March 7, 2018

Achieving the Ultimate Goal of Junior Campaign, Bobchin Finishes 8th at State Wrestling Tourney

ALEC THE GREAT: Princeton High wrestler Alec Bobchin, top, battles Monroe’s Andrew Lombard at 138 pounds in the semifinals of the Region V championships last month. Over the weekend, junior star Bobchin took eighth at 138 in the NJSIAA Wrestling Championships at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall. It marked the first time a PHS wrestler had made the podium at the event since Ian Reddy took fourth in 1993. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Alec Bobchin knew exactly what he wanted to accomplish this winter in his junior campaign with the Princeton High wrestling team.

“My goals were definitely to win districts again,” said Bobchin. “I really wanted to win region and the main goal and what I have really been training to do is to place top 8 in the states.”

In February, Bobchin accomplished the first two steps of his plan. He placed first in the District 19 tournament at 138 pounds, pinning Aiden Dillon of Pingry in the championship bout. A week later, Bobchin won the Region V title, topping A.J. Erven 5-0 of Raritan in the final, becoming the first PHS wrestler to win a region crown since Thomas Frantzen did so in 2006.

Last weekend at NJSIAA Wrestling Championships at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall, achieved his trifecta, placing eighth at 138. It marked the first time a PHS wrestler had made the podium at the event since Ian Reddy took fourth in 1993.

In reflecting on his big junior campaign, Bobchin said he has built on progress he made as a sophomore.

“Going from freshman year to sophomore year, I was definitely a lot more mentally strong,” said Bobchin.

Taking fourth in the region last winter earned Bobchin a berth in the 2017 state championship and he benefitted from being exposed to the high stakes environment of that competition.

“I think it was a pretty cool experience. I had a very tough draw,” said Bobchin.

“In the first match, I went against the top seed. I was able to wrestle back a couple of rounds to the top 16 so it was a good experience.”

Inspired by that experience, Bobchin started training with the Rhino club in Marlboro to help hone his skills on the mat.

“I just went there and I just love the people and the partners that was basically right after states,” said Bobchin.

“The coaches there are very good. I definitely amped up the wrestling and started training a lot harder.”

That training came in handy as Bobchin rolled into the Region V championship bout.

“I have never been in the region finals before so I was thinking to stay loose, keep mentally strong, and just let it fly,” said Bobchin.

“I just stuck to my offense and I was able to score on my feet and I was able to ride him out most of the match on top. It was pretty special.”

Looking ahead to his second trip to Atlantic City, Bobchin was primed to take care of business.

“It was just, touch up on some technique, keep my conditioning up, and keep a clear mind,” said Bobchin. “I got the ‘wow, I am here’ experience out of the way last year. I am down here to just get on the podium, which is what I worked so hard for.”

Bobchin was seeded 12th at 138 in the state competition and defeated 21st seeded Dante Stefanelli 13-3 in the first round. He then fell 16-1 to fifth-seeded Andrew Gapas and moved to the consolation bracket, where he defeated Scott Jarosz of Roxbury on an overtime takedown, pinned Manalapan’s Alan Baran, and then topped Anthony Croce of Camden Catholic 8-6 in overtime in the fourth round of the wrestle-backs to earn his eighth-place finish and spot on the podium. It was the best finish at states for a PHS wrestler since Ian Reddy finished fourth in 1993.

PHS head coach Rashone Johnson was proud of Bobchin’s performance last weekend.

“In these last three days of competition, he grew so much more as a wrestler,” said Johnson, noting that Bobchin finished the season with a 37-7 record and now has 101 career wins, the second most in program history behind the 118 victories totaled by James Verbeyst ’17.

“There were some really hard fought wins; he had two overtime wins. It is a long, punishing weekend but very rewarding if you can persevere.”

In assessing Bobchin’s progress, Johnson attributed it to developing a clearer focus under the heat of competition.

“He got mentally tougher; there is a certain level of mental toughness that it takes to be able to perform well down there,” said Johnson.

“It is a lot of pressure and he was able to do it this year. The other thing is confidence level. He really believed in himself this year, and that makes a world of difference.”

That mindset combined with Bobchin’s technical skills on the mat has made him tough to beat.

“He is really quick and excels on his feet; he is solid on the mat,” said Johnson.

“He had the tools last year. You would be surprised at how much more confidence can do for your performance.”

In Johnson’s view, Bobchin could be in the mix for a state next year.

“He is a great kid, he set some lofty goals and he set his mind out to do what he did,” said Johnson.

“He really believes he can do better. He left this weekend knowing that he has a lot more in him when he is performing down there next year.”

Bobchin, for his part, believes he has plenty of room to grow.

“I definitely can feel myself being stronger and faster each week and my confidence going up,” said Bobchin, who is planning to wrestle at the college level. “It is staying mentally strong, for sure. It is a major thing I need to do.”