Cranford seeks 6th straight championship, while Westfield is out to win for the first time in 30 years; UCT Wrestling at Union Jan. 11

Hoerle seeks to become first Blue Devils grappler to win 4 crowns

PHOTOS BY JR PARACHINI – The 45th annual Wrestling Union County Tournament will be contested Saturday, Jan. 11 at Union High School’s Louis J. Rettino Gymnasium.

UNION – What to look for during this Saturday’s 45th annual Wrestling Union County Tournament at Union High School’s Louis J. Rettino Gymnasium?
It appears that Cranford will capture the event for the sixth consecutive year or Westfield will win the crown for the first time since 1990.
Union head coach Dino DeBellonia shares that sentiment, but also thinks there will be other representation.
“I think there will be some balance, with other schools doing well in the tournament,” DeBellonia said. “I think there will be a nice mix, with several schools placing wrestlers in the top three.”
Cranford won last year with 221 points, while Westfield was second with 195.5. Rahway, which Cranford just defeated at home last Friday night, finished third with 137 and Roselle Park fourth with 136.
One of last year’s champions that wasn’t a senior was Roselle Park sophomore Eddie Hummel capturing his first UCT title by winning the 126-pound weight class.
Hummel transferred to Southern Regional in Manahawkin, where he will wrestle his final two high school seasons.
The other returning champions are Rahway junior Kaelan Francois, now wrestling at 113 after winning at 106 a year ago; Brearley-Dayton junior Patrick Phillips, now wrestling at 120 after winning at 113 and Westfield senior Luke Hoerle, now wrestling at 126 after winning at 120.
Hoerle will attempt to become just the ninth wrestler and first from Westfield to win four UCT titles.
Westfield is presently without senior CJ Composto, who will continue wrestling in the Ivy League at the University of Pennsylvania. He is out with an injury.
Composto and Hoerle both passed 100 wins last year, while Composto also finished third in the state at 126. He was second in the UCT.
Competition should commence around 9 a.m. and conclude sometime shortly after 5 p.m.
Westfield and Rahway have three top seeds and Cranford and Gov. Livingston two. Brearley, Plainfield, Elizabeth and Roselle Park have one.
Here they are:
106: Amajuwan Murray, Rahway
113: Kaelan Francois, Rahway
120: Mason Harms, Roselle Park
126: Luke Hoerle, Westfield
132: Jeremy Silber, Westfield
138: Nick Stampoulos, Brearley
145: Harrison Kelly, Gov. Livingston
152: Connor Vill, Gov. Livingston
160: Luke Scanlan, Westfield
170: Ki’Zuran Casey, Plainfield
182: Justin Alpaugh-McLean, Cranford
195: Evan Kanterman, Cranford
220: Joshua Darisme, Rahway
HWT: Moses Olowoopejo, Elizabeth

Here’s a look at who Hoerle has defeated in his first three finals:
2019 AT 120:
Luke Hoerle, Westfield, maj. dec. Chris Dalmau, Rahway, 8-1.
2018 AT 113:
Luke Hoerle, Westfield, dec. John Ojeda, Linden, 9-4.
2017 AT 106:
Luke Hoerle, Westfield, maj. dec. Gabe Leo, Roselle Park, 10-3.
When Hoerle won his first title as a freshman he was the sixth seed at 106 and Roselle Park’s Gabe Leo was the top seed.


Here’s a look at some Union wrestlers who seek to succeed in their own gymnasium:
132-Mike Cross, junior: “Mike won the Dover Tournament and placed second in the Parsippany Tournament,” DeBellonia said. “He’s much improved after doing a lot of work in the off-season. We feel he can compete well in this tournament.”
Cross placed sixth at 126 a year ago, falling to Harrison Kelly of Gov. Livingston in the 5th-6th-place bout by the score of 12-7. Kelly is the top seed this time at 145.
120-Liam Grahl, senior: A four-year varsity wrestler, Grahl was injured during last year’s UCT competition during the 5th-6th-place bout at 120. Grahl lost to John Rowe of Summit by injury default.
138-Jabari Basden, senior: DeBellonia praised Basden for his off-season dedication. Basden took a 9-4 record into Union’s home match Wednesday vs. Summit-Chatham.
152-Christian Rodriguez, senior: Also off to a good start, Rodriguez began the week with a 10-2 record.

113: Kaelan Francois, Rahway, junior
Won at 106 last year.
120: Patrick Phillips, Brearley, junior
Won at 113 last year.
126: Luke Hoerle, Westfield, senior
Won at 120 last year.
*Hoerle will attempt to become
the ninth 4-time champion and
the first from Westfield.
*Francois and Phillips were
first-time winners a year ago.

FROM 2019 TO 1990:

2019: Cranford
2018: Cranford
2017: Cranford
2016: Cranford
2015: Cranford
2014: Roselle Park
2013: Roselle Park
2012: Brearley
2011: Brearley
2010: Brearley
2009: Brearley
2008: Brearley
2007: Brearley
2006: Brearley
2005: Rahway
2004: Scotch Plains
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

2 from Union, 2 from Roselle Park,
1 from Rahway, 2 from Brearley, 1 from Cranford

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 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 in :54.
2006: 160 final: pin Hany Elshiekh of Brearley in 1:26.

Jesse Boyden, 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, 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, Gov. Livingston, 4-3
(3-3 UTB – Ultimate Tie Breaker)
2017: 138 final: dec. Philip Angelo, Summit, 2-1