BUENA VISTA TOWNSHIP - Christian Brothers Academy wrestled back from an early deficit to tie Friday night's South Jersey Non-Public A final at St. Augustine Prep with four bouts left.
Three-time district finalist Christian Casselli was next up for the Colts and all four of CBA's remaining wrestlers have double-digit win totals this season.
No problem for the Prep.
Jarred Hodges, a 2013 state qualifier, won a decision against Casselli at 145 pounds, and brothers Jack and Nick Clark followed with back-to-back pins at 152 and 160, respectively, to put the match away.
The Prep beat CBA 37-25 to win the ninth sectional title in school history, the first since 2010.
Watch video highlights from the St. Augustine Prep vs. Christian Brothers Academy wrestling match.
CBA had ended The Prep's season each of the last three seasons, including back-to-back wins in the sectional final.
The Hermits will wrestle in Sunday's State Non-Public A final at the Pine Belt Arena in Toms River at 6 p.m. against the winner of today's North Jersey Non-Public A final between Bergen Catholic and Don Bosco Prep.
"This is great," said Hodges, a junior. "The last two years of my career we lost to CBA, and now to finally beat them, it feels great to hold that trophy up in front of them and to get what we worked for."
Hodges won a 6-3 decision against three-time District 22 finalist Casselli at 145 to give the Prep a 25-22 lead.
The returning state qualifier said the Hermits were confident, despite the tie score.
"We really weren't worried," Hodges said.
Jack Clark followed Hodges and improved to 15-0 with 14 pins this season with a pin at 152 as the Hermits took a 31-22 lead.
"We knew we were set," Clark said. "They caught us in a couple matches where we definitely should have won, but we knew just to stay composed and keep wrestling. We knew we were better. We weren't worried at all."
Friday's match was his first experience with the Prep's rivalry with CBA.
"I wasn't here for the years when they beat us," Clark said. "But I heard about it and I felt for the team."
Nick Clark, Jack's younger brother, followed with a big win to give the Prep a 37-22 lead with one bout left.
The Hermits did a nice job against CBA's top wrestlers Friday.
Prep sophomore Colin Donahue won a 3-2 decision against 2013 District 22 runner-up Carl Vasti at 113.
Brandon Cirillo did a nice job fighting off his back in a major decision loss to three-time District 22 champ Erik Beshada.
James Brady held a 2-1 lead after two periods and nearly pulled off a big upset against 2013 District 22 and Region 6 champ Mike Oxley at 195 pounds before falling 4-2.
The Hermits will now shift their focus to Sunday's state Non-Public A final in Toms River.
St. Augustine Prep last won an overall state title in 2003.
The Hermits will attempt to win the fifth state title in school history Sunday but will be considerable underdogs no matter which team they face.
Bergen Catholic is the consensus No. 1 team in the state in the New Jersey Wrestling Writers Association top 20 poll. Don Bosco is No. 5 and the Hermits No. 18.
"I'm so excited," Clark said. "It's the state final against Bergen or Bosco, two of the best teams in the state, but I think we're ready to have South Jersey represent a little bit up north."
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