Matt Noble’s freshman year could be described as very successful for those not standing in his wrestling shoes.
A 38-5 record, District 18 and Somerset County Tournament titles, a third place Region V finish and state tournament qualification.
Bridgewater-Raritan’s 113-pounder won two bouts in the last year’s state tournament opening night, beating West Deptford’s Region VIII champ Tyler Kaminski, 6-1, to earn a spot in the quarterfinals. But he was pinned by North Bergen’s Luis Gonzalez – considered by some a favorite to win it all, and lost 5-1 in a wrestleback to Region V winner Kyle Brady of Bishop Ahr.
“Gonzalez caught me with a double leg, he was really aggressive. I was a little nervous and I was coming in as a big underdog,” said Noble, adding that he lost a decision to Gonzalez last summer at the “War at the Shore,” in Wildwood.
Brady, a two-time Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament champ, also beat Noble in the region semifinals. One more win, a victory over Brady would have gotten Noble at least a top-eight finish and spot on the medal podium where Brady stood with a third, Gonzalez a fourth and North Hunterdon’s Ryan Pomincra a seventh.
“I was really excited about being in the quarterfinals; I knew I had a great shot of being on that podium,” said Noble, who finished the season at 38-5. “I know I had to wrestle Gonzalez and probably Brady and I knew I was in the ballpark with them.I had a shot to beat them.”
The missed chance of a podium experience left Noble feeling somewhat unfulfilled, that some unfinished business was ahead.
“My goal is to be in the finals,” he said.
He’s wrestling like one intent on doing it all as a sophomore.
He improved to 20-1 Wednesday night with a 26-9, third-period technical fall at 126 pounds over Burlington Township senior Devante Giles.
The win was one of nine for the Panthers (6-11), better than record indicates with junior 106-pounder Gianni Calo, senior 145-pounder Pierce Gladfelter, senior 152-pounder Valerio LaMorte and Noble present. Calo, Gladfelter and Lamorte and surging freshman 145-pounder Kyle Murphy all had first-period falls against Burlington. Calo, Gladfelter and LaMorte all bumped up a weight while Noble moved up.
His only loss was up at 120 pounds to Pomrinca, who scored a 3-2 sudden victory in a Dec. 22 dual meet.
Those kinds of challenges are what he embraces, figuring it’s a better way to get where he’d like to go.
“He’s tenacious and he’s staying on the offensive,” said Bridgewater-Raritan assistant coach Brian Chartowich, a 1997 Bridgewater-Raritan graduate, and former standout.
“He has branched out with more of his repertoire.”