Union head coach Dino DeBellonia had one goal in mind for his wrestling team going into last weekend’s District 10 Tournament at Millburn.
That was simply to improve upon last year’s third-place finish, which was a pretty good jump from finishing ninth and second-to-last just two years ago.
That meant Union had to jump over either four-time defending champ Roselle Park or Essex County power Seton Hall Prep, which was second a year ago.
Although the Farmers were not able to get past the Panthers, who won the title for a fifth consecutive season, they were able to out-point Seton Hall Prep for an improved second-place finish.
Not only did Union improve upon last year’s finish and meet the goal DeBellonia set, but the Farmers did so this time with three champions.
When Union was third last year, Union did not have any champions, but had two second-place and four third-place Region 3 qualifiers.
Roselle Park finished first with 188.5 points and also had thre champions.
Union was second at 165 and Seton Hall Prep, which had the most champions at four, was third at 159.
“We had a very good showing,” DeBellonia said.
Irvington also scored more than 100 points, finishing fourth with 111.
Winning titles for Union were junior Nick Zuena at 145, senior Frank Weber at 195 and senior David Brown at heavyweight. All were first-time district champs.
The top-seed at 145, Zuena blanked Danny Young of Seton Hall Prep 2-0 in the final.
Weber, coming back from knee surgery, shut out Sam Gladson of Millburn in the 195 final by the score of 3-0.
Brown, the second seed, defeated top-seeded Michael Kellstrom of Chatham 4-1 on a tiebreaker in the heavweight championship match.
Zuena earned the third seed at 145 for this week’s Region 3 Tournament, which commenced at Union last night, continues tomorrow night and concludes Saturday. His record going into the regions was 32-7.
Weber is the sixth seed at 195 and began the regions at 14-4.
Brown is the second seed at heavyweight and began Region 3 competition with a record of 33-5.
The top seed at heavyweight is Governor Livingston junior Daniel Tomlinson, who captured District 11 and who began the week with a record of 31-1. Tomlinson defeated Brown 3-2 in last month’s Union County Tournament final at Union.
Advancing with second-place finishes for Union were Vincent Simonetti at 132 and Jacob McKnight at 160; and with third-place finishes were Michael Matullo at 113, Kyjuan Hutchins at 120 and Victor Azeredo at 152.
“If you place among the top three and advance out of Region 3, that really says something,” DeBellonia said. “With teams like Hanover Park, Parsippany, South Plainfield, Cranford, Roselle Park and Delbarton, the competition is very strong.”
Roselle Park’s three D10 champions included Chris Gural at 106, Mark Montgomery at 113, Will Ferdinando at 170.
Gural earned the Outstanding Wrestler award, capturing his second straight District 10 title and at a lower weight. Gural won at 113 last year, defeating Hutchins in the final.
Both of Gural’s wins were by pin in the first two minutes.
Roselle Park’s Craig Frost, a 1999 Roselle Park graduate and former standout grappler for the Panthers, was named Assistant Coach of the Year.
DeBellonia, who was named Union County Coach of the Year for the first time this year, was named District 10 Coach of the Year for the second straight season.
Also advancing for Roselle Park with second-place finishes were Jon A. Mejia at 120, Rene Perez at 138, Joe Devito at 152 and David Forstenshausler at 182.
COUGARS TOTALLY DOMINATE DISTRICT 11
Domination means that a team wins eight of the 14 titles, finishes second in two of the six it did not win and advances 13 of a possible 14 wrestlers to region competition.
Domination means Cranford in this instance.
The Cougars not only captured District 11 at Westfield for the third straight season, but finished with 254.5 points, which was over 1o0 ahead of second-place Scotch Plains, which concluded with 137.
Winning championships for Cranford were senior Niko Cappello at 182 – he became one of 18 new 4-time district winners around the state – Tom DiGiovanni, Chris Scorese, Vince Concina, Anthony Capece, Brian McGovern, Alex Esposito and Kevin Doran.
DiGiovanni, Scorese and Concina won their third straight district championships. Concina won his second with Cranford and also won a District 19 title two years ago as a Bishop Ahr grappler.
Doran, like Cappello a member of Cranford’s 12-0 North 2, Group 3 state championship football team this past fall, was named District 11’s Outstanding Wrestler.
Doran, a senior, defeated Linden’s Antwon Pugh 5-3 in the heavyweight final and entered Region 3 as the sixth seed in that weight class and with a record of 20-9.
SUMMIT’S ANGELO WINS 3RD DISTRICT 10 TITLE
Phillip Angelo of Summit and Aidan Monteverdi of Seton Hall Prep both won their third District 10 championship. Angelo, the 132 winner, previously won at 120 in 2015 and at 113 in 2014. Monteverdi, the 152 champ, previously won at 138 last year and at 120 two years ago.
Repeating as champions were Gural, Fedinando, Summit’s Michael Acitelli, the 138 winner; Millburn’s Dylan Saggio, the 120 winner; and Seton Hall Prep’s T.J. Calas, who won at 160.