Trailing 22-12 after six bouts, the Westfield High School wrestling team won the final eight bouts to claim a 55-22 triumph over the Elizabeth Minutemen in the season opener in Westfield on December 15. Seemingly inspired by a gutsy 5-3, overtime victory by Noah Neimiera at 285-lbs, the 1-0 Blue Devils shut out the Minutemen in all the lower weights right up to the final bout at 145-lbs.
“We try not to measure our success by the scoreboard. We won the match. I didn’t think we looked great tonight. Both our varsity and JV have work to do, which is fine. It’s December! We are going to do the work. We have time to do it. You don’t expect to be in January form in December,” Blue Devil Head Coach Glen Kurz said.
Beginning at 150-lbs Blue Devil freshman Robert DeRick managed to escape a five-point takedown-tocradle maneuver and a bear hug-toback move but came up on the short side of a 13-4, majority decision. Situations got a bit gloomier for the Blue Devils when sophomore Matt Wood got stuck with a quick duck under-to-back pin in 1:44 at 157-lbs to give the Minuteman a 10-0 team lead.
Junior Jack McDermott earned Westfield six team points when he used a slick barrel roll-to-back takedown to record a 59 second fall at 165-lbs but the Minutemen upped their lead to 16-6 at 175-lbs when junior Ben Diziki got caught with a head-and-arm takedown to half nelson pin in 1:19.
Blue Devil sophomore Jake Zemsky, who placed third in the district last year, went to work on his opponent at 190-lbs beginning with a double leg takedown and a wrist pryto- stack three-point nearfall. After adding another double leg takedown in the first period, Zemsky escaped in the second period, came back with a throw-by takedown then finished off his opponent with a half nelson stack in 2:48.
The Minutemen recorded a fall in 1:18 at 215-lbs to increase their lead to 22-12 but that would be it for them. At 285-lbs, Neimiera got out finessed with a quick snap down takedown in the first period but came back with a reversal in the second period to knot the score. After yielding an escape late in the second period, Neimiera was wearing his opponent down and was awarded a stalling penalty point to force overtime. Neimiera endured and came through with a takedown to earn his 5-3 victory.
But that one bout did make Coach Kurz smile. “Noah Neimiera gave a good effort. A lot of technical things to fix, a lot of tactical things to fix but he gave a great effort. If we can get 14 guys giving that effort every time, win or lose, I am walking off happy,” he said.
From that point onward, the momentum was rolling in Westfield’s direction. Freshman Jake Conti (106–lbs) and sophomore Daniel Berardi (113-lbs) received forfeits then Josh Stemler recorded a pair of takedowns, an escape and a two-point nearfall before using a wrist/half nelson to pin his opponent in 1:31 at 120-lbs.
Senior Max Rotter wasted no time with a single thigh takedown to drive his opponent to his back for a 30secondfallat126-lbs.SophomoreLucas Surgent got surprised with a five-point moveearlyinhis132-lbboutbutquickly recovered to pin his opponent in 3:22 with a half nelson underhook to up the team lead to 45-22.
Sophomore Luke Sluberski (138lbs) hit his opponent with a double leg takedown and a cradle in the first period then added a reversal to a nearfall to grab a 9-0 lead after two periods. He added a penalty point and a reversal in the third period before pinning his opponent in 5:11 with a half nelson. In the final bout of the evening (145-lbs), junior Dylan Sontz racked up points with a Fireman’s takedown, some double leg takedowns, an ankle pick takedown, a double leg drive-to-back takedown and another nearfall to claim a 16-2 majority decision.
“This is a much less experienced team than we’ve had in the past, so there’s going to be some growing pains. We are going to get better as the season goes on as long as we keep the right attitude and keep working. It looks like they are willing to work and it looks like they have the right attitude,” Coach Kurz commented.
Westfield Matmen 5th At Delaware Val Invt’l
The Westfield High School wrestling team placed fifth among 10 teams at the Wendy Pandy-Leh Invitational at Delaware Valley High School on December 16. The Del Val Terriers took the team title with a total of 257.5, followed by Ocean Township at 168, Voorhees at 160, Woodstown at 125 and Westfield at 99.
Blue Devil sophomore Jake Zemsky placed second at 190-lbs after losing to Del Val’sAnderson Olcott in the finals. Junior Luke Sluberski also placed second at 132-lbs after losing to Del Val’s Matt Roche in the final.