Freshmen Nick Duca (Paulsboro) and Manny Morales (Cherry Hill West) collected four individual wins between them on Saturday as Rowan College of Gloucester County (RCGC) opened their dual meet season by dropping a 27-24 decision to Bergen Community College while rolling past Williamson College of the Trades 32-6.
New head coach Mike Wilcox earned his first dual meet triumph for the Roadrunners, who have already participated in tournament competition earlier this season.
Duca, a New Jersey state runner-up during his senior year at Paulsboro last winter, paved the way during the tri-meet with a pair of pins. He recorded a fall in 2 minutes, 50 seconds over Bergen's Kobi Balkin at 125 pounds in his first bout, and then followed with a pin over Williamson's Gio Scalfaro at 133 pounds in 1:28. He improved his overall record to 2-2.
"It's great to start off the dual meet season like this," he commented afterwards. "I'm just beginning my college career, and you never know what to expect. This gives me a lot of confidence moving forward."
Morales, a former standout at Cherry Hill West, also improved to 2-2 with a pin over Bergen's Curtis Green in 2:53 at 171 pounds along with a hard-fought 7-6 decision over Austin Jacque in his next bout.
"The second match was a lot tougher because I don't normally move up to 197 pounds," Morales said. "He (Jacque) was a lot bigger than I was, so it took a lot out of me. I was happy to get the two wins – I'm looking forward to improving from here."
Wilcox, meanwhile, began his dual meet career with a 1-1 record, suffering a heart-breaking loss to the Bulldogs in the first match before watching his club turn it around against Williamson College.
Against Bergen, RCGC sophomore All-American Toby Hague (Clarksboro) engaged in a feature match against freshman Luke Bohn and dropped a tough 9-6 decision. Hague rallied to hold a 6-5 lead before Bohn used a late takedown to nail down the triumph and help Bergen earn a come-from-behind triumph.
"We moved around a lot of the wrestlers to different spots in the lineup to get them some quality matches this afternoon," said Wilcox, a former All-American wrestler for the Roadrunners and at Delaware Valley College. "We had some really tough matches – the freshmen, especially, can see that the transition to college is grueling. You can't stop wrestling and scoring points, or you'll find yourself on the short end. Overall, this was a nice start for us."