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Wrestling: Wild finish sends Absegami past Mainland Regional in first round of state playoffs

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By DAVE O’SULLIVAN Publisher GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — The opening round of the South Jersey Group 4 wrestling tournament featuring Absegami and Mainland Regional was the kind of match that gives coaches grey hair and fans white knuckles. Heading into the final bout of the night, at 152 pounds, it didn’t take a mathematician to figure out what needed to happen for each team to win and advance to face top-seeded Clearview Regional. Fifth-seeded Mainland needed a win from Nick McAllister to pull off the upset, while No. 4 Absegami needed senior Ryan Martin to win by at least four points to force a 27-27 tie that the Braves would win on the first tiebreaker criteria — number of bouts won. Martin trailed 6-4 with less than a minute to go, but pulled off a four-point move to beat McAllister 8-6 and give Absegami a 28-27 victory. “I just tried to stay focused and drown everything out as much as I can during the match. I’m sure they hyped him up and told him he had to get this win. I wrestled him a week or two ago and majored him, so he definitely had that extra enthusiasm and excitement to go after it. He came at me like hell, and I definitely give him credit for that. It was a tough match,” Martin said. “The whole crowd is cheering for you, and it’s the first Absegami playoff win in a while, it’s just great to a part of that and be on the team that can accomplish that for this school. It’s great. Absegami's Ryan Martin, right, tries to lift Mainland Regional's Nick McAllister during their bout at 152 pounds on Monday night in the first round of the state playoffs. (Glory Days Magazine photos/Dave O'Sullivan) Absegami’s Ryan Martin, right, tries to lift Mainland Regional’s Nick McAllister during their bout at 152 pounds on Monday night in the first round of the state playoffs. (Glory Days Magazine photos/Dave O’Sullivan) Absegami had a 7-6 lead in bouts won heading into the 152-pound match, and McAllister came out on fire knowing nothing less than a win would do for his team. He got the first takedown to take a 2-0 lead, but Martin was able to cut the deficit in half with an escape. McAllister was on top to start the second period, and Martin escaped again to tie it at 2-2. Martin then scored a takedown, but McAllister escaped to cut Martin’s lead to 4-3. The back-and-forth match continued, as McAllister scored a takedown late in the second period to go up 5-4. Martin was in the top position to start the third period, and eventually cut McAllister loose with 53 seconds left, giving McAllister a 6-4 lead. With less than 30 seconds remaining, Martin scored a takedown and turned McAllister to his back to score crucial back points. He rode out McAllister for the final 10 seconds to secure the victory. “It was exciting. Definitely not the way I wanted it to go, but I’ll take it, absolutely, for the team,” Martin said. “I try to stay away from what I call ‘junk moves’ as much as I can, but being there wasn’t much time on the clock and the whole school was here supporting us, there was a lot of excitement and pressure to feed off of. It’s just great, hitting that last move and riding him out as you’re watching the clock tick down. Mainland Regional's Sean Lenzsch looks for the pin during his bout at 182 pounds Monday night. Mainland Regional’s Sean Lenzsch looks for the pin during his bout at 182 pounds Monday night. Mainland jumped out to a 12-3 lead on the strength of pins by David Cullen at 160 pounds and Sean Lenzsch at 182. Kolin Roberts followed with a win at 195 to push the lead to 15-3, but Absegami answered with six straight wins to take an 24-15 lead. Nick Mille scored a win at 220 pounds, and senior Ben Maggio bumped up to heavyweight and outlasted Mike Kennedy 2-1 on a late stalling call to cut the deficit to 15-9 and give the Braves some momentum. “He’s a tough kid. I beat him the same way last time, on a stall call. That was in overtime, so I knew it was going to be tough again this time,” Maggio said. “I got the stall call again, won by one point, but a win is a win and I’ll take it. (Kennedy) is a really tough kid.” Felix Torres (106) and Dylan Arrom (113) followed with wins and John Burchell scored an 8-3 win at 120 pounds. James Giegold’s 9-2 win at 126 gave the Braves a 24-15 lead before Mike Mucciarone’s pin at 132 put the Mustangs right back in it at 24-21. Mainland senior 138-pounder Justin Bishop scored a win to tie the match at 24 before John DiNofrio outlasted Kelvin Siem 11-5 at 145 pounds to give Mainland a 27-24 lead heading into the final bout. Even though Siem didn’t win, by not giving up bonus points he allowed Absegami to have a chance heading into the bout at 152. “He’s really finishing the year well. He fought for six minutes today and that’s what we needed him to do,” Maggio said. Even though the Braves must now travel to top-seeded Clearview, picking up the program’s first playoff win in more than five years was huge. “We beat (Mainland) last time at home and it was a close match. We knew it was going to be a close match again, we just had to bring everything we had, and I think we did that today,” Maggio said. “This is the first playoff win Absegami has had in a long time and it feels great to be a part of that my senior year.” Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sully@acglorydays.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays [adsense]

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