Wrestling for a cause

Wrestling team bands together to support one of their own

“That was the proudest I’ve ever been of my brother,” senior Brianna Murawski said of her brother, junior Matthew Murawski’s, comeback pin in the wrestling match against Montville.  

Brianna said “that match was crazy since the score was so close and it was basically up to Matt for the team to win.”  A win from Matthew would break the 29-29 tie between NVOT and Montville, and would be key in sending the Golden Knights to the state sectional championship against Sparta.  

Matthew was able to recover from a 3-0 deficit in his match, and “then [take] a 7-3 lead before pinning his opponent with 15 seconds left in the match,” according to head wrestling coach  Robert Ortiz.

The 120-pound Matthew returned to the wrestling mat after spending most of his season injured, hopeful for a win, not only for his team or his coaches, but also for his father, John Murawski.  John suffered a stroke on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and while his condition has been steadily improving, he remains in the hospital.

“I knew my dad would’ve gone crazy if he was there,” Brianna said of the Montville match, “that would’ve been his favorite match that he ever watched.”

Ortiz said “The coaches and the wrestlers view themselves as part of a family, and Matthew and his dad are a very important part of our family.”  Consequently, the wrestlers, their parents, and the coaches have banded together to give Matthew and his family all the support they need.  

The wrestling parents made t-shirts that read “Team Murawski” on the back, and sold them to benefit the family.  Additionally, a GoFundMe page has been established on behalf of the wrestling team, and donations benefitting the Murawski family have exceeded $27,000.  “We will be there for them for as long as it may take for Mr. Murawski to recover,” Ortiz added.

“It was so unexpected,” Matthew said of the Team Murawski movement.  “Before a Saturday match I was in the locker room and someone threw me a t-shirt and told me to look at the back,” Matthew continued, “when I saw it, it made me upset because I knew my dad was looking forward to seeing me wrestle that match, even before the season began.”

“Matthew’s pin against Montville was a great moment and will always be a great memory,” Ortiz said.  Matthew’s pin was supported by key wins by junior Ryan Brackenbury and senior Declan Ward, the team moved on to state sectional championships against Sparta on February 10.

Although the wrestlers suffered a loss against Sparta, the team had “two more dual meets [and] wins over Cresskill and Waldwick on February 11,” Ortiz said.  

“I was so proud of myself and so happy for the team that we were going to state finals for the third year in a row,” Matthew said of his pin against his Montville counterpart.  “All I heard was people telling me to come back,” Matthew said of the injury that kept him bench-ridden for the first half of the season.  He continued, “I knew I owed them something special when I finally came back into the lineup, and that was the perfect moment.”

A week later on February 18, the team wrestled in the District 1 tournament.  Seniors Peter Andresen and Stephen Crevani won the district championships.  Seniors John Pabst, Gavin Connolly, and Ryan Foy, along with Matthew, placed second.  Ward and freshman Antonio Abate earned third place spots.  Ward finished third at the Region 1 tournament and advanced to the state tournament in Atlantic City.