GLEN RIDGE, NJ-- As he begins his 12th season as head wrestling coach at Glen Ridge High, Kendall Southerland has had his share of outstanding teams and individual wrestlers. This season, the coach hopes to have a little of both, as the Ridgers prepare for the start of the 2019-2020 season.
Glen Ridge was scheduled to open the season on Dec. 20, with a match at home, against Columbia. On Dec. 21, the Ridgers head to the Irvington Tournament, beginning at 9 a.m.
Last season, Glen Ridge struggled in the regular season, with low numbers and a lot of injuries. But the team got its bearings in the post-season, sending three grapplers to the District 9 tournament, at Nutley High. Two of them, Jesse Samuelson and Iain Shaw, finished third in their respective weight class and earned a trip to the Region 3 championships.
Shaw and Samuelson are back this season, with Shaw, a senior, serving as the team captain.
The program has enjoyed its share of successes. Southerland has coached some talented wrestlers at Glen Ridge, including Nick DePhillips, who earned an NJSIAA medal in 2009 after winning a regional championship. Robbie Schwalbenberg also won region gold in 2009 and qualified for the state tournament. In 2014, John Faugno won a state medal, after a dominant season, and in 2018, Joe Marchesano had a tremendous run deep into the regionals after winning an Essex County crown.
In 2017, the team won the Super Essex Conference's Colonial Division championship.
Of course, the program's best wrestler was Joe Dubuque, who won back-to-back state titles in 2000 and 2001, under then-head coach Dirk Phillips. Dubuque went on to an All-American career at the University of Indiana, where he captured a pair of NCAA championships, in 2005 and 2006. Dubuque is now the assistant wrestling coach at Princeton University.
Tradition aside, Southerland's main focus is on this season.
"I think, in the conference we'll be competing in this year, we'll have a chance to be successful, as a team," the coach said. "We'd like to win the conference and get some kids to advance in the county, districts and regions."
The Ridgers' numbers are good this year, with five freshman out for the team and 16 overall on the roster.
Shaw should wrestle at 170 pounds this year while Samuelson, a junior, is expected to compete at 132 pounds. Dean Geraci, a junior, was expected to wrestle at 195 pounds for the first week of the season, then move down to 182 punds. James McCarren, a sophomore, could also wrestle at 182 or 195 pounds. Ryder Smith, a freshman could start at 145 or 152 pounds while another freshman, Mac Davidson, is looking good at 138 pounds. Steven Shepps, a sophomore who wrestled at 106 pounds last winter should be at 120 this year.
The remainder of the roster features senior Cole Fitton (145 pounds), juniors Stephen Nichols (195) and Lucas Umana (182), sophomores Jacob Chang (160) and Najm Wright (170) and freshmen Garrick Fuller (106), Andrew Benntt-Sines (120), Colin Monteleone (145) and Jake Russell (160).
The assistant coach is once again Carl Houser.