Union standout senior heavyweight Brown captures first Region 3 title; Will compete in 2nd straight NJSIAA Tournament

8 Cranford grapplers advance, including repeat 182 champ Cappello; Undefeated Gazaway of New Providence won at 145

PHOTO COURTESY OF GENE NANN - Union wrestling coach Dino DeBellonia, at left, was named Union County and District 10 coach of the year this season. Standout senior heavyweight David Brown was second in the Union County Tournament and first in District 10 and Region 3. Brown advanced to the NJSIAA Tournament for the second straight season.
PHOTO COURTESY OF GENE NANN – Union wrestling coach Dino DeBellonia, at left, was named Union County and District 10 coach of the year this season. Standout senior heavyweight David Brown was second in the Union County Tournament and first in District 10 and Region 3. Brown advanced to the NJSIAA Tournament for the second straight season.

Union standout senior wrestler David Brown experienced what it was like to make it to the NJSIAA Tournament last year and grapple with opponents from the other end of the state that he probably never heard of before.

Brown lost both of his state tourney matches last year, but still produced a solid 33-13 record that included a second-place finish in District 10, a third-place showing in Region 3 and Brown also became Union’s first wrestler to reach the states in 10 years.

This time Brown enters Atlantic City as one of the state’s eight region heavyweight champions after capturing his first Region 3 title in his own gym this past weekend.

Brown also won District 10 for the first time and has surpassed last year’s win total, with a record at the moment of 36-5.

Brown, the fourth seed on the bottom side of the heavyweight bracket for this weekend’s 83rd annual NJSIAA Tournament at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall, will face the same wrestler who ended his season a year ago, fifth-seeded Keith Swartley of Cinnaminson.

Brown and Swartley will clash in Friday night’s pre-quarterfinals. Last year, after Brown lost his first match by pin to Calen West of Delran in 3:21, Brown fell to Swartley by pin in 1:41 the following day in the first round of the wrestlebacks.

“David has shown improvement and he now knows the Atlantic City atmosphere and how it operates,” Union head coach Dino DeBellonia said. “The kid from Cinnaminson, we know his techniques and we will try to build off that and try to turn the tables.”

Brown is Union’s first Region 3 champion since senior Mike Lodato won the heavyweight crown in 2001. Brown, as the second seed, first pinned seventh-seeded Antoine Pugh of Linden in 5:49 in the quarterfinals and then edged third-seeded Kevin Doran of Cranford 1-0 in the semifinals. Doran also advanced to the NJSIAA Tournament after placing third.

Brown then defeated fourth-seeded Michael Kellstrom of Chatham 7-4 in the final. It was the third time the two clashed this season, with Kellstrom winning in the regular season and then Brown in the District 10 final where Brown was the second seed and Kellstrom the top seed. Brown won the D10 matchup 4-1 on a tie-breaker. He lost to Kellstrom 3-2 on Jan. 9.

“After winning District 10 David’s confidence level went up,” DeBellonia said. “He took Region 3 one match at a time and wrestled smart. We’ll do the same thing this weekend, taking it one match at a time.”

Union County had two other Region 3 champions, including seniors Niko Cappello of Cranford at 182 and undefeated Tyler Gazaway of New Providence at 145.

Cappello and Gazaway won their second and second straight Region 3 championships. Cappello, one of eight Cranford wrestlers to advance to this weekend’s NJSIAA Tournament, repeated as the 182 champion. Gazaway won at 138 a year ago.

Cappello was also one of four Union County wrestlers to earn a medal in last year’s NJSIAA Tournament. At 182, Cappello placed seventh and finished a fine junior campaign at 35-5.

Union County has not had a state champion the past four (2012-2015) seasons and only one – Christian Barber of Westfield at 152 in 2011 – six of the past seven (2009-2015).

Gazaway enters this weekend’s season-ending competition with a 39-0 record. He is also his school’s all-time winningest wrestler with 137 lifetime victories over four seasons.

Cappello and Gazaway are also two of five Union County wrestlers who reached 100 career wins this season. The other three are Dayton student Saverio Salcfas who wrestles for Brearley’s team, Chris Gural of Roselle Park and Kyle Gregorio of Johnson.

The NJSIAA Tournament at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City commences Friday night with preliminaries first at 5 p.m., followed by the pre-quarterfinals.

Competition continues Saturday with Session 1 including Wrestleback Round No. 1 at 10 a.m., followed by the quarterfinals and Wrestleback Round No. 2.

Saturday’s Session 2 includes the semifinals and Wrestleback Round No. 3 at 5 p.m., followed by Wrestleback Round No. 4.

Competition concludes Sunday with Session 1 including Wrestleback Round No. 5 at 10 a.m. and the consolation finals to follow.

Sunday’s Session 2 has awards and presentations to start at 2:30 p.m. and a Parade of Medalists scheduled for 2:50 p.m.

The finals are scheduled to commence at 3 p.m.

 

15 WRESTLERS FROM UNION COUNTY SCHOOLS

WHO WILL BE COMPETING IN THE NJSIAA TOURNAMENT:

 

106:

Preliminaries – Top side of the bracket

Chris Gural, Roselle Park, vs. 2-Dante Minnino, Gateway

 

113:

Preliminaries – Bottom side of the bracket

7-Anthony Capece, Cranford, vs. Victor Lopez, West Orange

 

120:

Preliminaries – Top side of the bracket

Tom DiGiovanni, Cranford, vs. 8-Ian Tolotti, Dumont

7-Nicholas Mele, Gov. Livingston, vs. Jordan Robinson, Garfield

 

132:

Preliminaries – Bottom side of the bracket

3-Chris Scorese, Cranford, vs. Matt Kolonia, Delaware Valley

 

138:

Preliminaries – Bottom side of the bracket

Mike Nigro, Cranford, vs. 4-Benjamin Brismin, Pascack Hills

 

145:

Pre-quarterfinals – Top side of the bracket

3-Tyler Gazaway, New Providence, vs. 6-Brian Meyer, Phillipsburg

Preliminaries – Bottom side of the bracket

5-Vince Concina, Cranford, vs. Timothy Suter, Buena

 

160:

Preliminaries – Top side of the bracket

7-Jarek Gozdieski, Westfield, vs. Derek Ciavarro, North Hunterdon

 

170:

Preliminaries – Bottom side of the bracket

Sam Wustefeld, Scotch Plains, vs. 4-Shane Sosinsky, Northern Highlands

 

182:

Pre-quarterfinals – Bottom side of the bracket

2-Niko Cappello, Cranford, vs. 7-Christopher Stout, Hamilton West/Jake Brown, Pope John

 

195:

Preliminaries – Bottom side of the bracket

Saverio Salcfas, Brearley, vs. 1-Joseph McKenzie, Wall

 

220:

Preliminaries – Top side of the bracket

8-Alex Esposito, Cranford, vs. Todd Eckert, Roxbury

 

HWT:

Pre-quarterfinals – Bottom side of the bracket

4-David Brown, Union, vs. 5-Keith Swartley, Cinnaminson

Preliminaries – Top side of the bracket

Kevin Doran, Cranford, vs. 2-William Oxley, Christian Brothers

 

 

THE LAST UNION COUNTY STATE CHAMPIONS

AT THEIR HIGH SCHOOLS:

 

WESTFIELD: 152 – Christian Barber – 2011

 

BREARLEY: 215 – Jessie Boyden – 2008

 

RAHWAY: 152 – Darrion Caldwell – 2006

 

CRANFORD: 171 – Pat Hogan – 2006

 

NEW PROVIDENCE: 140 – Donnie DeFilippis – 1999

 

GOV. LIVINGSTON: 130 – Rick Ortega – 1993

 

UNION: HWT – Mike Ferroni – 1988

 

SUMMIT: 149 – Enzo Catullo – 1985

 

JOHNSON REGIONAL: 158 – Rich Zavali – 1978

 

PLAINFIELD: 130 – Ed Bailey – 1968

 

SCOTCH PLAINS: 136 – Rudy Lanza – 1967

 

SPRINGFIELD REGIONAL: 106 – Jerry Sachsel – 1956

 

ROSELLE PARK: 157 – Joe Yeats – 1953

 

DAYTON REGIONAL: 134 – Tony Davis – 1949

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON: 155 – Joe Simon – 1941

 

 

NJSIAA TOURNAMENT

At Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City

 

FRIDAY, MARCH 4:

Preliminaries, 5 p.m.

Pre-quarterfinals to follow

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 5:

SESSION 1

Wrestleback No. 1, 10 a.m.

Quarterfinals and Wrestleback No. 2 to follow

SESSION 2

Semifinals and Wrestleback No. 3, 5 p.m.

Wrestleback No. 4 to follow

 

SUNDAY, MARCH 6:

SESSION 1

Wrestleback No. 5, 10 a.m.

Consolation finals to follow

SESSION 2

Awards and presentations, 2:30 p.m.

Parade of Medalists, 2:50 p.m.

Finals, 3 p.m.

 

 

REGION 3 AT UNION

FINALS:

106: Joe Heilmann, South Plainfield, dec. Domenic DiFrancescantonio, Hanover Park, 8-3

113: Patrick Glory, Delbarton, pin Anthony Capece, Cranford, 1:26.

120: Nicholas Raimo, Hanover Park, tech. fall Nicholas Mele, Gov. Livingston, 22-7 (3:49).

126: Ty Agaisse Delbarton, maj. dec. P.J. Gohn, Parsippany, 15-4.

132: Nick Farro, Delbarton, dec. Chris Scorese, Cranford, 10-4.

138: Kyle Bythell, South Plainfield, dec. Jeff Johnson, Middlesex, 4-0.

145: Tyler Gazaway, New Providence pin Vince Concina, Cranford, 2:40.

152: Daniel Hedden, South Plainfield, dec. Aidan Monteverdi, Seton Hal Prep, 7-4.

160: T.J. Calas, Seton Hall Prep, pin Jarek Gozdieski, Westfield, 1:03.

170: Cole Kreshpane, Delbarton, injury default, Anthony Oliveri, Hanover Park.

182: Niko Cappello, Cranford, dec. Christian Gonzalez, South Plainfield, 5-3, sudden victory.

195: Kevin Ambicki, Middlesex, pin Thomas Rigas, Whippany Park, 5:24.

220: Zach DelVecchio, South Plainfield, pin Alex Esposito, Cranford, 3:42.

HWT: David Brown, Union, dec. Michael Kellstrom, Chatham, 7-4.

 

THIRD-PLACE QUALIFIERS:

106: Chris Gural, Roselle Park

113: Jake Giordano, South Plainfield

120: Tom DiGiovanni, Cranford

126: Lou Raimo, Hanover Park

132: Sean Conley, Hanover Park

138: Mike Nigro, Cranford

145: AJ Lonski, Delbarton

152: Nick Anselmi, Delbarton

160: Luke Anselmi, Delbarton

170: Sam Wustefeld, Scotch Plains

182: Louis Castellano, Delbarton

195: Saverio Salcfas, Brearley

220: Jack Sweeney, Middlesex

HWT: Kevin Doran, Cranford

 

FROM UNION COUNTY SCHOOLS:

FIRST (Champions – 3):

145: Tyler Gazaway, New Providence, senior

182: Niko Cappello, Cranford, senior

HWT: David Brown, Union, senior

SECOND (6):

113: Anthony Capece, Cranford

120: Nicholas Mele, Gov. Livingston

132: Chris Scorese, Cranford

145: Vince Concina, Cranford

160: Jarek Gozdieski, Westfield

220: Alex Esposito, Cranford

THIRD (6):

106: Chris Gural, Roselle Park, senior

120: Tom DiGiovanni, Cranford

138: Mike Nigro, Cranford

170: Sam Wustefeld, Scotch Plains

195: Saverio Salcfas, Brearley

HWT: Kevin Doran, Cranford

 

TEAM-BY-TEAM BREAKDOWN:

 

CRANFORD (8)

First: Niko Cappello, 182.

Second: Anthony Capece, 113; Chris Scorese, 132;

Vince Concina 145; Alex Esposito, 220.

Third: Tom DiGiovanni, 120; Mike Nigro, 138;

Kevin Doran, HWT.

 

NEW PROVIDENCE (1)

First: Tyler Gazaway, 145.

 

UNION (1)

First: David Brown, HWT.

 

GOV. LIVINGSTON (1)

Second: Nicholas Mele, 120.

 

WESTFIELD (1)

Second: Jarek Gozdieski, 160

 

ROSELLE PARK (1)

Third: Chris Gural, 106

 

SCOTCH PLAINS (1)

Third: Sam Wustefeld, 170

 

BREARLEY (1)

Third: Saverio Salcfas, 195

 

*Seniors Gural and Salcfas reached

100 career victories in Region 3.

 

 

UNION COUNTY WRESTLERS

WHO REACHED 100 WINS THIS YEAR:

 

Niko Cappello, Cranford, senior

 

Tyler Gazaway, New Providence, senior

 

Saverio Salcfas, Brearley-Dayton, senior

 

Kyle Gregorio, Johnson, senior

 

Chris Gural, Roselle Park, senior

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