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Claws attacked the mat from both sides on Tuesday night, January 22nd, as Jefferson Township High School wrestling hosted an annual competition against Kittatinny Regional. With the Jefferson Falcons holding a vacant 285 pound weight class, they had no choice but to forfeit the final bout of the night, falling to the Cougars 31-36.

Bleachers were stocked with uneasy fans from both towns who already anticipated a close ending. Jefferson’s head coach, Matthew Moscatello has had his fingers crossed since January 18th of 2018, hoping his squad could claim a historic victory for two consecutive years. Not only did Jefferson alumni, Shane Connolly seize his 100th win at Kittatinny that night, but Junior, Blake Bartholomew, left a mark on Jefferson’s program after a monumental pin that decided whether or not Moscatello could defeat the Cougars for the first time in over a decade. This past week, however, nothing was nail-biting about a forfeited closer to Kittatinny Junior, Jacob Mafaro, just one in the famous family line of wrestlers. Matches like these, Jefferson cannot help but ponder on each loss that lead up giving Mafaro a free pass. Just as much as the Falcons will need to regroup as a team, they also will have to start individually preparing for the two-day Morris County Tournament located in Mt. Olive this upcoming weekend. Just like any lost battle, there will be no time for hung heads, or headgear, only motivated mindsets.

The Kittatinny Cougars started off on the right paw when Freshmen, Shane Nelson pinned a fellow new-b, Thomas Verrone, with 55 seconds remaining in the first bout. “J-Town’s” infamous, Bartholomew, was up next, relieved from previous pressure that he had once felt in his singlet but as an underclassmen. He snatched a 6-2 decision win over Sophomore, Connor Hanna, and the Falcons were finally taking flight off the mat. It was then that Jefferson’s Sophomore, Luke Ciampa, at 120 pounds, got the ball rolling and initiated a ten-match winning streak for the night. After Ciampa glued Tyler Redden’s shoulders to the mat in under a minute, the Falcons hogged the scoreboard for quite some time.

One of Jefferson’s crucial Senior wrestlers, Ryan Tripodi, saved himself from a buzzer-beater pin after losing 7-4 to Junior, Nile Mattar. The 132 pounders did nothing but battle back and forth for six arduous minutes, but Tripodi could not come out on top after Mattar dominated the board. While the Falcons were red hot on their stomping ground, the Kittatinny Cougars trailed behind Jefferson for a majority of the match.

The closet the Cougars got to passing their opponent was by a single team point after defeating Jefferson’s 138 pounder, Lawrence DiBiase by a tough 6-5 decision by Kittatinny’s Derek Molfetto. Also, it was a lose-lose night in the Hanna household when Connor’s older brother, Brian fell to the Jefferson Senior, Michael Jack at 145 pounds. Jack and Hanna both racked in the points, however, Jack wanted more than takedown and backpoint statistics. It was then that he called it lights out for Brian and sent the Hannas home losers with a solid 3:28 pin. The Falcons continued to hang on tight to the lead, now 19-12.

Moscatello was upset to say that his Senior powerhouse, Robert Ferucci is currently out due to a shoulder injury acquired during his 152 bout in Garfield on Friday, January 18th. He does not know his expected date to return to the mat, but missing one match against Kittatinny was already enough to worry the Falcons.

Jefferson can always rely on back to back boys to secure wins and they did just that Tuesday night (hopefully the Falcons did not get too confident though). First, Sophomore, Michael Gould at 160 pounds effortlessly pinned Kittatinny’s Chris Pollison at 0:51. Senior, Mason Godfrey has been sniffing out 100 wins since his Freshman year when he sent himself to states back in 2016. His honorable accomplishment seems to creep in closer as he is now only 4 wins away after pinning Blake Dippel at 3:24 Tuesday night, pushing the teams score to 31-15.

The aggravation and nerves surged Jefferson’s side of the gym when they had to forfeit 182 pounds to yet another Mafaro brother, Zach, who is also on a homestretch to 100 wins. Senior, Justin Randzio fought hard til the last second of his 195 bout to Kittatinny’s Jackson Crawn. Losing a 5-4 decision match was not an easy pill to swallow for the Falcons, knowing the final two matches did not have much hope. Cougar’s Brycen Mafaro, capped off the night with a 0:48 pin to Dylan Patscher, giving Kittatinny yet another one-point trail. This time though, they knew they would fly higher than Falcons after heavyweight was called out.

After inquiring about his eagerness to snatch 100 wins before the end of his season, Mason Godfrey stated, “I’ve been doing what I always do: practicing as hard as I can. Nothing changes. I’ve always worked this hard and hopefully it pays off this weekend.”

Moscatello also had a few things to say regarding the shameful loss his boys faced this week and how he plans on turning things around at Mt. Olive High School. He elaborated by noting, “We are banged up a little and it is getting to be the most important part of the season. Getting healthy is crucial as well as getting the boys to be doing the their best wrestling for sectionals and districts.”

The Jefferson Falcons will have to go back to the drawing board and sharpen their claws before counties if they want to wrap up their season on a high note. After Tuesday night, Kittatinny slowly improves their overall record to 10-7 while Jefferson is now 14-5.

Box Score

Jefferson 31
Kittatinny 36


106 lbs
Shane Nelson Kittatinny 8
Thomas Verrone Jefferson 1
Pin – 5:05

113 lbs
Blake Barthaolomew Jefferson 6
Connor Hanna Kittatinny 2

120 lbs
Luke Ciampa Jefferson 2
Tyler Redden Kittatinny 0
Pin – 0:49

126 lbs
Austin Jack Jefferson 12
Patrick Franco Kittatinny 3
Major Decision

132 lbs
Nile Mattar Kittatinny 7
Ryan Tripodi Jefferson 4

138 lbs
Derek Molfetto Kittatinny 6
Lawrence DiBiase Jefferson 5

145 lbs
Mike Jack Jefferson 11
Brian Hanna Kittatinny 9
Pin – 3:28

152 lbs
Gian Knippenberg Kittatinny 5
John Bohn Jefferson 3

160 lbs
Michael Gould Jefferson 2
Chris Pollison Kittatinny 0
Pin – 0:51

170 lbs
Mason Godfrey Jefferson 7
Blake Dippel Kittatinny 0
Pin – 3:24

182 lbs
Zach Mafaro Kittatinny 0

195 lbs
Jackson Crawn Kittatinny 5
Justin Randzio Jefferson 4

220 lbs
Brycen Mafaro Kittatinny 2
Dylan Patscher Jefferson 0
Pin – 0:48

285 lbs
Jacob Mafaro Kittatinny 0

Nicole is a senior at Jefferson HS. She's a varsity field hockey player who will be continuing her athletic career at the college level at Bloomsburg University in the fall. She is also the statistician for the Jefferson wrestling team.

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