Wrestling team enjoys late season success


Joseph Heisler, Sports editor

Very few athletic programs in WMHS have as much tradition as the wrestling team. Every season, the team pulls in big crowds to their dual meets and sees success for many of the team’s individual wrestlers. This season was no exception to that tradition.
The team started out the dual season roughly, with a 0-5 start. However, there were several close losses such as a 42-36 loss to Wayne Hills on opening night and a 40-36 loss to St.Thomas Aquinas. The first win came on the night of the team’s home opener, a dominating 55-24 win against Kennedy in which six of the Highlanders pinned their opponents.
Following the win, the team went on to drop the next couple of matches, but had close matches with good teams such as Pompton Lakes (43-33) and Whippany Park (48-31). The Highlanders got back on track with a sixth place finish in the Passaic County tournament, seeing four of it’s wrestlers place. In the next dual meet, the Highlanders beat a strong Passaic team 51-18, winning ten out of the fourteen matches.
In the coming weeks, the Highlanders were at their strongest in the dual season winning four of seven of their matches. Wins came against Demarest (57-14), Bergenfield (48-19), and Manchester (70-12). Two of the teams three losses were close defeats to North Jersey powers Butler and Clifton. However, the most impressive feat came when the team traveled to Hillsborough. Losing 33-24 with two bouts remaining, the team saw senior Captain Jordan Araujo and sophomore Aidan McGuire come up with big pins in the first period to secure a 36-33 victory.
Individually, many Highlanders had solid seasons. Junior captain Aidan Highers finished with a 16-14 record, a third place finish at the dover holiday tournament and had several important wins for the team in the dual season. Fellow junior captain Norman Rubinsky enjoyed a successful season, finishing with a 23-11 record. Some of his achievements include a first place finish at the dover holiday tournament, a third place finish in the Passaic County Tournament and a fourth place finish in the District 4 Tournament. Both of these wrestlers show plenty of promise for their upcoming senior season.
Three other Highlanders also enjoyed successful seasons, advancing to the Region 1 wrestling tournament. Sophomore Aidan Bolger was one of these wrestlers, advancing after his fourth place finish in the District 1 tournament. Bolger finished with a 21-13 record, took fifth place at the Dover Holiday tournament and fourth place at the County tournament. At region 1, Bolger would lose in the first round to eventual fifth place finished Ty Pfeufer of Westwood.
The other two wrestlers who advanced to Region 1 were Seniors Josh Curving and Joey Heisler. Curving, despite missing the first half of the season due to state transfer rules (he received a varsity letter while at PCTI), finished with a 19-5 record, a third place finish at the county tournament and winning the District 1 title at 182 LBS. Heisler finished with a 27-7 record, a second place finish at the Dover Tournament and the County Tournament, and won the District Title at 195 LBS. Both wrestlers lost two hard fought matches at the Region 1 Tournament.
Several other Highlanders also played key parts in the Highlanders season, coming up with big wins when the team needed them or helping the team by stepping into the varsity lineup. Some of these wrestlers are Seniors Luiz Veliz, Phil Strina and Araujo, juniors Kyle Fernley, Taylor Waldo and Emran Oruli, sophomore McGuire and Freshmen Erik Reilly, Tyler Schaffer and Ryan Eckhart.
Despite not being the most successful in terms of wins and losses, it was successful in many other ways, such as the team bonding on and off the mat and showing steady improvement throughout the year. Only graduating six seniors from the team, the Highlanders should look to take a big step forward next season.