With a 47-27 win over the Crusaders in Friday’s edition of the annual ‘Snake Pit’ match, the #8 St. Joe’s Marauders wrestling team improved to 3-0 in league duals setting up another title showdown with the two-time defending Msgr. Martin champion St. Francis Red Raiders. The Marauders (8-8 overall) will be looking for their first league dual championship since the 2016-2017 season.
A large home crowd turned out on Kenmore Avenue for the Msgr. Martin rivalry match which was also live broadcast on the St. Joe’s NFHS streaming account. Starting at 285-pounds, the Marauders took the lead right off the bat with a forfeit collected by Eastern States place winner Caleb Lesswing, followed by another forfeit gained at 99-pounds by Luke Ventresca. 106 went uncontested as a double forfeit.
The first contested match of the evening was a technical fall earned by ‘Joe’s Luke Sheehan at 113-pounds to make the team score 17-0. However, a dominating pin by Luke Brydges at 120 and a close 7-5 decision win by Gavin Li at 126 put nine total team points on the board for the Crusaders. The Marauders’ Jackson Alagna responded with a pin at 132 coming out on top in a match that started off in a flurry of activity. Once again, Canisius followed up with two wins of their own when Cody Franklin secured a pin at 138 followed by a critical 6-2 win by team captain Barry Colby at 145 to cut the deficit to 23-18, still in favor of hosts.
St. Joe’s picked up its third forfeit when Anthony DePinto collected at 152 before senior leader Ben Parish earned a pin at 160 to create another seventeen point buffer in favor of the Marauders.
In the highly anticipated match of the night, two of Msgr. Martin’s and Catholic High School Athletic Association’s (CHSAA) top wrestlers met at 170-pounds in ‘Joe’s Ronnie Jones and Canisius’s Joe Dixon. In a wild match in which both athletes were looking for a home run move, Dixon was a 13-6 winner by decision, taking revenge for a default loss at Ripley and evening their season series at one win apiece.
With three matches to go and a fourteen point Marauders lead, Nick Valentino earned a pin to guarantee the victory. In the final two matches Canisius’s Braydon Vandenberg collected a pin at 195 while Joe Juncewicz ended the night with a St. Joe’s pin at 220 for a 47-27 final score.
The Marauders will visit St. Francis with the league title on the line on Friday, January 31st.