Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 3
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
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PHS Wrestling Showing Improvement, Building Foundation for the Long Haul

Bill Alden

On one hand, the Princeton High wrestling team’s 37-30 loss to Hightstown last Saturday can be viewed as a heartbreaker.

PHS went into the last two bouts knotted 30-30 with the Rams but couldn’t pull out another win.

While disappointed with the result, PHS head coach Rashone Johnson saw the performance Saturday as a step forward in a longer process.

“It could have gone either way,” said Johnson, who got wins from Ian Snyder at 112 pounds, Alex Charwin at 125, John Marsh at 130, Scott Yehl at 152, Wendell Charles at 189, and Nick Gillette at 285.

“I thought that all of my guys wrestled well; they have nothing to hang their heads about.”

Johnson is focused on the battles ahead as his squad vies for division and county crowns before heading into district action in the state tournament.

“When we are healthy with all of our starters we can be good but we don’t have a lot of numbers,” said Johnson, whose team moved to 3-4 with the loss to Hightstown.

“Staying healthy is the key, we have had different ailments. We need to get it back together to have a shot at winning our division; we are capable of doing it if we are healthy. If we are all healthy going into the Mercer County Tournament, there is no reason we can’t finish in the top four. The truth of the matter is that the season is to prepare you for the districts.”

In Johnson’s view, junior star Snyder is prepared to do some big things. “Ian is a tough kid; we spent a lot of time together doing the things he needs to do to get to the next level,” said Johnson.

“He just needs confidence; he is capable of standing on the podium this year. Technique-wise, he is there. He just needs to do some little things to fine-tune and he can be in Atlantic City (the annual site of the NJSIAA New Jersey High School Wrestling Championships).”

The Little Tigers have other contenders in the lower weights with Tim Miranda and Damien Freeman in addition to Charwin and Marsh.

“Those guys are good and could go a long way,” asserted Johnson. “Miranda went 3-0 in the weekend where we went against HoVal, Voorhees, and Lawrence. He could do it and be a top four seed. Freeman was fourth last year; he just needs to get his head together. Charwin could do something at 125.”

In Johnson’s view, he has the kind of senior leadership that can hold things together down the stretch.

“Yehl, Marsh, and Charwin are our captains,” said Johnson, whose team wrestles at Robbinsville on January 19 and at Hamilton on January 21 before heading to Gloucester City on January 22 for a quad with South River, Spotswood, and Gloucester. “They have all been with the program for four years and they want to go out on top.”

The program’s top surprise this winter has been the improvement shown by junior heavyweight Gillette.

“The biggest turnaround is Nick Gillette; he has had a 180 degree turnaround,” said Johnson.

“I spent some time with him and he is getting things down. He won five matches all of last year and he has already surpassed that. He beat a kid from Notre Dame who pinned him last year. He pinned the kid from Hightstown who beat him last year. He took third at our Garden State tournament and was second at Secaucus. He is right there.”

Johnson believes his squad should be right there collectively for the remainder of this season and beyond.

“I expect us to do well this season if we have everybody healthy,” said Johnson. “With just about everyone coming back, I expect those guys to buy into things even more next year.”

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