New coach trying to establish foundation within Old Bridge wrestling program

Eric Sucar
The Old Bridge wrestling team runs out on to the mat prior to the match against Monroe Township held at Old Bridge High School on January 4.

When Bryan Garnett stepped down as Old Bridge High School’s wrestling coach after the 2018-19 season, the school’s administration moved quickly to replace him.

There was a great candidate already in the building at 4209 County Road 516.

John Post taught U.S. History at Old Bridge during the 2018-19 school year, his first at the school. Since he had also helped build the Old Bridge Mat Rats youth wrestling program and the Colts Neck High School wrestling program, Post was a hot candidate for any central New Jersey coaching jobs about to open.

But he really wanted the head coaching job at his new school, especially since he helped build its feeder program. Post applied quickly and landed the job in May.

“When the opportunity came I jumped on it,” he said. “The administration streamlined the process and wanted to get me started real quick.”

In the past four years at Colts Neck High, Post and Brett Jankos, the head coach, engineered an impressive turnaround. Before Jankos and Post took over the program, the Cougars had never even won a state sectional tournament match.

In 2019, they reached the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 4 sectional tournament final, falling to Jackson Memorial High School. Colts Neck also made the state sectional semifinals in two other campaigns under Jankos and Post. The program event sent nine wrestlers to the state  individual tournament in Atlantic City over the last four years.

“We turned things around,” Post said.

They did so by committing the Cougars to a grueling offseason training program that involved summer clinics and dual meets at a variety of locations. Post is taking the same approach with Old Bridge in his first summer as a head coach.

The Knights have already participated in dual meets at Long Branch High School and at Howell High School, facing off against a bunch of tough opponents like Howell, South Plainfield High School and Piscataway High School. Post also organized a summer camp that has 34 kids signed up for it, including 20 that are either incoming freshmen or younger.

“So I’m excited about the future,” Post said.

When Post coached the Old Bridge Mat Rats, the wrestlers would often move on to parochial schools or other sports at Old Bridge once they reached high school age. The new coach’s goal is to get those young community wrestlers to stick with the sport, and to stick with it at 4209 County Road 516.

If Post achieves that goal, his Knights could also make good on his larger goal of becoming a perennial top 20 program in New Jersey.

“I’m hoping the message now is we have a serious program with serious goals, and we’ll have guys to go forward with it,” Post said.

Old Bridge went just 4-16 in dual meets last winter, and Post is not necessarily expecting a huge jump in his first season. But he is hoping to send two or three wrestlers to Atlantic City for the state tournament.

“If that happens the team will fall in line,” he said. “But in terms of competing as a team, we’re probably two or three years away.”