By Jeff Cummins, Staff Writer
MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Years from now, the McLaren brothers will be, regaling
relatives with stories from the day they each won a district wrestling, title.
These are the kind of stories that often get more embellished with, the
passage of time.
Only the McLaren brothers " standouts for Columbia High School, " won't have
to embellish their stories.
Bradley McLaren was supposed to, win the 275-pound title; he was seeded No.
1. Bryan, however, was seeded No. 4, at 160 pounds, and he had to go through
the top seed, Eric Bergman of Seton Hall, Prep.
Bryan never pinned an opponent in the tournament. It didn't matter, though,
because he didn't have to pin anyone. Decisions will do just, fine.
In his semifinal match, he edged Bergman, 5-3. Then, in the final, Bryan
looked like he was well on his way, taking a 7-1 lead. Suddenly, Hany, Elsheikh
of Brearley had tied the score on a reverse, and now he was holding, Bryan's
left leg in the air "and Elsheikh seemed to be holding Bryan's fate in, the
tournament, as well.
Suddenly, while hopping on one leg, Bryan shook, himself free from Elsheikh,
scoring the go-ahead point with the escape. With, only seconds left, Bryan
fended off Elsheikh and won the title, 8-7.
"I, wanted it so bad. I knew I wasn't coming back next year," said Bryan, a
senior., "This is the top of the world. It's beautiful. I said one year, this
has to be, mine. It's the biggest thing ever. It felt good paying him
(Elsheikh) back. He, beat me at the beginning of the year."
One thing made Bryan's win even, sweeter. Angelo DiLeo of Seton Hall Prep,
who pinned Bryan in last year's, 171-pound final, was in the audience.
"Angelo was watching. I had to pull, it off," he said.
Through Bryan's match against Elsheikh, his brother, Bradley, paced along
the edge of the gym, yelling, "Let's go, Bryan!" throughout, the match.
Then, once Bryan, 19-6, captured his championship, the, pressure shifted to
Bradley. For much of Bradley's match, Thomas Weaver of, Irvington, seeded No.
2, seemed to be getting the best of Bradley. There were, times when Bradley
even looked as if he might not have enough energy in the tank, to come back..
Then, suddenly, Bradley mustered up the strength to reverse, Weaver and, in
one twisting motion, put Weaver on his back, pinning Weaver, several seconds
later, at 4:53. After briefly celebrating his victory, Bradley, turned and
picked up Weaver, who was momentarily stunned by the suddenness of, the pin.. In an
impressive show of sportsmanship, the two wrestlers raised each, others' arm
as the winner as Bradley was announced as the winner.
"Our, coaches push us hard. It makes us tough," said Bradley, 25-4,
explaining the, extra reserve of energy he showed in the third period. "He was
When he, stopped right there, he was tired, and I had to get him. It was then
or never., So I took my chance and I won."
Did it add anything to his match, knowing, that his brother had already won?
"It added a lot. If my brother won, of, course I had to win," said Bradley. "
He would have been nice about it if I'd, lost, but he probably would have
thrown it in my face a little."
Yes, there's a pretty good chance they'll tell that story in the McLaren
house at, every holiday dinner for generations.