When junior Nick Schutzenhofer stepped onto the mat for his match-deciding bout against Howell's Darby Diedrich, he was perhaps the most mentally prepared one in the whole gym.
"Schutz was the first one in the locker room today," head coach Russell Witt said. "He said, 'I want this, I want it to come down to me.' It's amazing that he called it. He wanted the spotlight and he stepped up big-time."
Schutzenhofer beat Diedrich in the 106-pound bout, the last one of the match, to seal Christian Brothers Academy Wrestling's 34-28 win over Howell and secure their first-ever Shore Conference Championship at Red Bank Regional High School on Saturday night.
It was less than a month ago when CBA went to Howell and ended the Rebels' 73-match winning streak against Shore opponents. After the Colts beat Jackson Memorial and Howell beat Wall Township in the 3:00 p.m. semifinals, the 5:30 p.m. rematch between the two teams was set up.
In that semifinal, the Colts made quick work of Jackson Memorial. CBA won six of the first eight bouts and, after Jack La Corte sealed the win in the 195-pound bout, were able to forfeit the final two bouts to rest their wrestlers for the championship.
The final match was as evenly split as possible heading into the final two bouts, with the teams splitting the first 12 bouts.
CBA got victories from Richie Koehler (113 lb.), Sebastian Rivera (120 lb.), Dylan Van Sickell (132 lb.), Chris Koutzen (160 lb.), Garrett Fitzgerald (170 lb.), Jack La Corte (195 lb.) and Will Oxley (285 lb.), before Schutzenhofer closed the book on Howell in the 106.
A dominant pin by Oxley in the 285-pound bout, the second to last of the evening, gave CBA back the lead 31-28, setting up Shutzenhofer's dramatics.
The Colts would have never been in the position to win if it were not for some key scores by CBA wrestlers.
Howell recorded two pins on the night, but great efforts by CBA's Sam La Corte in the 126-pound bout and Cameron DiGiorgio in the 182-pound bout avoided Howell receiving more points.
Altogether, CBA had three major decisions, a technical fall and one pin among their eight wins.
"I'm just in complete shock really," Witt said. "All the credit goes to these guys, they wrestled great. Everyone stepped up and wrestled completely out of their minds."