Montclair Wrestling: Jones’ runner up highlights Mounties’ ECT
PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER SHANNON
by Andrew Garda
WEST ORANGE — Jacy Jones stalked through the hallways of Richard Codey Arena well before his finals match against Caldwell’s Darren Jones in the 120 pounds category. Last year, Jones was defeated by the Caldwell wrestler in the Regional finals, and he seemed determined that this match in the 2018 Essex County Tournament would not end the same way.
But determined as he was, the Mountie was unable to overcome his opponent, falling 3-2 over the course of three periods. It wasn’t for lack of ability or effort, as Jones grappled with his opposite number, nearly pinning him once. But Jones didn’t get awarded two points for a fall near the edge of the mat and saw the wrestler from Caldwell awarded a point for escaping when he ran out of bounds.
Those two moments were the difference in the end.
While it was a disappointing outcome for Jones, the tournament was a success overall for him. Jones won both of his matches on Thursday with pins, and had a commanding 11-3 win over Seton Hall Prep’s Dean Musialowicz in the semifinals.
The loss against Caldwell’s Jones was a close one and something the Montclair wrestler can learn from.
Now, like the rest of his team, Jones has to wait for the next big tournament for another chance at revenge.
Overall the Mounties struggled during the tournament, finishing at No. 12 with 50 points.
The ride was relatively bumpy for the Mounties in the two-day tournament on Thursday, Jan. 18, and Friday, Jan. 19.
It began with extremely cold temperatures in the arena on Thursday. Coach Eugene Kline and his staff said it felt like it was around 40 degrees in the venue, with temperatures even lower near the arena floor, where a thin layer of material covered up the bare ice. The mats were not very giving and felt much like hard floor.
Wrestlers were visibly cold, Kline said, and he believes that affected the competitors.
“I shook a lot of very cold hands,” Kline said before Friday’s matches. “Whenever I did, it ended up being trouble.”
The results bore that out, as only Jones advanced into the semifinals with a pin of Livingston’s Drew DiGangi.
Though Jones was the only wrestler who ended up competing for a medal on Friday, other Mounties were battling for position.
Benjamin Baily beat East Side’s George Montero in the 145-pound class in a 4-2 decision, while Chad Sutherland showed a lot of heart mounting a comeback against Harrison Fleisig of Millburn in a closer-than-it-seems 14-9 decision.
In the 182-pound category, Damony Jones couldn’t overcome Seton Hall Prep’s determined Zachary Merlino, finding himself pinned in the opening consolation match at 3:18. But he bounced back with a dominating performance in the seventh-place match. Jones started off quickly, adding point after point against East Orange’s Devonne Swan, eventually dispatching him in a 17-7 decision.
Terrell White, who lost a tight 4-3 decision in Thursday’s 170-pound quarterfinals, had the most success in the consolation rounds on Friday. First, he manhandled Cedar Grove’s Dillon Jennings in a decisive 8-4 win. He was then matched up with Michael Wong in the fifth-place match. The Livingston wrestler did a good job keeping White from scoring a big knockout blow for much of the match, but the Mountie wrestler slowly pulled away from his opponent, building a 9-6 lead that would be the final score.
While the overall outcome wasn’t what the team had hoped for, the experience was critical for the very young team—one that Kline and his staff hope will find more success at the District 9 Tournament on Feb. 17.
Kline knows it will be tough to make it through regionals and to the State Tournament in Atlantic City, but he said he would love for the wrestlers to get the experience of going there, even as observers, to get a sense of the scope of the event so they aren’t overwhelmed when they eventually have an opportunity to wrestle at the event.
And as the coaching staff and team has made clear many times — that’s where the program wants to go.