Bergen Catholic's Kocher shows grit
Saturday, February 5, 2005
By GREGORY SCHUTTA
ORADELL - George Kocher didn't know if he would be able to wrestle Friday night. Bergen Catholic coach Dave Bell is glad he did.
Kocher had one of the key wins of the night, handing James Brock his first loss at 171 pounds in the top-ranked Crusaders' 34-28 victory over No. 3 Hackensack.
"I knew all week it was going to be one of the big bouts, "Kocher said. "I like that. That's what wrestling is all about."
Kocher had been sick throughout the week and wasn't even sure he would be able to make weight for the NNJIL showdown.
When he did, he drew Brock, whom he had never wrestled in competition but had worked out against.
Hackensack's Corey Fitzpatrick had just pinned at 160, the third bout of the night, to cut Bergen Catholic's lead to 10-6 when Kocher and Brock stepped onto the mat.
Kocher came out aggressively with two takedowns and three back points to open a 7-0 lead after two periods. He cruised to the 8-2 win.
"I know he's a tough wrestler, "Kocher said. "I went out there looking to build a lead and just not get myself into any bad situations."
The Crusaders opened a 19-6 lead before pins by heavyweight Eric Sewell and Mike Tiernan (103) cut the lead to one. Joe Trause managed a major decision at 112, and Chris Battaglia held off Nick Allegretta, 9-5, at 119 to open up an eight-point lead, 26-18.
John Maio then looked like he had held off Hackensack's Randy Bognatz at 125. But Bognatz reversed Maio late in the third period and got two back points at the buzzer to send the bout into overtime.
Instead of folding, the freshman scored the winning takedown 46 seconds into the overtime - the second OT win of the night for the Crusaders for a 29-18 lead.
"I knew I just had to fight up off of my back, "Maio said. "If I had given up the five count there, I would lose. In overtime, you just have to forget what already happened and go for the takedown. If you're thinking about what happened before, all of a sudden the guy shoots your legs and you lose."
Hackensack wasn't dead yet as Jeremy Pierce pinned BC's John Casper at 130 for the Comets' fourth pin of the night, and Wesley Halter took advantage of two late stalls to score a major decision against Ben Duronio and cut the Crusader lead to 29-28.
But Matt Morgenstern sent everybody home with a 16-1 technical fall over Tom Mullins at 140 for the final score.
"That score doesn't indicate how close this match was, "Hackensack coach John Stallone said. "Our kids came here believing they could win. One or two things go the other way, and who knows."
"This match was fitting for the top two teams in the county, "BC's Bell said. "Coach Stallone did a great job moving his 145 [Jordan Chacon] and 152 [Fitzpatrick] up. There was not much we could do about it. Our 112, 119 and 125 - Trause, Battaglia and Maio - all did a tremendous job coming back and wrestling tough bouts. Every match was a fight. There were no gimmes."