Mount Olive Marauder Wrestling Wins Their First Group IV State Title

Photo courtesy of Sean Smyth

By Steve Sears

Drama is the best word to describe it.

Brick Memorial High School was the last stone in the path to Mount Olive High School’s first Group IV state wrestling championship, and junior Anthony Moscatello, who was still mourning the loss of his grandfather a week earlier, had all of his 190 lb. weight on his shoulders as he strode to the mat to take on Cory Martin in the final match on February 13 at Franklin High School.

Moscatello won his bout against the Brick Memorial senior, 5 -1, and head coach Sean Smyth and his Marauders were 32 – 29 winners, Group IV state champions, and finished their historic season with a team record of 18 – 2.

“I really wanted to win for him,” Moscatello says of his grandfather, who had also wrestled in high school. “He always told me that his favorite move was the cradle. He used to say, ‘I can always tell when you’re about to do it.’ That’s all I kept thinking of, was the cradle, and that’s my favorite move, too. I was hearing his voice in my head and just wanted to do my best for him. And I’m just happy that the team got a win, and I know he’s probably jumping up and down wherever he is right now.” 

Smyth says, “Our kids, they were ready to go. We trained all year for this week, we designed a very competitive schedule for our team, and it prepared them for this week. This was a tough week. We wrestled multiple matches on multiple nights, day after day after day.”

Indeed. On February 7, in the North Jersey quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, Mount Olive defeated first Lyndhurst, 70 – 0, and then Randolph, 66 – 11. On the 9th, in the sectional finals, Morris Knolls was defeated, 49 – 6, and on the 11th in the Group IV semifinals, the Marauders defeated Shawnee, 47 – 16, to set up the clash with Brick Memorial.

“What our kids were able to do, and the way they were able to go out there and compete, I’ve never seen anything like it. I give my kids a lot of credit,” Smyth says.

Smyth, who is in his 23rd season and has won over 300 matches at the helm, credits his seniors. “Riley Camoia has been phenomenal, Hunter Perez has been phenomenal, Tyler Bienuas has been phenomenal, and D.J. Ryerson has had an incredible season. You look at their records, and you’ll see they all have like six, seven losses. There’s a reason for that. Our schedule was designed so we didn’t want to go out there and pin everyone in 30 seconds. We wanted to go out there and grind it out for six minutes and make these guys ready to go. You don’t get better pinning everyone in 30 seconds. You get better by challenging yourself.”

“I’ve had some great teams,” Smyth says when asked how high he’d rank his current squad. “I’ve been very blessed to have some good talent here at Mount Olive, and I think you’d have to put this team up there as the best just because of the way they finished. Never to discredit anything any other wrestler has done for Mount Olive, because they’ve all been competitive.” And the built success goes beyond the mat. “This is an entire community buying into a program and buying into the coaches,” Smyth adds. “And not only did it come from the parents here in town, but the school administration has been super supportive of us. They’ve allowed us to host numerous tournaments, match after match, at our place, and without the school administration’s support and the community support, this doesn’t happen. Everyone wanted one common goal, and we were able to put it all together.” And although the Marauders will lose a few seniors to graduation, the future looks bright. “The whole town has really kind of bought into wrestling here,” Smyth says, “and our rec program here in town has been very successful over the years. Just this year alone, they won the tri-counties again. So yes, we will be graduating some top-notch seniors, but we do have a crop of young wrestlers who you did not see this year who will be stepping into the picture, who are probably ready to go. They’ll be making a name for themselves next year.”

But for now, there is time to savor the greatest win in Marauder wrestling history. “Right then and there, it was really awesome,” Moscatello says regarding the end of the Group IV final, “but when I got home, it really set in. I said to myself, ‘We’re like the best team ever to come through the school, and probably one of the best teams to ever come through Morris County.”

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