It was a long and very rewarding wrestling season for standout Union County grapplers including senior Jon Mele of Governor Livingston, senior Colin Barber of Westfield, junior John Balboni of Brearley, junior Joe Balboni of Brearley, senior A.J. Iarussi of Summit and senior Anthony Tufaro of Scotch Plains.
All were good enough to earn medals for where they placed in their weight classes in this weekend’s 78th annual NJSIAA Tournament at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall.
With competition soon to conclude with the finals set to begin Sunday at 3 p.m., the above six wrestlers all placed among the top six in their weight classes.
Mele finished fourth at 120 pounds, falling to Christian Innarella of Delbarton by fall in 3:26 in the third-place bout.
Barber finished seventh at 152 after winning by pin in overtime against Tyler Loughlin of Becton-Wallington in the seventh-place bout.
John Balboni defeated Dan Wojtaszek of Brick Township 6-2 to finish fifth at 160.
Joe Balboni downed Dae’Sean Brown of Nepturne 10-4 to place third at 170.
Iarussi was defeated by Hopewell Valley’s Mike Markulec 4-2 to finish sixth at 220.
After reaching the semifinals undefeated at 43-0, Iarussi lost in the quarterfinals, then won two wrestleback matches and then lost in the wrestleback match that would have put him in the third-place consolation match.
Iarussi finished a fine senior season at 45-3.
Tufaro was edged by Michael Johnson of Bound Brook 3-1 in overtime to place sixth at heavyweight.
Seton Hall Prep senior Brenden Calas of Clark is now going for his third state championship and first at 120, facing Craig De La Cruz of Bound Brook in the final.
– JR PARACHINI