CROSS RIVER – There was no way to sugarcoat the precarious situation that John Jay junior Evan Frank found himself in during Tuesday’s Section 1 Dual Meet Championships.
There was only one bout to go in the Indians’ semifinal against North Rockland, and they were trailing by four points. The Red Raiders held the tiebreaker, so the only way for John Jay to advance to the championship final would be if Frank won his match by either technical fall or pin.
His coaches gave it to him straight.
“Right before I stepped out on the mat, my coaches told me, ‘We need big,’ ” Frank said. “It’s definitely a lot of pressure to take, but I think I handled it well. I was pretty calm and composed on the mat.”
With just 48 seconds remaining, the 182-pounder got it done by pinning Erik Anderson to give the Indians a 32-30 win.
Frank would find himself in a similar predicament in the final against Arlington. He came through once again, sealing a 39-36 comeback win with his second pin of the day.
“All summer, we were waiting for today,” Frank said. “We wanted to get the win at our house and take the section. It’s been on everybody’s mind.”
John Jay finished second in the Division 1 (large schools) dual meet tournament last season to Suffern, but two dramatic wins on Tuesday firmly established the Indians as the team to beat in 2015-16.
They came back to beat a tough North Rockland team in the semis and were trailing Arlington in the final by 11 points with five matches to go. But John Jay won four of the final five matches — Conor Melbourne (152 pounds), Chris Holze (160), Eric Eberhardt (170) and Frank — to stun the Admirals.
“Even though we were down at certain points, we went through and planned it out. We were confident that certain guys could pull through for the team,” said 132-pounder Ray Cotto, who won both of his matches. “We’re very confident in our lower to middle weights, but it’s more about once we get momentum, we’re unstoppable. We’re a very dedicated, hard-working team that will do anything to win.”
Man of the match: Evan Frank, John Jay — Two pins, both of which clinched comeback wins for the Indians. Does it get any better than that?
“I didn’t know much about either kid, but I just came in like it was the national championship and wrestled my hardest to get the pins,” Frank said.
Turning point: After three straight wins for John Jay – from Matt Kramer (120), Louie Cree (126) and Cotto – tied the score at 19-19, Arlington got a pin from Chris Gresis (138) and a technical fall from Brady Robin (145) to take a 30-19 lead. Melbourne, a returning All-Section wrestler, was expected to win at 152, but the Indians got two huge wins from Holze and Eberhardt to set up Frank’s championship-clinching pin. Holze and Eberhardt had lost against North Rockland, but they made the most of their second chances.
Quotable: “At the end of last season, I was appointed as a captain for this season,” Cotto said. “I really felt that it was my job to motivate the team and get us to where we need to be. I knew from last year, right after we lost to Suffern, that we were going to win it this year.”
Section 1 Dual Meet Championships
Division 1 (large schools)
At John Jay
Arlington 52, East Ramapo 24
195 – Tanner Nielsen (Arl) pin Josh Jean-Baptiste, 2:23. 220 – Nick Basso (Arl) dec. Joel Feliciano, 3-0. 285 – Jacquez Poole (Arl) pin Jahkem Collins-Martinez, 5:00. 99 – Dennis Robin (Arl) by forfeit. 106 – Aaron Rivera (ER) pin Nick Hund, 1:59. 113 – Trey Wardlaw (ER) dec. Ulises Olmedo, 5-1. 120 – Gavin Pasqualini (Arl) maj. dec. Luis Lema-Lema, 10-0. 126 – Firas Zoha (Arl) by forfeit. 132 – Jonathan Ortiz (ER) pin Peter Pasqualini, 1:00. 138 – Chris Gresis (Arl) by forfeit. 145 – Brady Robin (Arl) dec. Romello Bradley, 4-0. 152 – Austin McHugh (Arl) pin Zy Roscoe, 3:12. 160 – Mike Stanek (Arl) pin Rashone Simpson, 3:12. 170 – Shatir Henry (ER) dec. Branden Kelly, 6-2. 182 – Jhavon Innocent (ER) pin Gabe Duden, 5:14.
John Jay 32, North Rockland 30
195 – Connor Brooks (NRk) dec. Ethan Zimiles, 3-0. 220 – Halil Gecaj (JJCR) dec. Dante Restaino, 5-0. 285 – Bim Gecaj (JJCR) pin Marc Marrero, 1:35. 99 – Joe Henion (NRk) dec. Chris Cook, 4-2. 106 – CJ McMonegal (NRk) pin Jason Salton, 3:09. 113 – Jake Breyer (NRk) dec. Ethan Kaplan, 6-0. 120 – Anthony Sulla (NRk) dec. Matt Kramer, 7-2. 126 – Louie Cree (JJCR) pin Felix De La Pena, 1:02. 132 – Ray Cotto (JJCR) maj. dec. Josh Fernandez, 17-4. 138 – Chris Kelly (JJCR) dec. Justin Moronta, 7-6. 145 – John Uce (NRk) dec. Robert Bauer, 6-5. 152 – Conor Melbourne (JJCR) maj. dec. Mike Criscione, 23-9. 160 – Chris Cruger (NRk) dec. Chris Holze, 9-2. 170 – Tim Henion (NRk) inj. def. Eric Eberhardt. 182 – Evan Frank (JJCR) pin Erik Anderson, 5:12.
John Jay 39, Arlington 36
220 – H. Gecaj (JJCR) pin Basso, 0:28. 285 – Poole (Arl) dec. B. Gecaj, 3-2 OT. 99 – D. Robin (Arl) maj. dec. Cook, 16-2. 106 – Hund (Arl) pin Salton, 1:45. 113 – Olmedo (Arl) pin Kaplan, 1:30. 120 – Kramer (JJCR) dec. Zoha, 3-2. 126 – Cree (JJCR) maj. dec. G. Pasqualini, 10-0. 132 – Cotto (JJCR) pin P. Pasqualini, 3:22. 138 – Gresis (Arl) pin Kelly, 3:30. 145 – B. Robin (Arl) tech. fall Bauer, 16-1. 152 – Melbourne (JJCR) maj. dec. McHugh, 19-5. 160 – Holze (JJCR) pin Stanek, 1:28. 170 – Eberhardt (JJCR) maj. dec. Kelly, 8-0. 182 – Frank (JJCR) pin Duden, 1:10. 195 – Nielsen (Arl) pin Zimiles, 1:59.