WOOLWICH – On a night filled with emotion, with a division title at stake along with the bragging rights that go with it. The one thing everyone knew on Wednesday was neither Williamstown nor Kingsway would back down over 14 bouts. There would be no let up, the traditional saying of “six minutes of hell” would be adhered to and even if a defensive posture in a single bout may be the tactical move, it just wasn’t going to happen.
“Losing that match, obviously I didn’t want to but I will see him again at regions and I wanted to show I’m as good as him and more importantly I’m not a defensive wrestler,” Kingsway’s Cheney Kinner said. “Coach (Mike Barikian) tells us in practice to never back down. Never wrestle relaxed. Go out there and take it too them. I knew the situation but if I don’t stay aggressive only bad things can happen.”
Kinner’s approach symbolized both teams in a 29-27 win for Kingsway over Williamstown in a match that went 8-6 in bouts to the host Dragons. With the win Kingsway (15-5), ranked No. 3 in South Jersey by the SJSD, took home the Tri-County Royal Division over a hungry sixth-ranked Williamstown program that finished the regular season 19-2 and eager for a chance at redemption.
“We know a break here or a break there and this match comes out differently,” said Williamstown coach Jon Jernegan, whose Braves open the state tournament next Monday in Group 5 as host to No.8 Rancocas Valley. “There were a lot of close matches early on that could have changed everything.”
On a night Kingsway won the all-important coin toss, Williamstown won the opening bout at 126 before the Dragons reeled off six straight wins to take a 21-6 lead. In that run the only bonus points won by Kingsway came at 138 where Ohio State bound Quinn Kinner secured a pin. Otherwise, Finnigan McFadden won a tight 1-0 decision at 132, John Sambogna got his final points with three second left in a 5-3 decision at 145 and Ryan Crane won an 11-8 decision at 1:52 with a late takedown.
In Crane’s match against Kevin Tucker, both wrestlers appeared to have pins in a back-and forth bout. In fact, Crane at one point had his arm turned at the elbow to such an extent it appeared as if he may not finish. Instead he stayed on the mat and picked up big points before Williamstown’s upper weight got on the mat.
“I said this on Saturday, I try to keep an even-keeled approach,” Barikian said. “We had a disappointing performance against Hunterdon Central but I went in the locker room and told the kids that that match was in the past. Tonight we had 13 kids give it their all. None of them left anything out on that mat.”
“We don’t change our approach,” said 160-pound Kevin Pandorf, who won an 11-2 decision over Brandon Butler. “We practice as hard as anyone in the room and then we wrestle like we practice.
“Our approach is all because of our coaches. They push us as hard as they can. Our coaches prepare us for matches like tonight. Our conditioning, our strategy is all on them.”
Williamstown of course didn’t go away and after McKenzie Bell got a technical fall at 113 to put the Dragons up 29-24 with one bout left, the pressure to get a pin fell on Williamstown’s Nick DeRosa.
“We knew a pin was going to be very tough to get,” Jernegan said. “(Cheney Kinner) is a really skilled, tough wrestler but that’s what Nick was going for. He had a couple of chances too.”
But then so did Kinner as one of the most aggressive bouts of the night went back-and-forth much to the delight of the crowd. In the end, DeRosa secured a 4-3 decision but the table has been set for one, maybe two more meetings between Kinner and DeRosa. For that matter, there could be one more meeting between the two Group 5 teams as Kingsway opens tits state tournament Monday against No.10 Eastern on Monday.
“I know I’ll see (DeRosa) again in regions,” Kinner said. “I want another shot at him and I’m sure he feels the same way.
“Tonight, yeah, I’m disappointed in not wining my match but we win the team title. Tonight was about this team and we came ready for anything.”
Dragons 29, Braves 27
126: Shamun Smith, W, p. Jake Gentile, 3:13; 132: Finnegan McFadden, K, d. Justin Boylan, 1-0; 138: Quinn Kinner, K, p. Chad Tracy, 3:33; 145: John Sambogna, K, d. Joseph Racobaldo, 5-3; 152: Ryan Crane, K, d. Kevin Tucker, 11-8; 160: Kevin Pandorf, K, d. Brandon Butler, 8-2; 170: Noah Falabella, K, d. Cody LaGamba, 7-2; 182: Nick Cope, W, d. Dennis Lee, 7-0; 195: Bryan Martin, W, forfeit; 220: Tarrence Mitchell, W, d. Alieis Almanzar, 1-0; 285: Sean Horner, K, d. Sam Ray, 2-1; 106: Joseph Clark, W, p. Kyle Blomenblit, 1:46; 113: McKenzie Bell, K, tf. Dominic Federico, 17-1, 5:38; 120: Nick DeRosa, W, d. Cheney Kinner, 4-3.