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  • Writer's pictureDan Russoman

Blue Devils edge Holy Spirit on criteria


THG/Dan Russoman. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940. Hammonton’s Justin Flood (top) controls Holy Spirit’s Gavin Mensch late in their match at 106 pounds last week.

HAMMONTON—Needing every point it could muster, Hammonton High School’s wrestling team opened its dual meet season with a victory last week, edging Cape Atlantic League rival Holy Spirit 38-37 on criteria.


The meet was tied 37-37 after all 14 matches were completed, but the Blue Devils were awarded the win based on the third criteria, unsportsmanlike conduct penalty points awarded.

“It was close, and probably could have gone either way, but a win’s a win and we’ll take it,” Hammonton coach Dave Mauriello said.


Hammonton had to rally late to pull out the victory, winning four of the final six matches, including the last one at 106 pounds.


The meet began at 113, where Hammonton’s Tyler Police picked up a forfeit win. At 120 pounds, Holy Spirit’s Carter Pack scored an 11-2 major decision against Hammonton’s Logan Walters to put the Spartans on the scoreboard.


Max Elton gave Spirit the lead, 10-6, when he pinned Gavin Morris in 3:45 at 126 pounds. That began a stretch of three-straight wins for the Spartans, who built an early 22-6 lead.


At 132, Chase Calhoun pinned Hammonton’s Vincenzo Cirillo in 1:14 and the Blue Devils forfeited to Bryce Manera at 138.


Frank Italiano put Hammonton back on track at 144 pounds when he pulled out a 1-0 decision against Jack Morley in the closest match of the night.


At 150, Brett Stansbury pulled Hammonton to within seven points of Holy Spirit when he pinned Andrew Migone in 3:36.


Trailing 22-15, the Blue Devils lost the next match at 157, as Dave Sonnie clipped Hammonton’s Michael Benedetto 6-5 to give the Spartans a 25-15 lead.


“A couple of those early matches could have gone either way, and our kids battled, but even though we were behind, we were pretty confident that we would find a way [to win],” Mauriello said.


Hammonton’s comeback began at 165 pounds, where Kevin Watson pinned Colton Calhoun in 2:36.


Keaton Matta followed with a fall in 3:08 at 175 pounds, taking down Avierre Crawley to put the Blue Devils ahead on the scoreboard 27-25.


At 190 pounds, Michael Ryan recorded the fastest pin of the night, taking down Holden Montgomery in just nine seconds.


Holy Spirit rallied for two wins to regain the lead, 37-33 with just one match remaining. First, Spirit’s Robert McDevitt pinned Serhii Chuhui in 1:19 at 215 pounds to trim Hammonton’s lead to 33-31 and at 285, Rocco Simone pinned Camryn Broadnax in 3:21 to give Holy Spirit the lead by four points.


Needing a win at 106, Hammonton’s Justin Flood delivered, scoring a 16-6 major decision against Gavin Mensch to knot the meet 37-37, sending it to criteria, where the Blue Devils were awarded the win due to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty point against Holy Spirit early in the meet.


“Holy Spirit is always tough. They’re well coached and their kids wrestle hard. We knew this one could go either way and you can see that it was. It’s always tough when it comes down to criteria, but their kid made a mistake and it cost them,” Mauriello said.


Had Holy Spirit not been penalized a point, the Spartans would have won the meet based on the ninth criteria.


Hammonton wrestles again on December 28 the annual Overbrook Tournament.

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