Unlike its run to a third-place finish in 2010, when it won four consecutive dual meets in one day, a vastly different South Plainfield High School wrestling team came up short in its bid to medal at the 34th annual Virginia Duals.
After rolling to a 53-12 second-round consolation victory over Cave Springs (Va.) on Saturday, the Tigers endured a heartbreaking 30-21 loss to St. Anthony (N.Y.) in the consolation quarterfinals.
All of the dual meets at the 16-team tournament, at which Don Bosco Prep represented New Jersey well by reaching the finals, started at 106 pounds.
The Tigers, who lost the first seven bouts to St. Anthony, won the next five, closing a 27-0 deficit to 27-18 with two bouts remaining.
Ray Jazikoff started the run, earning his 100th career victory with a technical fall at 152 pounds, where Inan Sikel normally competes.
South Plainfield coach Kevin McCann said Sikel was “a little banged up.” As a result, the Tigers inserted Kyle Bythell at 138 pounds, then bumped up Christian Gonzalez (145) and Jazikoff to compensate.
Bythell wrestled well, limiting a quality opponent to a major, before Gonzalez got caught on his back and pinned.
After senior Scott Quiroga’s 3-1 decision at 195 pounds helped the Tigers get within striking distance, Luigi Gerardi, wrestling up at 220 pounds, dropped a 3-2 decision to Peter Corbett, who gave St. Anthony an insurmountable 30-18 advantage.
Against Cave Spring, one of the top teams in Virginia, South Plainfield won the first 11 bouts, accounting for all of its scoring.
The defending tournament champion Tigers, who went 2-2 in the tournament including a 46-18 victory over Christiansburg (Va.) and a 28-25 loss to Colonial Forge (Va.), both on Friday, headed home without any hardware, much to McCann’s chagrin.
“Other teams might be satisfied going 2-2,” McCann said. “I just told that to our guys. That’s not our goal. It’s a little bit of a letdown. We did some nice things. They showed they can battle and they can scrap.
“We need everybody to click at the same time — light weights and upper weights — and then maybe we can accomplish our goals.”