As the a No. 2 seed in the NJSIAA District 28 Wrestling Tournament it could be easy for Haddon Township High School’s Mike McCutcheon to look ahead and wonder who may be awaiting him in the finals.
However, McCutcheon is too wise for that, knowing what the repercussions of one slip up could mean. One momentary lapse of judgment in a quarterfinal matchup can leave a wrestler on his back, bringing a sudden end to his season.
McCutcheon made no such mistake Friday night, advancing comfortably with a 20-4 technical fall victory over Haddon Height’s Brian Panera to advance to today’s semifinals.
“It’s hard to take it one match at a time, especially having been here before, but that’s the single most important thing,” said McCutcheon. “That’s what I am doing.”
McCutcheon was one of eight Haddon Township wrestlers who made it into
the semifinals. Joining McCutcheon in the next round will be Chris Wolf (106), Renato Paoli (113), Brian Navaro (120), Jason Martinak (138), Marvin Japa (152), Dan Clemente (160), Elijah Camacho (170) and Tim Wolf (195).
Not to be outdone, Haddonfield advanced eight wrestlers of its own. The Bulldawgs got quarterfinal victories from Christian Kreps (106), Peter Rhodes (120), Nate Finnegan (126), Jake Klaus (132), David Hessert (138), Crawford Oswald (145), Frank Fontino (170) and Henry Klaus (182)
Oswald’s 8-1 victory over Leroy Thomas, of Pennsauken, set him up for a semifinal against McCutcheon. Oswald left the mat feeling confident about his performance, but also with a few things to work on before Saturday’s semifinal.
“I thought I wrestled good,” said Oswald. “There are a couple of things I need to tweak before I wrestle my semifinals match, but I should be alright.”
The winner of that match will advance to the final where Collingswood’s Alex Irwin will likely be waiting. Oswald, a No. 3 seed, is eying the podium, but is maintaining the right mindset about it.
“Whatever I get tomorrow, I will be satisfied as long as I go my hardest,” Oswald said.
McCutcheon, meanwhile, wants to put a cherry on top of what has been a highly successful wrestling career. He has spent this last season in a leadership role, and has stressed to his teammates the importance of being ready for the physical demands that this portion of the season brings.
“The hardest part about this part of the season is the length,” McCutcheon said. “It starts take it’s toll once you get into the third month. The important thing is to stay positive, keep going and keep working hard.”
McCutcheon has done exactly that and is hoping to lead by example today.
“It would be special (to win),” McCutcheon said. “It would be good to kind of go out with a bang my senior year. That’s what I am looking to do.”
The action resumes at Collingswood High School with the semifinals at 11 a.m. and continues with the consolations and finals.