Millville photo

Millville’s Rico Rivera wrestles Egg Harbor Township’s James Ingersoll at 145 pounds last season. Rivera is one of the few seniors on the Thunderbolts’ roster this season.

Dave Griffin

Ed Shockley hit a growth spurt during high school wrestling’s offseason.

So too, it seems, did the rest of the Millville High School wrestling program.

Shockley’s 12-1 start to the season has highlighted the team’s 6-1 start.

“It is definitely something we can get used to,” Shockley said of the team’s early season success. “In the past we haven’t been like the powerhouses but this year we wanted to come out and make a statement that we worked just as hard as everybody else and that we have talent also.”

The Thunderbolts debuted this week at No. 9 in The Press Elite 11.

Shockley now a 195-pounder, hasn’t done it alone.

The team has 11 regulars with winning records this season.

Rico Rivera leads the senior class with an 11-2 record at 152 pounds. Rivera was one of four Thunderbolts to take second at the South Jersey Wrestling Association tournament at the Wildwoods Convention Center to open the season.

Shockley, SJWA tournament champ Chad Kahn (7-5 at 126) and Obi Kali (11-3 at 220) lead a talented junior class.

Sophomore Zach Goranson (9-2 at 113) and freshman Keith Mahoney (11-2 at 145) lead the underclassmen.

“We have guys with experience as well as new guys stepping up to the plate and getting the job done,” Millville coach Scott Stay said. “I think its great.”

Shockley is a two-time District 31 placer in the middleweights. He competed in the state tournament at 152 pounds last season.

Shockley grew to 6-foot while comfortably putting on upwards of 40 pounds.

He proved that he didn’t lose any mobility, either, as he led the Millville football team with 113 tackles and four sacks, earning first-team Press honors.

“I definitely like it up there,” Shockley said. “I get to eat, lift and work out. As far as the transition — I still wrestle like a 152-pounder. I’m a lot quicker that a lot of the guys so it’s easier.”

Shockley’s only loss came at the hands of Hammonton’s David Williams, a state placewinner.

Shockley has won 11 matches in a row since.

“He worked his butt off,” Stay said. “He really likes football and he really worked hard to get bigger and stronger and it’s paying off in wrestling.

“He’s benefited from wrestling as a lightweight most of his life and now using all that technique and quickness against the bigger guys but he has the confidence. He goes out there and he really feels that he can beat anybody.”

Millville hasn’t won the Cape-Atlantic League American Conference since 1996 and hasn’t qualified for the state team tournament since 1997.

The Thunderbolts have already defeated defending CAL American champ Egg Harbor Township and have quality nonconference wins against Hammonton, Lower Cape May, Collingswood and Washington Township.

Shockley wants to take the next step forward by finishing top three in Region 8 and wrestling in states at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City for the first time.

“That would be great,” Shockley said. “I think that’s everybody’s goal coming into the season — take districts, take regions and then get down there and get on the podium in A.C.”

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