Dylan Mulroony puts together an All-County, All-Conference season for Passaic Valley basketball team

After two seasons of battling leg injuries, Dylan Mulroony of Passaic Valley High came through with an outstanding year for that school’s basketball team.

Mulroony, a 6’3″ senior, had shown signs of being a tremendous player during his freshman year, in 2014-2015. Then-head coach Rob Carcich had started Mulroony on a number of occasions, as the Hornets finished 21-7.

The following fall, Mulroony went down with a leg injury during football season. He returned for basketball and had a good year, scoring in double figures 11 times, including a high game of 18 points, against Wood Ridge.

The leg ailment would linger for Mulroony as a junior. He missed just about the entire 2016-2017 season, before playing in two games the final week of the season.

As a senior, it finally came together, as Mulroony, a team captain, led the Hornets in scoring, averaging 19,8 points a game.

Passaic Valley head coach Jim Holsworth, himself a standout high school and collegiate player, lauded Mulroony’s talent.

Dylan Mulroony with head coach Jim Holsworth. (Click on photo for larger image)

“Dylan was really the only kid I saw all year in Passaic County that could score consistently from everywhere on the floor,” said Holsworth. “He could post up, had an excellent off the dribble mid-range game, and could shoot the ball easily from 25 feet away. His ability to rebound the ball, game in and game out, was maybe his most under appreciated asset.

“Without his ability to rebound and block shots as well, we would have had trouble competing against a tough schedule. Instead, we were competitive in almost every game we played this year.”

Mulroony averaged 19.8 points and 10.1 rebounds this season. He was named by the Passaic County Coaches, and Big North Coaches, a First Team player. His career high was 36 points, in a game against West Milford, on Feb. 6, as well as a 33-point effort in a win versus Passaic Tech, on Feb. 13.

“He (also) played superb, in both games against (Paterson) Eastside, where he had 24 and 29 points,” said Holsworth.

While his high school career was hindered, Mulroony’s future could still include basketball, He hopes to play on the collegiate level and Holsworth has no doubt he can compete at the next level. Mulroony has yet to decide on a college for this fall.

“I said it before, if Dylan didn’t get hurt last season, he would have easily eclipsed 1,000 (career) points,” said Holsworth. “He was, without a doubt, one of the best players to ever play here. Basketball skill wise, he is right up there with guys like Joey Castro, Dom Coiro, Jihad Wright and Tito Ramirez.”

Good company, indeed, for a hard-working player, who saved his best basketball for his senior year.

By mike051893

University of Alabama-bound Jenna Maguire mixes athleticism and intelligence toward a bright future

As a new softball season nears, Wayne Hills High coach Rayna Caruso is optimistic about her team’s chances, with some outstanding seniors and a young core of talented players.

Wayne Hills began practice on March 2, but the bad weather has limited the team, in getting outdoors for practice and scrimmages. Four scrimmages were already canceled and the Patriots weren’t scheduled to play its first tune up until March 19, when the team hosts Montclair, at 4 p.m. Scrimmages at Westwood (March 20, 4:15 p.m.), Hawthorne (March 21, 4:15 p.m.) and Kearny (March 24, noon) follow.

The regular season opener is set for April 2, with a tough game, at DePaul, starting at 4:15 p.m. The first home game is on April 4, when Lakeland visits, also at 4:15 p.m.

The beginning of practice has been tough, according to Caruso.

“We practiced once outside,” said Caruso. “We’re hoping to get outside and start scrimmaging soon. The weather will decide that.”

Caruso’s assistant coach is Carly  Soojian, a former player at Wayne Hills.

Entering this week, the Patriots only had practice four times. There are four returning players in senior catcher Jenna Maguire, senior outfielders Amanda Carey, and Lindsey Mahler, and junior pitcher Victoria DiDonato.

“We lost our entire infield, but we are looking hopeful with a few returners and talented freshmen,” said Caruso.

Jenna Maguire, here with mom, Lia and dad, Robert. (Click on photo for larger image)

Maguire, who will attend the University of Alabama this fall, was honored at Seton Hall University, during the National Girls and Women in Sports Day, this past Feb. 4, being named Wayne Hills’ recipient at the banquet. In addition to being a standout softball player, Maguire, the youngest daughter of Lia and Robert Maguire, was also a cheerleading captain for the Patriots this past fall and cheered for four years for Hills.

On the softball diamond, Maguire had a tremendous season last year for Hills, hitting .528, with six homers and 33 RBI. Behind the plate, she threw out eight base runners and picked off two others. Jenna has a career batting average of .491 and has driven in 71 runs. Maguire was Wayne Hills’ Offensive Player of the Year, in 2017, as well as a First Team, All-County and All-Big North player last season. She was also a second team, All-North Jersey player a year ago.

In addition, Maguire has played club ball for the NJ Sparks and Wayne Wildcats, in both the summer and fall. In the classroom, she’s been a member of the Student Council, Future Business Leaders of America and Students Against Destructive Decisions.

By mike051893

Tremendous season concludes for Passaic Valley in Atlantic City; Marretta earns medal, Karmi turns in outstanding effort

Finally, it’s completed.

Months of grueling practices, cutting weight and those never-ending quad matches on cold winter days and nights are completed. And for the Passaic Valley High wrestling team, the first week in March produced some good results, at the ultimate venue for wrestlers, Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

PV had advanced senior captains Yousef  Karmi and Tom Maretta to the state championships, at the Jersey Shore. Marretta took home a medal for finishing in the top eight in the state at 220 pounds and Karmi just missed out, but wrestled very well at 285 pounds.

Passaic Valley head coach Joe Benvenuti summed up the experience.

“Atlantic City, for the NSIAA Tournament, is truly a grind for these kids and coaches alike,” the coach said. “This sport and especially this weekend sends all of us on an emotional roller coaster, like no other sport.  Friday afternoon and evening we spent nine hours in the arena.  Saturday we spent close to 12 hours, and Sunday was another eight hours. No matter how exhausted we  may feel leaving this tournament, going home with a medal makes it all worth it.”

Karmi battled hard against some of the state’s best wrestlers.

“We are very proud of the amazing effort by both our captains, Yousef and Tommy. Yousef did not get a medal, but his best effort was there. He had three amazingly close matches.  His two losses came in triple overtime.  Yousef has nothing to hang his head about.  Heavyweight had 12 wrestlers that had been to the state tournament in previous years. This weight class was very difficult.  Karmi leaves our program with 36 wins this season and over 71 for his career.  He led our team this season in gold medals and pins.

“This kid was an amazing captain.  He was very unselfish and always led by doing the right thing, even if nobody was watching. He will continue to do great things, and is still growing, at 6’5″, and 270 pounds. Yousef is looking to continue with football and wrestling, in college, and I am very confident he could excel at both on the next level. Someone will take a chance on him  and he will not disappoint that coach.”

As for Marretta, he joined a rare list of wrestlers at PV who earned a medal at the states. After Nick DeNora medaled last year, this is the first time in eight years that PV has had back-to-back medal winners at Boardwalk Hall. The last time it happened was 2009 and 2010, when Ryan Dunphy and Frank Crocco finished third and second, respectively, at the state tourney.

Yousef Karmi and head coach Joe Benvenuti. (Click on photo for larger image)

Marretta, who didn’t begin wrestling until his freshman year of high school, capped off a tremendous season, with a seventh place medal.

“This kid has really put together one heck of a resume throughout his career,” said Benvenuti of Marretta. “This year alone stands out in such an amazing way.  To be a first team All-County football player, as well as a first team, All-County wrestler and then finishing his senior year as a state medalist is just so unique these days. Kids have gotten away from playing multiple sports, and Tom is proof that you can succeed on a high level in multiple sports with the right frame of mind and a solid work ethic. If anyone deserves this kind of ending to his high school career it is Tommy.”

“Even though he came out as a freshman and had never wrestled before, Tom accomplished what many wrestlers fail to do, after training a lifetime to achieve.  State medals are very hard to come by.  Another thing that rarely happens in wrestling is winning your last match of your career.  Tom told me Saturday night ‘I’m not losing my last match of my high school career’, and he didn’t.”

Tom Marretta and head coach Joe Benvenuti after Marretta received his state medal. (Click on photo for larger image)

Marretta clinched a berth in the medal round with one of his best all-around matches of the season, defeating a tough Trey Zgombic of Delbarton, by fall, on March 3. A day later, his final match came in the bout for 7/8 in the state, and Marretta edged Cameron DiGiorgio of Christian Brothers Academy, 3-2.

Karmi and Marretta will be graduating this June, and Benvenuti will miss their leadership and work ethic.

“It really does not get any easier, seeing great kids graduate and move on each year,” said Benvenuti. “Wrestling in Atlantic City to end their careers is of course a happy time in their life, and ours as coaches.  However, I definitely find myself feeling sad and emotional knowing they will soon be leaving us.  No other coach and athlete spend more time together than a coach and wrestler.  I have always made an investment into my athletes lives so that I can figure out what buttons to push and how to motivate them to achieve more.  This coaching staff has really enjoyed working with, and getting to know these two perfect captains.

“Once again, the bar has been set high as to how a leader acts and how a captain handles himself, day in and day out.  It was fitting that both of them represented our school and community in Atlantic City.  This coaching staff, school and community are all so proud of them.  Its going to be very hard saying goodbye to these two but they know I will be their coach forever.”

By mike051893

Passaic Valley’s Tom Marretta, driven by family values and education, is now also one of the school’s best all-around athletes, after winning a medal at NJSIAA championships

Always driven by family loyalty and succeeding academically, Passaic Valley’s High Tom Marretta has also established himself as one of the school’s most versatile and complete student-athletes.

Marretta, a senior, joined elite company in PV’s proud wrestling heritage, by earning a medal at the NJSIAA championships last weekend, at Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City. He finished seventh in the state, at 220 pounds, and won his final bout, to culminate a 38-7 season. For his career, Marretta won 85 varsity matches.

All in all, not bad for a young man who didn’t even begin wrestling until his freshman year.

“I never really liked wrestling,” said Marretta with a laugh. “I tried it when I was little, and told my parents I didn’t like it, and that was it. I always liked football. I’ve been playing since flag football. But when I got to high school. J-Ben (Passaic Valley High wrestling coach Joe Benvenuti) asked me to come out. As a freshman, I was on JV and won the 220 pound county title in the JV tournament, which was nice.”

Tom Marretta (center) joined by PV wrestling coaches (l to r), Brian Kapral, Mike Benvenuti, head coach Joe Benvenuti and Joe Wassel after his final bout at Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City. (Click on photo for larger image)

Marretta continued to excel on the gridiron for the Hornets, and his wrestling prowess also took hold. As a sophomore, he was on the varsity, where he hoped to compete at heavyweight, but Yousef  Karmi defeated him in the wrestle off for the starting position. An injury to Karmi later in the 2015-2016 season gave Marretta a chance to wrestle, and he took advantage, finishing third at Region 4 and earning a berth in the state tournament, at heavyweight.

With Karmi back last season, Marretta opted to wrestle at 220 pounds, meaning he had to lose about 35 to 40 pounds after football season and before certifying for wrestling.

“It was a lot of discipline, when it came to dieting,” recalled Marretta, who did the same thing again this season, following football. “But I was able to do it. I think this year, I prepared better for the transition to 220. Last year, I did it, but I wore out a little. This year, I maintained the lighter weight, but also ate well.”

Tom Marretta (far left) takes it all in after being awarded a state medal for his performance at 220 pounds last weekend, in Atlantic City. (Click on photo for larger image)

Benvenuti was very impressed.

“Tommy has truly sacrificed for the betterment of his team the last two seasons, going down in weight to 220 pounds,” said Benvenuti. “He plays football at 255 lbs each fall.  Being able to lose 35 lbs in a few weeks shows his dedication and desire.  Tom is the total package.  Great student, great athlete, a leader and someone our community can be proud of.”

The son of Jennifer and Gaetano  Marretta, Tom is an outstanding student.

“I take that very seriously,” Tom said of his grades in school. “I know how important it is. My parents always said school comes first, then athletics.”

Marretta holds a GPA of 3.7 and has scored very high on his SAT’s.

“I think that will help when it comes deciding a college,” said Marretta, who hopes to play football, or wrestle, on the collegiate level. He hasn’t made a final choice for school, yet, but plans to focus on it now that wrestling is concluded. “I might actually wrestle in college, and I never thought that would be possible four years ago. We’ll see. I know I can take pride in telling (prospective) college coaches about my academics.”

Marretta’s diligence is a credit to family values, according to Benvenuti.

“Tom has a tremendous support system at home. This sport is so grueling, and the help from parents is vital. Parental support is necessary when a wrestler needs special meals, and many loads of laundry from sweating off some weight. Honestly, the best support that parents give to a wrestler is emotional support.  We were able to see this with Tom and his parents, first hand, this weekend and throughout his career as they never missed a match.  Seeing Tom’s family celebrate this weekend with smiles, tears and plenty of hugs and kisses were proof of what kind of support system he has at home.”

Tom has worked hard since the summer, having served as a team captain for football and wrestling. An All-Passaic County athlete in both sports, he hopes to relax a little for a week, or so.

“I’ll get back in the weight room, and start running soon,” said Marretta. “Right now, I’m a little sore, and it’s a good time to give my body a rest.”

Benvenuti has no doubt Marretta will be a success in whatever he pursues.

“Tom’s maturity, his leadership and work ethic, both in sports and more importantly with school, will certainly set him up for continued success,” said Benvenuti.

The admiration is mutual.

“Coach Benvenuti has taught me so much,” said Marretta. “Everything  I know about wrestling, came from J-Ben. To be on that podium, in Atlantic City last Sunday is one of the best experiences of my life. It was almost surreal being out there, with some great wrestlers on that podium.

“It was really special to go out with a win in my last match. I’ll never forget this.”

By mike051893

Can Jermain Johnson turn this ship around? Time will tell

Being somewhat cynical, when Jermain Johnson talked to me a while back about the possibility of being Belleville High’s next head football coach, my reaction was pretty much ‘JJ, are you nuts?’

But Jermain was serious, and as of last week, it’s now official. Johnson is the new head coach of the Bucs.

I’ve said it for a while, and I’ll stand by it. I don’t think Belleville High should have a football program anymore. That shipped long sailed, again in my opinion.

The record speaks for itself. After those football wizards who made up the Board of Education in Belleville, back in 1996, decided that John Senesky wasn’t the answer any more, there’s been a whirlwind of coaches trying to turn this program around. Johnson will be the eighth different head coach at BHS in the last 22 seasons. Do the math. Twenty two in eight years? That’s not good.

Again, the record speaks for itself. Since Senesky left following the ’96 season, Belleville’s overall record is 42-167. That’s an average mark of 2-8, per year, with seven different head coaches. That mark includes three winless seasons and one losing streak that extended three years, from the middle of the 2002 season until late in the 2005 campaign. There was one bright spot, in 2007 and 2008, when the program put together back-to-back winning regular seasons (5-4) and qualified for the NJSIAA playoffs for the first time in 23 years, in ’07.

I often question the commitment of the players to the weight room, or to what it takes, in general to be good at this game. Coaches come, coaches go, and nothing really changes.

Jermaine Johnson, here with Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly, ironically at a football clinic at Belleville High, in the summer of 2013, will now run the BHS gridiron program.

So now, it’s Jermain Johnson’s turn. Is he qualified? Absolutely. I first met him when he played high school football for one of my closest friends in this game, Chet Parlavecchio, at Bloomfield High from 1988-1990. He went on to play at Montclair State, and later was a member of the New Jersey Red Dogs, of the Arena Football League.

Ironically, Jermain and Senesky have a history, as the two coached together at Montclair State, after Senesky left Belleville’s sidelines, in the late 1990’s.

“I always liked John,” Johnson often said. “Talk about someone who knows the game? He’s incredible.”

After Montclair State, Johnson would eventually get his first head coaching job, at Paterson Eastside, where he worked from 2009-2012 and had success. He then moved on to Wayne Hills, as the defensive coordinator, holding that job for five years (2013-2017). During that tenure, Hills was 38-17 and appeared in two state championship games, and won a title, in 2016.

Getting back to a head coaching job was something he coveted, and when Belleville came calling, Jermain was ready for the challenge.

It will be a challenge, for sure. The recreation football program is in need of a major overhaul, but the recreation director, Tom Agosta, is as hard working as they come and Tom should welcome Johnson’s help. There’s a new weight room at the high school, but who knows if anyone is using it? Again, Johnson, a big advocate of weight training, a la Senesky, will be completely on board.

I still say Belleville is a soccer town, and shouldn’t play football anymore.

But I also think Jermain Johnson is as good as they get. And if he thinks he can do something with this program, the more power to him.

“JJ, are you nuts?” Maybe he is, but he could be the long-term answer for the Blue and Gold.

I’ll be rooting for him, and hopefully, everyone in town will, too.





By mike051893

Ricky Cabanillas named District 7’s O.W., DePaul wrestling team advances 8 to Region 2

With the season winding down, the DePaul High wrestling team is beginning to hit its peak. The Spartans finished second at a strong District 7, held at West Essex High, in North Caldwell, on Feb. 17.

Head coach Keith Karsen’s squad advanced eight to the Region 2 championships, which began on Feb. 21, at Mount Olive High, in Flanders. Four of the eight Spartans were to wrestle in the preliminaries, on Feb. 21 and needed to win to advance to the quarterfinals on Feb. 23. The other four, Nicky Cabanillas, Ricky Cabanillas, Connor O’Neil and Eddie Bierals, won gold at District 7 and didn’t have to wrestle until the quarterfinals on Feb. 23.

The tourney wraps up on Feb. 24, with the semifinals, wrestlebacks and 14 championship bouts, all at Mount Olive.

Ricky Cabanillas (center) was named Outstanding Wrestler at District 7 last week. The junior has much bigger goals, including a state championship at Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City, on March 4. (Click on photo for larger image)

The top four wrestlers in each weight class at Region 2 will join the top four wrestlers in each weight class at the other seven regions for the ultimate weekend, the NJSIAA championships, at Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City, from March 2-4.

Karsen was happy with his team’s performance.

“We had 11 wrestlers entered and eight advanced,” said the coach. “That’s a good number. I like where are kids are right now. We have four kids who’ll need to win on Wednesday, in the preliminaries, then move on to Friday night. We want to have kids wrestling into the weekend.”

Karsen felt his team would be prepared.

“At this time of the year, these kids know what it takes,” said Karsen. “That’s why we wrestled the schedule we did, beginning with the Beast (of the East Tournament, in December). The tough competition all season should have us prepared for this weekend, and next.”

Roxbury won the District 7 title, with 218.5 points while DePaul was second, with 170.5. Cedar Grove (142.5) and West Essex (127.5) rounded out the top four in a 10-team field.

“It was a good tournament,” said Karsen. “Roxbury is tough, and I thought Cedar Grove and West Essex had some really good kids, too.”

All eight of DePaul’s regional qualifiers appeared in their respective championship bouts. Nicky Cabanillas won the 126-pound title with a 6-0 win, Ricky Cabanillas garnered the Outstanding Wrestler award following his 13-3 win at 145 pounds, O’Neil prevailed at 152, with a second period fall and Bierals won a 3-2 decision to gain the 285-pound title.

Ricky Cabanillas, who advanced to the state finals last season at 145 pounds, as a sophomore, had finished third in last year’s districts, after losing to Dominick LaRusso of Roxbury, 9-6 in the semifinals. This year, he avenged that loss by a major decision.

“You could tell Ricky was fired up for that match,” said Karsen. “But that should show any wrestler that finishing third in a district doesn’t stop you from your ultimate goal. Ricky went on to the state final last year, and this season, he’s more determined to win it all.

“I was also very happy with the way Eddie Bierals performed at heavyweight. He really battled and won a championship.”

Finishing second for DePaul last Saturday were Michael Esposito (120 pounds), Joe Ferrandiz (132), Luke McFadden (138) and Michael Pillot (182).

“Those guys all did a good job,” said Karsen. “They’ll be ready to go on Wednesday.”


By mike051893

Special moment for Liddy family, as Tyler joins dad, Tim, as first father-son 1,000 point scorers at Glen Ridge High

Tyler Liddy reached an historic milestone in the annals of Glen Ridge High basketball, but the senior guard was more interested in how he could further help his team, while also honoring his father.

Tyler’s dad is Tim Liddy, the athletic director at Glen Ridge High. When Tyler scored his 1,000th career point on Feb. 13, as Glen Ridge won a 55-46 game at Weequahic High, Tim was there, behind the scorer’s table, and clapping emphatically as the game was briefly stopped.

“My dad was a great player,” said Tyler. “He finished with 1,123 points. Maybe I can pass him, but that’s not important. I want to help this team make a good run (in the upcoming NJSIAA tournament).”

Tyler Liddy, joined by his father, Tim (left) and head coach Liam Carr. (Click on photo for larger image)

‘Glen Ridge was 17-7 heading into its regular season finale, at home against Oratory Prep, on Feb. 22. On Feb. 26, the second seeded Ridgers will open the state sectional tournament, by hosting Belvidere, starting at 7 p.m., in North Jersey, Section 2, Group 1.

Liddy led the Ridgers with 19 points in the victory over Weequahic and then followed with a tremendous game against Randolph on Feb. 15, with 21 points.

“Tyler has battled all season long,” said Glen Ridge coach Liam Carr. “He’s had multiple injuries, and there were times he probably shouldn’t have played, but he’s such a competitor. He’s an excellent scorer, but he does so many other things for us. In addition to being our leading scorer, Tyler also leads our team in assists, steals and rebounds.

“What we’re seeing now is Tyler playing his best basketball of the season, and it’s a perfect time for that. I’ve been coaching for 12 years and Tyler is one of the most unselfish kids I’ve ever been around. I remember a game against Livingston, and Tyler’s leg was really bothering. So what does he do? He gets 10 rebounds. There’s no way we win that game without him that day.”

Tim Liddy was not only a happy administrator, but, of course, a proud father, when Tyler eclipsed 1,000 points.

“Scoring 1,000 points is a tremendous accomplishment for a high school basketball player,” said Tim. “This accomplishment does mean more since Tyler is my son, and I spent many years coaching him in basketball and having the privilege to watch him play four years at Glen Ridge High School. It is great honor to say that Tyler and I are both 1,000 point scores during our careers at Glen Ridge. I am sure that there are many other schools in New Jersey that have a father-son combo as 1,000 point scorers, but it is pretty special to be the first at Glen Ridge High School, and to have our names on the 1,000 point banner that hangs in our gym.”

Tyler had a tremendous football season as Glen Ridge’s quarterback last fall. He’s now the ‘quarterback’, so to speak of the basketball team, as its point guard.

“As much as Tyler scoring 1,000 points was a big thing for him, just like his dad, winning is the ultimate goal,” said Carr, himself a standout player for the Ridgers and a 1995 graduate. “Tim was a part of a state championship team in 1988 here, and that’s something he always looks back at with pride.

“Tyler is always thinking on the court. He knows where everyone is supposed to be, all the time. We’re looking forward to a good run in the states, and having Tyler healthy and playing well will be a big plus for us.”






By mike051893

CHAMPIONS AGAIN ! Wayne Valley atop District 8 for second straight year, as Nick Trani, Reid Colella and Nick Duncan capture gold; Wayne Hills’ Pete Dellechiaie nearing century mark for victories

Champions, again.

For the Wayne Valley wrestling team, a second straight District 8 title was secured on Feb. 17, as the Indians dominated at Hopatcong High School. Valley scored 190.5 points while Montville was second, with 131, and Passaic Valley finished third, with 128, in a 10-team field.

Head coach Todd Schroeder’s squad advanced 10 to the Region 2 championships, which began on Feb. 21, at Mount Olive High, in Flanders. Seven of Valley’s 10 grapplers were to wrestle in the preliminaries, on Feb. 21 and needed to win to advance to the quarterfinals on Feb. 23. Three other wrestlers, Nick Trani, Reid Colella and Nick Duncan, won gold at District 8 and didn’t have to wrestle until the quarterfinals on Feb. 23.

The tourney wraps up on Feb. 24, with the semifinals, wrestlebacks and 14 championship bouts, all at Mount Olive.

The top four wrestlers in each weight class at Region 2 will join the top four wrestlers in each weight class at the other seven regions for the ultimate weekend, the NJSIAA championships, at Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City, from March 2-4.

Wayne Valley celebrates a second straight title. (Click on photo for larger image)

Schroeder was obviously pleased with his team’s effort in a big setting.

“It was a tough district, with Montville, Passaic Valley and Garfield among the top teams,” said Schroeder. “I thought we were really focused on what we had to do. It’s a one day tournament, and there’s a lot of mental preparation which goes into it. We advanced 10, and that’s pretty good. Now, we have to get seven of those 10 ready for Wednesday, and a win there guarantees wrestling into Saturday. The goal, of course, is to get to Atlantic City.”

Trani won the 195-pound title with a 9-3 decision in the championship bout. Colella captured the 152-pound crown with a pin in the final and Duncan won a hard-fought 4-2 decision in the finals.

“Nick went to Atlantic City last year and knows what it will take to get back there,” said Schroeder. “He’s worked hard to put himself in this position. We feel he’s capable of winning a medal in Atlantic City. This will be a big weekend, for sure.

“The same is true of Reid, who I feel can medal at the states. And I’m so happy for Nick Duncan. “He’s been training off the charts and is starting to peak at the right time. With wrestling, it’s all about timing, and that’s why I’m really optimistic about all our kids who are headed to the regions.”

Finishing second for Valley were Hunter Davis (106 pounds), Adam Zindaki (113), Orion Cua (120) and Elijah Lugo (126). Mo Baghal (160), Dan Murphy (170) and Gabriel Ortiz (182) were third in their respective weight class.

“You got to be in it, to win it, and we’ve got 10 moving on,” said Schroeder. “I liked the way all those kids battled. Mo, Dan and Gabe all battled back to win their last match and take third. I thought Hunter, Adam, Orion and Elijah all did a great job to get to the finals. Those seven guys will wrestle on Wednesday, and they know a win moves them into the weekend and a chance to qualify for A.C. That’s what it’s about now.”

Schroeder was also happy with the way heavyweight Jordan Botero competed for his team.

“Jordan made it to the semifinals, before losing a hard fought match to the eventual (285 pound) champion (Passaic Valley’s Yousef  Karmi),” said Schroeder. “He did a good job this season.”

Kittatinny High School, in Newton, was the site for District 2, where Wayne Hills advanced three wrestlers to the Region 1 championships, which will be held at West Milford High School, on Feb. 21, 23 and 24.

Wayne Hills head coach Dan DiColo announced that three Patriot wrestlers, Pete Dellechiaie (220 pounds), Gabe  Dellechiaie (195) and Aidan  Broderick (113) qualified for the regions.

Pete Dellechiaie was second while Gabe  Dellechiaie and Broderick finished third. All three were scheduled to compete on Feb. 21, and needed to win in order to qualify for the quarterfinals, on Feb. 23, and then the semifinals, or wrestlebacks, the following day.








By mike051893

Passaic Valley’s Joe Benvenuti named District 8 Coach of the Year; JBen praises his staff and receives accolades from peers

Joe Benvenuti and his valued assistant Brian Kapral (right). 

Passaic Valley wrestling coach Joe Benvenuti was named the District 8 Coach of the Year, by his peers, at last weekend’s championship matches.

It was the fourth time that Benvenuti has been so honored by his respective district. He was a three-time District 13 winner, with two of the awards coming when Benvenuti was the head coach at West Essex. In 2010, Benvenuti was named Coach of the Year at District 13 and Region 4, while at Passaic Valley.

The humbled Benvenuti, who won his 200th career match as a head coach last December against Nutley, credited the award to the PV wrestling program.

“There’s no way this happens without the help of a great coaching staff,” said Benvenuti. “Brian Kapral has been with me for many years and is as good as they get. Needless to say, my brother, Michael, is someone I can always rely on. And (former PV standout wrestler) Nick Pezzano has done a great job on the coaching staff, too. We have great kids here, tremendous parental support, as well as a good feeder program of young kids who learn the sport and then carry that success into the high school program.

Joe Benvenuti and his family, following the coach’s 200th career win last December. (Click on photo for larger image)

“This is all about a program which produces tough kids on the mat and good kids, off it. And that’s the part which makes me so proud.”

Benvenuti led PV to a 15-8 record this season, including wins over four programs that captured NJSIAA sectional championships a year ago. In addition, Benvenuti, a PV graduate and former wrestler for the Hornets, guided Passaic Valley to a state sectional crown in 2010 and 2016. He’s also coached multiple wrestlers to state medals, both at PV and West Essex.

“I’ve learned a lot being around coaches Chet  Parlavecchio and Anthony Minnella,” said Benvenuti. “They told me to surround myself with loyalty, first, when it came to coaching, and things would work out. And that’s been the case, for sure.”

Benvenuti also credited his wife, Suzanne, along with his parents and children, for their support.

“My family has always been there, and without their support, I wouldn’t be able to put the time in that I do. I can’t thank them enough,” said Benvenuti.

Benvenuti is well respected by opposing coaches, as well.

“Joe is a class act,” said Wayne Valley head coach Todd Schroeder. “He runs a tremendous program, with hard-nosed kids. We have a great rivalry with them, and that’s because of Joe, and his staff. I couldn’t think of a more worthy recipient than Joe to receive this award.”





By mike051893