UNION – Brian Matthews came to Roselle Park from South Jersey and immediately rushed for over 1,000 yards to help lead the Panthers to their first state championship football game in 19 years.
The talented junior grappler is also off to a pretty good start on the wrestling mat.
Matthews conquered the weight class of 152 pounds in capturing his first county championship Saturday at the 38th annual Wrestling Union County Tournament at the Louis J. Rettino Gymnasium.
Roselle Park won the team championship for the first time since 2003, garnering its record 12th crown with 172.5 points.
The Panthers prevented Brearley – which finished second with 149.5 points – from winning a record eighth title in a row. Brearley won the last seven championships – which is all seven of its titles – while Roselle Park also won seven in a row from 1997-2003.
Roselle Park, Brearley and Governor Livingston had the most champions with three, while Johnson had two and Westfield, Scotch Plains and Summit grabbed one each.
Matthews won two matches by pin, one by major decision and one by decision – two of his wins were also by shutout – to garner the 152 title as the fourth seed.
Matthews pinned third-seeded Jonniel Bazan of Elizabeth in 3:55 in the final after he blanked top-seeded Derrick Washington of Plainfield 5-0 in the semifinals.
Matthews, who didn’t start wrestling until Dec. 24 because of the concussion he sustained in Roselle Park’s championship football game against Hoboken on Dec. 7, was the only grappler to defeat a top-seeded wrestler before the finals.
“Brian hit the ground running hard,” Roselle Park head coach John Ranieri said.
It was Matthews’ first time wrestling Washington.
“I wasn’t intimidated at all,” said Matthews, a transfer from Brick Township. “I came out hard and once I got my first two points I was on my way.”
“Brian was very smart and got out of the bottom against a kid who is very good on top,” Ranieri said. “It was a difficult match.”
Matthews also faced Bazan for the first time.
“I came out physical again and knew I was the better wrestler,” Matthews said.
Matthews’ record went from 10-0 to 14-0.
His first two wins were against 13th-seeded Brayden Provan of New Providence, by pin in 3:41 in the first round, and over fifth-seeded Dominick Pigna of Scotch Plains by the score of 9-0 in the quarterfinals.
Wrestling for a program rich in history like Roselle Park is not lost on Matthews. He was one of four Panthers to reach the finals and the second to win a title, right behind 145-pounder Pete Hilburn – a junior who was also a top seed and who is also a transfer student, coming in from St. Peter’s Prep. Hilburn wrestled at the Jersey City parochial school his freshman and sophomore seasons.
“Coming into this program is an incredible honor,” Matthews said. “I’m going to try to go as far as I can take it this year.”
Also for Roselle Park in the finals, Hugo Parraga won at 106 as the top seed, while Phil Woods finished second at 170 as the third seed.
Parraga held off second-seeded Tyler Gazaway of New Providence 7-6 in the 106 final, which was one of the more competitive title matches.
“We have strong leadership and positive team chemistry,” Ranieri said. “We had 13 in the quarterfinals, eight in the semifinals and three of our four kids won in the finals. Getting off to a good start was a big help.”
Union senior heavyweight Kris Lewis was the first Farmer grappler to reach the finals in several years, falling to top-seeded and defending champion Anthony Tufaro, a Scotch Plains senior, 12-4 in the final.
“We’re very proud of what Kris did today,” said Union head coach Dino DeBellonia.
Lewis, the sixth seed, first pinned 11th-seeded Max Burgos of Linden in 3:45 in the first round. Lewis won his quarterfinal round match by default over third-seeded Stephen Bremer of New Providence and then he pinned second-seeded Stephan Davis of Rahway in 1:05 in the semifinals.
“His match against the kid from Rahway in the semifinals was a big win,” DeBellonia said. “He executed a move we drill daily called a ‘far roll.’
“We’re happy for him and this is one of the little things we’ve accomplished that we hope to build on for a great deal more success in the future.”
Governor Livingston senior Jon Mele captured his third county crown by blanking second-seeded Nick Tekula of Linden 12-0 in the 120 final. Mele, the top seed, earned last year’s UCT award for the most pins in the least time – three in 8:08.
Mele captured his first UCT title as a sophomore in 2011, winning at 103, and last year as a junior he claimed the 113 crown.
Twelve top seeds won championships and six of the seven returning champions won again, those wrestlers being Brearley junior Nick DeMarco, GL senior Jon Mele, GL junior Ryan Hoy, Brearley junior John Balboni, Brearley junior Joe Balboni and Scotch Plains senior Anthony Tufaro.
Summit senior Nick Abbott, who won at 126 last year, finished fifth as the fourth seed at 132.
T. Ralph “Pug” Williams
Joe Pickton, New Providence
Coach of the Year
Rick Ortega, Johnson
Outstanding Wrestler (106-145)
Ryan Hoy, GL, 132
Outstanding Wrestler (152-HWT)
John Balboni, Brearley, 160
NOTES: All 14 top seeds advanced to the semifinals.
Thirteen of the 14 top seeds made it to the finals.
Plainfield junior Derrick Washington was the first top seed to lose, falling to fourth-seeded Brian Matthews of Roselle Park 5-0 in the 152 semifinals.
There were 10 finals matchups pitting seeds 1 vs. 2, with the exceptions being at 113, 132, 152 and 170.
TEAMS: 1-Roselle Park 172.5. 2-Brearley 149.5. 3-Westfield 139.5.
4-Cranford 119. 5-Gov. Livingston 114.5. 6-Scotch Plains 99.
7-New Providence 97. 8-Johnson 90. 9-Rahway 87. 10-Elizabeth 73.
11-Union 65. 12-Linden 53. 13-Plainfield 50. 14-Summit 47.
138: 1-John Coler, Johnson dec. 2-Daniel Kourakos, New Providence, 9-5.
145: 1-Pete Hilburn, Roselle Park dec. 2-Dan Smith, New Providence, 3-0.
152: 4-Brian Matthews, Roselle Park pin 3-Jonniel Bazan, Elizabeth, 3:55.
160: 1-John Balboni, Brearley dec. 2-Colin Barber, Westfield, 6-1.
170: 1-Joe Balboni, Brearley tech. fall 3-Phil Woods, Roselle Park, 22-7 (4:33).
182: 1-Brian Bulger, Westfield dec. 2-Jeff Velez, Brearley, 10-3.
195: 1-Shane Haddad, Gov. Livingston pin 2-Nick Arnold, Westfield, 5:29.
220: 1-A.J. Iarussi, Summit pin 2-Jeff Weiss, Cranford, 4:24.
HWT: 1-Anthony Tufaro, Scotch Plains, maj. dec. 6-Kris Lewis, Union, 12-4.
106: 1-Hugo Parraga, Roselle Park dec. 2-Tyler Gazaway, New Prov., 7-6.
113: 1-Nick DeMarco, Brearley pin 6-Carmine Boccellari, New Prov., 3:43.
120: 1-Jon Mele, Gov. Livingston maj. dec. 2-Nick Tekula, Linden, 12-0.
126: 1-Charlie Hudak, Johnson pin 2-Isaac Valentin, Rahway, 4:25.
132: 3-Ryan Hoy, Gov. Livingston dec. 1-Gavin Murray, Cranford, 9-8.
138: 1-John Coler, Johnson vs. 2-Daniel Kourakos, New Providence.
145: 1-Pete Hilburn, Roselle Park vs. 2-Dan Smith, New Providence.
152: 4-Brian Matthews, Roselle Park vs. 3-Jonnniel Bazan, Elizabeth.
160: 1-John Balboni, Brearley vs. 2-Colin Barber, Westfield.
170: 1-Joe Balboni, Brearley vs. 3-Phil Woods, Roselle Park.
182: 1-Brian Bulger, Westfield vs. 2-Jeff Velez, Brearley.
195: 1-Shane Haddad, Gov. Livingston vs. 2-Nick Arnold, Westfield.
220: 1-A.J. Iarussi, Summit vs. 2-Jeff Weiss, Cranford.
HWT: 1-Anthony Tufaro, Scotch Plains, vs. 6-Kris Lewis, Union.
106: 1-Hugo Parraga, Roselle Park vs. 2-Tyler Gazaway, New Providence.
113: 1-Nick DeMarco, Brearley vs. 6-Carmine Boccellari, New Providence.
120: 1-Jon Mele, Gov. Livingston vs. 2-Nick Tekula, Linden.
126: 1-Charlie Hudak, Johnson vs. 2-Isaac Valentin, Rahway.
132: 1-Gavin Murray, Cranford vs. 3-Ryan Hoy, Gov. Livingston.
106: Kyle Gregorio, Johnson
113: John Devito, Roselle Park
120: Devin Jefferson, Rahway
126: Tim Murphy, Brearley
132: Matt Barber, Westfield
138: Nick Velez, Westfield
145: Nicko Capello, Cranford
152: Derrick Washington, Plainfield
160: Justin Becker, Rahway
170: Corey Markovitch, Cranford
182: Khalil Burns, Linden
195: Rob Kessler, Cranford
220: Vinny Picarelli, Roselle Park
HWT: Kyle Brookens, Plainfield
106: Nick Kalimtzis, Westfield
113: Joe Colder, Gov. Livingston
120: Andy Santamaria, Roselle Park
126: Daniel Tibere, Linden
132: Brian Lapham, Scotch Plains
138: Neo-Joe Lughas, Plainfield
145: Dein Rice, Scotch Plains
152: Corey Birch, Cranford
160: Jimmy Dwyer, Cranford
170: Joseph Ciarocca, New Providence
182: Allen Nunez, Roselle Park
195: Evaristo Diaz, Elizabeth
220: Ed Olenick, Johnson
HWT: Stephan Davis, Rahway
106: Chris Sergio, Gov. Livingston
113: JT Beirne, Scotch Plains
120: Dylan Oliva, Brearley
126: Nick Testa, Summit
132: Nick Abbott, Summit
138: Majid Abdur Rahman, Rahway
145: Nick Rotondo, Westfield
152: Dominick Pigna, Scotch Plains
160: Steve Loevsky, Roselle Park
170: Matt Ridge, Scotch Plains
182: Luke Sammarone, New Providence
195: Danny Van Brunt, Scotch Plains
220: David Tobe, Elizabeth
HWT: Joe Romero, Elizabeth
SIXTH PLACE FINISHERS:
106: Wesley Ortiz, Elizabeth
113: John Fuller, Westfield
120: Dave Busch, Cranford
126: Josh Gergich, Roselle Park
132: Matt Swain, Roselle Park
138: Bruno Zurita, Elizabeth
145: Jeremy Randolph, Union
152: Adams Desir, Rahway
160: Brandon Paris, Union
170: Dan Syzdek, Union
182: Alex Mirabella, Scotch Plains
195: Saviero Salfcas, Brearley
220: Jorge Quintero, Union
HWT: Rasheed Banks, Brearley
106: Parraga pin Kalimtzis, 3:15.
106: Gazaway maj. dec. Gregorio, 9-0.
113: DeMarco dec. Colder, 7-3.
113: Boccellari dec. Devito, 8-4.
120: Mele pin Santamaria, 1:57.
120: Tekula dec. Jefferson, 5-1.
126: Hudak pin Tibere, 0:56.
126: Valentin dec. Murphy, 3-0.
132: Murray dec. Lapham, 5-4.
132: Hoy pinned Barber, 4:20.
138: Coler dec. Velez, 6-4.
138: Kourakos maj. dec. Lughas 11-3.
145: Hilburn dec. Rice, 6-2.
145: Smith dec. Capello, 4-1 (3OT).
152: Matthews, dec. Washington, 5-0.
152: Bazan in Birch, 2:40.
160: Balboni dec. Dwyer, 9-3.
160: Barber dec. Becker, 3-1.
170: Balboni pinned Ciarocca, 3:17.
170: Woods maj. dec. Markovitch, 9-1.
182: Bulger maj. dec. Nunez, 10-1.
182: Velez pinned Burns, 0:58.
195: Haddad tech. fall Diaz, 21-4 (4:18).
195: Arnold pin Kessler, 3:54.
220: Iarussi pin Picarelli, 1:45.
220: Weiss pin Olenick, 3:25.
HWT: Tufaro pin Brookens, 4:52.
HWT: Lewis pin Davis, 1:05.
106: Parraga maj. dec. Sergio, 13-0.
106: Kalimtzis, pin Phillipe, 1:06.
106: Gregorio pin Ortiz, 3:09.
106: Gazaway pin Simonetti, 0:59.
113: DeMarco pin Thevenin, 2:29.
113: Colder, dec. Fuller, 3-0.
113: Bocccellari dec. Beirne, 3-0.
113: Devito maj. dec. Sheehy, 9-0.
120: Mele pin Oliva, 1:48.
120: Santamaria maj. dec. Cunnningham 14-6.
120: Jefferson pin Nobrega, 2:22.
120: Tekula maj. dec. Busch 13-4.
126: Hudak dec. Gergich, 5-3.
126: Tibere pin St. John, 4:57.
126: Murphy dec. Testa, 10-5.
126: Valentin dec. Aldana, 7-0.
132: Murray pin Dorvius, 2:53.
132: Lapham dec. Abbott, 7-3.
132: Hoy pin Mooney, 1:32.
132: Barber dec. Swain, 7-0.
138: Coler pin Zurita, 4:54.
138: Velez dec. Vail, 5-0.
138: Lughas dec. Abdur Rahman, 12-10.
138: Kourakos pin Ataca, 3:24.
145: Hilburn maj. dec. Lipnick, 20-5.
145: Rice dec. Rotondo, 5-2.
145: Capello, pin Randolph, 3:33.
145: Smith dec. Jefferson, 5-1.
152: Washington pin Defillipo, 2:16.
152: Matthews maj. dec. Pigna, 9-0.
152: Bazan pin Savona, 3:51.
152: Birch pin Desir, 5:15.
160: Balboni pin Rivera, 0:35.
160: Dwyer dec. Loevsky, 9-2.
160: Becker won by default.
160: Barber pin Paris, 3:40.
170: Balboni pin Phillip, 2:40.
170: Ciarocca dec. Syzdek, 1-0.
170: Woods pin Hafez, 2:45.
170: Markovitch pin Ridge, 3:07.
182: Bulger pin Russo, 1:06.
182: Nunez dec. Mirabello, 4-2.
182: Burns pin Sammarone, 3:59.
182: Velez pin Luciani, 3:08.
195: Haddad pin Van Brunt, 3:40.
195: Diaz dec. Signorello, 3-1.
195: Kessler pin Lameria, 0:31.
195: Arnold dec. Salfcas, 5-2.
220: Iarussi pin McHugh, 0:27.
220: Picarelli pin Quintero, 2:45.
220: Olenick pin Tobe, 0:49.
220: Spurlock pin Weiss, 1:03.
HWT: Tufaro, dec. Kania, 2-1.
HWT: Brookens, maj. dec. Romero, 13-5.
HWT: Lewis won by default.
HWT: Davis pin Banks, 3:20.
106: 1-Hugo Parraga, Roselle Park, bye
106: 8-Chris Sergio, Gov. Livingston, pin 9-Chase Gunther, Cranford, 3:40.
106: 5-Jashmar Phillipe, Scotch Plains, bye
106: 4-Nick Kalimtzis, bye
106: 3-Kyle Gregorio, Johnson, bye
106: 6-Vincent Ortiz, Elizabeth, dec. 11-Mike Ellot, Rahway, 7-0.
106: 10-Dominick Robinson, Linden, dec. 7-Vincent Simonetti, Union, 5-3.
106: 2-Tyler Gazaway, New Providence, bye
113: 1-Nick Demarco, Brearley, bye
113: 8-James Thevenin, Elizabeth, maj. dec. 9-Matthew Pinho, Rahway, 18-6.
113: 5-John Fuller, Westfield, bye
113: 5-Joe Colder, Gov. Livingston, bye
113: 3-JT Beirne, Scotch Plains, bye
113: 6-Carmine Boccellari, New Providence, bye
113: 7-Josh Sheehy, Linden, bye
113: 2-John Devito, Roselle Park, bye
120: 1-Jon Mele, Gov. Livingston, bye
120: 8-Dylan Oliva, Brearley, maj. dec. 9-Sergio Baron, Elizabeth, 14-2.
120: 5-Tommy Cunningham, Scotch Plains, bye
120: 4-Andy Santamaria, Roselle Park, bye
120: 3-Devin Jefferson, Rahway, bye
120: 6-Ryan Nobrega, Union, dec. 11-Yusef Dwider, Westfield, 7-6.
120: 10-Dave Busch, Cranford, maj. dec. 7-Brian Siessel, Johnson, 9-0.
120: 2-Nick Tekula, Linden, bye
126: 1-Charlie Hudak, Johnson, bye
126: 8-Josh Gergich, Roselle Park, dec. 9-Willy Silva, Elizabeth, 6-4.
126: 5-Daniel Tibere, Linden, dec. 12-Austin Senkarik, Gov. Livingston, 5-1.
126: 13-Dmitry St. John, Union, dec. 4-Steve Carrion, Scotch Plains, 9-4.
126: 3-Nick Testa, Summit, bye
126: 6-Tim Murphy, Brearley, pin 11-Peter Byrnes, New Providence, 4:23.
126: 7-Anthony Aldana, Westfield, dec. 10-Andrew Tompkins, Cranford, 7-3.
126: 2-Isaac Valentin, Rahway, bye
132: 1-Gavin Murray, Cranford, bye
132: 8-Chris Dorvius, Union, dec. 9-Wesley Martinez, Elizabeth, 16-9.
132: 5-Brian Lapham, Scotch Plains, pin 12-Dave Winters, Rahway, 3:56.
132: 4-Nick Abbott, Summit, pin 13-Kevin Torres, Brearley, 1:39
132: 3-Ryan Hoy, Gov. Livingston, bye
132: 6-Brian Mooney, Johnson, pin 11-David Adams, New Providence, 3:40.
132: 7-Matt Swain, Roselle Park, dec. 10-Carlos Tovar, Linden, 15-11.
132: 2-Matt Barber, Westfield, bye
138: 1-John Coler, Johnson, bye
138: 9-Bruno Zurita, Elizabeth, pin 8-Diego Barquero, Summit, 3:59.
138: 5-Bobby Vail, Roselle Park, maj. dec. 12-Dennis Sobol, GL, 14-3.
138: 4-Nick Velez, Westfield, bye
138: 2-Neo-Joe Lughas, Plainfield, bye
138: 6-Majid Abdur Rahman, Rahway, pin 11-S. Toussaint, Union, 0:29.
138: 7-Diego Ataca, Linden, pin 10-Nick Frediani, Canford, 5:35.
138: 2-Daniel Kourakos, New Providence, bye
145: 1-Pete Hilburn, Roselle Park, bye
145: 8-Andrew Lipnick, Gov. Livingston, pin 9-Matt Diorio, Johnson, 2:33.
145: 3-Nick Rotondo, Westfield, bye
145: 4-Dein Rice, Scotch Plains, bye
145: 3-Nicko Capello, Cranford, bye
145: 6-Jeremy Randolph, Union, pin 11-Kevin Gonzalez, Plainfield, 4:37.
145: 7-Davon Jefferson, Rahway, pin Matt Disko, Brearley, 1:33.
145: 2-Dan Smith, New Providence, bye
152: 1-Derrick Washington, bye
152: 9-Vin Defillipo, Westfield, maj. dec. 8-TJ Nicholson, GL, 10-2.
152: 5-Dominick Pigna, Scotch Plains, pin 12-Victor Azerada, Union, 0:42.
152: 4-Brian Matthews, Roselle Park, pin 13-Brayden Provan, New Prov., 3:41.
152: 3-Jonniel Bazan, Elizabeth, bye
152: 11-Eoghan Savona, Brearley, pin 6-Louis Rotola, Linden, 3:29.
152: 7-Adam Desir, Rahway, dec. 10-Danny Kennedy, Summit, 4-1.
152: 2-Corey Birch, Cranford, bye
160: 1-John Balboni, bye
160: 9-Diego Rivera, Plainfield, dec. 8-Edward Huteras, Elizabeth, 9-5.
160: 5-Steve Loevsky, RP, maj. dec. 12-Jacob Jankow, New Prov., 12-2.
160: 4-Jimmy Dwyer, Cranford, pin 13-Matt Blanck, Scotch Plains, 3:22.
160: 3-Justin Becker, Rahway, bye
160: 6-Steve Paterno, Johnson, dec. 11-Gerson Gonzalez, Linden, 2-0.
160: 10-Brandon Paris, Union, dec. 7-Colm Dougherty, Summit, 14-8.
160: 2-Colin Barber, bye
170: 1-Joe Balboni, Brearley
170: 8-Rohan Phillip, Plainfield, dec. 9-Anthony Torres, Linden, 6-5.
170: 5-Dan Syzdek, Union, dec. 12-Kevin Frega, Westfield, 9-4.
170: 4-Joseph Ciarocca, New Providence, bye
170: 3-Phil Woods, Roselle Park, bye
170: 6-Aly Hafez, Rahway, pin 11-Will Howard, Summit, 1:35.
170: 7- Matt Ridge, Scotch Plains, pin 10-Mike Butkerait, GL, 0:37.
170: 2-Corey Markovitch, Cranford, bye
182: 1-Brian Bulger, Westfield
182: 8-Matt Russo, Cranford, dec. 9-Cesar Sammara, Rahway, 3-1.
182: 5-Alex Mirabella, Scotch Plains, bye
182: 4-Allen Nunez, Roselle Park, bye
182: 3-Luke Sammarone, New Providence, bye
182: 6-Khalil Burns, Linden, pin 11-Michael Basso, Johnson, 0:39.
182: 10-Jay Luciani, Gov. Livingston, pin 7-Mike Rojas, Elizabeth, 1:01.
182: 2-Jeff Velez, Brearley, bye
195: 1-Shane Haddad, Gov. Livingston
195: 8-Danny Van Brunt, Scotch Plains, pin 9-Daniel Yurick, Rahway, 1:35.
195: 5-Evaristo Diaz, Elizabeth, pin 12-Noel Ramos, Union , 2:43.
195: 4-Marc Signorello, Roselle Park, dec. 13-Mike Tisdall, Linden, 6-0.
195: 3-Rob Kessler, Cranford, bye
195: 6-Andrew Lameria, Johnson, pin 11-Kris Castaldo, New Providence, 3:46.
195: 10-Saviero Salfcas, Brearley, pin 7-Harold Esquivel, Summit, 3:06.
195: 2-Nick Arnold, Westfield, bye
220: 1-A.J. Iarussi, Summit, bye
220: 8-DJ McHugh, GL, dec. 9-Patrick Morris, New Providence, 5-2.
220: 5-Jorge Quintero, Union, dec. 12-Jordan Velez, Brearley, 6-4.
220: 4-Vinny Picarelli, Roselle Park, bye
220: 3-Ed Olenick, Johnson, bye
220: 6-David Tobe, Elizabeth, maj. dec. 11-Daniel Robinson, Rahway, 9-0.
220: 10-Cotter Spurlock, Westfield, pin 7-Chris Gonzalez, Linden, 2:42.
220: 2-Jeff Weiss, Cranford, bye
HWT: 1-Anthony Tufaro, Scotch Plains, bye
HWT: 8-Kyle Kania, Westfield, pin 9-John Elkoury, Cranford, 3:22.
HWT: 5-Joe Romero, Elizabeth, dec. 12-Ryan Baron, Johnson, 6-2.
HWT: 4-Kyle Brookens, Plainfield, pin 13-TJ Mcgowan, Gov. Livingston, 3:21.
HWT: 3-Stephen Bremer, New Providence, bye
HWT: 6-Kris Lewis, Union, pin 11-Max Burgos, Linden, 3:45.
HWT: 10-Rasheed Banks, Brearley, dec. 7-Max Guerrier, Roselle Park, 4-1.
HWT: 2-Stephan Davis, Rahway, bye
106: Hugo Parraga, Roselle Park
113: Nick DeMarco, Brearley
120: Jon Mele, Gov. Livingston
126: Charlie Hudak, Johnson
132: Gavin Murray, Cranford
138: John Coler, Johnson
145: Pete Hilburn, Roselle Park
152: Derrick Washington, Plainfield
160: John Balboni, Brearley
170: Joe Balboni, Brearley
182: Brian Bulger, Westfield
195: Shane Haddad, Gov. Livingston
220: A.J. Iarussi, Summit
HWT: Anthony Tufaro, Scotch Plains