By Rob Potter
MONTICELLO For a non -league match in which Middletown handily defeated Monticello 62-12, there was still a buzz in the air. That’s because the Middies Donald Brown, the No. 1 wrestler in Section IX at 126 pounds. faced off against Paul Gomez, whose only loss of the season came against Brown a few weeks ago.
The two produced the match of the night with Brown (14-4) grinding out a 5-1 decision.
“The first time they wrestled this season, Donald Brown beat Paul by an 18-9 decision,” Monticello Coach Justin Fenichel said. “Tonight it was a 5-1 decision. Paul wrestled a better skilled match tonight and that’s what we want to see. He gets better by wrestling guys like Donald Brown.”
“Donald [Brown] got a big win for us at 126 pounds,” Middletown Coach Jason Lichtenstein said. “Paul Gomez is a very tough wrestler, so it was a good victory for Donald.”
Gomez has a record of 14-2 this season, with both of his losses to Brown. Gomez was the No. 1 ranked wrestler in Section IX at 126 pounds prior to his first loss to Brown.
“I’ll use this loss tonight as motivation,” said Gomez, a senior who will celebrate his 18th birthday in a couple of weeks. “I will work harder because of it. I am still focused on sectionals and becoming Monticello’s first sectional champion in 19 years.
“It’s kind of funny that I have lost twice to Donald because we are pretty good friends,” Gomez added.
Gomez said he attended wrestling camps this summer and went to tournaments all over the East Coast in order to become a better wrestler. This is his fourth year on the Panthers’ varsity team and he has shown steady improvement during those years.
In his freshman year, Gomez wrestled at 103 pounds and posted an 11-12 record. As a sophomore, Gomez again wrestled at 103 pounds and had a record of 20-8. He reached the quarterfinals of the Section IX tournament in that weight class. He competed at 112 pounds as a junior last season and compiled a 27-6 record. He again reached the quarterfinal round of the sectional tournament.
Middletown (11-8) rolled to the easy victory behind pins by Isaiah Gutierrez, Johnny Grandson, Trevis Copeland and Blaize Smith. Gutierrez pinned Monticello’s Chawn Neal at 1:17 of their 106-pound bout, Grandson pinned Monticello’s Antwan Vasquez at 5:50 of their 152-pound match, Copeland pinned Monticello’s Nick Fiore at 1:00 of their 182-pound match and Smith pinned Monticello’s Mike D’Abbraccio at 1:21 of their 285-pound match.
In addition, four Middletown wrestlers picked up forfeit victories. They were Parker Christner (99 pounds), Joe Lemus (145 pounds), Ty’mare Armstrong (195 pounds) and Alex Ortiz (220 pounds).
Steve Demestrio, Luke Evans and Adam Kaiser earned the evening’s three victories for Monticello (5-10). DeMestrio pinned Middletown’s Elijah Simmons at 4:51 of their 132-pound match, Evans recorded a 5-0 decision over Middletown’s Xavier Warren at 138 pounds and Kaiser won via an 8-6 decision over Middletown’s William Perez in their 160-pound bout.
In addition to praising Gomez, Fenichel lauded the efforts of DeMestrio, Evans and Kaiser.
“Steve DeMestrio wrestled well at 132 pounds tonight,” Fenichel said. “Luke Evans has been steadily improving at 138 pounds and Adam Kaiser at 160 pounds did a nice job out there.”
Lichtenstein thought the evening was very positive for his team.
“We have a good group of kids who are working hard to get better,” The Middletown coach said. “It was good to see so many of them do well tonight.”
Lichtenstein noted that two of his wrestlers who did particularly well were Isaiah Gutierrez and Billy Lewis.
“Isaiah got a pinfall win at 106 pounds after moving up from 99 pounds and Billy won by decision at 113 pounds after moving up from 106 pounds.”