A recent quad wrestling meet that was held at Old Bridge High School was a big success for the Knights, including an impressive, come-from-behind victory over rival Sayreville War Memorial High School.
Old Bridge was the home team for the matches that were wrestled on Jan. 6 that also included the Pingry School and Saint John Vianney High School. The Knights’ showdown with the Bombers ended in a 36-28 victory for Old Bridge, which was down at one point during the match by a score of 22-15.
The Knights then won three matches in a row via a pin from Justin Gonzales at 145 pounds, Javi Espinosa at 152 and Luigi Luppino at 160 to give the Knights a 32-22 lead.
Sayreville’s Mykhaylo Khalabudnyak scored a pin at 170 to cut the Bombers’ deficit to 32-28, but a sudden victory by Chancellor Cooper at 182 sealed the meet for Old Bridge.
The Knights also defeated Pingry, 46-18, but lost to Saint John Vianney, 41-24. Sayreville also lost to Saint John Vianney, 56-18. Saint John Vianney is regarded as one of the top teams in the Shore Conference this winter.
Old Bridge left the meet with a 3-6 record, while Sayreville fell to 5-4 on the season.
Old Bridge head coach Bryan Garnett was pleased that his team was able to make the turnaround after the slow start.
“Some of my kids responded,” the coach said. “We were down, and we responded with back-to-back pins. That brought us back into the match. We kept winning and not letting them get ahead. We had a lot of scrambles today. They won some of the scrambles too, but we fought hard.”
Espinosa, a senior, also noted his pleasure with the team rallying together, emphasizing that when the Knights work together, they can be unstoppable.
“When push comes to shove, this team comes together,” he said. “We’re a powerhouse together. When we’re united, nobody can stop us. When we’re separated, it’s like, ‘What can we do?’ Nobody’s motivated, and everyone is down. Once we come up together, it’s like, ‘We’re the best! No one can stop us!’ We can’t do this individually; we do this together.”
Garnett said that the Knights remained positive even when they dropped bouts to Sayreville.
“The keys to a wrestling team is that during a match, there’s going to be some letdowns,” he said. “You can’t let those letdowns bring the team down. A letdown should bring the team up. Once it brings a team up, good things happen.
“Sayreville is always a solid program. The kids are always well-coached, and it always shows on the mat. So you know you’re always in for a battle when you wrestle Sayreville.”
The Sayreville coach, Marcus Ivy, was happy with his team’s effort, stating that Old Bridge is a hard matchup for his wrestlers.
Sayreville lost its 120- and 126-pound matches to Old Bridge’s Jake Wiatroski, who pinned Joseph Gonce, and Mike Botte, who scored a 10-4 decision over Brandon Alicea, respectively. Ivy explained how those types of matchups in wrestling are everything.
“It was a difficult matchup for us,” the coach said. “We only lost by like six or seven, but they are a tough matchup for us. We beat South Brunswick [High School] and who they lost to. We’ll get more matchups like that this year, where you beat somebody who beat somebody or you’ll lose to somebody that lost to somebody. [In] wrestling, people believe that this team beat this team so you should beat this team, but that’s not how it works. It’s all about the matchups.
“[Old Bridge is] a hard one for us because they have a really good 120 [and] 126 weight class, and that’s where our strengths are. They were able to get some wins there and take away points from us, so that hurt. Those are guys that I usually count on for wins, but that’s where their studs are. So it’s hard to make those points up, and that’s the six- or seven-point loss right there.”
Sayreville junior Trevor Mastorio won his match at 138 pounds, 10-2, and he said he liked how some of the Bombers’ wrestlers were able to step up when the team needed it.
“I feel like what isn’t working well is that we need to move more on our feet,” Mastorio said. “Guys are kind of stopping and not moving, so we need to be better at chain wrestling — get them down with one move, then move onto another move.
“I felt what did work well is the fact that we did have guys that stepped up. We just need to keep doing that to keep making these matches closer so we have a chance.”
Ivy said he likes the future of the program, stating that this year will be a test to see how good the team will be going forward.
“The good thing is that after this year, we only have two guys leaving for graduation,” the coach said. “We don’t want to think about next year yet, but we know that the success we have this year should be surpassed next year. We want to set high goals this year so that they can be even higher next year.”