Source: Nick Gantaifis, Staff Writer — NorthJersey.com
POMPTON LAKES – The Pompton Lakes High School wrestling team is already gearing up for the upcoming 2017-18 season.
Earlier this month, the Cardinals and its coaching staff attended the annual Rutgers University Camp in Piscataway, New Jersey. The four-day camp, held from July 6-9, included over 40 high school wrestling teams throughout the state and over 400 individual attendees.
“We’ve been attending the Rutgers camp for the last few years and we try to bring as many wrestlers as possible,” said Pompton Lakes veteran head coach Scott Mahoney. “The camp is well run and the college coaches on staff are great. They put a lot of time in and the kids learn a lot. It’s a team-oriented camp, but there’s a lot of emphasis on the individual. Every wrestler down there learns something new and leaves there a better athlete.”
Each wrestler competed in close to 20 matches over the four days and sat in on several technique sessions hosted by the Rutgers coaching staff.
“The kids get a lot of work in and they have the opportunity to see some good competition,” said Mahoney. “Some of the top teams and individuals in the state attend the camp and it gives the kids an early feel of what the competition will be like late next season.”
Several North Jersey-based teams were in attendance, including Passaic County rivals Wayne Valley and Lakeland as well as state perennial powers South Plainfield, Jackson Memorial and Absegami, to name a few.
Campers and coaches sleep in the college dormitories and a structured schedule and itinerary are followed.
This past winter season, the Pompton Lakes wrestling
This past winter season, the Pompton Lakes wrestling team captured the District 4 team title and advanced to the semifinal round of the North 1 Group 1 state tournament.
“The camp is set up to give the kids an idea of what the college experience is all about,” said Mahoney. “It’s a very structured environment.”
The Cardinals have been working out in the weight room and individually since mid-June. Although several members of the team participate in other fall sports, Mahoney has been pleased with the individual participation.
Mahoney, who is also the Cardinals’ head varsity football and boys’ lacrosse coach, understands the challenges his athletes face in balancing their schedule over the summer months.
“We start team football workouts in June which carries through July and some of our athletes participate in basketball, lacrosse and wrestling activities at the same time,” admitted Mahoney. “But I communicate with all the kids and their coaches and everyone does their best to make the schedule work and get in the time they need on the wrestling mat.”
Although it’s technically considered the offseason, several members of the wrestling team attend their respective club workouts throughout the summer and enter into open matches to stay in shape.
Entering the final week of July, the majority of wrestlers and other athletes will wind down their workouts and then shift their attention to their respective fall sports starting next month.
“The kids need a break and we shut everything down for about two weeks before we start our organized and mandatory fall preseason schedules,” said Mahoney, whose football team is scheduled to kick off practice on Aug. 10.
This past winter season, the Pompton Lakes wrestling team finished with a 20-7 overall record and captured the NJIC-Division 3 title. The Cardinals captured the District 4 team title and produced four individual champions and Mahoney was named District Coach of the Year.
“Our offseason workouts and commitment are a big reason why we’ve had some success over the years,” said Mahoney. “The Rutgers camp and individual commitments makes us a better team.”