The South Plainfield High School wrestling team, whose five core seniors led the Tigers to three state championships in four state finals appearances, was unanimously named the Garden State’s No. 1 team in the New Jersey Wrestling Writers Association’s final 2012-13 poll.
The Tigers, who finished with a 30-0 record that included their first title in the prestigious Virginia National Duals, led the weekly rankings from wire to wire, receiving a No. 1 vote from all of the association’s 17 members on every weekly ballot.
Southern Regional was the lone area team in the rankings, coming in at No. 8. Only three teams that compete in South Jersey sectionals made the rankings (No. 6 Toms River South, Southern and No. 17 Delsea Regional).
The Rams (13-6) beat No. 9 Hunterdon Central in the state Group IV semifinals before falling 34-27 to No. 3 Brick Memorial in the final.
Southern, which traditionally wrestles one of the state’s toughest schedules, had losses to No. 2 Bergen Catholic, No. 3 Brick Memorial (twice), No. 6 Toms River South, No. 7 St. Peter’s Prep and No. 12 Delbarton with wins against Hunterdon Central and No. 14 Jackson Memorial.
South Plainfield averaged an astounding 52.2 points per dual meet and defeated opponents by an average margin of 37.9 points.
St. Peter’s Prep and Bergen Catholic, who lost by 11 and 14 points, respectively, gave the Tigers their toughest matches among New Jersey foes, while McDonogh of Maryland dropped a two-point decision to South Plainfield in the Virginia National Duals final.
The Tigers own a 43-match winning streak and have defeated 50 consecutive in-state opponents, falling last to a New Jersey school with a 29-28 loss to St. Peter’s Prep on Jan. 6, 2012.
South Plainfield has recorded 192 pins and its wrestlers boast a combined 387-128 record.
The Tigers, ranked 12th nationally by Amateur Wrestling News, defeated Toms River South last weekend to win the Group III championship. South Plain-field rolled through the NJSIAA team tournament, defeating four playoff foes by an average of 36 points.
The final top 20 teams in the New Jersey Wrestling Writers Association poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records, total points based on 20 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 20th-place vote and last week’s ranking:
Rec Votes LW
1. South Plainfield 30-0 (17) 340 1
2. Bergen Catholic 19-1 323 2
3. Brick Memorial 24-2 306 3
4. Don Bosco Prep 13-5 278 4
5. Bound Brook 23-3 272 5
6. T.R. South 24-4 266 7
7. St. Peter’s Prep 18-5 228 9
8. Southern Regional 13-6 218 12
9. Hunterdon Central 18-2 203 6
10. Phillipsburg 13-4 183 8
11. High Point 20-4 183 14
12. Delbarton 14-3 146 10
13. Howell 26-4 122 16
14. Jackson Memorial 15-7 94 13
15. Hanover Park 13-6 93 NR
16. Kittatinny 21-3 88 11
17. Delsea 24-3 77 15
18. Long Branch 19-6 66 NR
19. Voorhees 23-5 28 17
20. St. Joseph (Montvale) 13-4 27 NR
Others receiving votes: Brick 16, Shawnee 10, Camden Catholic 6, Warren Hills 2, North Hunterdon 1.
NJWWA voting members (in alphabetical order): Bob Behre (Trenton Times); Donald J. Brower (MorrisCountyHSWrestling.com); Patrick Buganski (The Mat Pack); Frank D’Esposito (TheShoreConference.com); Steve Falk (Asbury Park Press of Neptune and Hitting the Mats); Brian Fortner (Express-Times); Harry Frezza (Courier News of Bridgewater); Joe Hofmann (Daily Record of Parsippany); Louie Lazzari (New Jersey Wrestling Historian); John Lewis (Burlington County Times); Ron Mazzola (On the Mat); Tom McGuirk (Daily Journal of Vineland); John O’Kane (Press of Atlantic City); Anthony Spaulding (New Jersey Herald); Greg Tufaro (Home News Tribune of East Brunswick); Mike Weilamann (Open Mike); Joe Zedalis (Trenton Times).