EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - Victory by a wrestling team requires a combination of dominant wins, close losses, upsets, and shrewd coaching moves that has 14 individual matches add up to a total team win. On Wednesday, January 11th the East Brunswick High School Wrestling Team had all of this come together and the result was a surprise victory over rival Old Bridge in the annual Greg DeMarco Memorial Match. Coach DeMarco passed away 8 years ago after many years of coaching at Madison/Old Bridge High School and then East Brunswick High School and the two teams honor his memory with a memorial match each season with a wrestler from each team earning the Greg DeMarco award for outstanding performance.
Old Bridge entered the match heavily favored over East Brunswick, which features a few wrestlers looking to place at the state tournament this year and a bunch of scrappy kids trying to improve each week. Senior Alec Gleason led the match off with a dominating take-down clinic in a 24-9 win that set the tone for the day of an aggressive East Brunswick team. Trent Stocki hit the mat next and ground out a tight 3-1 victory that surprised Old Bridge. The first upset of the night followed when Christian Perrine won in double overtime and set off some celebrating in the gym. Close losses help as they do not give up bonus points that build the team score and next up was Mark Basilious who hung in tough for 4-2 loss and then was followed by another minor upset when Mina Meshriky won 3-1 after riding the wave of a first period take down.
Now a third of the way through the match you could sense the possibility of an upset and both coaching staffs started to make some line up adjustments by bumping wrestlers to get what they felt was better chances for victory and minimizing defeats. Kerolos Danyal went out at 170lbs and Old Bridge sent out their best wrestler with the expectation of pinning Danyal and avoiding East Brunswick’s 182lb wrestler Jason Minikel. Danyal frustrated the Old Bridge wrestler for the entire match and had a ‘good loss’ by losing close and only giving up 1 bonus point. The payoff came back big in the next match when Jason bumped up to 182lb and dominated his opponent for the entire match and took a 13-0 lead to the final seconds when he secured the pin – and the important 3 team bonus points. Following Jason, Daniel Mattar jumped in at 195 from the JV squad and fought to a 2-0 loss and was followed by fellow JV teammate Youseff Gammel who took a forfeit win to allow Taylor Tiongson to step up to HWT. Facing a much heavier opponent didn’t deter Taylor who attacked his way to a victory
With four matches remaining, East Brunswick had Old Bridge on the ropes and Matt Wendell stepped onto the mat at 106 and secured the team victory with an exciting, double-overtime, upset win where points piled up in the high-scoring match. Andrew Zuckerman filled in at 113 allowing Louis LaRocca to bump up to fill in for an ill starter at 120 and the two of them battled to the end against their opponents. Senior Captain Mark Schleifer took the mat for the final match and methodically ground his way to a victory and wrap up the 36-20 victory.
Upon completion of the match, awards were given to East Brunswick’s Jason Minikel and Old Bridge’s Javi Espinosa for their outstanding performances in the match. Jason is a senior wrestler who is bouncing back from an injury-plagued junior year and is a Team Captain who often leads by example such as bumping up weight classes to gain team bonus points. The victory against Old Bridge led the Bears into a successful weekend where they went 3-0 in a quad match in Jackson and the highlight of the day was senior Team Captain Mark Schleifer winning his 100th career match – joining an exclusive list of only 4 other East Brunswick wrestlers in the long history of the high school. The Bears raised their record to 6-4 after the weekend sweep in Jackson.