The Falcons, competing without four starters in last weekend’s Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament, still crowned a school-record three champions and managed to finish runner-up to South Plainfield.
The steadily improving Bears, with eight medal winners, including 113-pound champion Mark Schleifer, placed third in the GMCT and will get another shot at Monroe in the District 20 Tournament later this month.
"It’s important that the kids realize that we are hitting a stride right now," East Brunswick coach Matt Pazinko said. "We are doing some good things. I told them to be disappointed with the loss, but don’t be disappointed with how we are progressing as a team and coming together."
In a dual that started at 138 pounds, Pazinko made a move, bumping his first four wrestlers, including Jason Minikel, who opened the meet with a 27-12 loss by technical fall in 5:58 to Monroe’s Chris Muce.
The bout illustrated and foreshadowed how precious points would be as Muce repeatedly cut Minikel, who fought valiantly to stay off his back.
"We knew (Minikel) was going to get one of their studs," Pazinko said, referring to league tournament finalist Muce or Profaci, who may be the state’s best 132-pounder. "We told him beforehand, whatever points you can save us is going to help the team. He knew his role going out and he did great."
Monroe won four of the next seven bouts and took a 23-14 lead, its second biggest of the night, on Nick Goff’s 1-0 decision over Sam Walker, who Goff decisioned 2-1 in overtime during the conference tournament quarterfinals.
East Brunswick responded, winning four in a row beginning at heavyweight, where Kevin Eid scored a takedown with 14 seconds left for a 3-2 victory over Nick Fromhold, who he decisioned 3-2 in an ultimate tiebreaker during the conference tournament quarterfinals
The strength of Pazinko’s lineup followed as Mitch Polito (technical fall), Schleifer (major decision) and Alex Gleason (major decision) won consecutive bouts to give East Brunswick its short-lived 29-23 lead.
"We absolutely knew it was going to be tough," Jacoutot said. "We did realize they matched up well with us and we are a little banged up. I told the kids, if everybody contributes, we can get it done. It was satisfying because it was a total team effort."
Monroe remained without 113-pounder Nicky Lombard (hamstring), 145-pounder Donny Albach (elbow) and 182-pounder Kaylon Bradley (elbow) but did get 106-pounder Andy Lombard back in the lineup.
"I know they’ve got some injuries," Pazinko said, "but they still took second in the conference and they still are a powerhouse to go through in the GMC."
Monroe Township (MOTO) 32.00 East Brunswick H.S. (EBHS) 29.00
138: Chris Muce (MOTO) over Jason Minikel (EBHS) (TF 27-11 5:58) 145: Paul Pichirallo (EBHS) over Christopher Ryan (MOTO) (MD 16-4) 152: Jared Parisen (MOTO) over Harrison Cosentino (EBHS) (Dec 6-4) 160: Kevin Creech (MOTO) over Matthew Miskanic (EBHS) (Fall 1:20) 170: Anthony Tamayo (EBHS) over Christopher Turchio (MOTO) (Fall 1:34) 182: Rafael Pescasio (EBHS) over Clint Hetzell (MOTO) (MD 11-1) 195: Dennis Dressel (MOTO) over Damien Ruiz (EBHS) (Fall 0:29) 220: Nicholas Goff (MOTO) over Samual Walker (EBHS) (Dec 1-0) 285: Kevin Eid (EBHS) over Nicholas Fromhold (MOTO) (Dec 3-2) 106: Mitchell Polito (EBHS) over Nicholas DePalma (MOTO) (TF 19-3 0:00) 113: Mark Schleifer (EBHS) over Andrew Lombard (MOTO) (Dec 8-2) 120: Alec Gleason (EBHS) over Shawn Gardini (MOTO) (MD 16-2) 126: Joe Zargo (MOTO) over Tyler Shwartz (EBHS) (Dec 3-0) 132: Salvatore Profaci (MOTO) over David Laureta (EBHS) (Fall 0:30)
via Wrestling: No. 2 Monroe rallies to defeat No. 5 East Brunswick.
EastBrunswickInfo: Additional pictures of East Brunswick vs Monroe.