BY GABY MALANGA AND FRANK PAPEO
Assistant Sports Editors
In their first year as a full team, the girls finished 3rd as a team in the GMC tournament, with girls making the finals in five of ten weight classes. Madeline Gavares, Adriana Farese, and team captain Emma Sagi each placed first overall in their classes, while Jenna Magrino and Aurora Gardner placed second.
Sagi, a junior who finished second in her class last year, pinned her finals opponent in just 18 seconds to take the championship and was awarded the title of 2023 GMC Lower Weight Outstanding Wrestler. “It feels extremely rewarding and like all my hard work is starting to pay off,” expressed Sagi, whose record currently stands at 13-3.
Sagi, who participated in the wrestling program before the inclusive girls’ team was formed, is beyond thrilled with the addition of the team. “Being a part of the team is extremely rewarding and exciting,” Sagi stated.
When the girls took to the mat against North Hunterdon to start the season, it marked the first ever meet of its kind for Old Bridge. Senior Madeline Gavares, who has earned a 9-4 record, explained, “It was Old Bridge’s first ever female dual meet and, though we didn’t come out on top, we made history, and I think that’s more important than winning.”
Although they haven’t had a team to call their own, some of these girls have wrestled competitively for years. “It feels really good,” explained senior Aurora Gardner. “I’ve been wrestling since middle school. It’s awesome to see how far it’s come.”
Coming off a two-year hiatus due to injury, Gavares fought to get back in championship form. “I was the first ever crowned GMC Champion for girls freshman year, and now I got to come full circle senior year with a second title,” said Gavares, who placed first overall in her weight class in the tournament after taking the same title in the first ever girls GMC Tournament in 2019.
Gavares’ preparation and determination paid off on the mat as she took home the gold. “At GMCs, I had a plan, and I trusted that plan, so I had more confidence,” explained Gavares. “I also listened to my coaches. They always say they believe in me, and I should believe in myself, so I did just that.”
For other girls on the team, this season was the first time they have ever wrestled competitively, but that hasn’t slowed them down. According to Coach John Post, “First year wrestlers Kayla McGrath and Jenna Magrino have impressed with their quick learning, as evident by their 8-4 and 12-4 records, respectively.”
Junior Adriana Farese took first place in GMCs despite her inexperience. “It is honestly the best feeling in the world and since this is my first year wrestling,” shared Farese. “I am so proud of myself.
Whatever their experience coming into the season, the girls have grown individually and as a team. “At the Ron Mazzola Memorial Tournament, a bunch of the girls placed, making us win the tournament overall,” shared Gardner, who has wrestled her way to a 12-4 record. “The win gave us the confidence to keep going.”
The historic show the girls have put on represents the realization of a goal for both the girls and their coach. “I have been waiting for a year like this where we can roll out a full line-up and see how we stack up against other schools,” Coach Post explained. “It’s been a lot of fun.”
The girls wrestle again at home against Tottenville on February 1.
Posted on 1/19/23
Photos by Reese SanAgustin