The Pennsauken wrestling team has benefitted by moving down to the Patriot Division from the larger-school American in the Olympic Conference.
However, in an interdivisional clash at Cherokee on Thursday, one of those ghosts from the past caught up with the Indians.
Former division rival Cherokee, a team on the rise with 10 returning starters, including two district champs, pounded Pennsauken, 47-20.
The Chiefs, hobbled by injuries, improved their dual-meet record to 2-0. Pennsauken, a young team trying to find its way under dedicated coach Eric Mossop, slipped to 1-1.
Mossop, before the match, looked at the lineups and said he wanted to see how his grapplers could hang with the Chiefs, who some believe are a Top 10 team in South Jersey.
Aside from wins at 112, 125, 152, and 103 pounds and a forfeit at 189, the Indians didn't hang very well, but they fought hard.
In all, Cherokee wrestlers raised their hands a half-dozen times after registering pins, and Chiefs coach Bill Roller took it as a tribute to his team's depth, which is compensating for some hurting grapplers.
"We had three kids who started last Saturday who are out right now," Roller said, plus three other wrestlers, a four-year starter and two three-year starters, who haven't been cleared to return from injuries.
"Sean Barlow stepped in for us the last two matches, and he had a big win for us today. The fact that we have so many quality kids that are usually behind somebody else and can step in when we are shorthanded I think is the reason why we pulled this one out."
Barlow, a junior, scored a major decision over Chris Leon at 145 pounds to give the Chiefs a 25-5 lead. By then, D.J. Mele (119), Joe Lemerise (130) and Tim Albertson (135) had registered falls for Cherokee, which trailed only once in the match.
"Our team has injuries, but when we are healthy, we should be able to win states; that's our goal," said Benjamin Fanjoy, who pinned Pennsauken's James Padilla at 160 to expand the lead to 31-11. The win was Fanjoy's fifth straight this season, and ran the two-time District 27 champ's career record to 91-23.
The Chiefs' other district titleholder, Mike Zeuli, did not wrestle because he is still making the transition from football to wrestling, according to Roller.
A highlight for Pennsauken occurred at 152, when junior Peter Hoang pinned Jake Borys in the second period of a seesaw battle.
"He was very strong on top," Hoang said. "I caught his head and rolled him over."
Cherokee 47, Pennsauken 20
112: Jacob Henderson, Pennsauken, dec. Alex Baider, Cherokee, 10-3. 119: D.J. Mele, Cherokee, pinned Ricky Harkins, 3:48. 125: Isiah DeGuzman, Pennsauken, dec. Drew Semiraro, Cherokee, 8-3. 130: Joseph Lemerise, Cherokee, pinned Omar Santiago, 0:55.8. 135: Timothy Albertson, Cherokee, pinned Joseph Rodriguez, 3:43. 140: Steve Nastasi, Cherokee, dec. Eric Butler, 9-3. 145: Sean Barlow, Cherokee, major dec. Chris Leon, 9-1. 152: Peter Hoang, Pennsauken, pinned Jake Borys, Cherokee, 3:45. 160: Benjamin Fanjoy, Cherokee, pinned Jairo Padilla, 2:58. 171: Michael Cascio, Cherokee, major dec. Pete Ibrahim, 9-0. 189: Byron Rozier, Pennsauken, won by forfeit. 215: Jeremy Reese, Cherokee, pinned Hendrickson Tineo, 2:00. 285: Nick Foster, Cherokee, pinned Shaquille Boardley, 2:48. 103: John Henderson, Pennsauken, dec. Jimmy Goldschmidt, Cherokee, 14-10.