RANDOLPH, NJ- In their match on Wednesday Jan. 29, The Randolph and Roxbury wrestling teams used their long standing rivalry as a platform to benefit the Interfaith Food Pantry. The “Rivals Take Down Hunger” match has become an annual event between the towns, comprising wrestlers from the youth recreation league (fourth through eighth graders), the high school JV squads, and finally the feature match between Varsity squads.
The towns have jointly sponsored and hosted this program for six years now. Randolph Varsity Wrestling coach Mike Suk explained “Each year we trade off, and take turns on who is the host team to sponsor the event. It’s great because the kids get involved. The recreation level kids collect and box the food, and the high school kids are responsible for delivering the food to the pantry the next day.”
The youth level and JV teams' matches were held simultaneously on either side of the gym. The Randolph JV squad had a strong showing, and ended up winning their match by a score of 50-36. On the youth side, it was a dramatic and exciting ending for the Randolph team. Trailing by 7 points late, their last two wrestlers won to propel them to a 40-38 come from behind victory.
The main event began with an introduction of the seniors on the Randolph squad. Each of them mentioned and thanked an individual who had a positive influence on them. With all the lights off and the gym dark, a single light illuminated the mat in the center of the floor.
The match began well and ended well for the Rams, but in between they struggled to find their way. The heavyweights kicked things off, and the boys found themselves locked in a 2-2 tie with the third round winding down. In the waning seconds, Randolph scored a point to pull out a 3-2 win just before the buzzer.
After that win came a number of match ups in which the Rams wrestlers battled valiantly, but they continued to come up short on points. A few pins for the Roxbury team propelled them to a big lead. Randolph finished strong and gave their fans something to cheer about, getting a pin in the final match up of the evening. The overall final was 41-18.
Mike Suk, who has been coaching the Rams wrestlers for 20 years, summed up the match “We just need to be more aggressive, our kids need to be the aggressor more and get after it. But they are all working hard, making good progress, and they are starting to believe, so I am happy about that.”
With over 15 boxes filled with all kinds of non-perishable food items, the organizers dubbed the evening a success. As one of the event volunteers explained, each year this night is a success and it is a win for all involved. The kids enjoy fun competitive matches, they learn about giving back and helping those in need. The biggest winners are the Food Pantry and the individuals they help to feed.