Voorhees High School Wrestling

Voorhees Wrestling was without question the school’s program of the ‘80s.  This powerhouse program won sectional titles nine out of the ten years.  Every year, the team finished the season ranked in the top twenty; more often than not find themselves in the top ten.  The 1986-87 was in a class by itself.  They went undefeated and were ranked second in the state of New Jersey by The Star-Ledger and number one in the state by The Easton Express.  One poll even had the ’86-’87 team ranked seventh in the nation.  From top to bottom, this wrestling team was one for the ages.

As Assistant Coach Tom Heilman recalls, the ’86-’87 team was successful mainly because of its balance.  “Different factors go into making championship teams, and wrestling champions have a different dynamic than most other sports.  By the nature of wrestling, your best wrestlers can only get you six team points, no matter how good they are.  They can’t score five touchdowns or make ten three-pointers; six points is all that they can do.  This team had that right combination of excellent, experienced guys scattered through the lineup and fairly solid guys in between who were almost as tough to beat.  It was tough to find any “holes” (easy wins) in our lineup.”  The proof of that statement lies in the margin of victory the Vikings had in most of their matches.  Out of their eighteen regular season opponents, Voorhees beat fourteen of them by more than twenty points.  They continued their dominance in the Sectionals and Groups winning each match handily.

In addition to the team performing tremendously in dual meet competition, the individuals on the team also put together some noteworthy performances.  Eleven of the twelve varsity wrestlers placed in the top three in the district and qualified for the regional tournament; six of those eleven were district champions.  In the Region V tournament, the Vikings continued to impress: with Greg Evans and Steve Rich winning titles and Dave Bowbliss getting a third.  All three wrestlers went on to place in the state championships the following week.  Bowbliss and Rich placed fifth, and Evans took sixth.  In the following year, Evans and Bowbliss would again place in the state along with Eric Zobian and Chris Wolkwitz.  Roger Juntilla, who was only a sophomore on the ’86-’87 team, would go to place second in the state his senior year.  So when it was all said and done, half of the starters on the 1987 Group III Championship Team were state place winners.   However, there was more to this team than just a few superstars.  There were some outstanding individuals on that team, but as is the case with all successful teams, there was a core group of guys that did their jobs each and every match, and that is how they were able to pull away from the rest of the field.

The 1986-87 wrestling team is one of only two teams ever to go undefeated in Voorhees Wrestling history.  The only other team that competed that feat was the 1979-80, team which is also in the Voorhees Hall of Fame.  The balance of both squads and the individuals who starred on those teams clearly represent how dominant Voorhees Wrestling was in the 1980s.