Which wrestling teams are going to be crowned South Jersey champs?
Postseason wrestling is ready to take the mat.
The NJSIAA team wrestling tournament will take place over a seven-day stretch with the chase for a state championship starting on Monday.
The first two round of the public school tournament will be held on Monday with the top two seeds in each section hosting the event. The sectional finals will be contested on Wednesday at the highest remaining seed for each section. State semifinals will be held on Friday.
On the non-public side, state quarterfinals will be wrestled on Tuesday and semifinals on Thursday.
The state championships for public and non-public will be wrestled at Rutgers University on Feb. 12.
Here’s our primer:
Best first-round meets: Cherry Hill West vs. Northern Burlington in South Jersey Group 3. Two points separated these squads on Jan. 24 as the Lions scored a 41-39 win. That meet featured nine pins (five by Northern), two tech falls (one apiece), one major (by NB) and two forfeits (to Cherry Hill West). Saving bonus points will be key to which team advances. Northern Burlington is the third seed while West is the sixth seed.
Rancocas Valley vs. Highland/Triton in South Jersey Group 5. The two teams met on Jan. 14 with the Red Devils earning a 42-34 victory. One of the swing bouts came at heavyweight, where Hunter Matthews posted a 3-2 UTB win over William Taylor. The fourth-seeded Red Devils (12-8) are starting to get healthy and welcomed district champ Renaldo King back to the lineup last week. The fifth-seeded Tartans (17-4) have won 10 of their last 11 meets since the RV loss.
Also, keep an eye on Gateway/Woodbury against Seneca in South Jersey Group 3 which might be closer than some might think.
Best semifinal meet: Don’t miss the rematch between Kingsway an Washington Township which should develop in South Jersey Group 5. The Minutemen captured a 38-32 victory over Kingsway on Jan. 11. Both teams have battled injuries in recent weeks but are hopeful to have their lineups ready for the postseason. Two of the top bouts from the first meeting included brothers Christian and Jackson Hoopes earning decisions over Jason Meola and Brendan Callahan at 113 and 132, respectively.
South Jersey Group 1: Paulsboro over Gloucester. While Paulsboro’s grip on this sectional crown might be loosening a bit, Big Red still ranks supreme here. The road won’t be easy: The Raiders are likely to face fourth-seeded Audubon in the semifinal round. The Green Wave gave Paulsboro its toughest challenge in the Colonial Conference this winter during a 41-33 decision on Jan. 10. Look for a rematch of last year’s final in which Paulsboro knocked off an upstart Gloucester squad by a 34-24 count. The Raiders won this year’s regular-season meet with a 44-21 decision, winning nine bouts.
South Jersey Group 2: Haddonfield over Collingswood. It would be impossible to produce a better meet than last year’s showdown between these two Colonial Conference foes, right? After these two heated rivals wrestled to a 25-25 tie, the section crown was determined by criteria I – most points scored. If Collingswood is to get to the final, the Panthers will have to avenge a 34-30 loss to West Deptford in the regular season. Look for Haddonfield to finally end the sectional title drought and capture the program’s first in its history.
South Jersey Group 3: Delsea over Lacey. These two teams renew acquaintances in the sectional championship once again. Don’t expect a different outcome, either. Delsea will roll to its eighth consecutive title as it gets ready to defend its state title.
South Jersey Group 4: Shawnee over Moorestown. The Renegades enjoyed winning their first-ever sectional title so much last winter, and the squad wants to duplicate the feat. Shawnee is quite familiar with Moorestown, downing the Quakers 48-19 in last year’s South Jersey championship as well as a 45-25 triumph on Jan. 25. Shawnee dominated the lower weights in that last meet, winning six of eight bouts from 106-144.
South Jersey Group 5: Southern over Kingsway. Yet another rematch of a sectional final from last year. Defending champion Southern is the class of this section and Kingsway would need a herculean performance to wrestle the crown away from the Rams.
Non-Public A: Delbarton over St. John Vianney. The Green Wave has been more like a tsunami this season and it doesn’t appear any team will slow them down.
Non-Public B: St. John Vianney over Camden Catholic. The Irish won’t lift the hardware up at Rutgers this time around, but the experience their youthful lineup gets from this tournament run will set the stage for next year’s championship run.
South, Group 1
(1) Paulsboro vs. (8) Palmyra
(4) Audubon vs. (5) Pitman
(3) Gloucester City vs. (6) Haddon Township
(2) Woodstown vs. (7) Pennsville
South, Group 2
(1) Haddonfield vs. (8) Clayton
(4) Middle Township vs. (5) Lower Cape May
At West Deptford
(3) Collingswood vs. (6) Haddon Heights
(2) West Deptford vs. (7) Barnegat
South, Group 3
(1) Delsea vs. (8) Absegami
(4) Seneca vs. (5) Gateway
(3) Jackson Liberty vs. (6) Pemberton
(2) Lacey vs. (7) Ocean City
South, Group 4
(1) Shawnee vs. (8) Clearview
(4) Toms River South vs. (5) Hammonton
(3) Northern Burlington vs. (6) Cherry Hill West
(2) Moorestown vs. (7) Toms River East
South, Group 5
At Southern Regional
(1) Southern vs. (8) Egg Harbor Township
(4) Highland vs. (5) Rancocas Valley
At Washington Township
(3) Kingsway vs. (6) Eastern
(2) Washington Township vs. (7) Vineland
Central, Group 2
(1) Raritan vs. (8) Spotswood
(4) Rumson-Fair Haven vs. (5) Delran
At Point Pleasant Boro
(3) Cinnaminson vs. (6) Wall
(2) Point Pleasant Boro vs. (7) Holmdel
(1) Delbarton, bye
(8) St. Augustine vs. (9) Pope John
At Paramus Catholic
(5) Paramus Catholic vs. (12) Paul VI
(4) St. Peter's Prep vs. (13) Notre Dame
At Bergen Catholic
(3) Bergen Catholic, bye
(6) Christian Brothers Academy vs. (11) Don Bosco
At St. Joseph (Montvale)
(2) St. Joseph (Montvale), bye
(7) St. Joseph (Metuchen) vs. (10) Seton Hall Prep
At St. John Vianney
(1) St. John Vianney, bye
(8) Holy Spirit vs. (9) Donovan Catholic
At Red Bank Catholic
(4) Red Bank Catholic vs. (5) Holy Cross
At St. Thomas Aquinas
(3) St. Thomas Aquinas at (6) DePaul
At Camden Catholic
(2) Camden Catholic, bye
(7) Newark Academy vs. (10) Pingry
Tom McGurk is a regional sports editor for the Courier-Post, The Daily Journal and Burlington County Times, covering South Jersey sports for over 30 years. If you have a sports story that needs to be told, contact him at (856) 486-2420 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @McGurkSports. Help support local journalism with a digital subscription.
This article originally appeared on Cherry Hill Courier-Post: NJSIAA state team wrestling tournament begins next week