PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- The fourth-seeded Piscataway High School wrestling team beat fifth-seeded Elizabeth, 40-33, in the first round of the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 5 state tournament on Monday night.
Elizabeth (18-7) led 27-25 with four matches to go, but Piscataway (12-7) took three of the four for the victory. The dual started at 138 pounds.
“Winning the coin toss helped us out as it would in any dual meet. The match score was pretty close for the duration of the meet,” Piscataway coach Dan Smith said. “They have some tough wrestlers in their lineup.”
After Elizabeth got a pin at 106, Desmond Pleasant at 113 for the Chiefs recorded a key fall in 1:50 to give his team the lead for good. Then, at 120, his brother Deon Pleasant edged his opponent, 7-4, for another three points. Kendall Jordan followed with a win by forfeit and the match was Piscataway’s.
“One of the biggest standout matches was at 120 with Deon against Jasiah Queen,” Smith said. “It was a hard-fought, six-minute, exciting bout with two talented wrestlers. In the end we came out on top.”
Dan Mikita started off the night with a comeback pin in 3:50. Mikita trailed in the match, but didn’t give up. At 152, Jake Sisk notched a 13-5 major decision as the Chiefs took a 10-6 lead after they conceded a pin.
Piscataway reeled-off two more wins in a row as Gage Bendix recorded a tight 8-7 win at 160 and Marcus Petite, at 170, pinned his foe in 1:38. Nicholas Lodato also came through with a fall in 4:21 at 195.
“The opening match, Mikita came back from a few point deficit to pin his opponent which definitely put the team and the crowd in the mindset,” Smith said. “Also getting pins from Petite, Lodato, and Desmond was big for us.”
For Elizabeth, Julio Sanchez (145), Anthony Rodriguez (182), Moses Olowoopejo (285), and Cristian Luzua(106) all won by falls, while Gerome Abad won by a decision at 220, and Rony Hernandez at 132 earned six points at the very end thanks to a forfeit that didn’t matter.
Next up, the runner-up from the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament will battle either top-seeded Westfield on the road or eighth-seeded Perth Amboy at home in the sectional semifinals on Wednesday evening.
Second-seeded Watchung Hills will meet sixth-seeded Bridgewater-Raritan in the other semifinal.
“We are just looking to try and keep our team healthy as possible going into it,” Smith said. “It’s going to take good, smart, and fundamental wrestling to overcome Westfield’s balanced lineup to move on to the final. I know we are capable of doing so with the guys we have.”
Follow Chris Nalwasky on Twitter @ChrisWasky.
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