By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
A year ago, Sean Thompson and Nick Maher came away with titles at the Mercer County Wrestling Tournament.
This time around the duo from West Windsor-Plainsboro High South will be looking to do the same. The MCT will be held Friday and Saturday at Robbinsville High School and Thompson and Maher will be hoping to repeat.
“I think they can both do it again,” WW-P South coach Darren Schulman said. “They are both having pretty good years. Thompson won at 120 last year and he is back at 120. Maher won 126 and now he is at138, but I think he is even better this year.”
Thompson and Maher lead a solid contingent of WW-P South wrestlers that will take to the mats this weekend. In addition to their two returning champions, the Pirates have several others who could find their way to the podium on Saturday afternoon.
“They can both repeat the way I see it on paper,” Schulman said. “(Steven) O’Campo at 152 has a shot to win. He lost to the kid from Hopewell who is the No. 1 guy and he lost, 1-0. And then he just lost to the kid from Allentown and that match was in overtime and (O’Campo) wasn’t at full strength. He needs to wrestle well. If he does that he could so it. If not, I do expect him to medal. We wrestled a tough schedule at the beginning of the year so he has some losses.”
Schulmann also likes the chances of Joe Salerno at 126, Griffin Valentine at 132 and Duncan Kreutter at 160.
I expect to score some points,” Schulman said. “Out of the 16 teams I don’t expect to be 16 and I don’t expect to be one. I think we’ll be anywhere from six to out of the teams. The closer I get to six the better I will feel and if we surpass that I will be happy.
“I think we’ll have five guys place, If we don’t I will be surprised. I think we have some other guys who can score points. We’re looking forward to it.”
Thompson comes into the tournament in a good frame of mind after winning the 120 title a year ago.
“I feel pretty confident,” Thompson said. “I feel like I have worked hard and I have worked towards most of my goals. I am looking forward to being in the finals again this year.”
Thompson is 18-2 with both of his losses coming outside of Mercer County.
“Whenever I wrestle I go in with the mindset that I can beat the guy and when I go to counties I will believe the same thing,” Thompson said. “I feel like I have more confidence. Last year I didn’t know if I could win it. This year I am looking forward to it. It will be different now because people know me. I won’t be nervous. I will go in knowing I can win and get to the finals.”
Thompson knows repeating won’t be easy. He’ll go into each match focused on moving on to the next round.
“I just focus on what I want to do and train myself to do the best I can,” Thompson said. “I just do whatever it takes and just worry about myself. There are always better kids out there so I can’t be overconfident. I just need to go out there and wrestle.”
Maher will bump up in weight class to 138 this year but he doesn’t see that as a disadvantage.
“I think it is better because I am more energized when I wrestle,” said Maher, who will take an unbeaten record into the tournament. “I just want to do my best and hopefully pin my way through the tournament.”
After last year’s successful season Maher has worked on getting even better this year and it has shown in his results.
“I went to club called Triumph Wrestling in Ocean,” Maher said. “I went there a lot and I feel like that got me better prepared. I work out with Sean a lot and I think that is good for both of us. He is a great practice partner and our coach is also great.
Maher hopes success at the MCT is just the start of a strong run through the rest of the season.
“I want to win regions and the state tournament at the end of the year,” he said. “This weekend will be fun. I like the county tournament. It is always a fun tournament.”
By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor