UNION – With the stinging memory of falling by a wide margin in the finals last year still in his head, Brearley sophomore wrestler Patrick Phillips just wanted to stay true to himself.
Phillips figured that if he was able to execute his strategy – which consisted of pushing offense, being always on his toes, staying in every match and never quitting and keeping on pushing – that he would have a chance at a first-place trophy this time.
Reaching the finals for the second straight season, Phillips’ philosophy proved highly-beneficial as he took on Roselle Park senior Gabe Leo in the 113-pound championship bout.
Phillips, who lost in the 106 final 12 months ago as a freshman, this time grabbed a lead and never let go. Phillips was in control the entire six minutes in defeating Leo 5-1 for his first county championship.
Phillips became Brearley’s first county champ in three years at Saturday’s 44th annual Wrestling Union County Tournament contested at Union High School’s Louis J. Rettino Gymnasium.
“It feels good,” said Phillips, who last year was defeated by Westfield sophomore CJ Composto 18-3 in the 106 final. “This year I’m stronger.”
It was the second time Phillips and Leo clashed this season and the fourth time in the past two. Phillips – all by decision – has come out on top in each one.
“He (Leo) shoots a lot of low singles, so I had to be sure to down block,” Phillips said.
Leo also finished second at 106 his sophomore season in 2017. He did not reach the finals last year.
“Once I got to offense I looked to dump, but that didn’t work, so I went to a single (move),” Phillips said.
With his three wins Phillips improved to 13-1. His only loss so far this year was to a kid from Connecticut in the finals of December’s Lenape Valley Tournament.
Also at Union last year, Phillips placed fifth at 106 in Region 4 competition, just missing Atlantic City. The top four finishers in each weight class in region competition advance to the NJSIAA Tournament at Boardwalk Hall.
“Making states and getting on the podium,” said Phillips of his goal at season’s end.
Phillips is the first wrestler from Brearley/Dayton to win a county championship since Saverio Salcfas won at 195 in 2016.
Linden senior Alex Dorce captured the 160 championship to become Linden’s first county champion since present assistant coach Allen Hay won as a senior in 1997.
Dorce, who last weekend placed second in the Minutemen Classic at Elizabeth, was fourth in the county last year at 152.
Westfield junior Luke Hoerle (120), Roselle Park senior Mark Montgomery (132), Rahway senior Rhise Royster (145) and Johnson senior Sebastian Iakouchevitch (220) repeated as champions.
Hoerle won his third title and next year will attempt to become the ninth grappler to win four and the first from Westfield to do so.
Montgomery reached his fourth final and won his third crown, Royster won his third title in his third trip to the finals and Iakouchevitch reached his third final and captured his second championship.
Winning titles for the first time were Kaelan Francois of Rahway at 106, Phillilps at 113, Eddie Hummel of Roselle Park at 126, Jack Korzeneski of Cranford at 138, AJ Bencevenga of Cranford at 152, Dorce at 160, Joe Delia of New Providence at 170, Tim Miller of Westfield at 182, Brendan Loder of Westfield at 195 and Damon Ippolito of Gov. Livingston at heavyweight.
Korzeneski won his weight class as the eighth seed, beating top-seeded Stefano DelValle of Linden along the way.
Westfield had the most top seeds – four – and the most champions – three. Rahway, Cranford and Roselle Park had two champions and Johnson, Gov. Livingston, New Providence, Linden and Brearley one.
Thirteen of the 14 top seeds reached the finals.
COUGARS 5-PEAT WITH CHAMPS AT 138 AND 152
Cranford won the team title for the fifth consecutive year, this time with 221 points. Westfield was second with 195.5, Rahway third with 137 and Roselle Park fourth with 136.
Winning titles for the Cougars – both for the first time – were eighth-seeded Jack Korzeneski at 138 and top-seeded AJ Bencevenga at 152.
Here are Cranford’s point totals for its last five consecutive championships:
2019 (221), Westfield second at 195.5
2018 (187), Roselle Park second at 185
2017 (248.5), Roselle Park second at 183.5
2016 (270), Gov. Livingston second at 194
2015 (192.5), Gov. Livingston second at 159
Cranford became the first team to win the championship five years in a row since Brearley captured the crown seven straight from 2006-2012.
44TH ANNUAL WRESTLING
UNION COUNTY TOURNAMENT
AT UNION HIGH SCHOOL
T. Ralph “Pug” Williams Award
John Ranieri of Roselle Park
Union County Coach of the Year
Glen Kurz, Westfield
Outstanding Wrestler Lower Weights (106-145)
Eddie Hummel, Roselle Park, sophomore, 126 champion
Outstanding Wrestler Upper Weights (152-HWT)
Damon Ippolito, Gov. Livingston, junior, heavyweight champion
TEAMS: 1-Cranford 221. 2-Westfield 195.5. 3-Rahway 137. 4-Roselle Park 136.
5-Plainfield 115. 6-Linden 109.5. 7-Scotch Plains 97. 8-Gov. Livingston 88.5.
9-Elizabeth 76. 10-Summit 67. 11-Brearley 54. 12-New Providence 50.
13-Union 29. 14-Johnson 27.5.
106: Kaelan Francois, Rahway, dec. Luke Jakobs, Westfield, 11-9.
113: Patrick Phillips, Brearley, dec. Gabe Leo, Roselle Park, 5-1.
120: Luke Hoerle, Westfield, dec. Chris Dalmau, Rahway, 8-1.
126: Eddie Hummel, Roselle Park, pin CJ Composto, Westfield, 3:33.
132: Mark Montgomery, Roselle Park, pin David Vill, Gov. Livingston, 1:08.
138: Jack Korzeneski, Cranford, pin Patrick Nevins, Summit, 4:49.
145: Rhise Royster, Rahway, pin Conor Halpin, Cranford, 5:43.
152: AJ Bencevenga, Cranford, pin Shaeed Greene, Plainfield, 5:45.
160: Alex Dorce, Linden, pin, Kyell Roper Cranford, 4:49.
170: Joe Delia, New Providence, pin Evan Kanterman, Cranford, 1:51.
182: Tim Miller, Westfield, pin Michael Afolabi, Lilnden, 5:01.
195: Brendan Loder, Westfield, dec. Zach Zimmerman, Scotch Plains, 5-2.
220: Sebastian Iakouchevitch, Johnson, dec. Joshua Darisme, Rahway, 3-2.
HWT: Damon Ippolito, Gov. Livingston, pin Griffin Keats, Ranway, 1:57
106: Kaelan Francois, Rahway
113: Patrick Phillips, Brearley
120: Luke Hoerle, Westfield
126: CJ Composto, Westfield
132: Mark Montgomery, Roselle Park
138: Stefano DelValle, Linden
145: Rhise Royster, Rahway
152: AJ Bencevenga, Cranford
160: Alex Dorce, Linden
170: Evan Kanterman, Cranford
182: Tim Miller, Westfield
195: Brendan Loder, Westfield
220: Sebastian Iakouchevitch, Johnson
HWT: Griffin Kent, Rahway
106: Christian Lunza, Elizabeth
113: Brandon Bowles, Scotch Plains
120: Pat Kalnins, Cranford
126: Johnny Cruz, Plainfield
132: Dean Smith, Cranford
138: Nick Stampoulos, Brearley
145: Elvin Guerrero, Roselle Park
152: Justin Deangelo James, Summit
160: Luke Scanlan, Westfield
170: Jordan Simpson, Westfield
182: Ales Oslislo, Scotch Plains
195: Zach Blevins, Cranford
220: Eddie Smith, Scotch Plains
HWT: Moses Olowoopejo, Elizabeth
106: Justin Lilzo, Roselle Park
113: Will Fernandez, Cranford
120: John Rowe, Summit
126: Harrison Kelly, Gov. Livingston
132: Anthony Robinson, Scotch Plains
138: Theo Dardia, Westfield
145: Connor Vill, Gov. Livingston
152: Greg Friedenberg, Gov. Livingston
160: Joe Scalora, Gov. Livingston
170: Harrison Wustefeld, Scotch Plains
182: Justin Alpaugh McClean Cranford
195: Shimei Paige, Rahway
220: Matt Doran, Cranford
HWT: Krystain Pasek, Linden