BY GABY MALANGA AND FRANK PAPEO
Assistant Sports Editors
After wins over two top-twenty teams and placing second in the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament, the dominant boys wrestling team moved to number 18 in the NJWWA rankings. The team now moves on to the State tournament, entering as the number four seed in the Central Jersey Group V NJSIAA bracket.
Junior Logan Roman, who pinned every opponent he faced in the GMC tournament to lead the team with 30 points, showed up ready to wrestle and was crowned champion of his weight class. “I was prepared,” Logan stated. “I did double practices all week. I wrestled well on Friday. Saturday, I was looking forward to wrestling my finals match, but I didn’t have one. CJ McCrae from Sayreville used a medical forfeit.”
Having a good mindset was key going into the finals for senior Daniel Hennessey. Hennessey explained his focus: “Don’t worry about who they are, and let my hard work do the talking.” Earning the crown for his respected weight class, Danny closed out his senior season in the GMCs by taking first place.
Tyler Sagi placed first in his class, earning the team 29 points on three pins and a major decision. For the second straight year, Sagi was named GMC Outstanding Wrestler, a title also earned by his sister Emma Sagi in the girls tournament. The two are the first brother and sister duo to receive the award in the GMCs.
Jesse Koczon earned the team 23.5 points on two pins and a tech fall to take second place in his class. “I think staying focused and wrestling my best was a key factor in that,” Kozcon said.
St. Joseph took first place and St. Thomas finished third, meaning Old Bridge was the only public school to make the top three. “Going into these tougher matches, you have to have a different mindset of knowing what your job is to do and get bonus points, and that’s what I did,” explained Nicholas Caruso who racked up three pins on his way to a third-place finish, earning 16 points for the team.
Avery Mack, 21 points on three pins, Brandon Koczon, 20 points on three pins, Robert Orzol, 19 points on three pins, and Austin Miller, 20 points on three pins, each also earned third place finishes in their classes.
Another highlight this season came on January 13. After coming up short against Red Division rival South Plainfield for 27 straight seasons, the Knights tamed the Tigers 48-21 behind pins from Gage Gojani, Joseph Nalewaijko, Sagi, and Caruso. “Beating South Plainfield who was ranked #15 in the state at the time felt good, as we haven’t beaten them since 1996,” head coach John Post explained.
The boys entered the South Plainfield match determined to earn a win. “Going into it, it was tunnel vision, just us winning and that’s it,” stated senior Jesse Koczon, who earned the win in his weight-class versus South Plainfield.
Although the Old Bridge victory may have surprised outsiders, the boys knew they were ready. “We had a lot of confidence going into it,” senior Robert Orzol stated. “We all had a job to do, and I think we accomplished it.”
Nine days after taking down South Plainfield, the team headed into Cougar territory to take on the 16th ranked team in New Jersey, Cranford. But the Knights put the cougars to rest. Avery Mack, Brandon Koczon, Jake Tenebruso, Roman, and Caruso all pinned their opponents, helping the team win 37-30. “It’s a huge accomplishment for us as a team, we put out our best line of wrestlers each week in hopes for the best outcome,” said Roman. “The recognition for our team is well deserved and we will keep climbing the rankings.”
The entire wrestling program has made history on the mat this season, and the team is not done yet. “We feel like we are one of the best teams in the state and feel we have what it takes to win,” Post stated.
After the GMC tournament, the season is only halfway done. With the state tournament around the corner, the team is preparing for the chance to be named State Champions. “I’m looking forward to the rest of the season,” shared Roman.
The team will take on Kingsway Regional on the road on February 2 before their final home match of the season, a tri-meet, on February 4 at 9:00 am.
Posted on 1/31/23
Photos by Seamus Tierney and Reese SanAugustin