MADISON, NJ - For the first time in school history, the Madison High School wrestling team wrestled outside in the open air. And what a breath of fresh air it was. The Dodgers overwhelmed Millburn on the mats, 64-18. Madison wrestlers dominated the match, but it was the unique surroundings that were the story.
The Dodgers wrestled with a slight breeze here, and a little gust of wind there. There was some cloud cover at times and the sun broke through at other times. When some wrestlers sat on the bench, they wore their heavy varsity jackets while being socially distanced. Fans sat in the football bleachers or leaned against the fence that surrounds the football field.
It was definitely a different look, that's for sure. That being said, Madison coach Mike Goodwin wants to roll up the mats and bring them back inside -- back to a nice, normal, COVID-free season. Goodwin wants to leave any hint of the coronavirus outside in the cold during the 2021-22 season.
He would prefer to come back next year with a typical wrestling season: An indoor season beginning in mid-December, one with a Christmas Tournament, Morris County Tournament and dual meets, capped off with districts, regions and states.
No COVID work stoppages, no masks, no social distancing.
"Just return to what we have always done," Goodwin said. "It was very exciting. The kids were excited. The kids thought it was great to be outside, get on the mat and wrestle somebody. We have a large amount of kids with no spring sports, so it was a big event for Madison, the first time ever wrestling outside as far as I know."
As thrilling as it was for the athletes, Goodwin doesn't want to make a habit out of it.
"Hopefully it'll be the last one," Goodwin said. "For this year, it was perfect. Every team that did it, loved it."
The wrestlers wouldn't mind a return outside in the future and they made their feelings known.
Madison 138-pounder Jason Candelario, one of the Madison wrestlers who would be competing at Region 3-4 at Union High School later in the day, was a little disappointed. Candelario preferred being at the regions and having a chance to compete in the state tournament next week, but he did feel a little left out in the cold, as it were.
The same goes for 113-pound Sean Narayan, who lost in his regional first-round match to Seton Hall Prep's Joseph Sciarrone, who pinned Narayan in 2:54.
"Jason wanted to wrestle outside and so did Sean," Goodwin said. "They were a little upset. They would like to have wrestled in it. It was cool to have it in the open air. It had a different feel."
Goodwin said that he knows of schools who often practice outdoors such as Parsippany Hills, but that is because the Vikings have lighter mats that can be easily transported. Madison cannot operate in that fashion.
"Someday, maybe we can do that," he said, "but not in the near future anyway."
One of the leaders in the Madison victory over Millburn was 138-pounder Carlos Dominguez, who pinned Zach Pierce in 2:06.
"Carlos filled in for Jason and did a nice job for us," Goodwin said.
Madison's Nick Olson (132), meanwhile, beat Grant Sanders, 12-1.
"Nick is a senior," Goodwin said. "He's been looking good. A full season would have been great for him, maybe to end his season at the regions. He has been looking good."
At 220, Madison's Skyler Pastro decked Dajea Semelfort in 1:30.
"Skyler is one of our bigger kids and he did a nice job," Goodwin said.
At 152, Clayton Schumm, who took two year off after wrestling in Madison's Rec program, beat Brett Molka with a fall in 2:55.
"Clayton looks good," Goodwin said. "He has explosive moves, has good balance, and he is long."
At 126, Madison's Anthony Collins pinned Alex Morales in 2:47 and Thomas Packie pinned Ilem Leischer in 3:00.
Madison won five weight classes by forfeit.