Lyndhurst wrestler Daub experiences mixed emotions

Talk about the highs and lows of high school wrestling.

Lyndhurst/North Arlington junior Matt Daub had to endure them all in a span of one fateful week last week.

The 120-pound Daub first attained a slice of Lyndhurst wrestling history, when he managed to win the gold medal at the NJSIAA District 9 tournament in Phillipsburg last week. Daub defeated Tyris Manley of host Phillipsburg in the title bout.

Just how impressive was the victory? Well Daub became the first Lyndhurst wrestler to capture a district gold medal since Donny Pritzlaff in 1997.

Yes, that’s the one and same Donny Pritzlaff who won three state championships during his days at Lyndhurst, the same Pritzlaff who went on to win two NCAA national titles in 2000 and 2001, the same Donny Pritzlaff who was an assistant at Michigan and Wisconsin before coming home to join the coaching staff at Rutgers four years ago.

Yes, it’s that Donny Pritzlaff that Matt Daub joined last week.

“I’ve known him since I was 10 years old,” Daub said. “It’s a relief to be in the same class with him. I met him a bunch of times. I always put it in the back of my mind that I’d like to be like him someday. I was going to try to be like him, but it had to come in steps.”

So the first step was the District 9 tournament, held in perhaps the Mecca of New Jersey high school wrestling. The people of Phillipsburg do their best to make opponents feel uncomfortable coming to their town to wrestle. The home gym was called “The Pit,” before a multi-million dollar facelift over the past year.

“They had the whole bleachers filled,” Daub said. “I had to wrestle the Phillipsburg kid in the final. It was very loud.”

But Daub wouldn’t have changed a thing, earning the 8-4 decision.

“I was the aggressor,” Daub said. “I had to attack. It was everything I expected and everything I wanted it to be.”

Daub spent the last year or so preparing for that moment. He went to wrestling learning sessions at the Edge Wrestling Club in Whippany and drilled at the Edge constantly. He competed in a handful of tournaments over the summer while taking private lessons from Al Almeida in the Almeyda garage in New Milford.

Almeyda is no slouch when it comes to wrestling, having spent several years as the head coach at Fort Lee High School.

“I was working with Al, fixing any mistakes I might have made,” Daub said.

So when the high school season began, Daub was ready.

“He lives and breathes wrestling,” said Lyndhurst/North Arlington cooperative head coach Joe Collins. “He does all the extra work you need to be successful. He’s always has something to do with wrestling. He just loves it. He’s very dedicated, devoted and driven. He’s had a very good season.”

Somewhere amongst the wins involved with gaining the District 9 gold medal is Daub’s 20th win of the season. In this area and with the schedule the Golden Bears face, it’s not easy to win 20 times.

“His only losses this season have been to quality opponents,” Collins said. “We booked a very good schedule this year because I thought we were going to be pretty good. We were wrestling against good opponents, tough opponents.”

Daub also had another challenge. He wrestled at 106 pounds last year, but had to take the jump up two weight classes this season to 120.

“I tried doing 113 and I couldn’t make weight,” Daub said. “It’s better to be 120 and roll around with the guys my size. I’m not cutting that much weight at 120. I’m maintaining the strength I had.”

But the 120-pound weight class is among the very best in the state and Daub knew it.

“I know I have to see where I max out at,” Daub said.

“He’s had a very good year,” Collins said. “He just wants to get to Atlantic City and we will see what happens.”

However, that didn’t happen. Daub lost his first bout at Region 3, bounced back to defeat a tough wrestler in Michael Rubin of Hanover Park, 3-1, then fell to Youssef Salem of North Bergen by a technical fall in the wrestleback semifinals.

Just like that, the glory of being a district champ, the first since Donnie Wrestle, might have worn off just a tad.

Still, Matt Daub holds the distinction forever. He’s a district champ from Lyndhurst. That alone says a lot.

“I’m going to try freestyle,” Daub said of his next wrestling venture. “I just love it.”

Like any good wrestler should.




Lyndhurst High School junior Matt Daub had a tremendous season, becoming the first wrestler in 17 years to win a district championship. The last one? Donny Pritzlaff. Not bad company at all. Photo courtesy of the Daub family



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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer

Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”