Roselle Park, Cranford 3 home wins away from reaching Pine Belt Arena for group state championships; Union County’s 2 best wrestling teams earn North 2 top seeds

Sectional competition begins Feb. 5, continues Feb. 7 and concludes Feb. 9

PHOTO COURTESY OF GENE NANN – Roselle Park, top, and Cranford are top seeds in their North 2 sections for next week’s (Feb. 5-9) state tournament wrestling. Here, Roselle Park’s Mark Montgomery defeated Cranford’s Luke DiGiovanni in the UCT’s 126 final at Union.

Cranford is a defending champion and earlier this year captured its fourth consecutive Union County Tournament title.

Roselle Park is seeking its first sectional title in four years. Earlier this year – after being edged by two points (187-185) by Cranford for the UCT crown at Union – the Panthers came back four days later to defeat the Cougars 33-25 at home in a Union County Conference-Watchung Division matchup.

They are Union County’s top two teams.

They are both three home wins away from winning sectional titles and advancing to Toms River High School’s Pine Belt Arena to compete for group state championships.

Cranford and Roselle Park earned top seeds in North 2 today (Tuesday, Jan. 30) for next week’s sectional wrestling. The first round is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 5, the semifinals for Wednesday, Feb. 7 and the finals for Friday, Feb. 9.

Sectional champions advance to the group semifinals that will be competed at Toms River High School’s Pine Belt Arena in Toms River on Sunday, Feb. 11. The finals will also be contested there that day once the semifinal matches are completed.

Cranford – presently with a record of 12-5 and a mark of 4-1 for second place in the UCC’s Watchung Division – is the North 2, Group 3 defending champion. The Cougars won their third sectional title last year – all in North 2, Group 3 – with their first two coming in 1985 and 1986.

During last year’s 21-1 campaign, Cranford was also the top seed in North 2, Group 3. The Cougars defeated Irvington 64-9, Nutley 60-10 and then Warren Hills 33-22 to capture the sectional championship. Cranford was then defeated by South Jersey champion Delsea 39-25 in the Group 3 semifinals. Three-peat Central Jersey champion South Plainfield defeated North 1 champ Sparta in the semifinals and then Delsea in the final to win the Group 3 state championship for the second straight season and for the eighth time overall. South Plainfield also won the Group 2 state championship in 2000 and 2007 for a total of 10 group state championships in its rich program history.

Cranford has not yet won a group state championship. The closest the Cougars came were in 1985 – losing to Voorhees in the final – and in 1986 – falling to Brick Memorial in the title match.

Cranford’s final regular season match is at Westfield Feb. 2 at 7 p.m.

Here is the North 2, Group 3 field for 2018:

SEEDS: 1-Cranford. 2-Voorhees. 3-Warren Hills. 4-West Essex.

5-Gov. Livingston. 6-Morris Hills. 7-Lyndhurst. 8-Leonia.


First Round:

5-Gov. Livingston at 4-West Essex

8-Leonia at 1-Cranford

6-Morris Hills at 3-Warren Hills

7-Lyndhurst at 2-Voorhees


Semifinals at higher seeds


Final at higher seed


Group semifinals, finals

at Toms River North’s Pine Belt Arena

Cranford sectional titles (3) – all in North 2, Group 3: 1985, 1986, 2017.

Roselle Park – presently 19-1 overall and 4-0 for first place in the UCC’s Watchung Division – last won a sectional title in 2014 when the Panthers captured North 2, Group 1 for the record 18th time. Roselle Park has also won four sectional titles in Central Jersey, Group 1 for a total of 22 – not 23, which has been reported other places several times. Roselle Park won North 2, Group 1 a record eight straight years from 1984-1991.

Roselle Park has won two group state championships, both in Group 1. The Panthers defeated Paulsboro in the first Group 1 state championship match in 1982 and then shared the 1997 crown with Paulsboro when the teams wrestled to a 33-33 tie in that year’s title match, each team winning seven bouts.

Roselle Park will clinch the UCC’s Watchung Division championship outright by beating Elizabeth at home Wednesday night, Jan. 31. The Panthers will conclude their regular season schedule with their final Watchung Division match at Union Friday night, Feb. 2.

Roselle Park’s lone loss this year was to Watchung Hills 45-19 in one of the three matches they wrestled in the Jan. 6 Paul Finn Tournament at Millburn. Roselle Park defeated Cinnaminson 38-29 and Plainfield 62-15 that day. After those three matches, Roselle Park has gone on to win its last 12.

Roselle Park sectional titles (22) – 18 in North 2, Group 1 and 4 in Central Jersey, Group 1:

North 2, Group 1 (18): 1980 (the first one), 1981, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989,

1990, 1991, 1993, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2010, 2014.

Central Jersey, Group 1 (4): 2004, 2008, 2009, 2011.

Roselle Park is tied with Camden Catholic for the fourth-most at 22. Paulsboro has won the most with 37, Phillipsburg is second with 36 and High Point third with 25.

Paulsboro has won all of its in South Jersey, Group 1 and has captured every one in that section except for the 2008 crown, which Collingswood (high school of Michael Landon) won.

Phillipsburg has captured North 2, Group 4 a record 19 times, including a record six straight times from 1997-2002 and the last four; has won North 2, Group 3 a total of 15 times, including the first five from 1980-1984 and a record six straight from 1991-1996; and has also captured North 1, Group 4 twice – in 2010 and 2011.

High Point has won North 1, Group 3 a record 20 times, including seven in a row from 1986-1992; and has also captured North 1, Group 2 on five occasions, including 1984, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2017.  High Point’s first sectional title was in 1984 (North 1, Group 2) and its first in North 1, Group 3 was in 1986. High Point is the defending North 1, Group 2 champion.

Camden Catholic has captured Non-Public South A a record 16 times, including the first one in 1980 and eight straight from 1994-2001. Paul VI of Haddonfield won all 12 of its titles in a row from 1981-1992, which is the record for most consecutive in the section. Camden Catholic has also won Non-Public South B six times, including in 2002 and for a record five straight years from 2010-2014.

Here is the North 2, Group 1 field for 2018:

SEEDS: 1-Roselle Park. 2-Bound Brook. 3-Manville. 4-Belvidere.

5-Verona. 6-Secaucus. 7-Whippany Park. 8-Becton.


First Round:

5-Verona at 4-Belvidere

8-Becton at 1-Roselle Park

6-Secaucus at 3-Manville

7-Whippany Park at 2-Bound Brook


Semifinals at higher seeds


Final at higher seed


Group semifinals, finals

at Toms River North’s Pine Belt Arena

It appears that Roselle Park may have to navigate through a Becton, Belvidere, Bound Brook menu to win the section.



Rahway improved to 13-2 overall after producing a 32-24 home win over Cranford on Jan. 29.

The Indians lead the UCC’s Mountain Division at 5-0 and will wrestle at Johnson Friday night, Feb. 2 at 7 seeking a win to clinch the Mountain Division crown outright. Linden is second at 5-1 – its lone loss to Rahway – and is done with its division matches.

Rahway also earned the sixth seed in Central Jersey, Group 3 and will wrestle at third-seeded Hopewell Valley Monday, Feb. 5 in first round action. The winner of that match will take on the winner of the seventh-seeded Somerville at second-seeded Ocean Township match in a Wednesday, Feb. 7 semifinal at the higher seed.

Top-seeded perennial power South Plainfield, the three-time defending champion, is expected to capture the section for the fourth straight year.

Rahway’s other remaining regular season matches are Saturday, Feb. 3 at Bishop Ahr and also vs. J.P. Stevens at 10 a.m., Friday, Feb. 9 at Madison at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 10 at Kearny, with four teams involved, at 9 a.m.