The saying “better late than never” may very well aptly describe the feeling of the members of the West Milford High School wrestling program as well as their fans and families.
Due to the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, the high school wrestling season in New Jersey has been delayed, but there will still be competition on the mat, with the first matches slated to take place on Tuesday, March 16.
“We are a young but experienced team and are very determined,’’ West Milford head coach Taylor Pevny said. “We have been very fortunate to be able to run practices in the new field house at the turf athletic complex behind Macopin Middle School. It has been a breath of fresh air for our program and has uplifted the enthusiasm and energy in the practice room.
“This is the biggest team (38 wrestlers) we have had in quite a while,” Pevny added. “They have all fallen in love with the sport and want to be their best. I am very excited and thrilled to see the commitment and love for such a difficult sport. These kids know they’re taking on one of the hardest sports in high school athletics and they are totally up for the challenge.’’
Among the key senior varsity tested student athletes returning for the Highlanders are Norman Rubinksy (182 pounds), Aidan Bolger (138 pounds), Aiden Highers (145 pounds), Kyle Fernley (152 pounds) and Reilly Fleet (145 pounds).
“Our captains are Norman Rubinsky and Aiden Highers,’’ Pevny said. “They push the team in practice and make sure everyone is playing their part. Our junior leaders up to this point in the season are returning varsity lettermen Aidan McGuire and Francesco Petrosillo.
“We have a very talented freshman class. Ben Marchetto (106 pounds), Colin Menier (120 pounds), Nate Ford (132 pounds), Jake Pasek (138 pounds), Mike Vanalstyne (113 pounds) and Spencer Ribitzki (285 pounds) are all seeking to contribute to the varsity lineup.
“We also have tons of sophomores who got lots of varsity experience last year,” the coach addd. “They are Erik Reilly (113 pounds), Tyler Schaffer (113 pounds), Ryan Eckhart (132 pounds), Skyler Sukalic (126 pounds), Tyler Wisnewski (195 pounds) and Jack Novak (138 pounds).’’
West Milford is scheduled to begin the season with a road match at Passaic on March 16.
On March 18 their first home meet is scheduled versus Lakeland.
“(We want to) build on last season,’’ Pevny said. “As a team, we can only compete for a Conference-Division championship. Our goal as a team is to win the Division over Lakeland, Wayne Valley, Wayne Hills, Fair Lawn and Passaic Valley. Individually, each of our wrestlers have an opportunity to qualify for the Individual State Tournament.
“That is going to require each wrestler to have the best season possible and win as many of the 15 matches as possible.’’