South Jersey wrestling fans had been waiting for this match for a while, and on Saturday at Camden Catholic, they finally got to see it.
Timber Creek and Camden Catholic, two of the top four teams in South Jersey, tied at the top of the standings in the Olympic Conference National Division, met to decide the division and conference titles, and the action didn't disappoint the crowd.
In a match that featured three overtime bouts in succession, two of which were won by Camden Catholic, between 215 and 103 pounds, Timber Creek prevailed, 31-24.
"This [win] does us good going into the playoffs because this is the first time that [the program] beat Camden Catholic," said heavyweight Sal "Sammy" DeSilvio, who won a 3-1 decision over Marcus Coleman with a takedown in sudden-death overtime to extend the Chargers' lead to 28-18.
Ranked No. 2 in South Jersey by The Inquirer, Timber Creek, which moved into the National after winning the Patriot Division last season, improved its record to 19-2 overall, 4-0 division, and 16-0 in the conference. Fourth-ranked Camden Catholic, the defending National champ, is now 18-5, 3-1, 10-1.
The two teams will not meet in the South Jersey Group team tournament. Timber Creek is seeded third in Group 3 and Camden Catholic is the top seed in Non-Public B.
Before and after DeSilvio's win, Jeff Miller at 215 and John Amato at 103 personified the spirit of the Fighting Irish. Miller gutted out four overtime periods before winning, 8-7. Amato trailed Alan Nguyen, 3-0, in the beginning of the third period; tied it at 3 near the end; and won, 6-3, in the second overtime as the Irish drew within seven points, 28-21.
Miller and Amato had been underdogs.
T.J. Miller single-handedly shifted the momentum Camden Catholic's way when he pinned Bryce Shade at 140 pounds in 1 minute, 10 seconds with a "cement mixer" to give the Irish their first lead, 10-9. The sophomore, who placed third in the state last year at 125, improved his record to 28-0.
"I had to try to get six [points] for our team to have a chance to win," Miller said. "We wrestled our best, and today they were a little better. On another day it might be different. There were some close bouts."
Timber Creek's Robert "Blase" Shade answered the call to action in the 160-pound bout, when the Chargers trailed, 15-13, by pinning Collin Pierlott with a headlock in 4:16. That gave Timber Creek a 19-15 lead and the Chargers never trailed again, although they had some scary moments.
"I knew that we needed a pin," said Shade, a sophomore with a 26-2 record. "You always have to work for the pin, the bonus points, and hopefully the team picks it up."
Timber Creek 31,
Camden Catholic 24
125: Brandon Keller, Timber Creek, pin Thomas Nolan, 1:11. 130: Matt Sausman, Camden Catholic, dec. Dom Ruggiero, 8-2. 135: Kevin Birmingham, Timber Creek, major dec. Aaron Lambert, 19-5. 140: T.J. Miller, Camden Catholic, pin Bryce Shade, 1:10. 145: Frank Varallo, Camden Catholic, win by forfeit. 152: Keith Bauberger, Timber Creek, dec. Matt McBride, 9-3. 160: Robert Shade, Timber Creek, pin Collin Pierlott, 4:16. 171: Caleb Shockley, Timber Creek, dec. Carmen Iossa, 7-1. 189: A.J. Lear, Timber Creek, dec. Joe Mazzochette, 3-1. 215: Jeff Miller, Camden Catholic, dec. Bryheim Muse, 8-7, 4OT. Hwt.: Sal DeSilvio, Timber Creek, dec. Marcus Coleman, 3-1, OT. 103: John Amato, Camden Catholic, dec. Alan Nguyen, 6-3, 2OT. 112: Brandon Virgilio, Timber Creek, dec. Alex Smyth, 3-2. 119: Chad Walsh, Camden Catholic, dec. Ricky Carter, 6-2.