Four score and two years ago, in January of 1936, Roselle Park High School (RPHS) included wrestling in its sports program. 82 years later – with an overall average of more than one win a month without fail – Roselle Park Wrestling reached a significant milestone of 1,000 dual meet wins. A review shows that Roselle Park appears to be only the fourth high school in history to be recognized for achieving such an accomplishment and the just second from the Garden State. The other three other high school wrestling teams to achieve 1,000 wins were Granite City High School from Illinois, Vacaville High School in California, and Paulsboro High School – who had its 1,000th win in 2011 – from New Jersey.
Under the direction of eight coaches, the latest being current coach Ryan Rooney who took over the program in 2016, Roselle Park wrestlers have steadily made their mark over the decades.
Last night, in front of a packed crowd of fans – both old and new – at the T. Ralph ‘Pug’ Williams gymnasium, 13 young men from Roselle Park took to the mat to make history. The Roselle Park Panthers face the Scotch Plains Raiders in a meet that was originally scheduled to take place at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School but in an honorable show of sportsmanship, the Raiders accommodated the Panthers to allow for a possible 1,000th win at home.
Dylan Camillo was first up against Timothy Roden in the 145 lbs. weight class and started the night with a Major Decision win for the Roselle Park Grapplers.
Elvin Guerrero followed for Roselle Park and bested Scotch Plains’ Michael Ramos in the 152 weight class with a 3-point Decision win to have the Panthers take the lead 7-0.
Roselle Park was up by 10 after Abel Crespo won a Decision over Zachary Fleischman in the 160 weight class.
Raider Nicholas Palazzolo gave Scotch Plains six (6) points when he won against Panther Jefferson Garcia with a pin fall in the 170 lb. category.
Roselle Park’s Devin Hilburn won his 183 weight class match against Alex Oslislo with a 3-point Decision.
Scotch Plains’ Sam Wustefeld closed the gap for the Raiders when he secured a 5-point Technical Fall against Grappler Ryan Urban to make it 13-11 with the Panthers still in the lead.
A forfeit win for Scotch Plains’ Bobby Mount in the 220 weight class gave the Raiders the lead for the first time last night with a score of 13-17.
Sean Matthews brought the Panthers within one point with his three-point Decision win over fellow 285 weight class wrestler, Raider Walter Thomas to make it 16-17.
The Panthers were back on top 23-17 when Gabriel Leo in the 106 lb. category won by Fall against Kyle Rigney.
113 weight class Scotch Plains Raider Michael Fleck earned his team six (6) points when he defeated Roselle Park Grappler Antonio Antonucci with a Fall and, once again, had Scotch Plains in the lead by one point at 22-23.
Eddie Hummel returned the Panthers back to the lead with his Fall win over Kyle Robinson in the 120 weight class match with a score of 28-23.
The Panthers continued on their lead when Matthew Armamento garnered a four-point Major Decision win in his 126 weight class match over Raider Jeremy Lenart to make it 32-23.
Roselle Park never looked back as 132 weight class Panther Mark Montgomery pinned Jacob Perone from Scotch Plains for six points and made it 38-23.
The meet ended with a final Fall win by Panther Jon A. Mejia against Raider Mateo Velez to close the evening with a 42-23 victory.
After each team met again in the center of the mat to congratulate each other the gymnasium pack audience took to the court to celebrate in their hometown team’s 1,000th win. Well-wishers, friends, family members, former coaches, former wrestlers, photographs, pats on the back, hugs, a banner, a plaque, and even balloons graced the gymnasium with the Roselle Park Panthers at the center of it all.
Although they appeared a bit tired from their matches, the team was in-the-moment as they were congratulated for their milestone victory. Amid the accolades, it seemed that the Roselle Park Panthers knew it was just a moment. Last night was last night and tomorrow is another day and they need to continue to finish the season, knowing that the most important win is the next one.
Photographs from the meet are available below. Click to enlarge.