The Farmers did not have a grappler reach the finals.
That did not mean that the Union wrestling team had a bad county tournament showing, however.
In the first year that the competition took place at Kean University’s Harwood Arena, the Farmers had three wrestlers who placed among the top six in their weight classes.
Nicholas Gonzalez, a senior, and Adams Jacques, a junior, both placed fourth in their respective weight classes. Gonzalez competed at 190 pounds and Jacques at 165 pounds.
Union’s wrestler at 138 pounds, sophomore Gabriel Hargrove, came in sixth.
They all excelled in the 47th annual Union County Tournament for wrestling on Saturday, Jan. 21. The event could not be held at Union High School last year because of Tropical Storm Ida in September 2021, which caused a great deal of damage to Union’s Louis J. Rettino Gymnasium. Wrestlers competed at Arthur L. Johnson High School in Clark last year; it appears that the UCT will remain at Kean University now. For the first time in three years, Union will host Region 4 on Friday, Feb. 24, and Saturday, Feb. 25.
“All three did a good job for us to get as far as they did,” Union wrestling head coach Dino DeBellonia said of Gonzalez, Jacques and Hargrove.
Union finished ninth in the team standings with 48 points, which was good enough to be better than seven of the 16 schools that competed.
Cranford High School won the event for a record eighth time in a row with 269.50 points. Governor Livingston High School was second for the second straight season with 240 points.
Cranford had six champions, Westfield and Roselle Park high schools had three champions each, and Governor Livingston and Arthur L. Johnson high schools had one champion each.
2023 UCT champions breakdown
Cranford High School: Michael Daly, 106 pounds; Luke Scholz, 126 pounds; Jordan Chapman, 157 pounds; Lucas Esposito, 175 pounds; Shane Kanterman, 190 pounds; and Dylan McDonald, 215 pounds.
Westfield High School: Brandon Ribeiro, 132 pounds; Ethan Composto, 138 pounds; and Michael Murphy, 165 pounds.
Roselle Park: Matthew Griffin, 120 pounds; Mayson Harms, 144 pounds; and Kevin Osorio, heavyweight.
Governor Livingston High School: Brandon Rayack, 113 pounds.
Arthur L. Johnson High School: Joey Ortega, 150 pounds.
Gonzalez was one of four Union wrestlers who placed in this year’s Dover Holiday Tournament, winning the championship at 215 pounds. Gonzalez pinned all three of the wrestlers he went against, from West Milford Township, Roxbury and Madison high schools, in times of 1:41, 1:10 and 5:05.
Hargrove placed fifth at 150 pounds.
Union began the week with a three-match winning streak to improve to 6-7. That’s a drastic improvement from last year’s record of 1-23.
Union won at Madison 39-30 on Saturday, Jan. 14, and on the same day downed Dover Public High School 48-34. The Farmers then defeated Hoboken High School at home 66-18 on Wednesday, Jan. 18.
Union was scheduled to wrestle at Mountain Division rival Roselle Park High School on Wednesday, Jan 25, after press time, and on Friday, Jan. 27, is to wrestle at David Brearley High School at 7 p.m.
Union is at Bernards High School on Saturday, Jan. 28, at 9 a.m.
Union begins February competition with a match at home vs. Summit High School on Wednesday, Feb. 1, at 6 p.m., and then has matches at Plainfield on Friday, Feb. 3, at 6 p.m., and Linden High School on Saturday, Feb. 4, at 9 a.m., which is a quad.
On Monday, Feb. 6, at 6 p.m., the Farmers will host Columbia High School, and, on Wednesday, Feb. 8, also at 6 p.m., they will host Barringer High School. Union is to host J.P. Stevens High School of Edison on Friday, Feb. 10, at 6 p.m.
Union is scheduled to wrap its regular season on Saturday, Feb. 11, in multiple-team competition at Bloomfield High School, beginning at 9 a.m.
Photo Courtesy of Union High School Athletics