STAFFORD TOWNSHIP - The seven seniors of the Southern Regional High School wrestling team gave their home fans something to remember Friday night.

The Rams dominated Cherry Hill West and won their fourth straight South Jersey Group IV title. Southern won 12 of the 14 bouts and outscored Cherry Hill West 51-9. The Rams (20-0) advanced to the state group championships to be held at Pine Belt Arena in Toms River on Sunday.

"Our coach (John Stout) before the match said, 'Go out there, dominate, do what you have to do, and get off the mat," Southern senior Zach Wilhelm said. "That's what we did."

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It was the Southern seniors' last time wrestling in their home gym. The seniors discussed that after Thursday's practice.

After the win Friday, the seniors posed for a picture with the South Jersey championship trophy.

"It's cool," Southern 126-pound senior Andrew Tonneson said. "Not many seniors can say they've won this every year they've been in high school."

Southern, seeded No. 1, is ranked first in The Press Elite 11. Second-seeded Cherry Hill West is ranked seventh.

There was little drama in the match. Southern won the first four bouts to build a 17-0 lead.

Tonneson (126 pounds) pinned his opponent in 1 minute, 52 seconds. Southern seniors Nick Racanelli (152 pounds) and Jesse Bauta (220) also won by pin.

"We wanted to go out with a bang," Tonneson said. "We didn't want to let them come in here and get points on us."

Zach Wilhelm said what he will miss most about wrestling in Southern's gym is the way they crowd reacted to a big Rams win.

"It was weird feeling," Wilhelm said of Friday's finale.

But while they briefly looked back Friday night, the Rams were also ready for Sunday. For all their success in South Jersey, these seniors have not won a state title.

"This was just a stepping stone," Wilhelm said. "We are trying to win it all this year. That's our ultimate goal."

Contact Michael McGarry:


106-Amiano SR. 3-0 Ioannucci; 113-Knoeller SR. 16-0 TF Gibson; 120-Crane SR. 9-3 Howe; 126-Tonneson SR. p Segrest 1:52; 132-Brake CHW 2-0 Brown; 138-M. Wilhelm SR. 15-4 MD Rogovich; 145-Z. Wilhelm SR. 4-2 Papaneri; 152-Racanelli SR. p Morales 3:34; 160-Bowker SR. 3-2 Rorke; 170-Blauvelt SR. 12-1 MD Marazzo; 182-Jorge SR 23-8 TF Weingardt; 195-Ferrao SR. 7-4 Katz; 220-Bauta SR. p Barnett 1:16; 285-Valentine CHW p Bento 4:49.

Records-Southern Regional 19-0; Cherry Hill West 21-4

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