By Phil Anastasia
About an hour before the first bout, Collingswood coach Dechlin Moody was fretting about the starting weight for Wednesday night's wrestling match.
The Colonial Conference showdown between host Collingswood and perennial powerhouse Paulsboro would begin at 106 pounds, a launching pad for the Red Raiders.
"They are so good up top," Moody said of Paulsboro's lower weights. "They're going to build some momentum."
Paulsboro flexed its muscles in the early bouts, built a huge lead and coasted to a 41-22 victory before a large crowd in Howard T. Irvine Memorial Gymnasium.
Sophomore 106-pounder Nick Duca and senior 113-pound Tim Robinson started the match with second-period pins and freshman 120-pounder Anthony Duca scored a dramatic 1-0 victory in the next bout to set the pace for Paulsboro (5-0).
The Red Raiders won the first eight bouts, five by fall, in beating the team that likely represents their toughest Colonial Conference and South Jersey Group 1 challenger.
"When we got those first couple of pins, it motivated us," Paulsboro junior 152-pounder Mickey Croce said. "It makes you want to wrestle harder."
Collingswood (8-2) battled back in impressive fashion in the upper weights, winning five bouts in a row. Junior Billy Crowley (pin at 170), junior Pat Miles (3-1 decision at 195) and senior John Deaner (pin at 220) led the way for the Panthers.
"Momentum is so big in this sport," Moody said after the match. "We gave up too many bonus points in the lightweights and you can't do that against a team like Paulsboro."
Anthony Duca's 1-0 victory over Collingswood's Zane Chunko was key to the Red Raiders' early dominance.
Duca escaped late in the second period, then rode Chunko through the third period to secure the win.
"We have a lot of confidence in him," Paulsboro coach Paul Morina said of Anthony Duca. "We did the job we needed to do down low."
Paulsboro's engine room roared to life in the light-middleweights as junior Sam Morina (pin at 132), senior Juan Rivera (technical fall at 138) and junior Ron Gentile (pin at 145) picked up bonus points as the Red Raiders stretched their lead to 35-0. If this was a football game, they would have started the running clock.
Croce clinched the match with the Red Raiders' eighth straight win, scoring an 8-2 decision.
"We had to pick up the pins and get things started," Croce said.
Collingswood's rally was too little and too late but Moody hoped it set the stage for a more competitive battle in a possible rematch.
"There's a lot room for improvement and hopefully we'll see them against in the South Jersey Group 1 final," Moody said.
Paulsboro 41, Collingswood 22
106: Nick Duca, P, pin Dan Havers, 3:09; 113: Tim Robinson, P, pin Will West, 3:28; 120: Anthony Duca P, dec. Zane Chunko, 1-0; 126: Mike Morina P, dec. Christian Dolan, 8-2; 132: Sam Morina, P, pin Colin Lex, 0:23; 138: Juan Rivera, P, tech. fall Nick Tassogloy, 5:51 (24-9); 145: Ron Gentile, P, pin Zach Irwin, 0:26; 152; Mickey Croce, P, dec. Shawn Clark, 8-2; 160: Ayaz Ali, C, dec. Tom Paulsen, 4-3; 170: Billy Crowley, C, pin Jim Sutton, 2:40; 182: Mike Campbell, C, dec. Tyler Adams, 15-5; 195: Pat Miles, C, dec. Niko Savaiinaea, 3-1; 220: John Deaner, C, pin Josh Bailey, 4:47; 285: Davontae Randall, P, dec. Paul Lunney, 6-1.
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