January 23, 2019

Featuring a Core of High Quality Performers, PHS Wrestling Primed to Do Damage at MCT

PINNING IT DOWN: Princeton High wrestler Chloe Ayres, top, takes control in a bout at 106 pounds against Nottingham High’s Stalin Arpi, which she won by a pin. Sophomore Ayres and the PHS wrestlers will be in action this weekend as they compete in the Mercer County Tournament at Robbinsville High on January 26.  (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Even though the Princeton High wrestling team lost 11 of its first 13 dual matches, Rashone Johnson is still getting plenty of quality performances from his athletes.

“I have half of a lineup that has experience, with veterans ready to step up and try to have a breakthrough season,” said PHS head coach Johnson.

“Then I have the other half of my lineup that is brand new. They are young and they lack experience. I find victories in all of my matches.”

The record is a bit deceptive as PHS has been involved in a number of tight contests.

“We have been close for the most part, it is always coming to the last match,” said Johnson.

“I hate to put pressure on guys like that and I don’t really put pressure on them. It is ‘go out and do the best you can and be the best version of yourself that you can be’ going out there on the mat. That is all I can ask of anybody.”

Senior stars Alec Bobchin (138 pounds) and Daniel Monahan (126) have been giving their teammates a daily example of doing one’s best.

“What they give you is consistency; they give you a working looking of what you need to do to get to their level,” said Johnson.

“It is not a far-fetched thing. You see these guys; if that is what you want to do, look at what they do. Until you can match their work ethic, you can’t possibly expect to get what they have and be what they are. It is not me making it up or reading a book and telling you theories of what should be. It is exactly cause and effect. You see those guys’ work ethic, you see what they do and the effect it has on performance. It is real cut and dry.”

After going 37-7 last season and taking eighth at 138 in the NJSIAA Wrestling Championships, Bobchin has continued to progress.

“In the offseason tournaments, the big tournaments that he went to, he was beating state champs and state placers from all over the country,” said Johnson.

“He is 150 percent better than he was last year and he was pretty good last year. He legit is going to be a threat to win the state title. He is one of those guys that if he gets it on the right weekend, the right day, he is a state champ.”

Monahan, for his part, recently notched the 100th win of his PHS career and is primed for a state run.

“He is definitely quality enough to get to the state tournament this year and that is what we are talking about and what we are trying to do,” said Johnson.

“He needs to be wrestling in March. He has the skill set that lends itself to do that.”

The squad’s other veterans have been displaying good skills on the mat.

“Chloe Ayres is having a nice year as a sophomore, she is doing her thing at 106,” said Johnson.

“You have got Chris Sockler a sophomore at 132. You have another sophomore James Romaine at 152 and at 145, we have junior Dominic Riendeau-Krause. We definitely have some bright spots.”

There have been some bright spots among the team’s newcomers. “Jean Henri as a freshman at heavyweight is taking his lumps and is getting better each match; it is a work in progress,” said Johnson.

“Up at 182, Will Ellsworth didn’t wrestle last year but he wrestled the year before and he is enjoying it. He is starting to put it together a little better. He is improving each match. I have senior first-year wrestler at 170 in Aidan Vaughey. He is a first year guy coming out. He is a lacrosse guy and he is giving me everything he has out there. He is a tough kid. Juan Espinosa is doing that at 195 for me. He is doing the best that he can; he is a freshman in his first year of wrestling.

Johnson is confident that his wrestlers will give their best effort this Saturday in the Mercer County Tournament at Robbinsville High.

“I think it is going to be a good weekend,” said Johnson, whose squad will tune up for the competition by hosting WW/P-North on January 23.

“I have some younger guys in my lineup, and all those guys are looking to prove themselves as the top wrestlers in their weight classes in the area. That is the time to do it and see how you are.”