A highly successful season was concluded for the Wayne Valley High wrestling team at the NJSIAA championships last weekend, in Atlantic City.
Nick Trani and Reid Colella, a pair of juniors, made the trip to Boardwalk Hall, and while they both wrestled well, were not able to reach the medal round.
Head coach Todd Schroeder felt both gave a good account of themselves in the states, which put the finishing touches on a good year for the Indians.
“It’s really a matter of matchups,” said Schroeder. “The more you wrestle there, the better the criteria. This was Nick’s second time in Atlantic City, and Reid’s first. They’re both juniors, so I’m hoping they’ll be able to use this to get a start on next season.”
At 195 pounds, Trani drew the ninth seed and faced Anthony Morina, of Paulsboro, in the first round on March 2. Morina won a close, 6-5, decision, which moved him into the pre-quarters, where he faced the eventual state champion, Jacob Cardenas, of Bergen Catholic.
“Cardenas ended up dominating the weight class,” said Schroeder. “And he was the eighth seed. So, who knows? I tell our kids, don’t go too much by seedings. A kid can get hot at the right time and run away with it.”
Trani’s loss moved him into the wrestlebacks on March 3, where he defeated Sean Lenzsch, of St. Augustine, 5-2. But in the next wrestleback, he lost to Alex Cawley, of Pemberton. Trani was 37-4 on the season.
Colella competed at 152 pounds and was seeded 24th. He faced Lavinsky Collins, of Ewing, in the first round, and lost by decision. Collins would go on to finish fourth in the state at his weight class. Colella then lost a close bout to Francis Marshall, of Point Pleasant Boro, on March 3, to close out his season with a 33-9 record.
“With Reid, he ran into a kid in Collins who was the ninth seed, and he ended up with a great tournament,” said Schroeder. “Like I said, it’s matchups.”
As for the season, Wayne Valley’s 19 wins in 2017-2018 tied last year’s team record, for most victories in a season. Wayne Valley also won a second straight District 8 championship.
“Overall, it was a really good year,” said Schroeder. “Winning 19 matches, after starting slowly this year (3-4 at one point), especially against a tough schedule, was very encouraging for our team. We have a good nucleus of kids coming back next year. Our JV team got a lot of work in, too. I entered them in a lot of tournaments. They were second in a huge tournament, at Randolph, and did well in the counties.
“I look at a kid like Orion Cua, a senior, who broke into the lineup this year at 120 pounds and really saved our season. He did an incredible job, with 26 wins. Losing Cole Drozjock to an injury was tough. He’s another senior who did an excellent job.”
As for the returning wrestlers, Schroeder knows the off season is short.
“The Junior Nationals are coming up, the War at the Shore, the Super 32,” the coach said. “There’s a lot of opportunity for the kids to compete, in big venues, and start preparing for next year. We had two kids get to Atlantic City this year, and others who aren’t that far away. If they’re willing to put the work in, and I feel good about them doing that, we could have another really good season next year.”