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.