3-time defending champion Cranford and Roselle Park among favorites for 43rd annual wrestling Union County Tournament; To take place Jan. 13 at Union High School

UNION – Cranford will clash at Roselle Park next Wednesday night – Jan. 17 – in a key Union County Conference-Watchung Division wrestling match that will be sure to draw much local interest.

Perhaps Union County’s top two teams will put on a show wrestling fans will not want to miss.

Before that, however, there is the 43rd annual Union County Tournament set to take place all day Saturday at Union High School’s Louis J. Rettino Gymnasium. According to Union’s athletic schedule, competition is to commence 8:30 a.m.

The finals usually get under way roughly around 4:30 p.m.

Cranford is seeking its fourth straight county championship. Roselle Park finished second last year after third-place finishes behind Governor Livingston in 2016 and 2015. Roselle Park was the champion in 2014 and 2013.

Cranford followed last year’s third straight UCT crown with an immediate 46-21 home win over Roselle Park. The Cougars finished 21-1 after falling to Delsea in the Group 3 semifinals.

Cranford is presently 5-1 overall record and 1-0 in the Watchung Division. The Cougars have lost only at Phillipsburg 52-18 on Jan. 6. All five wins have come by double digits.

Last year, Cranford was the only team that beat the Stateliners, who eventually went on to win the Group 4 state championship. Cranford beat P-Burg 36-32 at home.

Roselle Park is 9-1 overall, with its only loss at Watchung Hills 45-19 on Jan. 6. The Panthers have not wrestled a Watchung Division opponent yet. Six wins have come by double digits and another by nine points.

Standout Cranford wrestlers include senior Dylan Budnik at 195/220 and junior Rob Schork at 220/heavyweight. Luke DiGiovanni at 126 and Dean Smith at 132 were victorious for the Cougars vs. P-Burg, in addition to Budnik at 195 and Schork at 220.

Roselle Park boasts a state-ranked wrestler in junior Mark Montgomery, eighth at 126. He began the week with a record of 4-0.

Montgomery is one of five wrestlers who won UCT titles last year that were not seniors. Montgomery won at 113.

Other returning champions include Scotch Plains senior Sam Wustefeld, Westfield sophomore Luke Hoerle and Rahway junior Rhise Royster. Rahway’s Sabri Murray won the 120 title last year as a junior, but is not on this year’s Rahway roster. He also won the 106 crown in 2016.

Wustefeld won at 182 last year, Hoerle at 106 and Royster at 126. Hoerle was the lowest-seeded champion, winning his weight class as the sixth seed.

Wustefeld, Hoerle, Royster and Montgomery were first-time champions a year ago.

As of Jan, 6, Wustefeld, wrestling at 195 and 220, sported a 6-0 record. He is presently the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the state at 195.

Hoerle was 3-0, wrestling at 113 and 120, and Royster was 2-0, wrestling at 145.

Cranford does not have a returning champion. The Cougars lost to graduation their first 4-time champion Tom DiGiovanni, 3-time champ Chris Scorese, 1-time champion and 4-time finalist Anthony Capece and last year’s 170 champion Vince Concina, the Outstanding Wrestler for the upper weights (152-heavyweight).

Host Union graduated all five of its place-winners from a year ago, including 152 champion Nick Zuena.

Winning matches for the Farmers in Wednesday’s 57-24 loss at Plainfield included senior Elijah Waldron at 132, sophomore Giovanni Zuena at 160, senior Eliab Evangelista at 182 and senior Bobby Emanuel at 220.

Emanuel takes a 7-2 record into UCT competition, Zuena 4-1, Waldron 4-4 and Evangelista 2-5.

Mountain Division leader Linden has three grapplers back who placed in 2017. Michael Afolabi is 5-1 at 182 and 195 and last year was fourth at 170, John Ojeda is 5-0 at 113 and 120 and was fifth at 106 and Alex Dorce is 5-1 at 160 and was sixth at 152.

 

UCC-WATCHUNG DIVISION STANDINGS:

1-Westfield (3-0) (3-3 overall)

2-Cranford (1-0) (5-1)

3-Roselle Park (0-0) (9-1)

4-Gov. Livingston (1-1) (7-1)

5-Scotch Plains (0-1) (7-3)

6-Elizabeth (1-2) (3-3)

7-Union (0-2) (5-4)

 

UCC-MOUNTAIN DIVISION STANDINGS:

1-Linden (3-0) (5-1)

2-Rahway (2-0) (5-1)

3-Plainfield (1-1) (4-5)

Brearley (1-1) (3-7)

5-Johnson (0-1) (2-6)

6-New Providence (0-2) (0-8)

7-Summit (1-3) (3-4)

 

2017 UCT FINALS:

TEAMS: 1-Cranford 248.5. 2-Roselle Park 183.5. 3-Westfield 153.

4-Rahway 118. 5-Scotch Plains 114. 6-Gov. Livingston 99.

7-Union 94.5. 8-New Providence 90. 9-Summit 73.5. 10-Linden 63.

11-Johnson 56. 12-Elizabeth 51, 13-Brearley 43. 14-Plainfield 4.

 

INDIVIDUALS:

160: 1-Brian McGovern, Cranford, pin 3-Sebastian Iakovche, Johnson, 2:54.

170: 1-Vince Concina, Cranford, maj. dec. 2-Quinn Haddad, GL, 11-4.

182: 1-Sam Wustefeld, Scotch Plains, pin 2-Devin Hilburn, R. Park, 3:04.

195: 1-Jack Miller, Westfield, dec. 2-Turner Haddad, GL, 3-2.

220: 2-Phil Ricca, Westfield, pin 5-Vinny Figueredo, Roselle Park, 1:46.

HWT: 1-Alex Esposito, Cranford, dec. Dan Tomlinson, GL, 3-1 (OT).

106: 6-Luke Hoerle, Westfield, maj. dec. 1-Gabe Leo, Roselle Park, 10-3.

113: 1-Mark Montgomery, Roselle Park, pin 3-Chris Dalmau, Brearley, 0:33.

120: 2-Sabri Murray, Rahway, dec. 1-Anthony Capece, Cranford, 3-1.

126: 1-Rhise Royster, Rahway, dec. Josh Mejia, Roselle Park, 4-0.

132: 1-Chris Scorese, Cranford, dec. Chris Fuschetto, Johnson, 7-2.

138: 1-Tom DiGiovanni, Cranford, dec. 2-Philip Angelo, Summit, 2-1.

145: 3-Michael Acitelli, Summit, dec. Rene Perez, Roselle Park, 7-4.

152: 2-Nick Zuena, Union, dec. 4-Joe Delia, New Providence, 8-6.

 

TEAMS WITH CHAMPIONS (7):

CRANFORD (5): Brian McGovern 160, Vince Concina 170,

Alex Esposito heavyweight, Chris Scorese 132, Tom DiGiovanni 138.

WESTFIELD (3): Jack Miller 195, Phil Ricca 220, Luke Hoerle 106.

RAHWAY (2): Sabri Murray 120, Rhise Royster 126.

SCOTCH PLAINS (1): Sam Wustefeld 182.

ROSELLE PARK (1): Mark Montgomery 113.

SUMMIT (1): Michael Acitelli 145.

UNION (1): Nick Zuena 152.

 

TEAM CHAMPIONS

FROM 2017 TO 1990:

2017: Cranford

2016: Cranford

2015: Cranford

2014: Roselle Park

2013: Roselle Park

2012: Brearley

2011: Brearley

2010: Brearley

2009: Brearley

2008: Brearley

2007: Brearley

2006: Brearley

2005: Rahway

2004: Scotch Plains

2003: Roselle Park

2002: Roselle Park

2001: Roselle Park

2000: Roselle Park

1999: Roselle Park

1998: Roselle Park

1997: Roselle Park

1996: Rahway

1995: Rahway

1994: Union

1993: Roselle Park

1992: Roselle Park

1991: Union

1990: Westfield

 

4-TIME CHAMPIONS (8):

2 from Union, 2 from Roselle Park,

1 from Rahway, 2 from Brearley, 1 from Cranford

 

Larry Guarino, Union, class of 1988

1985: 158 final: maj. dec. Ken Weeks of Summit 13-2

1986: 158 final: defeated Tony Coleman of Westfield

1987: 170 final: dec. Jim O’Donnell of Cranford 4-0

1988: 171 final: defeated Randy Wojcik of Westfield

 

Dave Bubnowski, Union, class of 1996

1993 – won championship at 103

1994 – won championship at 103

1995: 121 final: dec. Bill Crecca of Roselle Park 5-4

1996 – won championship at 135

 

Craig Frost, Roselle Park, class of 1999

1996: 103 final: dec. Shawn Stueber of Rahway 10-4.

1997: 112 final: maj. dec. Rich Sachsel of New Providence, 21-8.

1998: 130 final: dec. Shawn Stueber of Rahway, 6-0.

1999: 135 final: pinned Jeff Bubnowski of Union in 2:48.

 

Dan Appello, Roselle Park, class of 2002

1999: 103 final: dec. Dare Ajibade of Union , 8-3

2000: 112 final: tech. fall Tom McDermott of Johnson 21-6 (3:08).

2001: 119 final: maj. dec. William Banks of Elizabeth, 17-5.

2002: 125 final: dec. William Banks of Elizabeth 11-4.

 

Darrion Caldwell, Rahway, class of 2006

2003: 103 final: pin Rob Mench of Westfield in 1:05.

2004: 119 final: pin Ross Baldwin of New Providence in 2:44.

2005: 135 final: pin Steve Mineo of Scotch Plains in :54.

2006: 160 final: pin Hany Elshiekh of Brearley in 1:26.

 

Jesse Boyden, Brearley, class of 2008

2005: 215 final: dec. Julio Loperena of Linden, 10-4.

2006: 215 final: pin Trevor Martin of New Providence in :43.

2007: 215 final: major dec. Richard Tabor of Elizabeth, 12-3.

2008: 215 final: dec. Mike Lefano of Roselle Park, 5-2.

 

Kenny Knapp, Brearley, class of 2009

2006: 103 final: pin Juan Herrera of Rahway, 3:46.

2007: 103 final: pin Anthony Casselli of Roselle Park, 4:23.

2008: 119 final: pin Anthony Zangari of Roselle Park, 3:40.

2009: 130 final: maj. dec. John Barnes of Westfield, 9-1.

 

Tom DiGiovanni, Cranford, class of 2017

2014: 113 final: dec. Philip Angelo, Summit, 2-1

2015: 120 final: dec. Carmine Boccellari, New Providence, 5-0.

2016: 120 final: dec. Nic Mele, Gov. Livingston, 4-3

(3-3 UTB – Ultimate Tie Breaker)

2017: 138 final: dec. Philip Angelo, Summit, 2-1

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