Tuesday, July 16, 2024

PJ Wrestling Wins in Final Moments of Senior Night Match, Improving to 3-0 in Season

Junior Jake Holly pinning his opponent on senior night. Photo by A. Nowel, 01/2024.

The Pope John Lions wrestling team was ready to be back on their home mat after starting the season away from Pope John. They began the season with a couple of tournaments that prepared them for the competition that they would face when the Lions returned home.

They defeated the West Morris Central Wolfpack 58-18 to start 1-0, and then defeated the Morris Hills Scarlet Knights 50-30 in their home opener. With a 2-0 record, the Lions were looking to continue their winning ways with a home match against the Montville Mustangs.

Behind seniors Spencer Moser and Justin Holly, the Lions rallied for a 37-31 victory over the Mustangs on senior night.

The Lions got off to a great start on January 10 as they took a quick 9-0 lead. The Mustangs weren’t going to go down easily, however, as they answered the quick start by the Lions with a pin in the 165 weight class, bringing the score to 9-6 in favor of the Lions.

Junior Kevin Wilson won by decision of 10-7 in the 175 weight class to extend the Lions’ lead to 12-6.

The Mustangs couldn’t be stopped after Wilson’s victory as they earned the next three victories in the match, compiling 16 points to take a 22-12 lead in the match. Two pins and a major decision was how the Mustangs took this lead, but the Lions weren’t going to give up either as junior Jake Holly won his match in the 106 weight class by pinning his opponent to shorten the Mustangs’ lead down to 22-18.

The Mustangs earned the next two victories, taking a 31-18 lead over the Lions, and it seemed like the Lions were just out of reach to earn a victory on senior night, but behind sophomore Dalton Weber’s pin, Moser’s decision of 7-3, sophomore Cole Dunham’s major decision of 17-4, and Holly winning due to an injury to the Mustangs 144 weight class wrestler, the Lions found a way to take down the Mustangs by a final score of 37-31.

The Lions improved to 3-0 on the season after the win, but it wouldn’t last long as the no. 2 ranked Delbarton Green Wave hosted the Lions this past Friday and defeated the Lions 79-0 in a devastating blow to the Lions.

One day later, the Lions were back on the mats in Phillipsburg at the HWS (Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex) Tournament where three wrestlers would win their weight class and another would earn second place.

Jake Holly, Weber and junior Carson Walsh all won in their respective weight classes while Justin Holly earned a second place finish.

Next up for the Lions was a home match against the Mount Olive Marauders January 15 followed by another home match against the Parsippany Hills Vikings on January 18.

The Lions are hopeful that they will continue winning matches the rest of the 2023-2024 season.

Andrew Nowel, Contributing Sportswriter
Contributing Sportswriter

Currently enrolled at Canisius University in Buffalo, New York, Andrew Nowel is an up-and-coming journalist/photographer and broadcaster. He wrote sports' articles for his high school, Pope John XXIII Regional High School. Andrew has worked with Morris Sussex Sports in sports broadcasting and analyzes professional sports in his free time. Andrew and his friend Ryan have a podcast that talks about professional sports and Canisius Athletics. Andrew also runs his own website about Canisius Athletics. He strives to inform the people about local sports and the young athletes of our communities from Buffalo to New Jersey and everywhere.

Andrew has provided previous and remarkable sports stories and photographs for the Ridge View Echo since he was 16 and enrolled at Pope John High School.