GLEN RIDGE – Head coach Kendall Southerland knows this season won’t be an easy one for his Glen Ridge High School varsity wrestling team.
Numbers and talent have always been an issue for Southerland since taking over at the helm for GRHS, and this year is no different.
“We just came off Irvington tourney (Dec. 19) and overall we did really well and I am very pleased and happy with the team,” he said. “We only sent about eight kids to the tournament, but six of those kids did very well.”
Indeed, the amount of wrestlers will be one of the team’s biggest obstacles this year.
“We have no numbers this year,” the coach said. “Yes, we have a lot of experience, but we don;t have many wrestlers as we have only 13 wrestlers with the program.”
Based on that, Southerland said his goals would be more set on the long term future more than anything else.
“If we win as a team that would be great, but now we’re all about building the program and moving things along, especially on the rec level,” he said.
Despite the low turnout, the Ridgers still managed to earn victories in two of three dual matches as the squad defeated Summit and Belvidere while losing to Mountain Lakes on Saturday, Jan. 2.
Prior to that, the Ridgers fell to Boonton and Manville on Dec. 23.
“We wrestled real tough against Manville and I was pleased with that effort,” said the coach, adding his team didn’t perform quite as well against Boonton as 145-pound senior Robert Spitaleta won the team’s lone match to avoid the team from being shutout.
Aside from those matches, Southerland said his team took second in the Irvington tournament with 152-pound senior Mike Alfano, 126-pound junior Anthony Santigate and 113-pound freshman Nick Fiorillo each earning first-place finishes.
In addition, the GRHS coach said 138-pound senior Ryan Caloo took second at the tournament, as did 120-pound senior Rob Michaels.
Senior Andrew Skorupski, at 195, also took second at the Irvington tournament.
“We have seven seniors on the roster and all seven have been with me since their freshmen years here,” said the coach.
Rounding out the roster, two first-year wrestlers – sophomore Kyle Rochester and Jose Mcallen Villafane – have played key roles for the team, along with sophomore Joe Marchesano.
Along with those wrestlers, the coach said senior Charlie Wilson wrestles at 145, while junior Liam McCant wrestles at 152.
Over the holidays, the coach said his team competed in the Rahway tournament on Dec. 30, which saw 152-pound senior Mike Faugno take first place and Spitaletta taking second.
For the Ridgers, getting pins will be crucial in each match.
“We hope to get to .500 percent, but we can’t just win. Because of our holes, we need to get pins to overcome the points we will be forfeiting,” Southerland said.
The Ridgers lost to Newark East Side on Jan. 6 at home and lost at Verona on Jan. 8.
GRHS hopes to have a good showing at the Essex County Tournament, which will be held Thursday and Friday, Jan. 21-22, at Richard J. Codey Arena in West Orange.