WEST CALDWELL, NJ — The Chiefs of James Caldwell High School fell to the Mendham Minutemen wrestling team 40-30 on Thursday and finished out its regular season with a 45-21 loss to Emerson Boro on Friday.
After two-consecutive victories from Stephen and John Murphy at 220 and 285 pounds, respectively, on Thursday, the Chiefs were in the driver’s seat after scoring a major decision from Darren Jones at 106.
The disparate scoring tipped Mendham’s way following the major decision, as Mendham would go on to claim seven of the next nine matches at Caldwell’s senior day. Kyle Shaffer scored the last victory of the night for Caldwell after defeating Michael Servais by decision, 5-0. Christian Dalla Riva was awarded a forfeit at 195 to bring the somewhat lopsided score back to a final of 40-30.
Head coach Gary Garamella noted the positives after a tough loss following the strong start from his squad.
“We won seven matches but still lost. Gave away bonus points, but had a good night,” he said.
Garamella also noted the importance of Thursday night’s match against Mendham in preparing for the state tournament, which begins for Caldwell on Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. against Ridgefield Park. Caldwell enters the North 2, Group 2 state tournament as the No. 2 seed behind only Hanover Park.
With the two losses this week, the Chiefs fall to 13-4, but still retain the No. 2 seed in their section. Garamella said he still has his eyes on the next opponent.
“We’re not looking past anybody,” he said. “Our goal is to get to the sectional final and to stay healthy.”
As the post-season nears, Garamella will turn to a few of his ranked wrestlers to lead the team in the tournament. In NJ.com’s latest individual rankings, freshman Alex Jones at 132 pounds and senior Christian Dalla Riva at 182 are both ranked the No. 8 wrestler in their respective divisions. Other contributors, such as the Murphy brothers, Stephen and John, and the Jones brothers, Gerald, Alex and Darren, are also expected to play roles in the state tournament.