For most of the seniors on the Glen Rock wrestling team, this match meant everything.
Back when they were freshmen, they were teammates and friends with the current seniors on the Saddle Brook wrestling team, members of the last combined Glen Rock-Saddle Brook squad that had competed as a co-op program for more than a decade. And in their last year together, the combined team captured the Bergen County freshman team title before the two schools separated and started their own individual programs the following year.
On Saturday, Glen Rock and Saddle Brook wrestled against each other and the Panthers pulled out an emotional 33-31 victory. By doing so, the Panthers took ownership of that Freshman County Team Championship Trophy, which had been kept at Saddle Brook the past three years.
There was plenty of love at the match, with several of the Glen Rock seniors going over to hug the Saddle Brook coach after their individual matches, win or lose, and players posed together for photos afterward.
As for the details of how the match itself went down, the encounter started at 113 pounds, with senior Matthew Fellini wrestling against his former teammate, C.J. Limmatola, who took a 14-1 dual meet record – including seven pins – into the encounter. Fellini lost, but because he lost on points, and was not pinned, he saved Glen Rock valuable points, which would come into play later.
The match went nip-and-tuck, back-and-forth the entire way, and ultimately came down to the final match, between senior heavyweights Jimmy Gilmartin of Glen Rock and George Mardo of Saddle Brook. Saddle Brook led, 28-27, going into that match, but because the Falcons did not have a wrestler at the 106-pound weight class, they would have to forfeit, giving the Panthers six points. That meant Mardo, who came in with a 13-1 record (seven pins) in dual matches, needed to win by pinfall for Saddle Brook to win the match. But Gilmartin, who did not wrestle as a freshman and was not part of that co-op team, did his job by staying off his back. Mardo won, 5-3, but that wasn’t good enough for Saddle Brook. Glen Rock accepted a forfeit at 106 and ended up winning the match.
The meeting between the two former partner programs was the centerpiece of a quad meet, hosted by Elmwood Park, which also featured New Milford. Glen Rock won all three matches on the day, to extend its winning streak to 10 straight, and lift its record to 15-4. The Panthers are home for two matches this week, Wednesday vs. Ramsey, which will be Senior Night, and Friday against Pompton Lakes. Both matches are scheduled for a 6 p.m. start.