February 20, 2014 at 1:01 AM
WEST CALDWELL, NJ - On Saturday, the Caldwell Junior Wrestling Team faced their crosstown rival and perennial league top four team - West Essex. The afternoon ended with Caldwell defeating the Knights by a score of 48-34. With the win, the Chiefs became the 2013 - 2014 undefeated Suburban Essex Junior Wrestling League champions.
This season was Caldwell' first undefeated one since 2001. The team was led by captains Jerry Jones, Thomas Rodgers and Kyle Schaffer. Finishing the regular season campaign with undefeated records were brothers Darren and Jerry Jones.
Wrestling is often viewed as an individual sport but this season had so many crucial contributions by everyone in the line-up that it substantiated that it has to be a team effort for the kind of success Caldwell had. Long-time head coach Tom Martin each day has preached that any individual can make a difference and this year proved him correct. Whether it was by wrestling up a weight class or two, getting a significant win or even by keeping a match close, this season's team was incredibly unselfish and willing to what they could to help. A prime example was the match against another rival, Verona, where the whole meet came down to first-year wrestler, Stephen Murphy, who needed to simply not lose by more than seven points. By incredible will and effort, Murphy accomplished the task and when the final whistle blew, the Chief's faithful erupted and in his loss he won the meet for his team.
The West Essex meet had the locals down 34-12 with the only wins by twins Alex ad Darren Jones who both came up with critical pins. Up came tri-captain Jerry Jones, who provided another stellar performance and pin. Next came the turning point of the meet (at least emotionally) with Bryce Bayard facing a really good wrestler from West Essex. With the outcome very uncertain, Bryce became another important unselfish contributor and went out focused and determined. Bayard pinned his opponent in the first period. Next came Thomas Rodgers at 126lbs, Kyle Schaffer at 135, Ryan Naturale at 145 and Stephen Murphy at heavyweight; all getting six-point victories to seal the undefeated season.
Credit: Caldwell Jr. Wrestling