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Wrestling: Tartans healthy and peaking at right time

02/07/2018, 10:45pm EST
By Mike Radano, SJSD

One week after a humiliating loss to Clearview, Highland beat the Pioneers 40-21 to advance to the SJ Group 4 Final

MULLICA HILL – Highland freshman Matt Hoelke knew immediately he had made mistakes in a match against Clearview’s Carmen Giumarello.

In a bout that took place one week ago, the Tartans lost by 25 points when they had to endure four forfeits. At 106, Hoelke fell by a point to Giumarello and, on paper, a lot had to change on Wednesday night for the Tartans to advance to Friday’s South Jersey Group 4 Final at Cherry Hill West.

“I studied the film,” Hoelke, a freshman said. “I knew what mistakes I made on that night. The goal is to get better and to learn from mistakes. I did that and I wanted this rematch. I wanted to get back out there against him.

“I think as a team, we all wanted another shot.”

Highland (12-7) took six of the first eight bouts en route to a dominating 40-21 win over host Clearview. The Tartans obviously needed a lot to be different this time out but one week after the Tartans had to forfeit four weights, they had everything go their way even in losses.

“We’re healthy first off,” interim Highland head coach Frank Plefka said. “We’ve had a lot of things to overcome this year. Tonight, we wrestled really well. Up and down the lineup all of our kids came through with big matches. Even our losses, the key was we limited the bonus points. Look at 220, (Josh Ortiz) lost his match but (a 3-2) decision was good for us.”

After Clearview forfeited the heavyweight bout to Highland’s Devon Starks, Hoelke walked onto the mat looking for not only revenge or redemption, but to extend the Tartans 21-6 lead. In a tight bout against a wrestler easily his equal, Hoelke came away with a 5-3 decision.

“With all we’ve gone through this year, I think if you watched how we wrestled tonight you can see we’re back on the same page,” Hoelke said. “We’re all 100 percent focused on Highland wrestling and the next step in the tournament.”

Even with that boost, Highland still had work to do and at 113 the Tartans got their most improbable boost of the night as Adam Aquilino pinned Steven Ciccarelli in 2:29.

“Once (Shafer) won his bout it got everything going our way,” said Aquilino, who lost a 3-0 decision last week to Ciccarelli. “We all wanted to do our part.

“I went out there looking for a win and maximizing points. You know, I got an under hook in and caught him. Once I had him on his back I just wanted to finish it. When the ref hit the mat, everything was going crazy in my head.”

With that pin Highland just needed to get two more wins and fittingly, Justin Carris closed out the match with a 15-2 decision. Carris is one of the top wrestlers on the team and missed the match just one week ago.

“It’s great to have Justin back in the lineup,” Plefka said. “Right now we are as healthy as we have been all year and we’re as focused as we have been all year.”

Noah Shaffer secures a 10-8 decision in opening bout of Highland's 40-21 win

South Jersey Group 4 Tournament

SEMIFINALS

Highland 40, Clearview 21

160-Noah Shaffer, H, dec. Aiden Burow, 10-8; 171-Jason Evans, H, pin Jonah Maiese, 3:57; 182-Dalton Noakes, C, dec. Tre Seamon, 4-2; 195-Jared Colbert, H, pin Justin Iaccio, 3:21; 220-Aidan Romano, C, dec. Josh Ortiz, 3-2; 285-Devon Starks, H, won by forfeit; 106-Matt Hoelke, H, dec. Carmen Giumarello, 5-3; 113-Adam Aquilino, H, pin Steven Ciccarelli, 2:29; 120-Cody Scully, C, dec. Brody Colbert, 6-4, OT; 126-Jermiah Clark, H, dec. Max Grossel, 6-0; 132-Justin Carris, H, maj. dec. Dom Magliano, 15-2; 138-Mark Hurst, H, dec. Dylan Cydris, 12-8; 145-Jack Love, C, won by forfeit; 152-Gage Wolfie, C, won by forfeit.

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Sean Heine, an injured senior for Shawnee, stands with his childhood friend Pat Fish of Eustace
Cara Racobaldo sports her Eagles hat on Saturday while with her friend and teammate Michelle Obasi

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