For the past four seasons, the combined wrestling team from Glen Rock and Saddle Brook has been the king of the hill in District 6. That run came to an end this past weekend at Fair Lawn High School, but it doesn’t mean that there were not moments of success.
The SB/GR group came away with three individual district champions, including Glen Rock students Eric Schlett and Zach Hunko. Chris Jacobsen was the third champion, while Mike Andreano and Sean Pezzuti were runners-up.
The team slipped to fourth place in the field of nine schools in District 6 this season, with only those five wrestlers continuing on this weekend as the state tournament continues with Region 2 action at Hackensack High School.
For senior Schlett and junior Hunko, the districts were memorable, though under completely different circumstances.
Schlett, competing at 152 pounds, did not wrestle until the semifinals, as he had a bye to the quarters and a forfeit into the semis. He knocked off Ridgewood junior Aaron Martinez in the semifinals with a 5-1 decision on Saturday morning before staging an epic match in the finals.
Facing Fair Lawn‘s Issa Musalaev in the title bout, Schlett trailed early after being taken down and ended the first period in a 2-1 hole. The deficit increased to 5-2 after two periods, but he managed a takedown to get within 5-4.
Musalaev then reversed him 10 seconds later for a 7-4 lead midway into the final period. Schlett escaped with 38 seconds to go, and it set up a dramatic finish.
“I just put it in my mind that I was district champ as a junior, and I needed to come back and do it again, no matter what it took,” Schlett said. “And I saw the chance, and I got the job done.”
With the final seconds ticking away, he managed to get a shot in and was able to take Musalaev down just before the final horn, sending the match into overtime tied at 7-7.
After an uneventful minute in the first overtime, Schlett elected to take the down position in the second overtime, a 30-second period. He was to his feet and escaped in five seconds, though he could not score any further points. That meant he needed to hold off Musalaev in the next 30-second session. Musalaev, from the down position, got to his feet as the clock neared 10 seconds.
“I thought at that moment that he might escape, but I felt that if I could get him back down to the mat and get a leg in, I could ride him out for the rest of the match,” Schlett said. “I was able to do that and hold him for the last five seconds.”
In contrast to Schlett’s exhaustive effort, Hunko had a virtual cake walk through the tournament at 182 pounds. He reached the finals with a pair of 39-second pins and was even better in the championship bout, catching Ridgewood freshman Kyle Inlander just 10 seconds in and finishing off his pin in 20 seconds.
That meant he won three bouts in a total of 98 seconds, or less than one period of action combined. There is no award for most pins in the fastest time, but he certainly would have earned it had there been.
“The opening was there, and I was able to take advantage of it,” Hunko said of the final. “Once he was down, I knew I had him.”
With such a short stint on the mat, and six days before wrestling again, Hunko said, “This week is about conditioning and staying sharp. You just have to keep focused and prepared.”
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