WEST ORANGE: It’s not often when an Essex County Tournament wrestling championship garners a great deal of historic significance, but such was the case today at the 39th rendition of the event at Codey Arena in West Orange.
For the second time, ever, two wrestlers were vying for a rare fourth consecutive county championship. Nutley’s Bobby Trombetta and Jason Estevez of Livingston were considered strong favorites to become just the eighth and ninth wrestlers to accomplish the feat. They would also be the first duo to claim four golds on the same day since legendary wrestlers Joe Dubuque of Glen Ridge and Livingston’s Pat Trabucco were victorious in 2001.
Mike Kwapniewski of Caldwell (1988-1991), Marc Lombardy of Millburn (1990-1993), Dubuque and Trabucco (1998-2001), Angelo DiLeo (2002-2005) and Lou Mascola (2008-2011) of Seton Hall Prep and Belleville’s Filiberto Colon (2005-2008) were the only four-time Essex County champions heading into today’s finals.
Trombetta and Estevez were up for the challenge, although their respective opponents in the final weren’t about to assist in making history. Trombetta pinned a game Paul Scully of Verona in 4:53 to win the 126-pound championship.
“It means a great deal,” Trombetta said afterward. “When you look at the names on that list who have won four, it’s pretty nice to be among them. This is why you do all that training, to have the chance to be a four-time county champ.”
Estevez closed out the match at 132 pounds with a hard fought 5-3 win against Seton Hall Prep’s Anthony Canfora. (The finals began at 138 pounds so that the last three matches, featuring Brenden Calas, Trombetta and Estevez would highlight the event).
“I’ve always wanted the chance to win four,” Estevez said. “My (former) coach, (Pat) Trabucco did it when he wrestled for Livingston, so that makes it extra special.”
As for Calas, he won his third straight county title with a 1-0 win opposite Livingston’s Tommy Heller at 120 pounds. Calas’ lone defeat in the ECT came in the 2010 final at 103 pounds, when he lost a one point match to Trombetta when both guys were freshmen.
Calas, of course, has gone on to win a pair of state championships in 2011 and 2012 and will be among the favorites for a three-peat this season.
Trombetta, who missed a month because of an injury, was also thrilled that his team repeated as county champ.
“We started the season slowly with all the injuries,” Trombetta said. “Now, to be back at the top of the county makes it even nicer for this team.”
Nutley garnered 207 points and outlasted second placae West Essex, which tallied 189. Caldwell was third with 156 points, West Orange (125) finished fourth and Cedar Grove (124) took fifth in the 23 team field.
Other Essex County champs included Nutley’s Anthony DeLorenzo (106), Brandon Keena (160) and Vinnie Mainiero (182), Newark Academy’s Brandon Seyfried (113), Mike Dalla Riva of Caldwell (138), Mike Marotti (145) and Marc McDonald (195) of West Essex, Livingston’s Brad Krosser, who repeated at 152 pounds, Verona’s Joe Cordasco (170) and Vin Cordasco (220) and Columbia heavyweight Rodney Cenat.
The Outstanding Wrestler award was shared between Trombetta, Estevez and Calas, a move which, in this writer’s opinion, was beyond silly.