The Old Bridge High School wrestling team is young this season.
Coach Josh Baker wants to get his wrestlers varsity experience so they can grow and win in the future.
That process started on Dec. 19 at South Brunswick High School, Old Bridge’s first dual meet of the season. The Knights lost, 51-24, but they took some positive steps forward.
At 106 pounds, Vincent Nadera pinned his opponent in 3:09. Alec Meyers, Old Bridge’s 145-pounder, finished his match with a pin at 38 seconds.
The Knights’ Ryan Yuhas, at 170 pounds, and McCoy Aryee, at 182 pounds, both won by decision.
It wasn’t a bad performance from a team that lost eight seniors after last season.
“My team is very new and raw. Overall, I think there were a lot of first match jitters,” Baker said. “There were some highs and lows, but we need to get a little bit tougher. That’s the biggest part I took away from this.”
Old Bridge is not just young. It has a lot of freshmen who have never even wrestled before.
“You go from a senior heavy team to a team with a lot of freshmen who are coming out for the team for the first time,” Baker said. “We have to work with what we got.”
Baker was proud of his winning wrestlers on Dec. 19.
“Alec Meyers and Vince Nadera did what they needed to do,” Baker said.
But the coach was also satisfied with a Knights’ wrestler who lost, 285 pounder Paul McDermott, who was pinned at 4:25.
“If you watch him wrestle from last year to this year, there’s a complete difference,” Baker said. “He goes out there, he believes in himself, he knows how big he is and he wants to be out there.”
Baker was still upbeat after the loss. He knows this season will be a process.
“We all looked solid. Now we’re on to the next match,” he said. “We just need to want to wrestle. A lot of them don’t realize what it means to wrestle yet, and that’s what this sport is about. Learning how to wrestle and deal with tough situations.”
“We just want to get better as a team,” Baker added. “It’s a young team.”
Baker said Old Bridge has a lot of good middle school wrestlers who will be coming up in the upcoming years. His goal is to build a team that is ready to win once the younger talents join the varsity squad.
It will be a season of foundation building for the Knights. But Baker’s vision is clear.
“Old Bridge is going to be a name that you need to know. It’s just about getting this team ready for what’s in the future,” Baker said. “Build a new foundation. Every day we’re getting better and better. There’s nothing but positive things ahead.”
Old Bridge’s next dual meet is scheduled for Jan. 5 at home at 9 a.m. Rival Sayreville War Memorial High School will be the opponent.