SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ – A special night for both the wrestling community and Scotch Plains-Fanwood upperclassmen ended just how the Raiders imagined on Friday night, as the team rallied behind a huge crowd to beat Westfield on Senior Night, 37-25.

With both teams outfitted in Pin Cancer singlets, the Raiders took a substantial lead out of the gate when senior Guillaume Hardin pinned Alan Dente at 145 pounds.

“This big of a fan base behind you gives you a lot of momentum and just pressure, but good pressure. It makes you do what you’re supposed to do,” Hardin said. “I lost to the kid last year at the end, and this year I didn’t want to lose to Westfield. In the third period I caught him at the edge and wasn’t going to let him climb out of bounds so I basically yanked him in and got the pin. It was a great feeling and revenge at its finest.”

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A decision victory from freshman Alex Oslislo along with a forfeit at 220 pounds helped the Raiders hold on to their lead before seniors Nadim Korkmaz, Jashmar Philippe and George Ramos all pulled off opportune wins.

The victory called on wrestlers of all ages, shapes and sizes however, as sophomore Justin Sidebottom amplified the crowd with a last-second win in the 113-pound bout. Down 3-2 in the final moments, a visibly worn Sidebottom executed a textbook reversal to secure the win.

“Sidebottom threw up, came back, wrestled, was sick again, but I knew he could do it,” Fabiano said. “I believed in him. I told him to get back in there. He wrestled his butt off and came out with the win in the end. That’s what our team is all about, fighting til the end.”

At heavyweight, Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s Jalen Bryant used speed to his advantage against Phil Ricca, scoring three takedowns. The senior credited the boisterous Raider Nation for always being supportive ‘through thick and thin.’

“I like having space between me and the other opponent and beating him in space – getting to him first before he gets to me,” Bryant said. “The four years I’ve been wrestling, all that time led up to this moment right here. I realized I’ll never get this moment again, never get this many people to see me wrestling in this gym again and I just made the most of it. All the hard work and dedication finally paid off tonight and it’s a great feeling.”

Bryant plans on attending Penn State University next year, where he will study chemical engineering. With only one match left before the postseason, the senior is poised for a run at the District Tournament as he fluctuates between the 220 and 285 weight classes.

“He’s improving every time with his takedowns,” head coach Marc Fabiano said. “Now he’s understanding getting his hips down, finishing the takedown and dragging his knees in. He’s doing all those things right and starting to peak at the end of the season.”

MATCH RESULTS:

145: Guillaume Hardin (SPF) over Alan Dente (WF) – Pin 4:52
152: Alex Oslislo (SPF) over Ben Kwok (WF) – Decision 3-1
160: Isaiah Reese (WF) over Mikey Ramos (SPF) – Decision 7-1
170: Jack Miller (WF) over Zach Fleischman (SPF) – Technical fall 21-6
182: Jarek Gozdieski (WF) over Sam Wustefeld (SPF) – Decision 5-1
195: George Ramos (SPF) over Russ Weber (WF) – Pin 1:14
220: Bobby Mount (SPF) won by Forfeit
285: Jalen Bryant (SPF) over Phil Ricca (WF) – Decision 6-4
106: Zach Rabinowitz (WF) over Michael Fleck (SPF) – Technical fall 19-4
113: Justin Sidebottom (SPF) over Chris Hoerle (WF) – Decision 4-3
120: Emmett Smith (WF) over Jacob Perone (SPF) – Decision 9-4
126: Nadim Korkmaz (SPF) over John Fuller (WF) – Major decision 15-5
132: Jashmar Philippe (SPF) over Matt Dente (WF) – Pin 1:37
138: Tim Miller (WF) over Willie Benavides (SPF) – Pin 5:09