Prep photo

St. Augustine Prep’s Tom Gattinella, back, controls Bishop Ahr’s Pat Passantino during the 120-pound bout of the South Jersey Non-Public A  semifinal in Buena Vista Township on Wednesday. Gattinella won with a second-period pin.

Edward Lea

BUENA VISTA TOWNSHIP — Nick Clark didn’t know what to expect as he stepped out onto the mat for his 138-pound match Wednesday night.

The St. Augus-tine Prep freshman was in position to lock up his team’s South Jersey Non-Public A semifinal match against Bishop Ahr on Wednesday.

And that’s just what he did.

Clark methodically picked Tyler Underwood apart en route to a decision as the top-seeded Hermits beat the fifth-seeded Trojans 33-29.

The Prep, No. 7 in The Press Elite 11, will host second-seeded Christian Brothers Academy on Friday at 7 p.m. in the sectional final.

“I thought I would be more nervous than I was,” Clark said. “When the time came I wasn’t really thinking about it.

“I knew if I did what I could I would win the match.”

Clark won 7-1 at 138 pounds to make it a 33-26 lead with just one bout left (the match started at 152).

“Clark is Clark,” Prep coach Bill Ward said. “He wins those tight matches against guys he should beat.”

The Prep’s Aaron Denesevich dropped a 10-4 decision at 145, but it didn’t matter in the team score after Bishop Ahr’s Nick Tonzola was penalized a team point for arguing a call earlier in the match.

It can be difficult not to look to what seems like a bright future for Prep fans, but a talented group of underclassmen are ensuring that the current team is pretty good, too.

Seven of the team’s 12 starters on Wednesday (the Prep forfeited two weights) were either freshmen or sophomores.

“In a few years we could be great,” Clark said.

But the team’s trio of seniors took care of business as well.

Tom Gattinella, Tyler Sentman and Cory Pietrzyk were the only seniors in action and all three were victorious.

Gattinella (120 pounds) and Sentman (182) each pinned their respective opponents. Pietrzyk, who normally wrestles at 182, bumped all the way up to 220 and picked up a key 4-3 decision against Bishop Ahr’s Tom Cardaci at 220.

The Hermits led 24-12 when sophomore heavyweight Tom Lynd turned the lineup over to the lightweights with a 23-second pin.

Even though it came in a loss, one of the keys to the match was junior 126-pounder Ed Donahue.

Donahue was stellar in avoiding bonus points to unbeaten Kyle Brady (30-0 with 15 pins) in a 12-8 loss.

Brady was a district and region champ last season who finished third in the state tournament at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

Jose Tabora won an 11-6 decision at 160 pounds. Fellow freshman James Brady followed with a pin at 170.

The Hermits now shift focus to Friday and a rematch with the team that has ended their season two years in a row.

CBA beat St. Augustine 42-14 in last season’s sectional final and 38-27 the season before in the semifinals. The Hermits were sectional champs in 2010.

“If their kids wrestle with the intensity they wrestled with tonight, they will be tough to beat,” Tonzola said.

Contact John O’Kane:


106—John Sheedy BA d. Colin Donahue 5-4; 113—Hunter Black BA d. Reid White 6-4; 120—Tom Gattinella SA p. Pat Passantino 3:42; 126—Kyle Brady BA d. Ed Donahue 12-8; 132—Greg McCrystal BA p. Jarred Hodges 3:50; 138—Nick Clark SA d. Tyler Underwood 7-1; 145—Eddie Abouhayla BA d. Aaron Denesevich 10-4; *152—Brian McCrystal BA by forfeit; 160—Jose Tabora SA d. Jon Black 11-6; 170—James Brady SA p. Devin Michael 5:05; 182—Tyler Sentman SA p. Tyler Beltre 1:18; 195—Jake Seider BA by forfeit; 220—Cory Pietrzyk SA d. Tom Cardaci 4-3; 285—Tom Lynd SA p. Matt Boutros :23.

Records—Bishop Ahr 11-9; St. Augustine 17-10.

*Match started at 152