CEDAR GROVE, NJ - The Cedar Grove Panthers wrestling team is continuing to grow following a 58-18 victory on ‘Senior Night’ over Orange High School on Wednesday.
“It was exciting for our three seniors…it was good to see them in action for one last time,” said Head Coach Rami Ratel.
After falling in the opening matchup, Cedar Grove responded with seven consecutive victories in the contest. Dominic Tafuri, on his senior night, was able to rebound from an opening takedown for a 14-6 major decision victory.
“It feels great. I got taken down first and I don’t like to get taken down first. I usually like to be the first to score, but it’s all right. I stayed in the match and got a big win tonight,” said Tafuri.
Tafuri has been a staple on the squad over the last four seasons. This year the senior leads the club in victories with 19 to his name to just two losses.
“I’m just being aggressive, getting in front and getting the first shot,” said Tafuri.
Tafuri was joined by fellow senior Sebastiano Locascio. Each were able to get another home victory in front of their family and friends.
After a forfeit victory at 120, the Panthers were able to get pin-fall victories in three of the next four matches. Antonio Cuffari, William Messenger, and Nick Catalano each collected wins at the 138, 145, and 152 pounds class. The three veterans are 35 and 27 on the year respectively.
“Those guys are not so green, so that’s when you see good things out of those guys,” said Ratel.
While the experienced members of the team may have stolen the spotlight on the night, some underclassmen were able to shine through and show a bright future. Mike Willis collected his first victory of the year by way of pin-fall.
“We’ve got a lot of green guys on our team who have to learn a bit more, and we have to plug them in because we don’t have numbers on our team. The best way to learn is practice and when they get out here with a little experience they get to see where their flaws are, and they correct them,” said Ratel.
Junior Nick Bianco rounded out the scoring in head-to-head matches for Cedar Grove. Bianco collected his 14th victory of the season by way of a decision fall.
“We’re doing our job on top,” said Ratel.
The victory improves the Panthers to 5-9 on the season breaking a previous three match-losing streak. The team looks to continue to grow and improve with the District Tournament rapidly approaching.
“We’ve got a long way to go. We had a dominant victory tonight, but we are far from where we need to get to. We’re going to practice hard and continue to go forward every day and hopefully we’re wrestling our best come District time,” said Ratel.
TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.
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