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Johnson flips script as Gloucester City clinches second consecutive South Jersey Group 1 final berth

WOODSTOWN (N.J.) - The Gloucester City High School and Woodstown High School wrestling teams picked up convincing wins over Haddon Township and Pennsville, respectively, in the quarterfinals of the South Jersey Group 1 playoffs on Monday night. Both programs advanced to face each other with a ticket to the sectional final at stake.

Gloucester's Mason Johnson, pictured, was the deciding factor with his match-clinching pin in Gloucester's 45-31 win over Woodstown in the semifinals of the South Jersey Group 1 playoffs at Woodstown High School on Monday, February 6, 2023. Chris Baker/D2 Sports Network

Mason Johnson's heroics at 113 pounds proved to be the deciding factor for the Lions. The sophomore trailed 5-0 in his match halfway through the second period. Johnson flipped his opponent, and the script, and stuck him for six points to give Gloucester a 40-31 lead and clinch the match. The Lions advanced to their second straight sectional final with a 45-31 triumph and will see top-seeded Paulsboro in the championship round for the second consecutive season.

"I was just trying to get points for my team," Johnson said. "I understood the circumstances and went to work. I wasn't trying to necessarily get a pin, but I did, and it ended up winning us the match."

Woodstown's Alex Torres opened the semifinal match by securing a pin at 126 pounds.

Gloucester immediately responded as John Pfeffer grabbed a pin of his own. Willem Groom followed up with another pin for the Wolverines before Jason Chiodi and Chinggis McKnight earned back-to-back six-point victories for the Lions. After McKnight's pin, Jake Zearfoss and Kaleb Wright earned a 19-4 decision and a 16-1 technical fall, respectively, to put the Lions ahead 28-12. Bryan Gonzalez pinned his opponent halfway through the second period to put Gloucester in front 34-18.

The Wolverines had other plans though as Matteo and John Vinciguerra both earned wins followed by a 9-1 major decision at 106 pounds by Jeff Covely.

Jason Chiodi, pictured, grabbed an early pin for Gloucester at 144 pounds in the South Jersey Group 1 semifinals at Woodstown High School on Monday, February 6, 2023. Chris Baker/D2 Sports Network

The Lions thrived off of bonus points with eight of their 14 wins resulting in falls or technical falls.

Chiodi swung the momentum in favor of Gloucester with a pin at 144 pounds.

"It felt good to go out there and get a win for my team." Chiodi said. "Little did I know that it would give us the swing we needed to grab that many wins in a row which gave us a huge lead."

Adversity is nothing new for the Lions throughout their lineup. After watching a 16-point lead evaporate into a three-point advantage, the team responded to get the job done.

"I have faith in my lineup," Gloucester coach Tom McConnell said. "Some of these guys may face a deficit in points during their matches but they'll always fight until the final whistle."

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