The young Columbia High School Cougar varsity wrestling team traveled to face two Super Essex Conference squads, Belleville and Livingston. The Cougars came away with a split, defeating Belleville, 51-27, and losing to Livingston, 49-21.
At Belleville, the Cougar upper weights won six of the seven bouts: Blake McGowan (152 pounds), Hunter Dallison (160), Tristan Rocke (182), Emanuel Jackson, Ralph Ravix (220) and Jabreil Salaam (285) won by pins. Devin Rocha and Sam Wren Harden won by decisions and Joaquin Tianga won by a forfeit.
“This was quite a successful first dual meet for the team with no seniors wrestling and four freshmen and one sophomore winning,” said CHS head coach Hal Garwin.
At Livingston, Columbia’s youth and inexperience was evident as the more veteran opponents took advantage of Cougar mistakes. Three wrestlers lost close matches that could have easily have been wins, and two lost after having leads in the match.
Aamier Bonhomme (138), Kevhan Bent (285), and Devin Rocha (126) won by a pins, and Emanuel Jackson (195) won by a 7-2 decision.
Zafar Cantine (145) lost a heartbreaker, 7-6, as did Ralph Ravix (220), 5-4, and Ebuka Egwuonwu, 8-6.
Coaches Garwin, Kline and Rosario however are encouraged by the effort of the young team and expect continued improvement throughout the season.
The grapplers travel Wednesday, Dec. 30, to the tough Rahway Holiday Tourney and then on Saturday, Jan. 2, to face Chatham, Butler and Vernon in a non-conference quad at Chatham.