Sectional finals — here we come!
Garnet Gulls win 24th match, which sets a new school record
POINT PLEASANT BEACH — It was an unforgettable night for the Point Pleasant Beach High School wrestling team.
Not only did the Gulls earn a 41-26 win over Burlington City at home in the Central Jersey Group I semifinals on Wednesday, the team also set a school record for wins in the season.
The win marked the Garnet Gulls’ 24th of the year, which surpassed the previous record of 23 wins, set in 2008.
Point Beach coach Jeff Bower said there was something a little more special about setting a school record with a win in the state tournament.
“This is how we wanted to do it,” he said. “With it being the seniors’ last time at home, this was just a great way to get the win.”
“It was nice to get it tonight,” Point Beach’s 138-pounder, James Finnerty, added. “We have a quad match on Saturday so we were going to get it either way, but it was a little more special getting it tonight.”
Point Beach was down early to Burlington City. The Blue Devils started the match ahead 9-0 after a pin and decision victory in the 220 and 285 weight classes, respectively.
Burlington City then forfeited the 106-pound weight class with no wrestler ready to go. This resulted in Point Beach cutting into a 9-6 Burlington City lead.
Burlington City earned a major decision win to increase its lead to 12-6, but the Gulls answered right back with a pin from John Finnerty in just 57 seconds into the 120-pound bout.
This tied the score at 12. Point Beach would go on to take its first lead of the day when 126-pounder Giancarlo Crivelli punished the Blue Devils’ Kolby Eleazer with a 20-4 score, resulting in a technical fall. This put the Garnet Gulls ahead 17-12.
After a decision loss, Point Beach had a match-changing win from 138-pounder James Finnerty.
Finnerty wrestled Joe Baer, a state finalist. Finnerty and Baer went into overtime with the score tied at 1.
Baer nearly made a takedown on Finnerty with both wrestlers on the ground, but Finnerty’s strength and experience all helped in pushing Baer over. This caused the referee to award the two points to Finnerty. The win put the Garnet Gulls ahead 20-15.
“It was a nice way to end my last match here wrestling in this gym,” Finnerty said.
Tore Capriglione  and Riley Kelly  fed off the momentum. They nearly put the Blue Devils away for good with back-to-back pins, increasing the Garnet Gulls’ lead to 32-15.
But, Burlington City closed on Point Beach’s lead from a Ryan Daniels technical fall to make the score 32-20.
This set up a tough match between Jake Fioretti and Qadir Mordroza, one that Burlington City desperately needed to win.
Both wrestlers picked up a point the first six minutes of regulation, in what seemed like an even match where anybody could come out on top.
The match went into overtime resulting in an extra one-minute period, in which no wrestler scored.
Mordroza chose the down position to start the next overtime period, which consisted of 30 seconds. Fioretti held him down the whole 30 seconds.
This resulted in another overtime period, where Fioretti was in the down position for the following 30 seconds.
Fioretti jumped up and tried to break Mordroza’s grip, but his hands were too tight across his waist. Fioretti then made a quick move that resulted in a reversal to give him the 3-1 overtime win, making the score 35-20 with two bouts remaining.
With the match in hand, Point Beach and Burlington City each forfeited a bout, which caused the 41-26 ending result.
Point Beach will go on to face Bound Brook, the two-time defending Group I state champion, on the road tonight. Bound Brook is considered one of the top two teams in the entire state with Bergen Catholic being No. 1.
“We have been to the sectional semifinals every year I have been here and this is the first time we are going to the sectional finals,” James Finnerty said. “So it is nice, even though we have to wrestle Bound Brook.”