CHATHAM, NJ - On the first day of wrestling practice, the Chatham team was taught the "Turk" move by head coach Brian Cassera. On Saturday, during a quad meet with Weequahic, Mountain Lakes and Morris Catholic, it finally started to click in.
"We actually started showing moves that we work on in the wrestling room that never come out during the match," senior co-captain Brian Weber said. "We don't really use it until we see it work. Today, we tried it a lot more. The Turk was the first move we were showed and no one did it correctly until today."
Chatham (6-7) may have turned the corner as a team, sweeping its three matches, 78-0 over Weequahic; 53-21 over Mountain Lakes and 48-36 over Morris Catholic.
An undermanned Weequahic team was forced to forfeit a number of weight classes, but it was a good start to the quad meet for Chatham grapplers Weber (160 pounds), P.J. Joel (113) and 132-pounder Luke Ciccarelli. All three posted pins, as did sophomore Sean Smiley, who used the Turk move to notch his first varsity win at 145 pounds by fall in 5:03.
"I used the Turk," Smiley said. "It felt really good to get my first one."
Sophomores Joel and Ciccarelli each had an exceptional day. Joel won all three of his matches by pin. Ciccarelli posted two pins and a major decision.
"They're both sophomores and they're really on their way to big careers for sure," Cassera said. "P.J. won all of his scrambles. When the match gets chaotic and no one's in control, he always seems to come out on top. Even when he makes mistakes, he keeps wrestling. He's smart about the situation.
"Luke had a big win against Mountain Lakes against a wrestler he won and lost to last year. He won with a major decision. The Mountain Lakes match was a big one because we won all the swing matches."
Chatham posted 15 pins combined in the three matches, but the competition against Mountain Lakes brought out the best in the Cougars, who notched seven wins by fall and scored two major decisions in the match.
Alex Wilson started off the match with a pin in 4:34 at 195 for Chatham. Lucas Montano lost, 2-1, in double overtime at 220 before the Cougars reeled off four straight pins by heavyweight Mike Kellstrom in 1:24; James Paskalides in :36 seconds at 106; Joel in 4:56 at 113 and Brett Cain in 1:16 at 120.
"After I snapped the kid, he gave me the cradle, so I took it," Paskalides said.
Another sophomore with a big day was 170-pounder Tim Rohe, who used a bear hug to nail down a pin vs. Mountain Lakes in 5:21 and then dispatched his Morris Catholic opponent in 1:09.
"Rohe has been wrestling real well," Cassera said.
Joel was determined to snap a personal losing streak and he did it in a big way with his three falls.
"I just knew I had to come out strong," Joel, now 9-7, said. "I lost four matches in a row. It felt good to get back to winning. If I get into a scramble, I try to regain my composure as quick as possible and use it to my advantage."
Ciccarelli, now 10-3, was ready for Nick Palazzi of Mountain Lakes. He was in control from the start and won his major decision, 9-1.
"I had it in my mind that I was going to beat him and I did," Ciccarelli said. "I didn't let him get any cheap points. The more aggressive I wrestle, the better."
In the Mountain Lakes match, Chatham also received a pin in 2:17 from 182-pounder Chris Kinder, a 9-1 major decision by Weber and a 5-2 decision by Manny Rodriguez at 126.
Chatham junior heavyweight Mike Kellstrom pins his opponent for Mountain Lakes
James Paskalides pinned his opponent in 36 seconds for Chatham at 106 pounds
P.J. Joel uses a single-leg takedown in posting his pin at 113 pounds for Chatham vs. Mountain Lakes
Tim Rohe uses a bear hug on the way to posting pin at 170 pounds for Chatham
Senior Brian Weber wins a major decison at 160 pounds for Chatham