WESTFIELD, NJ — Utter silence.
That was the sound at Westfield High School’s gym as the top-seeded Blue Devils realized their chances of a wrestling sectional title were no more.
Westfield lost to second-seeded Watchung Hills in the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 5 tournament final, 37-27, in Friday night’s match.
This is the third straight year Westfield has lost in the sectional final, although the first at home. Watchung Hills has now eliminated Westfield from the sectional tournament in four straight years, including the last three in the sectional final.
“Congratulations to Watchung Hills,” said understandably disappointed Westfield head coach Glen Kurz. “They were the better team tonight.”
Watchung Hills’ 113-pounder Dylan Kolakowski sealed the win with a pin. The Warriors and their fans in attendance celebrated their third straight sectional title. On the other side of the gym, Westfield was stunned.
“It feels good to win,” Kolakowski said. “I started off and felt nervous. Throughout the match when I heard the crowd cheering for me I felt good. I got confidence and I won.”
Westfield (16-3) took a 12-0 lead in Friday’s final after Watchung Hills forfeited at 126, the starting weight, Jeremy Silber took a 6-5 decision over Christian Calvo at 132 and Michael Murphy won a 10-4 decision over Lenny Calvo at 138.
At 145, Watchung Hills’ Jake Bash took an 8-3 decision over Anthony Ciotta that cut Westfield’s lead to 12-3.
It was likely at 152 when the momentum shifted. Jack Murray earned a fall in 1:32 and Watchung Hills was within three points at 12-9.
“Murray has been rock-solid all year,” said Watchung Hills’ head coach Jim Huff. “If there is one guy I want out there to put the work in, it’s Murray. He went out there, knew he had a job to do, and he went out there and got it done.”
Chris Baker tied the match at 12 after winning a 5-2 decision at 160 for the Warriors. Blake Bahna then won an 18-5 major at 170 that gave Watchung Hills a 16-12 advantage.
It wouldn’t take long for Westfield to regain control.
The Blue Devils’ Luke Scanlan won by fall in 2:40 at 182, giving the home team an 18-16 lead.
Watchung Hills went up 22-18 after 195-pounder Gerard Aroneo won by fall in 2:28.
At 220, John Dusza won a 10-2 major for Watchung Hills. Westfield won at heavyweight, as John Heard defeated Hunter Seubert in a 5-0 decision, adding three points to Westfield’s team score and making it 26-21 in favor of Watchung Hills.
The Warriors had a huge result at 106 pounds, as Nico Calello won by tech fall in 4:58, which gave the two-time defending champs a 31-21 lead, meaning Westfield needed big-time results in the final two bouts.
Kolakowski put an end to that thought with his fall at 113.
Following the match, Huff gave Westfield’s program a ton of praise.
“Glen Kurz runs a top-notch program,” the Watchung Hills’ coach said. “He is what I strive to be. With all of his experience and years, I really ask him a lot of questions in the offseason. He is such a good guy and runs a really good program. The kids are great because of it.”