Monroe seeks to continue success on mat with upcoming districts

Monroe Township High School wrestler Chris Fanelli pushes Marlboro High School's Mike Malucelli down to the mat during their 160-pound match on Feb. 10. Monroe defeated Marlboro, 49-15, to advance to the semifinals of the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 5 Tournament.

There has been a lot of success seen on the wrestling mat at Monroe Township High School the last eight seasons.

From county, district and region champions to being a lock to compete in the state sectional semifinals, Monroe’s wrestling team has become a solid team in the Greater Middlesex Conference and force to be reckoned with in Central Jersey.

The team added more accomplishments to that ledger this winter, snapping South Plainfield High School’s 11-year streak to win the program’s first GMC championship on Feb. 1.

Monroe had 12 wrestlers place sixth or better in the GMC tournament for a total of 194 points, topping Piscataway High School by 18 points to take home the team title.

“Winning the Greater Middlesex Conference championship was a big step in the right direction for the program,” said Monroe coach Joe Eurell. “Winning the Red Division was a big thing for our team as well.”

The lone GMC champion for the Falcons was senior Ian McCabe in the 152-pound weight class.

McCabe rolled to his second straight conference title with a 9-0 major decision over South Plainfield’s Xavier Santos in the final.

The senior scored three consecutive pins to reach the title match. A qualifier in the state tournament last year, McCabe is 27-2 on the season.

Monroe had three wrestlers take home silver medals at the conference tournament. Joseph Fiordaliso, a 138-pounder, 145-pounder Anthony Profaci and 160-pounder Chris Fanelli each advanced to the final for Monroe, showing how strong the Falcons are in the middle of their lineup.

“It’s fun to be a part of people consider our strength,” McCabe said. “I love my teammates. They’re my brothers.”

In the 195-pound bracket, Nico Sta Ana rolled out a fourth place to lead the way in the upper weight classes for Monroe. 

Anthony Motard (120), Cristiano DelVecchio (132), Anthony Ceras (170), Justin Cholula-Conde (182) and Jack Richards (220) all placed fifth at the conference tournament.

Monroe picked up crucial points with Michael Mustillo (106) and Nick Stump (113) all getting on the podium by placing sixth. 

Monroe once again found itself in the semifinals of the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 5 Tournament, coasting past Marlboro High School in the quarterfinals for the second year in a row to a 49-15 victory on Feb. 10.

The Falcons’ run in the sectional tournament came to an end against powerful Hunterdon Central Regional High School in the semifinals on Feb. 12, losing by a count of 43-27, to the 2019 Group 5 state runner-up.

It’s the third straight season that Monroe has fallen in the semifinals and the second time the team has lost to Hunterdon Central, the first being during the 2017-2018 season.

The focus for the team will now shift to performing well at the District 24 Tournament on Feb. 22 at Delran High School.

Monroe, which placed third in the district’s team standings last year, is a contender for the team title this week.

“We’re on a mission this year and have a lot of goals we want to accomplish,” Fiordaliso said. 

Follow Steven Bassin on Twitter @SBassin_Sports