The weekend every high school wrestling fan in New Jersey anxiously waits for is here.
The 78th annual NJSIAA Tournament at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall commences with preliminary round matches for non-region champions and then the pre-quarterfinals on Friday, continues with the quarterfinals and semifinals on Saturday and concludes with the third-place matches and championship bouts on Sunday.
There are – as is the case every year – plenty of wrestleback matches scheduled for Saturday and Sunday as well to determine places 3-8.
Here’s a look at the wrestlers from Union County – 14 from Union County schools and senior two-time state champion senior Brenden Calas of Seton Hall Prep – who will be competing this weekend:
UNION COUNTY WRESTLERS
IN THIS WEEKEND’S
AT ATLANTIC CITY’S BOARDWALK HALL
113: Nick Tekula of Linden
120: Clark resident Brenden Calas of Seton Hall Prep
120: Jon Mele, Governor Livingston
132: Gavin Murray, Cranford
152: Colin Barber, Westfield
160: John Balboni, Brearley
170: Joe Balboni, Brearley
170: Phil Woods, Roselle Park
182: Brian Bulger, Westfield
182: Jeff Velez, Brearley
182: Corey Markovitz, Cranford
195: Shane Haddad, Governor Livingston
220: A.J. Iarussi, Summit
220: Jeff Weiss, Cranford
HWT: Anthony Tufaro, Scotch Plains
Calas won state championships at 113 as a junior in 2012 and at 103 as a sophomore in 2011. Calas will continue wrestling in college in the Atlantic Coast Conference at North Carolina State.
Calas will wrestle the winner of the preliminary round match between DJ Tirelli of River Dell and Pete Ottaviano of Colts Neck in the 120 pre-quarterfinals. Calas just won his second Region 3 championship.
Iarussi, who will continue playing football in the Ivy League at the University of Pennsylvania – he was accepted into the famous Wharton School of Business there – is 35-0 this year, with 22 wins by fall. He originally gave Colgate a verbal commitment to play football there before signing with UPenn.
Iarussi will wrestle Armond Cox of St. Peter’s Prep in the 220 pre-quarterfinals. Iarussi just won his first Region 3 championship.
Here’s a list of Union County’s best in Atlantic City, team-by-team, and where they finished in last weekend’s Region 3 competition at Union:
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.