CHATHAM, NJ - P.J. Joel has been brought to his knees in recent matches this wrestling season. That's actually a good sign for the Chatham senior.
"He's had to wrestle a lot of the season by staying off his knees, which is a big part of his offense, taking shots," Chatham coach Brian Cassera said. "He's really had to avoid banging his knees really hard. He seems to be feeling a lot better and wrestling with more confidence now. He was struggling to make it through practice a few weeks ago."
Joel made another step toward a full recovery from his knee injury on Monday night in helping Chatham score a 36-24 wrestling victory over Barringer.
Joel contributed six points to the win with a pin over Jamil Morel of Barringer at 138 pounds. Freshman Connor Cortese notched the other pin for the Cougars in 3:52 over Disan Singelton at 113 pounds.
Joel, now 7-4, was limited to two matches last year before knee surgery cut his season short. Last fall, the wide receiver for the football team suffered bursa sac damage to his non-surgical knee. That kept him out of the current season until this month.
"It feels really good to be back," Joel said. "I was just itching to get back on the mat and help the team. It felt really good at counties, even though I lost. It's feeling better every day. I just want to leave it all out there on the mat and see what happens."
Although he tried to work out and stay in shape while he was sidelined, Joel admits that there was no way to get into wrestling shape until he returned to the mat. He figures he's "90 percent" healthy right now.
"I'm just setting small goals right now," he said. "I'm trying to finish the season over .500 and then taking it to districts and hopefully getting a spot in regions. Who knows what can happen from there?"
Chatham's P.J. Joel scores a fall at 138 pounds over Jamil Morel of Barringer on Monday
Cougar Connor Cortese notches the pin over Disan Singelton at 113 pounds for Chatham