SOUTH BRUNSWICK- Maintaining a prodigious athletic program isn’t easy, but the South Plainfield High School wrestling team has a way of making it seem like it is, especially when it comes to conference competition.
On Friday, the #3 Tigers (22-1) will get to begin competition for yet another GMC title, but tonight, the team took care of some Red Division business during their away match against South Brunswick (2-12). South Plainfield dispatched their opponents in all but one match, and even got to put some of their less experienced wrestlers out on the mat en-route to a 61-6 win over the Vikings.
“We got some of our backups in there, and we have some kids at home practicing, so it worked out well,” said South Plainfield head coach Bill Pavlak. “They’re in our division, and they’re a little down this year but we had some competitive matches in JV and varsity. It was what we expected and I think our guys handled it well.”
Pinfalls came quickly and seemingly easily for the Tigers tonight. Junior standout Joe Heilmann recorded the ninth pin of his season when he notched a fall over Matthew Castimore 80 seconds into the first match of the night at 126 pounds.
Thomas Fierro used a head and arm throw to get a 40 second pin over Arjun Khatri at 106 pounds, while senior co-captain Jake Giordano, and 113 pounder Alex Amato recorded pins in their matches.
Sophomore Sebastian Santos got called up to varsity, and made the most of his opportunity when he utilized a cradle to pin Jonah Boulware in 93 seconds.
The Tigers also used backup wrestler E-Jay Jones at 138 pounds. The South Plainfield freshman showed some promise as he hit an early takedown and scored back points against CJ Smith in the first period. Unfortunately for Jones, Smith was able to turn the tide with a throw of his own and ended up getting a pin, and South Brunswick’s only points of the night.
Pavlak spoke candidly of his younger wrestlers after the match.
“We saw Sebastian Santos do a nice job, and we had E-Jay at 138 who was wrestling well against one of their tough kids,” the coach said. “(Jones) was up 5-3, but he got thrown to his back and pinned. That was a little disappointing, but he’s a freshman. He’s coming along, and we’re hoping next year he can get some more matches at the varsity level, but we need to stay off our backs, and he knows that.”
The Tigers will begin the first leg of their journey for their ninth straight GMC team title at Piscataway High School on Friday. South Plainfield is the favorite for the team title, but the rest of the GMC, especially #15 Monroe, will be looking to take a few individual podium spots away from the Tigers.
Pavlak said he expects a lot of finals appearances out of his team.
“The expectation is always to win of course, and you want to have a lot of green in the finals,” the coach said.” That’s our goal, to pile up a lot of points early on, and hopefully when they turn off the lights at Piscataway at six o’clock on Saturday, we’ll have six or seven guys in the finals. That’ll make it a fun night.”
“If you have a team that’s competing for a section or competing for a group, you should be able to come out ahead in the conference tournament,” Pavlak added. “You should have a lot of guys placing at the top, if you’re a powerhouse in the state.”