Honoring the late coach Lewis Benfatti, Wayne Valley responds with big win as Orion Cua leads Indians recent surge

Wayne Valley wrestling coach Todd Schroeder is about as reserved as a coach can be, when it comes to his team’s performance.

So when Schroeder pointed out so many positive attributes from his team’s effort at the Ramsey Duals last Saturday, as well as a nice win in a sold out gym a few days earlier opposite Wayne Hills, there was that feeling the Indians season is indeed progressing nicely.

Wayne Valley improved to 8-4 on the season with three wins at Ramsey, defeating the host school, as well as Northern Highlands and Manchester Regional. Valley also stopped Hills, on Alumni Night.

The Indians have what Schroeder is calling the biggest week of the regular season coming up. On Jan. 17, the team hosts Passaic Valley, starting at 7 p.m. and on Jan. 19, there’s a short trip to DePaul, for what should also be a huge matchup. Then, on Jan. 20, Valley will host a quad which includes Lenape Valley, Middletown North and Old Bridge, starting at 9 a.m. And if that isn’t busy enough, the Indians visit Passaic Tech, on Jan. 24, at 7 p.m. and the Passaic County Tournament will be held on Jan. 27, at West Milford High.

“This is the time of year you want to see improvement in the team,” said Schroeder. “It’s not so much the conditioning factor, as it is the kids being set at their weight class. The two-pound allotment will be in place starting on Jan. 15, so that’s a big step, as well. I like what I’m seeing from our kids. We wrestled three pretty good teams at Ramsey and the match against Wayne Hills was a nice, charged environment. It was a packed house, honoring (the late) Coach (Lewis) Benfatti, (the one-time head wrestling coach at Valley, who died on Nov. 3, 2017).

“It was an incredible night. I never saw the place so packed for a wrestling match. Both sides of the stands were full and seeing Coach Benfatti’s family there was wonderful.”

Valley won the match, 61-6, but Schroeder noted the score didn’t tell the story.

“Wayne Hills has a young team, and (Hills first-year head coach) Dan (DiColo) is doing a good job there,” said Schroeder. “There were a lot of tough, hard-fought matches. Our team did a good job.”

At Ramsey, the Indians had a number of wrestlers finish 3-0 on the day, including Elijah Lugo (125 pounds), Hunter Davis (106), Reid Colella (152), Mo Baghal (160), Nick Duncan (145) and Orion Cua (120).

“Orion has been doing a tremendous job for us,” said Schroeder. “Here’s a senior who has worked hard to get into the lineup and has taken advantage of his opportunity. His commitment and dedication to the sport is outstanding.”

Valley defeated Manchester, 63-15, Ramsey, 63-9 and Northern Highlands, 57-15. Also noteworthy was Nick Trani, who moved up to heavyweight and won impressively. Trani has been rotating this year at 195 and 220 pounds.

This week will go a long way in determining the team’s overall success. Of course, individual wrestlers have the chance to compete into early March, at Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City.

“We’ll have the chance to get some good power points this week (toward the state sectional tournament),” said Schroeder. “Like I said, this is when you want to start seeing improvement, and I think we’re getting there.”

By mike051893

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