Cranford, Governor Livingston and Rahway square off in annual wrestling UCT

UNION, NJ — Can the Cranford Cougars be caught?

Governor Livingston High School has come close the past two years, with back-to-back second-place finishes.

Rahway High School, which was scheduled to host Cranford High School with a 12-0 record on Wednesday night, Jan 17, could present a strong challenge as well.

The 48th annual wrestling Union County Tournament is set for Saturday, Jan. 20, returning to the Louis J. Rettino Gymnasium at Union High School.

This is the first time in four years that the event will take place at Union.

Cranford, Governor Livingston and Rahway appear to be the favorites to take home the team title. Cranford captured it last year for a record eighth straight time.

Returning champions include Cranford sophomore Michael Daly, Governor Livingston junior Brandon Rayack, Cranford junior Luke Scholz, Arthur L. Johnson High School senior Joey Ortega and Cranford junior Jordan Chapman.

Chapman, ranked No. 2 in the state at 165 pounds, won his first UCT title last year, capturing the 157-pound crown. Chapman began the week at 18-1 this year and 95-10 overall, including 35-5 as a freshman and 42-4 as a sophomore. His only loss so far this year came by one point to a Pennsylvania state champion at December’s Beast of the East Tournament at the University of Delaware.

Chapman was also a first-time Region 4 champ last year who went on to place third in the state at the NJSIAA Tournament in Atlantic City. Chapman was the UCT’s Outstanding Wrestler for the upper weights a year ago.

Chapman seeks to become Cranford’s first state champion since Pat Hogan captured the 171-pound championship in 2006.

Rahway finished fifth last year, after third-place Westfield High School and fourth-place Roselle Park High School. Terrance Avent of Rahway High School placed second at 215 pounds in 2023. A senior, Avent began the week with an 11-1 record. His only loss was to junior Timothy Smith Jr. of Elizabeth High School by decision.
Smith began the week at 12-1, including 7-1 at 215 pounds and 5-0 at heavyweight.

The best Union County records as of Monday, Jan. 15, included Rahway at 12-0, Governor Livingston at 13-2, Cranford at 9-1, Union at 9-4 and Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School at 7-1. Governor Livingston’s only losses were to Hunterdon Central Region High School and Paulsboro High School and Cranford’s only setback was at Phillipsburg High School.

Union was defeated by Rahway, New Providence, Scotch Plains and Bayonne. The only loss Scotch Plains suffered was to Cranford.
Other notable records include Elizabeth High School (9-7), New Providence High School (8-9), David Brearley High School (6-3), Summit High School (6-5) and Westfield High School (5-5).

The 2023 UCT champions and what grade they were a year ago

106: Mike Daly, Cranford, freshman
113: Brandon Rayack, Governor Livingston, sophomore
120: Matthew Griffin, Roselle Park, senior – OW for lower weights
126: Luke Scholz, Cranford, sophomore
132: Brandon Ribiero, Westfield, senior
138: Ethan Composto, Westfield, senior
144: Mayson Harms, Roselle Park, senior
150: Joey Ortega, Arthur L. Johnson, junior
157: Jordan Chapman, Cranford, sophomore – OW for upper weights
165: Michael Murphy, Westfield, senior
175: Lucas Esposito, Cranford, senior
190: Shane Kanterman, Cranford, senior
215: Dylan McDonald, Cranford, senior
HWT: Kevin Osorio, Roselle Park, senior

UCT wrestling team champions from 2023 to 1990

2023: Cranford
2022: Cranford
2021: No tournament – COVID-19
2020: Cranford
2019: Cranford
2018: Cranford
2017: Cranford
2016: Cranford
2015: Cranford
2014: Roselle Park
2013: Roselle Park
2012: David Brearley
2011: David Brearley
2010: David Brearley
2009: David Brearley
2008: David Brearley
2007: David Brearley
2006: David Brearley
2005: Rahway
2004: Scotch Plains-Fanwood
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

Four-time UCT champions

Two from Union, two from Roselle Park, one from Rahway, two from David Brearley, one from Cranford and one from Westfield

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 Arthur L. 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-Fanwood in :54.
2006: 160 final: pin Hany Elshiekh of David Brearley in 1:26.

Jesse Boyden, David 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, David 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, Governor Livingston, 4-3.
2017: 138 final: dec. Philip Angelo, Summit, 2-1.

Luke Hoerle, Westfield, Class of 2020

2017: 106 final: maj. decc. Gabe Leo, Roselle Park, 10-3.
2018: 113 final: dec. John Ojeda, Linden, 9-4.
2019: 120 final: maj. dec. Chris Dalmau, Rahway, 8-1.
2020: 126 final: dec. Brandon Bowles, Scotch Plains-Fanwood, 8-5.