HOWELL - Middletown South was not going to be content Tuesday night at Howell with merely giving perennial Shore Conference power Howell a tough match.
They were not going to be content with anything less than walking out of Howell's gymnasium with at least a share of the Shore Conference Class A North championship.
"You can never settle, never settle,'' Middletown South senior 215-pounder Matt Cody said.
Middletown South will likely soon have its first divisional championship banner since 1987 to hang on the wall of its own gymnasium after its 31-27 win.
The Eagles, Howell and Christian Brothers Academy will all likely have a share of the Class A North title when the divisional schedule is finished after a triangle of results among those three teams in the last 14 days. Howell beat CBA 32-31 on Jan. 5 and CBA beat Middletown South 37-24 on Jan. 12.
It will be the fourth divisional title for Middletown South, 25th for Howell (16th in the last 17 seasons) and third overall and second straight for CBA.
"To win a A North championship for the first time since 1987 is pretty remarkable,'' Middletown South senior 138-pounder Robert Generelli said. "We've had our eyes on this since sixth grade. Thompson Middle School, we won our middle school championship together. We've just been working for this - freshman year, sophomore year - through some learning years. We're finally at the top of the hill.''
"Everybody knows what Howell's got. To beat them is something special,'' Cody said.
Generelli, a returning region fifth-place finisher who recorded a come-from-behind 6-4 win over returning state qualifier Giovanni Scafidi, said this senior group of Middletown South wrestlers never beat Howell at the middle school level.
It was Howell's first divisional loss to any other program but CBA since 2005. Howell's only two previous divisional losses since 2006 were to CBA in 2016 and last season.
Generelli, Willi win tossup bouts
Middletown South (7-3, 3-1), which won eight bouts, did to Howell what Howell did to CBA 13 days ago - it did all the little things.
The Eagles won tossup bouts at 138 with Generelli and 190 with Jack Willi. Their move to bump two-time state qualifier David Hussey to 150 also paid off as he won by technical fall after Jason Desanctis recorded a major decision.
Generelli had two takedowns in the third period, with the go-ahead one in the upper center of the mat coming with 31.5 seconds remaining.
Willi defeat Ian Soutar 3-1 on a takedown with 55.3 seconds left in sudden victory. His win gave Middletown South the lead for good at 15-13.
Then, came perhaps the turning point of the match.
Cody, a two-time region qualifier, was leading Dane Cofer 6-2 and on his way to a decision when he did not settle for the decision and threw Cofer to his back at the left edge and pinned him with 2.4 seconds left to make it 21-13 Middletown South with six bouts remaining.
"We came out and were ready to wrestle,'' Cody said. "We were just excited to be out there and wrestle. Everything came together.''
"We thought we matched up with them,'' Generelli said. "Technically, we are better than them. They're just more of a physical, know team. If everybody did their job, we knew we were going to come out on top.
Even when Middletown South lost bouts, it won.
Reiter saves bonus points
Jack Reiter prevented returning state qualifier D.J. Henry from getting a technical fall in a 19-5 defeat.
Zachary Veniskey and Ryan Madden did likewise art 106 and 113 in 13-0 and 17-3 defeats.
"Everybody had to do their jobs. Even guys that lost, it wasn't a complete loss,'' Cody said. "Not giving up extra bonus (bonus points) was huge for us.''
"I think we were flat, and that's not to take anything away from them because they did a great job,'' Howell coach John Gagliano said. "We were definitely outwrestled.''
Middletown South also did a good job at silencing the normally loud Howell gymnasium with their ability to slow down the pace of the bouts by wrestling in tight spaces.
'We wanted to slow them down. I think we did a good job of that tonight,'' Generelli said.
Middletown South was also able to take advantage of the absence of returning state qualifier Sebastian Ortega at 120. Ortega has not wrestled since the Powerade Tournament at the end of December. He did weigh in Tuesday night and Gagliano said Ortega has been cleared and it's just a matter of "when we're going to put him in there''.
A 6-0 win by Kaden King at 120 made it 27-21 with two bouts left and enabled two-time state top five finisher Jack Zaleski to clinch the match. Zaleski's 14-2 major decision win at 126 made it 31-21 and Middletown South forfeited the last bout.
"To leave something that we can part of history (program history) with is awesome,'' Cody said.
Middletown South 31, Howell 27
138: Robert Generelli (MS) d. Giovanni Scafidi 6-4
144: Jason DeSanctis (MS) md. Rob Wiessel 10-2
150: David Hussey (MS) tf. Gavin Merkel 4:26 (18-3)
157: Nick Acque (H) d. Alex Quintano 6-5
165: Hunter Mays (H) p. Nick Holland 1:03
175: DJ Henry (H) md. Jack Reiter 19-5
190: Jack Willi (MS) d. Ian Soutar 3-1 (Sudden victory).
215: Matt Cody (MS) p. Dane Colfer 5:58
HWT: Dante Miranda (MS) d. Thomas Richards 2-0
106: Liam Clark (H) md. Zach Veniskey 13-0
113: Xavier Ortega (H) md. Ryan Madden 17-3
120: Kaden King (MS) d. Mike Edmundson 6-0
126: Jack Zaleski (MS) md. Sawyer Ostroff 14-2
132: Kieran Bruen (H) by forfeit
This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: Shore NJ Wrestling: Middletown South takes major step toward title