Young Cutters Gain Experience at Duals
The Fair Lawn High School wrestling squad will spend the next two days in Oradell facing tough competition
ORADELL – What the Fair Lawn Cutters wrestling team lacks in experience, it makes up for in its desire to improve.
"The important thing for the summer is to get time on the mat," said assistant coach Jamie Graceffo Monday, during the first day of the three-day River Dell Duals wrestling showcase. "If they win it's a bonus but it's more important to get the time in because they will get more from it."
In recent years, winning hasn’t come easy to the historically strong Cutters squad, which has struggled not only in the Big North National Division but in the post season as well. Last season, the team missed out on qualifying for the state tournament, but did have two individual team members, Jarred Rose and Tyler Argott, who brought home District 16 titles. Both Rose and Argott later fell during the Region 2 quarterfinals and were eliminated from competing in the individidual finals in Atlantic City.
Part of the program’s struggle has simply been getting athletes to compete, especially at the upper weights. Those that do compete, are often inexperienced.
“In the last couple years, we haven’t really been getting too many kids coming up from the rec program,” head coach Shane DeLucca said in October. “We’ve been just getting kids out from their freshman year, so it's difficult to get a freshman to be a successful wrestler in just a short three-year period of time.”
To develop an in-house pool of talent, DeLucca said that building up the town’s junior program -- which starts in first grade and serves as a feeder system for the high school -- was his primary goal.
In the past few years the junior program has tripled in size and Fair Lawn's wrestling coaches expect it to pay dividends, if not this year, then a couple years out.
“From, I’d say 2 years from now, all the way down to our fourth graders, we’re going to have some kids that are really good,” DeLucca said in October. “That’s what we’re waiting on. But it’s going to take some time.”
Until then, the Cutters will continue to seek out additional experience by challenging themselves against the top programs in the county and relying on their four main returners: Rose, Austen Fisher, Issa Musalaev and Jack Anderson.
The Cutters will take on Westwood (5pm) and Tenafly (7pm) in the River Dell lower gymnasium on Tuesday. They will start Wednesday in the upper gymnasium against North Bergen (5pm) before moving to the lower gymnasium for a match against Northern Highlands (6pm) and Hawthorne (8pm).