Cranford wrestling wins ninth straight UCT

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UNION, NJ – On Senior Night at Cranford High School, scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 24, vs. arch rival Westfield High School, it was to be Cougar wrestling standout junior Jordan Chapman’s first attempt at reaching 100 victories.

Although it was not a milestone in terms of even numbers, Chapman’s 99th career win will have just as much cachet.

When Chapman was able to halt Governor Livingston High School junior Cristian Gioia by fall in 43 seconds for his 99th career triumph and 20th this season, it enabled Cranford to once again move past Governor Livingston.

With the 48th annual wrestling Union County Tournament on Saturday, Jan. 20, contested for the first time in four years at Union High School’s Louis J. Rettino Gymnasium, finals beginning at 175 pounds, the above-average crowd in attendance had a good idea that the team champion might be determined by the final 165-pound bout between favored and top-seeded Chapman and Gioia, who also finished second last year at 144 pounds.

Chapman, third in the state last year at 157 pounds, came through to help Cranford capture a record ninth straight UCT title. The Cougars ended up outscoring the Highlanders 223.5-217 to keep Governor Livingston second for a third year in a row.
Chapman’s 99th win led to Cranford’s ninth straight UCT championship.

Next year, the Cougars will be going for No. 10.

In two years, if Cranford sophomores Mike Daly and Luke Scholz win as juniors next year, the Cougars will have two wrestlers on the same day attempting to win a fourth title. Only nine have done so and just one from Cranford, Tom DiGiovanni in 2017.

Chapman, ranked second in the state at 165 pounds, began the week at 99-10, including 35-5 as a freshman, 42-4 as a sophomore and, so far, 20-1 as a junior. Later this season, he will once again attempt to become Cranford’s first state champion since 2006, when senior Pat Hogan won at 171 pounds.

Wrestlers from nine different schools won UCT championships, including the first eight champions being from different schools.
Cranford High School with three and Arthur L. Johnson, Governor Livingston and Rahway with two each were the only schools to have more than one champion.

Five other schools: Union, Scotch Plains-Fanwood, Summit-Chatham, Westfield and New Providence, had one each.

Repeat champions included Daly, Scholz, Chapman and Arthur L. Johnson High School senior Joey Ortega. Daly has now won at 106 pounds as a freshman and sophomore, Scholz at 126 pounds as a freshman and 132 pounds as a sophomore, Chapman at 157 pounds as a sophomore and 165 pounds as a junior and Ortega at 150 pounds as a junior and senior.

Eleven of the 14 UCT champions are not seniors, meaning they will have the opportunity to be returning champions next year.

2025 returning UCT champions

• Scotch Plains-Fanwood junior John Boyle, 190-pound champ
• Governor Livingston junior Nathan Faxon, 215-pound champ
• Summit-Chatham junior Sam Henry, heavyweight champ
• Cranford sophomore Mike Daly, repeat 106-pound champ – two-time winner
• Arthur L. Johnson junior Zachary Belverio, 113-pound champ
• Rahway junior Chris Valerio, 126-pound champ
• Cranford sophomore Luke Scholz, 132-pound champ – two-time winner
• New Providence sophomore Braedon Valley, 138-pound champ
• Rahway junior Eoghan O’Hara, 144-pound champ
• Governor Livingston junior Jake Kreisberg, 157-pound champ
• Cranford junior Jordan Chapman, 165-pound champ – two-time winner

The three senior champions were Dan Collin of Union at 175 pounds, Max Rotter of Westfield at 120 pounds and Joey Ortega of Arthur L. Johnson, the repeat winner at 150 pounds.

Outstanding wrestler lower weights

• Cranford sophomore Mike Daly, the repeat 106-pound champion
Daly and teammate Luke Scholz are half way to becoming the second and third Cranford wrestlers to win four UCT titles and the 10th and 11th overall to achieve the feat.

Outstanding wrestler upper weights

• Cranford junior Jordan Chapman, the 165-pound champion
Chapman won the OW for the upper weights for the second straight season. He won his first UCT title last year as the 157-pound champion. Chapman has reached three UCT finals, finishing second his freshman season two years ago at 157 pounds.

2024 UCT wrestling at Union High School

Teams: 1-Cranford 223.5. 2-Governor Livingston 217. 3-Rahway 139. 4-Arthur L. Johnson 112. 5-Union 91. 6-New Providence 83. 7-David Brearley 80. Elizabeth 80. 9-Westfield 69. 10-Plainfield 55. 11-Summit 54. 12-Scotch Plains-Fanwood 49. 13-Linden 37. 14-Roselle Park 20.5. 15-Hillside 11.


• 175: Dan Collin, Union, pin Joey Acinapura, Cranford, 2:58.
• 190: John Boyle, Scotch Plains-Fanwood, dec. Jaquryi Williams, Elizabeth, 13-9.
• 215: Nathan Faxon, Governor Livingston, pin Timmy Smith Jr., Elizabeth, 1:21.
• HWT: Sam Henry, Summit-Chatham, pin Sean Asgaralli, Arthur L. Johnson, 2:18.
• 106: Mike Daly, Cranford, dec. Matty Ortega, Arthur L. Johnson, 6-3.
• 113: Zachary Belverio, Arthur L. Johnson, dec. Christian Sabatino, Governor Livingston, 7-4.
• 120: Max Rotter, Westfield, dec. Matthew Samaniego, Rahway, 8-3.
• 126: Chris Valerio, Rahway, injury default Henrique Ribeiro, Governor Livingston.
• 132: Luke Scholz, Cranford, maj. dec. Julian McGarry, David Brearley-Jonathan Dayton, 12-2.
• 138: Braedon Valley, New Providence, dec. Ariel Azeredo, Union, 7-5.
• 144: Eoghan O’Hara, Rahway, pin Jordan Austin, Linden, 1:33.
• 150: Joey Ortega, Arthur L. Johnson, dec. Joseph Dasti, Governor Livingston, 9-5.
• 157: Jake Kreisberg, Governor Livingston, dec. Varson Siryon, Elizabeth, 6-3.
• 165: Jordan Chapman, Cranford, pin Cristian Gioia, Governor Livingston, :43.

Photos Courtesy of Johnson Athletic Director Gus Kalikas