The focus never wavered.
Reid Colella’s day on Feb. 23 began with a hard-fought 3-1 victory in the 170-pound Region 2 semifinals, at Mt. Olive High. Colella would have to wait about four hours until his title bout against top-seeded Michael Conrad, of Montvale. And for a majority of that time, he sat in the stands, relatively alone, just staring out onto the mammoth floor, as numerous bouts were being contested over eight mats, and then eventually, four.
“It’s all about mental preparation at this point of the season,” said Colella. “There’s not much more I’m going to pick up, other than to be mentally focused.”
When Colella finally got back on the mat, it was all business once again, with the same result as the semifinal, a 3-1 victory. It was the first regional championship for a Wayne Valley wrestler in five years, since Tyler Hrycak won a crown and eventually was one of three Indians to earn a medal at the NJSIAA championships, in Atlantic City. The win improved Colella’s season record to 37-1.
Reid Colella (second from left) and Nick Trani are headed back to Atlantic City for the state championships for a second straight season. (Click on photo for larger image)
For the second straight season, Colella and Nick Trani were headed to Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City, for the state championships, which began on Feb. 28 and concluded on March 2.
Trani earned his third straight trip to A.C. by finishing third at 220 pounds, in the region. After losing a close bout for his first loss of the season in the semifinals, Trani defeated Passaic’s William Rozembersky, 6-1, to assure himself an appearance in Atlantic City, then defeated Christopher Cherry of Mt. Olive, 9-3, to clinch third in the weight class. That finish should assure Trani a good seed for the states, with his 39-1 record, as well as a county and district championship.
Trani was satisfied with his performance.
Nick Trani, after his victory which assured him a third straight trip to Atlantic City for the state championships, from Feb. 28-March 2. (Click on photo for larger image)
“Not everything went as I hoped,” said Trani. “But I’m proud of the way I dealt with the adversity. In the end, the only goal is advancing. Anything can happen in Atlantic City. I’m not worried about any seed, because if a seed mattered, what’s the point of even wrestling? Anyone can be beat on any day. I’m excited for the following week, and what it’s going to bring.”
It was also a record-setting weekend for Trani, who became the school’s all-time winningest wrestler with his 131st victory in the final bout at the regions. Trani surpassed the record set by Hrycak in 2014.
For Colella, a second opportunity to wrestle in Atlantic City will be a vast difference from 2018.
“To be honest, it was a little overwhelming last year,” said Colella. “It won’t be that way this time. I’m looking forward to getting back there and standing on that (state medal) podium on Saturday night. I worked hard for this. Winning a region is an awesome feeling, and I’m looking forward to what I can do this week.”
Wayne Valley coach Todd Schroeder was pleased with his team’s effort at the regions, and for the entire 2018-2019 season.
“I was hoping one or two more kids could have made the trip to Atlantic City, but everyone gave a tremendous effort in a very tough district and region,” said Schroeder. “This team won a state (sectional) championship and three regular season tournaments.
“Reid and Nick are captains, and they’ve performed like that all season. They both have the experience of wrestling in Atlantic City and I’m hoping they’ll have a real good three days coming up.”