Daniel Monahan became only the third wrestler in the history of Princeton High School to win 100 wrestling matches when he scored two victories Saturday in a tri-meet against Hamilton and Notre Dame in Lawrenceville.
Monahan wasn’t challenged on the day as he picked up a pair of first period pins, getting win number 99 against Hamilton and hitting the century mark about an hour later against Notre Dame.
“It’s definitely a good accomplishment,” Monahan said after the historic win. “I’m happy to have achieved it. It’s important to me that I’m the third person to do this at Princeton. We have a really good program that’s developing here and to be the third person to ever do it is exciting. It’s not what I was entirely focused on but it’s definitely a great milestone. I’m excited about what’s to come.”
Unfortunately for the Little Tigers, the team as a whole did not fare as well, losing a pair of competitive matches.
Notre Dame was the team winner of the day, defeating both Princeton and Hamilton by identical 39-33 scores. In the third match, Hamilton got two pins and two forfeits in the final four weights to defeat Princeton 42-37.
At the key moments in both of the Irish wins it was 182 pounder Jaylen Bynes who was in the white hot spotlight and he answered the call successfully both times, picking up a decision and a pin to fuel the Notre Dame sweep.
In the day’s opener against Hamilton, the Irish had gone up 36-15 with only four bouts remaining, thanks to a huge 5-2 win by Michael Blotto over the Hornets’ Ryan Bennett at 152. But Hamilton closed the Notre Dame lead to 36-27 with two pins. That’s when Bynes came up big, defeating Hamilton’s Ashombre Ortiz in a thriller, 3-2 to clinch the victory.
In the last match of the day, Notre Dame trailed Princeton 33-9 with only five bouts remaining, but after 170 pounder Noah Brachelli buried Princeton’s Aidan Vaughey with a three quarter nelson, Bynes came through with a pin. Two forfeits tied the match at 33 and heavyweight Omar Santos finished the job with a second period pin.
“I knew, because I watched him against Hamilton West, that I could work my moves and get in the ties,” Bynes said of his pin of Princeton’s Will Elsworth. “I had some extra motivation (against Hamilton’s Ortiz.) He pinned me last year, so I got my payback. (Winning the match for the team) was definitely what mattered most.”
Also winning two bouts each on the day for Notre Dame were Santos at 220 and 225 and Logan Bearce, who had a pair of decision wins at 126.
“I thought we would win a couple more of the tighter toss-ups,” Notre Dame coach EJ Nemeth said of his squad’s win over Princeton. “We didn’t, but at the end of the day (I’m happy with) the grit we showed to come back against Princeton. After 160 we were in a bad spot. The kid at 170 is a second year wrestler and the kid at 182 is a second year wrestler. Those were both toss-ups and we came out of it with pins.”
The two wins improves Notre Dame’s record to 7-5. That is an impressive feat for a very inexperienced team that was expected to take its lumps in the CVC this season.
“There was a moment in the Toms River South match last week,” Nemeth said of the Irish’s 37-35 win. “Where our kids said, ‘That’s enough.’ And we dug deep and took out Toms River South. They beat Nottingham by 10 and Nottingham beat us (48-30.) We’re way further than where I thought but that’s the reason we go to Hunterdon Central. That’s the reason we go to Middletown North. You need to wrestle better competition to be able to come out and take matches like this.”
Princeton, meanwhile, has shown that it has a little more balance through its lineup this season but 12 points in forfeits at the top of its lineup has hampered the Little Tigers. Against Hamilton, as in the loss to Notre Dame, those forfeits made late match leads disappear.
Against Hamilton, four pins and a pair of technical falls from Alec Bobchin at 152 and James Romaine at 160 had staked Princeton to a 37-18 lead with four bouts to go. But Hamilton closed it out with six pointers as Josh Eget at 170 and Ortiz at 182 got pins. That left Princeton to stand by helplessly as Hamilton’s Justin Wiltsey and Michael Cauthon collected forfeits in the match’s final two bouts to give the Hornets the win.
“We’re trying,” Princeton coach Rashone Johnson said after the meet. “We’ve got some people missing that will hopefully be back to help our lineup up top. We’re a work in progress. We’re not a bad team. I think we’re pretty formidable with some of the moves we can make.”
A big part of those moves is the experienced crew Johnson sports through the middle of his lineup. That includes returning state place winner Bobchin and Monahan as well as Romaine at 160, Aaron Mumford at 138, Chris Sockler at 132 and Dominic Riendeau-Krause at 145. All had two wins on the day as did 106 pounder Chloe Ayres, who had a pin and a major decision for her two victories.
“Those guys are solid,” Johnson said. “So we’re just trying to spread the love. Half of wrestling nowadays is being able to fill your lineup. My guys are trying, they’re out there fighting. Nobody is laying down and that’s all I can really ask the guys to do. As long as they learn from what happened today, they’ll be better the next time. That’s how it works.”
For Hamilton, Eget at 170, Wiltsey at 195 and Silvio Aparicio at 120 all had two wins, with Eget winning by pin against both Princeton and Notre Dame.