6:50 a.m. Frankie DiPiano has pulled up to my house on Grove Street in Belleville. After a stop at Dunkin’ Donuts, we take a quick ride to Mike Benvenuti’s (aka Mikey Benz) home, where Uncle Eddie Roselle is waiting in his high-powered vehicle for the express ride to Robinsville for the NJSIAA wrestling seeding meeting.
Mike Benz asks Eddie where his truck is. “Gone, my man,” Eddie says. “We got this car now. Shut the (heck) up and get in the car.”
7:10 a.m. Uncle Eddie is in the cockpit, and we’re on Route 21, heading to Route 3 and eventually, the New Jersey Turnpike. The insults are already in high gear, and since this is a family blog, they’ll stay off the record, but you get the point.
7:30 a.m., on….Mikey Benz is checking the results from all 8 regions in today’s newspaper. “(So in so) beat (so in so),” Mikey says, (leaving out the real names). “My kid beat that kid earlier in the season,” Frankie replies. “Hey, St. Peter’s is taking 9, BABY, to A.C.,” replies Uncle Eddie, talking about St. Peter’s Prep and its dominance at Region 4 in West Orange.
The three talk about the quality of officiating at Region 4.
Uncle Eddie is moving at a good clip. “This car flies,” Eddie exclaims. “We’re making record time.”
Delbarton coach Bryan Stoll calls Frankie. “Tell him for me that he’s a (blankety blank),” Uncle Eddie says (kiddingly), as Frank relays the message to Stoll.
The car (or small Cesna, whatever you prefer) lands at Exit 7A, but Frankie Dip tells Eddie to make a left, instead of a right on Route 195. After catching his mistake, Frank tells Ed to turn around and get back on 195 going the other way.
“Now, we’re off schedule,” Eddie snaps about the 2 minute snafu. “Come on Frank !”
Uncle Eddie pulls into the NJSIAA parking lot at 8:15 a.m. “We’re early,” he says. “Let’s go for breakfast.”
We drive down 195, but there’s no diner in sight. One place, the Clairmont Diner, appears to be closed, and it’s almost time to go to McDonald’s on the other side of the road when Eddie spots what appears to be a diner coming up on the right.
“That’s our place,” Eddie shouts. “Let’s go, I’m buying !”
As we get out of the car at the Americana Diner in East Windsor, Eddie tells the story of sending a new spread of food to Mikey Benz, then seeing Mike at a local eatery in Fairfield. “You think he’d send over a beer?” Eddie says in mock horror. “No way.”
Mikey is quick to say “short arms, long pockets,” as we enter the diner.
Once there, we’re offered a booth, but ask for a table instead. “Big guys,” Uncle Eddie tells the guy at the diner. “A booth won’t work.”
This diner was INCREDIBLE….Fresh squeezed orange juice, and the waiter would come by every few minutes and pour from a small carafe into our glass. We got some nice raisin bread, too, on the side.
The food was phenomenal. I ordered silver dollar pancakes, there was plenty of taylor ham and eggs, too.
“I love this place,” Uncle Eddie said. “I don’t know if I brought enough money to buy, however.” (LOL).
Uncle Eddie’s dream of buying breakfast is intercepted by Frank, who pays the bill. “Now I gotta keep quiet,” Eddie says.
At the meeting, the seeding is going on at a good pace. There’s a 106 pounder named Calo, which immediately has me turning around to catch Frankie D’s eye, who is thinking the same thing. (My Cousin Vinnie, ‘Calo, not Gallo’ !!!)
When we get to 120 pounds, Brenden Calas of Seton Hall Prep is listed as a top seed. “Why Calas?”, Uncle Eddie says with a straight face. (This is the norm for Eddie when it comes to a wrestler who’s a lock for the top seed. It started with Frank Cagnina back in 2010). This happens again at 138 pounds when Anthony Ashnault of South Plainfield is the top seed.
Lots more to come, stay tuned…