PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- The Piscataway High School wrestling team fell in a tight match to Monroe, 34-29, inside the Anthony Gym on Friday night.
The match featured the No. 2-ranked Falcons and No. 3 Chiefs in the Home News Tribune Top 10.
“It was close, but unfortunately it was the close in the wrong direction,” Piscataway coach Dan Smith said. “We didn’t want to lose this one.”
Piscataway (6-2) and Monroe (8-3) both won seven bouts with each team forfeiting one bout.
“We didn’t wrestle too bad. We were hoping our guys would have saved some bonus points from the other team and hoping our guys could have gotten more bonus points, but that’s our expectations every match. We have high standards. If you’re going to win you can win by more. But, Monroe was the better team tonight.”
The Chiefs won the first six of the seven matches. The dual started at 220-pounds with Piscataway earning six points right off the bat due to a forfeit. Then at heavyweight, Abrahim Mohamed scored a 4-0 decision against John Slover.
“Early on, we started with a forfeit. We bumped (Nick Lodato) up hoping he can get us a pin. He’s a talented wrestler. Then we got a really good win at heavyweight. It was a toss-up match. That was good to see,” Smith said. “(Abrahim) doesn’t have a lot of experience, but he showed to the other guys that you just have to keep wrestling until the end. That was big for us in the beginning.”
After Monroe got on the scoreboard with three points at 106, Piscataway reeled off four wins. Desmond Pleasant, at 113, won by way of a decision, 11-6, against Nick Stump. His brother, Deon Pleasant, followed him up with a big technical fall in 5:51 (24-9), over Anthony Motard and 126-pounder Kendall Jordan defeated Jayton Otlowski by major decision, 14-4. Joe Dulog capped the stretch with another strong tech fall (25-10) over Cristiano DelVecchio at 138.
“Our guy at 106 (Tyler Merring), he’s a new wrestler, but he hung in there and kept a guy who has a lot of experience to only a decision. At 113, their guy was more a lot more technical and tougher than we thought. It’s hard to get a read on a freshman. At 120 and 126, Deon and Kendall wrestled their butts off for lack of a better word. They pushed the pace,” Smith said. “You could tell their guys didn’t want to be on the mat and were just doing everything to just not get pinned. We ran up the scoreboard there. Dulog got a tech as well and pushed the pace.”
At this point, Piscataway led 26-3, but Monroe made its comeback. Two points, a tech fall, and a major decision cut the Chiefs lead to 26-24. Piscataway’s Marcus Petite gave his team three more points thanks to a decision (10-3) at 170, but he was hoping for more. An escape just before the final buzzer prevented a major decision.
Monroe then recorded a major decision at 185 for the lead and win and picked up a forfeit at 195.
“Petite is one of our better wrestlers,” Smith said. “We were hoping for a win plus bonus points, but he wrestled a good match. He has high standards for what his match outcomes are. He got the win, but knowing him and his experience, he has high expectations. I could tell he wasn’t too happy with the small margin win. He’s always pushing himself to get better.”
Earlier this season, Piscataway won the Anthony Caselli Invitational back in late December and finished in second before that at the Hopatcong Tournament. It then won six dual meets before South Plainfield, then-No. 18 in the NJ.com Top 20, edged the Chiefs, 32-31, on Wednesday.
South Plainfield is a four-time defending state champion and the Tigers haven’t lost a conference match since 2008. With close results to South Plainfield and Monroe - nobody from the coaches to the grapplers want to lose - there are still encouraging signs going forward.
Piscataway has a quad meet starting Saturday morning at Pingry.
“For us, it’s a confidence booster for the kids,” Smith said. “For some reason if the kids don’t believe in themselves, we know we can hang and beat teams that are a notch higher than us. We’re right there with them. If one match goes another way, we can beat them. It’s hard on the kids seeing all the work you do and the match as a whole comes down to a point here and there. It can be devastating, but that just shows they care about their performance and the team to be affected by that. Nobody is celebrating a loss.”
Follow Chris Nalwasky on Twitter @ChrisWasky.
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