Senior wrestlers delivered on their night.
The North Brunswick Township High School wrestling team held its annual Senior Night, and the upperclassmen came through.
The Raiders, sparked by their seniors, coasted past Metuchen High School, 45-27, on Jan. 31 in North Brunswick.
North Brunswick received a crucial victory from senior Christopher Rodriguez, who scored a 2-1 decision at 126 pounds. That was the first victory — and bout — for North Brunswick since the Raiders forfeited the first three matches at 106, 113 and 120 pounds.
That decision by Rodriguez cut Metuchen’s lead to 18-3.
Junior Cesar Lopez produced another key victory for North Brunswick when he won by pin at 132 pounds. That result left North Brunswick behind by a count of 18-9.
After Alex Lucero posted a 6-4 decision at 152 pounds for the Raiders, North Brunswick received a forfeit at 160 when senior Armando Hernandez was declared the winner.
North Brunswick then gained a 30-21 lead when senior Gabriel Freytes won by pin at 170 pounds.
Kenny Abode won by forfeit at 182, and John Helstowski was also declared a forfeit winner at 220 pounds for North Brunswick. Heavyweight Michael Stilwell closed the meet for North Brunswick in style when he posted a 9-2 decision.
Alba Rodriguez is a senior at North Brunswick who may have not won her bout at 195 pounds, but she was proud of her effort.
“It just meant a lot because, obviously. I gave everything that I had inside tonight,” Rodriguez said after the meet. “I just wanted to show that the stereotype that a girl can’t do a guy’s sport just isn’t true.”
Rodriguez lost a hard-fought battle to Metuchen’s Jake Bazier, who pinned her at the 5:24 mark.
North Brunswick’s wrestlers were pleased overall with their showing to celebrate Senior Night.
“We had effort today,” Freytes said after the meet. “We did a really good job today. This is probably one of the hardest [meets] we wrestled all year, despite a lot of our losses. So I’m proud of the team today.”
“We had a lot of effort,” Rodriguez said. “Everybody came together, and we actually put our minds together, and we showed what we had today.”
Lopez pointed out that he was able to practice a few new moves on the mat as he tries to make his way up to districts.
“We just take it day by day and work as a team,” he said.
The victory was North Brunswick’s second in a 2-12 season. The Raiders will work to prepare for the NJSIAA District 18 tournament scheduled for Feb. 16-17 at Red Bank Regional High School in Little Silver.
“To improve, we need to get better and get stronger,” Freytes said. “For the people coming back next year, we definitely need to work hard over the summer.”
“I’m looking forward to districts,” Lopez said. “We got two weeks to prepare. Hopefully, I can wrestle well and get to regionals. Next year, hopefully we can be even better.”
“We just want to show out in districts and show what North Brunswick is all about,” Rodriguez said.
Metuchen, which suffered another loss to Pingry School, 60-18, on Feb. 3 to slip to 3-8 this season, will focus on the District 15 tournament that will be wrestled at Westfield High School on Feb. 16-17.
Freshman Jake Lapinski, who won by a 2-0 decision at 138 pounds against North Brunswick, felt that the Bulldogs couldn’t put it all together during the meet.
“A lot of my teammates fought hard,” Lapinski said. “We thought it was a winnable match. We always come prepared for anything. We just didn’t get it done today.”
Lapinski is hopeful Metuchen can have a strong finish to its dual-meet schedule.
“After that, we want to send guys to districts and wrestle well there,” he said.