A very competitive weekend at Region 4 yielded four champions from Essex County as well as 19 different schools which will send at least one wrestler to the NJSIAA championships this coming weekend at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
The final weekend of the 2012-2013 high school wrestling season in New Jersey begins on Friday, March 8 with the preliminary and pre-quarterfinal rounds. On Saturday, the quarterfinals, wrestlebacks and the most exciting part of the weekend, the semifinals, will be held. The tourney concludes on Sunday with wrestlebacks, the March of Champions and finally, the 14 championship bouts, starting around 2 p.m.
St. Peter’s Prep was the dominant team in the region, sending nine to A.C., including eight regional finalists and six eventual Region 4 champs. Nutley advanced four to the states while Livingston and Becton will send three each. Eight schools advanced two grapplers while another seven will send one each. (That will probably change after a serious injury to Passaic Tech’s lone representantive, Emmanuel Soriano, that will more than likely advance Sean Griffin of Cliffside Park into the 220 pound slot, giving Cliffside Park two in A.C. while PCT will not have a wrestler there).
Here are some highlights, from what I saw.
Being an Essex County guy, it was great to see Mike Marotti win his first regional championship as a senior. Marotti had my vote as the tourney’s Outstanding Wrestler, as well, although the coaches voted for Marc Mastropietro of Hasbrouck Heights, who edged top seeded Bob Trombetta of Nutley in the 120-pound final.
Marotti’s dad, Ralph, was once a standout wrestler at Belleville High while his older brother, Frank, was a 2011 Region 4 champ at West Essex who went on to win a state medal that season. Mike Marotti was also a state qualifier in 2011, as a sophomore.
Jason Estevez, who is my choice to be Livingston’s first state champion since 1999, won the 132-pound title for his second region crown. Estevez, who was third in the state last year at 132, was a region champ at 125 pounds in 2011.
Nutley, which overcame a ton of early season injuries, advanced three to the finals and had one champion in Brandon Keena, who captured gold at 160 pounds.
Verona’s Frank Greco won a thriller at 182 pounds and will enter the state tourney undefeated. Greco edged Nutley’s Vin Mainiero, 4-2, in triple overtime.
North Bergen’s Anthony Giraldo moved a step closer to joining an elite fraternity when he won a third straight regional championship. Giraldo will attempt to win a fourth straight region title next season. Not many have done that in Region 4. Bobby Dabal, Frank Dugan, Donnie Pritzlaff, Pat Trabucco and David Greenwald come to mind right away.
On to Passaic Valley, where the story of Anthony Cruz has come full circle. A senior at 106 pounds, Cruz was noticeably struggling early in the season, but he’s come around over the past seven weeks and last Saturday, punched his first ticket to Atlantic City by finishing third.
It couldn’t happen to a better young man, which is why I always like to say the PV Hornets are in Cruz Control with their 106 pounder.