's sectional final when the Hermits went into CBA with high expectations only to walk out on the wrong end of a lopsided loss.
"It was a long bus ride home," Gattinella said. "Let's put it that way."
The Hermits needed every point in Wednesday's 33-29 semifinal win against Bishop Ahr, but think they match up with the Colts more favorably.
Gattinella (120 pounds) and fellow senior Tyler Sentman (170) are each No. 1 in The Press' individual rankings. Gattinella and Sentman are each 28-3.
The Prep started five freshman in Wednesday's semifinal but don't confuse youth with inexperience.
CBA is led by District 22 champ, state qualifier Erik Beshada (24-2 at 126). Nick Melon is 18-4 at 132 and Mike Oxley 26-2 at 182.
Southern will look to continue its dominance of South Jersey Group IV.
The Rams - No. 2 in The Press Elite 11 and No. 12 in the New Jersey Wrestling Writers Association Top 20 statewide poll - are looking to win their seventh sectional title in the last eight seasons.
"It's an opportunity that we don't want to waste," Southern coach John Stout said.
Southern is 11-5 this season and, despite reaching the sectional final, has underachieved this season by the team's own lofty expectations.
"They know what the opportunity is," Stout said. "They know where they could have been this year and they see this as an opportunity for people to see them as a good team.
"Hopefully we can go out and wrestle well, wrestle to our abilities and things will work out."
Beast of the East placewinner Zach Wilhelm (132), Jake Campana (138) and Chris Serpico (152) anchor the middleweights.
Wilhelm, Campana and Serpico are each No. 1 in The Press' individual rankings.
Shawnee is No. 8 in the Elite 11.
The Renegades' strength is their depth with an incredible 22 wresters boasting double-digit win totals.
Tonight's winners advance to state groups on Sunday at the Pine Belt Arena on the campus of Toms River North High School.
Contact John O'Kane:
S.J. Group IV final: No. 1 Southern Regional (11-5) vs. No. 3 Shawnee (22-2)
When/where: 7 p.m. today at Southern Regional High School in Stafford Township
Notes: Southern, No. 2 in The Press Elite 11, is looking to win its third straight sectional title and its seventh in the last eight years. Shawnee is No. 8 in the Elite 11.
S.J. Non-Public A final: No. 1 St. Augustine Prep (17-10) vs. No. 2 Christian Brothers Academy (14-4)
When/where: 7 p.m. today at St. Augustine Prep in Buena Vista Township
Notes: Today's match is a rematch of last season's sectional final, which CBA won 42-14. The Colts have ended St. Augustine's season two years in a row. The Hermits won a sectional title in 2010.