MAPLEWOOD, NJ – This year, the Columbia High School Cougar varsity wrestling team, coached by Hal Garwin and Joel Rosario, was composed of five freshmen, five sophomores, four juniors, and three seniors. The young squad did well in the two in-season tournaments, finishing third and fourth in the 10-team tournaments.
The wrestlers continued to improve as the season progressed.
After losing their first six meets of the season, the Cougars won 6 of the last 10 meets, finishing their season with a record of 6 wins and 10 losses.
Several of the grapplers won or placed in the aforementioned tourneys, as well as the Essex County Championships and the State District Tournament. Ralph Ravix finished with a record of 22 wins and only 2 losses; Blake McGowan had 20 wins and only 4 losses; Hunter Dallison had 20 wins and 7 losses and Devin Rocha won 18 and lost 8, giving the Cougars some strong wrestlers throughout the lineup.
Senior Co-Captain Ravix won the Irvington Tournament and placed fifth in the County Championships.
Rocha placed second in the state District Tournament as well as third and second in the Irvington and Rahway tournaments.
Dallison placed fourth in the State District Tournament as well as second in Rahway and third in Irvington, and McGowan won the Irvington and Rahway tournaments and placed eighth in the County Championships.
Other wrestlers who placed in tournaments were Aylen Learned, Co-Captain Sam Wren-Hardin, Ben Morris, and Galileo Hetherington.
At the Super Essex County League Coaches meeting, Ravix and Rocha were chosen to the All-Liberty Division Team. Dallison and McGowan were picked for the second team while Wren-Hardin and Galileo Hetherington were picked as Honorable Mention.
Similarly at the team’s Wrestling Awards Dinner, Ravix was given the Outstanding Wrestler Award. McGowan, a sophomore, was chosen the team’s Most Valuable Wrestler, freshman Ben Morris was the Rookie of the Year, Dallison and Hetherington, both juniors, were the Most Improved Wrestlers, and freshman Bernie Mercier was given the Coaches’ Award.
Special awards were given to Rocha, a sophomore who won the Edmonds Camp Tuition Award, and Ravix, who received the Kestenbaum Scholarship.
The young team, along with wrestlers from the youth program, should be favored to have a winning season next year under their new coaching staff.
After 10 years as the head coach, Garwin has decided to step down as head coach. CHS will be looking for a head coach and assistants. Garwin served an additional 29 more years coaching freshman and JV, as well as another 12 years with the youth program that he started, and three years as a Columbia wrestler. Garwin, however, will continue to run the CHS Wrestling Hall of Fame and help the program. He will remain on the CHS Athletic Hall of Fame committee.