By Matthew Gutierrez, Special Writer
August Rohmeyer lit the match to a Montgomery High School firepower that, 80 minutes later, his twin brother Terrence terminated.
In between, the Cougars worked bout-by-bout, tallying key win after key win en-route to a 32-31 edging of previously-undefeated Bridgewater-Raritan on Wednesday night at Montgomery. The win was the program’s 100th — and surely one of its biggest.
“We came in with the mentality that, ‘Hey, we got nothing to lose because they’re undefeated, we’re not,’ ” said August, who improved to 12-4 with his win. “We’re trying to show that we’re one of the best teams in the section.”
After August’s decision, consecutive wins by juniors Kyle Marrapodi and Kevin McLeser propelled the Cougars to a 13-5 lead. Although junior Niko Ipeker later lost, he limited the damage, keeping it to a three-point decision.
“He made sure we were in it at the end,” Terrence said.
When senior tri-captain Jacob Frisch took the mat, the Cougars trailed, 31-29, and were in need of another win. Sure enough, Frisch delivered, posting a 14-2 major decision and setting up Terrence’s match-winning victory.
“Frisch worked really hard to get the bonus points for us to win the match,” Montgomery assistant coach Andrew Roberto said. “He did a really good job. This was a huge win for us. Everybody did their job, wrestled to their fullest potential. We limited bonus points and got them where we needed them. It was a total team effort.”
Fifth-year head coach Kurt Franey said that in addition to the Cougars’ ability to limit bonus points, taking advantage of favorable matchups helped in taking down the fifth-ranked team in all of Group V. The Panthers entered the Montgomery gym Wednesday heads high, especially confident after claiming second at the Somerset County Tournament the weekend prior.
After winning 18 matches and taking the top prize at the East Brunswick Invitation a year ago, the Cougars opened this year with frustrating losses and a pair of third-place finishes. Despite the slow start, they continued to bring energy to the mat, showing no signs of panic.
The win puts the Cougars above .500 at 3-2. More importantly, it gives the Cougars confidence heading into this weekend’s tri-meet against Lawrenceville and Peddie at Montgomery. Led by senior duo August and Terrence Rohmeyer, the Cougars will look to make a run in the section, something even last year’s 18-4 squad couldn’t do.
Like on Wednesday, the Rohmeyer twins will have a lot to do with how far this team is going to go.
“They’ve been working hard in practice, really pushing themselves, setting an example for the younger kids,” Franey said. “It’s nice to see it pay-out in a big match like this.”
Bridgewater-Raritan may have been the favorite on Wednesday, but the Cougars have defended the mat well versus their county foe. Since Franey took over as head coach in 2011, the Cougars are 3-1 at home against the Panthers and 4-2 in their last six meetings.
As four-year varsity letter winners, the Rohmeyers have had much to do with that success, even if there were growing pains along the way.
“Being able to grow as captains, seniors and leaders of the team and show the younger guys is what it’s all about,” August said. “Now we feel we can’t be matched with most other 126-132 (pound) pairs.”
As sophomores, the Rohmeyers were on the same team as 2014 Montgomery graduate Anthony Cassar. As a senior at 195 pounds, Cassar went 45-0 and became only the fourth person in state history to win a state title after never qualifying for the state tournament in years prior. He’s now wrestling at top-ranked Penn State, but the Rohmeyers say his legacy lives on.
“We really got to see what winning all the time is like and how to work hard, like him,” said Terrence, who is 11-3 this year. “He would just put his head down and keep going at it…so that kind of got us our work ethic.”
Teammate Dylan D’Amore didn’t get to wrestle Wednesday — he won by forfeit, as he often does. Undefeated this year, the junior heavyweight won Outstanding Wrestler Award for heavyweights at the East Brunswick Invitation in December. He called the Rohmeyer twins “ideal” leaders.
“They start off as captains this year, really as role models, on the mat and off the mat,” D’Amore said. “They’ve really been leaders. I constantly see them busting everybody to work harder, themselves included.”
By Matthew Gutierrez, Special Writer