Jensen set for districts

By: Ken Weingartner
   John Jensen knows what it’s like to compete in the regional wrestling tournament, one step removed from the state tourney.
   This year, the Monroe High senior plans to apply what he’s learned to get there again – and maybe farther.
   "Yes, it’s very much an advantage to have gone last year," said Jensen, who improved to 15-5 with a win Wednesday night in the Falcons’ 42-27 triumph over West Windsor-Plainsboro North. "I think I can use that a lot to my advantage. I have experience in big-time matches. You have to head into it with a different mindset.
   "I know last year I lost in the first round of regions when I got taken down with five seconds left and lost by one point. You have to wrestle all six minutes, or the better kids are going to get you because that’s what they’re doing."
   Jensen said that as soon as last season ended, he began looking forward to this one. His top goal has been to win the District 20 Tournament next weekend.
   "I’d like to make it to states, but I’m just going to take it one match at a time," Jensen said. "This season has been pretty good. The matches I lost – I know everyone says this – but I think I shouldn’t have, with the exception of to (Bishop Ahr standout) Kody Hamrah. All my other matches I was winning, or lost by a point that could’ve gone either way."
   The biggest difference between this year and last season is Jensen is bigger, and smarter.
   "Last year I was wrestling at 135 and this year I’m at 152," he said. "I’m older and just more experienced. I’ve been in the big tournaments; I’m more aware of everything. I’m a lot wiser, and everything is working now."
   Jensen said this year’s district tournament carries additional importance because he is a senior.
   "I didn’t think about that much during the season, but now I don’t want to regret anything afterward," Jensen said. "I don’t want to think about what I should have done. I just want to do it."
   Of course, Jensen is not the only Falcon with aspirations of reaching the regional tournament. The top three finishers in each weight class advance from the district tourney.
   Among the other MHS wrestlers with strong chances to advance are heavyweight Mike Goff, who was a regional qualifier last season, Al Rotundo, Matt Horsch, Justin Lupo, Anthony Mancini, Craig Mazor, Mike Tuhy, and John Urbanowicz.
   Goff finished third in the recent Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament while Rotundo, Jensen and Lupo all were fourth in their respective weight classes.
   With an eye toward getting ready for the district tourney, MHS coach Sal Profaci has picked up a tri-meet Saturday against Egg Harbor, Livingston and Manalapan. Livingston and Manalapan have strong programs, and while some coaches might worry that face tough competition right before a major tournament could damage his wrestlers’ confidence, Profaci isn’t one of them.
   "I’ve never been one to schedule easy teams," Profaci said. "Even if they’re tough teams, that’s not going to ruin their confidence. I think it will have the opposite effect. I want them to be prepared to wrestle better at districts.
   "One reason we’re doing this is to get the kids three matches in a day, just like they might wrestle in the tournament. We’re going to go at 10, 12 and 2. That will help prepare them. Some guys, like Goff, haven’t been tested in their last four or five matches. This will be good for them; it will only make them better."
   The fact Profaci doesn’t schedule easy opponents is the reason Monroe failed to qualify for the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III team tournament. The Falcons had enough power points to reach the tourney, but didn’t have the prerequisite minimum .500 record at the cutoff date.
   "I probably didn’t have the schedule set up properly," Profaci said. "The same thing happened to us last year. We have too many tough matches early in the year. We might have to take a look at that and try to move some matches around."
   Against WW-P North, Rotundo, Scott Betancourt, Jensen, Horsch, Lupo and Goff all had pins – with Rotundo, Lupo and Goff each getting done in less than 48 seconds. Mancini and Mazor won decisions.