Now the competition hits an all-time high.
Wrestling in Atlantic City this weekend for high school grapplers won’t mean trying to get out of the way of a senior citizen heading to the slots.
It will mean, specificially for 15 Union County residents, that their ultimate goal is right in front of them.
Winnning a state championship!
Fourteen wrestlers from Union County high schools and Clark resident Brenden Calas, a senior at Seton Hall Prep and already a two-time state champion, advanced out of Region 3 this weekend at Union and qualified for the NJSIAA Tournament that will commence Friday, continue Saturday and conclude next Sunday at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall.
In addition to wrestleback rounds that will begin Saturday, the pre-quarterfinals are Friday night, the quarterfinals and semifinals Saturday and the finals Sunday.
Here’s a list of Union County’s best who are headed to Atlantic City:
REGION 3 CHAMPIONS:
Brenden Calas of Clark, Seton Hall Prep, 120
Joe Balboni, Brearley, 170
Brian Bulger, Westfield, 182
Shane Haddad, Gov. Livingston, 195
A.J. Iarussi, Summit, 220
Anthony Tufaro, Scotch Plains, heavyweight
Balboni, a junior, and Tufaro, a senior, are repeat champions, each winning their second Region 3 titles and at the same weight class.
Calas also won his second Region 3 crown, with his first coming at 103 in 2011.
Calas won state championships at 103 in 2011 and at 113 in 2012.
Haddad, a senior, is GL’s first Region 3 champion since Tim Marcantonio won the 160 pound weight class in 2000.
REGION 3 FINALISTS:
Jon Mele, Gov. Livingston, 120
Colin Barber, Westfield, 152
John Balboni, Brearley, 160
Jeff Velez, Brearley , 182
Jeff Weiss, Cranford, 220
REGION 3 THIRD-PLACE QUALIFIERS:
Nick Tekula, Linden, 113
Gavin Murray, Cranford, 132
Phil Woods, Roselle Park, 170
Corey Markovitz, Cranford, 182
Brearley (3): Joe Balboni first at 170, John Balboni second at 160, Jeff Velez second at 182.
Cranford (3): Jeff Weiss second at 220, Gavin Murray third at 132, Corey Markovitz third at 182.
Gov. Livingston (2): Shane Haddad first at 195, Jon Mele second at 220.
Westfield (2): Brian Bulger first at 182, Colin Barber second at 152.
Summit (1): A.J. Iarussi first at 220.
Scotch Plains (1); Anthony Tufaro first at heavyweight.
Roselle Park (1): Phil Woods third at 170.
Linden (1): Nick Tekula third at 113.
REGION 3 FINALS AT UNION
106: Ty Agaisse, Delbarton, dec. Requir van de Merwe, Mountain Lakes, 3-1.
113: Nick Farro, Delbarton, maj. dec. Daniel Hedden, South Plainfield, 12-4.
120: Brenden Calas, Seton Prep, dec. Jon Mele, Gov. Livingston, 3-1 (OT).
126: Corey Stasenko, South Plain., dec. Mike Magaldo, Watchung Hills, 5-2.
132: Scott DelVecchio, South Plainfield, dec. Nick Anderson, Delbarton, 5-1.
138: Anthony Ashnault, South Plain., pin Matt Coppola, Watch. Hills, 4:40.
145: Troy Heilmann, South Plain., pin Anthony DiRosa, Watchung Hills, 1:57.
152: Dylan Painton, South Plain., dec. Colin Barber, Westfield, 2-1 (2OT).
160: Josef Johnson, Delbarton, dec. John Balboni, Brearley, 12-6.
170: Joe Balboni, Brearley, dec. Mike Carroccia, Watchung Hills, 7-2.
182: Brian Bulger, Westfield, dec. Jeff Velez, Brearley, 6-4.
195: Shane Haddad, GL, maj. dec. Nicholas D’Uva, Parsippany Hills, 14-4.
220: Anthony Iarussi, Summit, dec. Jeff Weiss, Cranford, 3-1 (OT).
HWT: Anthony Tufaro, Scotch Plains, dec. Rodney Cenat, Columbia, 5-3
106: Casey Egan, Seton Hall Prep
113: Nick Tekula, Linden
120: Christian Innarella, Delbarton
126: Gennaro Cuccolo, Hanover Park
132: Gavin Murray, Cranford
138: Christian Bassolino, Hanover Park
145: Dan Reed, Delbarton
152: Anthony Bassolino, Hanover Park
160: Inan Sikel, South Plainfield
170: Phil Woods, Roselle Park
182: Corey Markovitch, Cranford
195: Nick Haboj, Madison
220: Tory Russell, South Plainfield
HWT: Nicholas LaShell, Hanover Park
– JR PARACHINI