PRINCETON: PHS’ Guerra continues growth on mat

By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
Ethan Guerra knows that each time he takes to the wrestling mat he gets a little better.
With that in mind, the Princeton High junior shook off a weekend in which he didn’t wrestle as well as he had hoped and made positive strides with a win on Tuesday.
Guerra’s win at 195 pounds helped Princeton to a 60-21 win over West Windsor-Plainsboro North, just days after the Little Tigers had finished sixth at their own Garden State Classic.
“It didn’t go as well as I wanted it to,” Guerra said of the weekend tournament, in which he lost his opening match. “That was a match I wish I had back in that tournament. This was a good match for me it helped me bounce back and hopefully get into a good groove for the season.”
Guerra has steadily improved over his first two seasons with the Little Tigers and hopes to continue that improvement this year. His win against the Knights helped Princeton to a win in its first dual match of the season.
“I just want to do better than last season and keep working,” Guerra said. “It’s one of those sports where you always learn something. I just want to keep learning. I thought I had a relatively good year last year but you always want to do more and get better.
“I started in eighth grade. My dad got me into it and this is my fourth year. I feel like each year I get better. Coach (Rashone) Johnson is an awesome coach and it definitely an evolution. I just try to learn from each match and see what I did wrong and what I can work on to become a better wrestler for the next match. One of the problems I had was moving my feet and having confidence taking shots. I tried taking some shots today and went for some points.”
Johnson isn’t surprised to see how much Guerra has improved since he joined the program. He knows his wrestler has the most important attributes necessary to get better in the sport.
“He’s one of the hardest workers on the team,” Johnson said. “He reminds me of a guy like Mark Bavarro from the Giants back in the day. He’s one of the quietest kids on the team but one of the hardest workers. He just puts his head down and will do whatever I tell him to do. He’s got what you would like most of your guys to have — a great work ethic and he is real coachable.”
Guerra is one of several Princeton wrestlers with experienced who seem primed to have a big season. The problem for the Little Tigers is they just don’t seem to have enough of those wrestlers.
“Depth is the Princeton killer,” Johnson said. “But the guys that we have aren’t bad so we should be able to be competitive this year as long as we stay healthy. We did well at the tournament over the weekend. We had three in the finals, a third and a fourth so that is not too bad.”
Alex Bobchin (120 pounds), Alex Freda (152) and David Beamer (170) each finished second at the Garden State Classic. James Verbeyst (145) was third and Noah Ziegler (220) finished fourth.
While Princeton has its depth issues, they pale in comparison to the Knights, who currently have just eight wrestlers in the program. The numbers are a disappointment for second-year coach Ed Ferraro, who had hoped to build on last year’s success.
“We’re coming off one of the best seasons in school history,” Ferraro said. “We had our first guy (Vinny Porecca) go to states. I thought our numbers would be a lot better. But it was a reverse affect for us. We lost five kids that didn’t come back who are still in the school.
“The guys we have are working hard. They just don’t have the mat experience yet. I have five kids that haven’t wrestled before. A lot of them are still learning. Community (Middle School) is our feeder program and they are 2-0 right now. They beat Robbinsville which is a big win in the middle school. He’s got 15 guys coming up next year.”
Hopefully for the Knights the influx of numbers will mean a brighter future for the program. 