Matera and Roskos write names in the history books again

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PHILLIPSBURG — One of them came to Delran as a wrestler.

One came to Delran and became a wrestler.

In the years to come, Kalli Roskos and Emma Matera will look at the Bears wrestling program and know that they were trailblazers, in addition to being champions multiple times.

Bloomfield's Kira Pipkins vs. Delran's Kalli Rokos at 120 lbs.  NJSIAA Girls Wrestling State Final in Phillipsburg, NJ on February 20, 2022.

Roskos reached the national final for the second time on Sunday and fell just short of the title. She lost a 3-1 decision to Bloomfield’s Kira Pipkins in the 120-pound final.

Matera fell in the semifinals to Jackson’s Skyelar Smith, who went on to win both the 138-pound carrier sheet and the tournament’s top wrestler plate.

As Smith brandished his new gear and the Phillipsburg High School gymnasium mats were rolled up, he began to sink. There was no escaping it.

The walk is over.

“Those are class acts,” Delran coach Nathan Marter said. “I told them the relationships they’ve built, the experiences they’ve had – the memories we’ve created go way beyond a place on a medal and medals that go in a trophy case. .

“We will miss them very much. I choke even thinking about the fact that this is the last time they will wrestle for me in a competition, but I am excited about the future for both of them. They’re two of the greatest athletes I have ever coached.”

Bloomfield's Kira Pipkins vs. Delran's Kalli Rokos at 120 lbs.  NJSIAA Girls Wrestling State Final in Phillipsburg, NJ on February 20, 2022.

And two of the most successful. Matera joined Brett Matter and Bill Duff as the only two-time state champions in Delran history. The plan was to pass them, of course, and she got off to a good start on Sunday. It took just a minute for Matera to kick a half on High Point’s Carney Wyble and finish it off in the quarter-finals, but in the semi-finals she met Smith.

Matera escaped to take a 1-0 lead in the second period of their semi-final fight, but Smith scored with a high crotch takedown with four seconds left and dropped an arm to pick up two stitches back when the buzzer sounded.

Smith added a breakout in the third and won 5-1.

“I can’t dwell on what happened today. I can’t wait for tomorrow,” Matera said. “I’m very excited for Skyelar. She deserved it. She works hard, all the time. I’m happy for her and her team.”

She wore that Delran jersey for the last time, though. It was an opportunity to look back, but also to move forward.

She smiles at the use of the word pioneer.

“It means the world,” Matera said. “When I got into the sport, I fell in love, but I never expected to compete. I’ve never heard of a girls’ state tournament or girls’ region. I I only discovered it during my freshman year, but I’m extremely excited to be a part of it.”

A central part, according to Marter.

“Emma has been with me for four years,” the coach said. “She is an extension of the coaching staff. She helped develop the program, the way it has become. The impact she leaves on us, our community, the program, extends far beyond its victories and its defeats.

These numbers are still impressive. Matera was 13-2 this season and 64-6 in his career. She won two state titles, placed fourth once and third once.

Roskos finished their season 23-5 and their career 54-11. She came to high school unaware that she would play a part in creating a curriculum, but she did.

“I remember three years ago I told Kalli that I was so happy that she allowed me to play a role in convincing her to take up this crazy sport,” Marter said. “And she ended her career the same way she started – in the state finals. She was a footballer when I met her. She’s always been an athlete. But she’s definitely a wrestler . There is no doubt.”

And after two second-place finishes and a fourth-place finish in the state, there’s no doubting her pioneering status when it comes to this program.

“I can’t wait to see how far it will go, and I’m so excited to have been able to make the women’s first team and have the impact that I had,” Roskos said.

Roskos also made some noise in their last tournament. She withstood a 1-0 decision over Kittatiny’s Emily Popek to start it, and had one of her best performances in a 5-2 win over second-seeded Warren Hills Katrina Kling – who eliminated her from the group of winners last year and beat her again earlier this season. A second-period out gave Roskos a 3-2 lead. She added another over time and won 5-2.

She just couldn’t find the break she needed in the final. Pipkins escaped to open the scoring in the second period and it looked like Roskos would have an opportunity to level the score by doing the same in the third – until Pipkins hit the game-changing move. His spear double, just past the buzzer, made it a 3-0 fight.

“I didn’t expect that,” Roskos said. “Two seconds earlier, and it wouldn’t have happened.”

Roskos came out with 1:16 left in the fight, but that tying takedown was just nowhere to be found.

“I just tried to pick up the pace and catch her off guard. I knew what she wanted to do. I just tried to fight my match.”

Pipkins’ 3-1 decision made her a three-time champion as a junior. Next season, she will have the opportunity to be the first four-time champion in New Jersey women’s wrestling history.

Roskos and Matera will have moved on to bigger things by then, but they could be home from college this weekend and watching from the stands.

Chances are they are sitting together.

“That’s my buddy right there,” Matera said. “He’s the person (she works with) in practice, day in and day out. There was an article our second year, when Kalli joined, and it was titled ‘Delran’s Dynamic Duo.’ “I feel like that still rings true to this day; the two of us in the state tournament together. It means a lot, having her with me. I’m so glad I got to meet her.”

Marter is glad to have met them both.

“They are the heart and soul of our women’s team and our men’s team,” he said. “They are the hardest working girls in the gym. They are role models for the other kids, for the community, and I’m just blessed to have had the opportunity to coach them both.”

John A. Lewis is a sports reporter for the Burlington County Times, Courier Post and The Daily Journal. Email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @JohnLewis19. Please consider supporting local journalism with a subscription.

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