As one of East Brunswick High School’s flagship wrestlers, Jonathan Schleifer was quick to deflect attention from himself following the Bears’ 31-22 victory over Monroe on Friday night.
Schleifer’s pin at 170 pounds produced the sixth and final lead change, giving East Brunswick a 21-16 advantage it would not relinquish with four bouts remaining, but the junior was the first to admit his fall was not the turning point.
“My pin was definitely a big part of it but the other guys even more so stepped up and everybody kind of did their part,” said the undefeated Schleifer, who is favored to win a state title at 160 pounds.
Whether losing small – East Brunswick allowed just four bonus points – or upsetting their opponents as Patrick Doherty (152) and John Krayowski (182) did – the Bears received contributions throughout the lineup.
“It’s hard to talk about what some of the keys were,” East Brunswick coach Matt Pazinko said of the total team effort. “It’s going to be hard to top this performance because I thought our kids wrestled very well.”
East Brunswick (13-2), ranked No. 2 in the Home News Tribune Top 10, will likely host the third-ranked Falcons (13-4) in the opening round of the Central Group IV Tournament on Feb. 11.
“It’s within reach,” Monroe coach Bill Jacoutot said of winning a rematch, “but it’s going to take a tougher effort.
“I don’t mind losing when the other team earned it, and East Brunswick earned it. I really have a hard time, as a coach, losing when I don’t think we represented ourselves in a tough way. Can it be turned around? Sure it can. But it’s not up to me. It’s up to them.”
Both teams made lineup moves. East Brunswick bumped Schleifer to 170 and wrestled Sam Kim at 160, where he faced Harrison Utter, who bumped from 152 to post a 1-0 decision that gave Monroe a 16-15 lead, its last of the night.
“They are going to come back with something more,” Pazinko said of a possible rematch with the Falcons, noting the chess match may lack intrigue the second time around.
“They might have tipped their hand a little bit so we have a little bit of knowledge of what they are going to be doing. But they also have the same thing for us. Hopefully we’ll get some of the guys back (126-pounder Eric Webber and 152-pounder Mike O’Kane were injured) that were out of the lineup and we will come back with a stronger performance.”
Krayowski followed Schliefer’s pin of Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament finalist Wes Glessman with a 3:44 pin of Pat Dressel, building East Brunswick’s lead to 27-16. Dressel led 3-1 at the time after nearly recording a fall of his own with a nearside cradle along the edge on which he was unable to drag his opponent back in bounds.
Doherty’s 2-1 decision over Quincy Charleston produced a fourth consecutive lead change and gave the Bears a 15-13 advantage.
Two other bouts indicative of East Brunswick’s effort were actually losses. Mahmoud Soliman dropped a 2-1 overtime decision at 195 pounds to Monroe’s Mike Muce, a GMCT runnerup at 182 pounds. Oliver Piuri dropped a 3-0 decision to reigning GMCT heavyweight champion Tom Tehan.
“Our guys went in there and knew we had to stay off our backs,” Pazinko said. “If we stay off our backs, we are going to have a real good shot at this.”
The Bears won eight bouts and recorded just seven bonus points. including Michael Quintin’s major decision at 220 pounds that clinched East Brunswick’s victory.
Monroe’s bonus points came from Sal Profaci’s pin at 126 pounds and Chris Muce’s major decision at 120 pounds.
“I don’t want to see them again,” Pazinko said of Monroe. “It was hard enough to beat them the first time.”
East Brunswick 31, Monroe 22
106: Tyler Schwartz (EB) d. Joe Zargo 15-12EB 113: Tyler Gallegos (EB) d. Shawn Gardini 7-4; 120: Chris Muce (M) md. Mina Girgis 13-1; 126: Sal Profaci (M) p. Eric Frazee :23; 132: Sean Glasgow (EB) d. Anthony Aversano 11-4; 138: Mike Nicolaro (EB) d. Brandon Hyman 6-4; 145: Justin Gaffrey (M) d. Travis Lutzko 9-5; 152: Patrick Doherty (EB) d. Quincy Charleston 2-1; 160: Harrison Utter (M) d. Sam Kim 1-0; 170: Jonathan Schleifer (EB) p. Wes Glessman 1:36; 182: John Krayowski (EB) p. Pat Dressel 3:44; 195: Mike Muce (M) d. Mahmoud Soliman 2-1 (UTB); 220: Michael Quintin (EB) md. Nick Goff 12-4; 285: Tom Tehan (M) d. Oliver Piuri 3-0.