Coming into the 2017-18 season, the Point Pleasant Beach wrestling team had a few, simple goals in mind: compete for a second straight B Central division title, a third straight state sectional championship, and maintain a top 10 standing in the Shore Conference. Currently undefeated at 11-0 on the season, the Garnett Gulls are well on their way to bringing home a few more titles this year.
“I’m happy right now where we’re at,” Point Beach head coach Jeff Bower said. “We’ve got a good mix of experienced returners and young newcomers on this team.”
After finishing 22-2 last year, Point Beach opened up its season with a trio of dominating wins over division foes Keyport, Asbury Park, and St. Rose. While the schools were off for the holidays, the wrestling team had anything but a break as it traveled south to Florida to compete in the Disney Duals Wrestling Tournament against other high school teams from around the country. The trip to the Sunshine State was well worth it for the Garnett Gulls. Over a two-day period in Walt Disney World, Point Beach defeated all five of its opponents to finish the trip 5-0 and capture the Red Pool Championship.
But it was the two wins that Point Beach captured when it arrived home that has Bower most impressed with his squad so far this season. At a quad match against Barnegat and Toms River East, the Garnett Gulls grabbed a pair of victories over the Bengals and Raiders to improve to 5-0 in the Shore Conference.
Despite losing five starters from last year’s team to graduation, including a District champion and two state tournament qualifiers, the Garnett Gulls have yet to miss a beat this season with their blend of senior leadership and freshmen newcomers. One of the seniors leading the way for Point Beach has been Will Jarvis at the 113 weight class. Jarvis, who was a District runner-up last year, is 10-2 on the season and was voted the top wrestler in the Red Pool at the Disney Duals after pinning four of his opponents at the tournament.
But Jarvis is not the only senior in the Point Beach lineup having a strong season. Jude Lovgren is 8-4 at the 138 weight class, Jimmy Sherlock is 9-3 at 160 pounds, Vin Storino is 9-3 at the 182 weight class, and Antonio Lipari is 8-4 at the heavyweight level. Among the underclassmen, sophomore and District runner-up Jesse Bowers is 9-2 at 132 pounds, fellow sophomore Liam Bundy is 7-4 at the 195 weight class, and junior Santino Giampa is 6-1 at 220 pounds.
While Bower is pleased with the performance of his squad through the first month of the season, he knows that tougher matches are on the horizon for this team. And they could not come any sooner. On Jan. 17, the Garnett Gulls will face division rival Shore (9-2) at home before facing crosstown rival and undefeated Point Pleasant Boro (8-0) at home two days later on Jan. 19. The following week will feature Point Beach playing host to Long Branch (7-2) on Jan. 23. Needless to say, the Garnett Gulls will surely be tested over the next several weeks before the Shore Conference Tournament rolls around.
“Winning now is great,” said Bower, who is in his eighth season coaching Point Beach. “But we want to be peaking and wrestling our best at the right time.”
Even with an undefeated start to the season, Bower said there is always room for improvement from the team. “We’re not all there yet,” Bower said. “We’re banged up with injuries and need to get in better shape if we’re going to go the distance. We need to get better everyday.”