Wrestling: Buena’s dynamic duo: Billy Ward, Dillan Berghof
Billy Ward and Dillan Berghof have had storied careers as teammates on the Buena Regional High School wrestling team.
The duo would like to add just a few more chapters to that story.
Ward and Berghof have created a laundry list of accolades together.
Ward and Berghof are each No. 1 in their respective weight classes in The Press rankings of area wrestlers — Ward at 126 and Berghof at 145.
Each is a 100-match winner — Ward won his 100th in the state tournament last year and Berghof at the Beast of the East earlier this season.
Ward is a three-time District 32 and Region 8 champ.
He finished third in the state as a sophomore.
Berghof won the District 32 title last season, where he was named Most Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament.
Ward and Berghof are four-year starters that have been known for years in wrestling circles.
But this season is different.
This is the last go for Ward, Berghof and the rest of the Buena seniors.
“I don’t think it’s extra pressure,” Ward said. “I have always kind of considered myself a leader in the room and on the mat.”
Ward and Berghof haven’t just been counted on to win in their time at Buena.
Ward and Berghof are relied on for bonus points more often than not.
“That has kind of been me and Dillan since we were freshman and it’s the same thing this year,” Ward said. “That’s what we have to do for the team and that’s what we have to do for ourselves.”
The two have been pivotal in Buena’s hot start this season.
The Chiefs are 7-0 and entered The Press Elite 11 at No. 11 this week. They will wrestle Lower Cape May tonight in a key Cape-Atlantic League National Conference match.
The winner will be in good position to win the conference.
“I’m feeling good about the team,” Berghof said. “I think we’ll do some damage this year.”
Buena reached back-to-back South Jersey Group II finals the past two seasons but lost each time to Delsea Regional.
Buena dropped down to Group I this season and could be destined for a showdown with Group I power Paulsboro.
“I think we have a real good chance,” Berghof said. “They are a really tough team but I think we have a really good chance of going to Toms River (for the state groups).”
Ward and Berghof were each admittedly disappointed in how their respective seasons ended last year and each has taken steps to avoid a similar fate.
Ward entered the State Individual Wrestling Championships last season as a favorite but was unable to reach the podium.
Berghof was the top seed in Region 8 but came one win short of his first trip to states.
Ward decided not to play football this year and spent most of his time training as opposed to traveling up and down the coast to various wrestling tournaments.
“I just needed to get back to basics,” Ward said. “I had a rough year at states last year so I wanted to focus on working hard.”
Berghof said he’s happy at his current weight and for the first time in four years of high school is only cutting minimal weight if any.
“I can concentrate on wrestling,” Berghof said. “I don’t have to focus on weight. I can focus on staying off my shoulders.”
Buena lost by just three points in last year’s sectional final to Delsea.
Ward would love to be on the other side of a close match this time around.
“I think that would be really cool, especially for the seniors,” Ward said. “Going to (sectional) finals three years in a row and then finally winning it and moving on would be a great way to end our senior year.”
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