UNION, NJ — One practice at a time.
One match at a time.
That is how Union High School wrestlers, “most all brand new,” according to head coach Dino DeBellonia, will attempt to grab hold of success and hang on to it in the 2022-2023 season.
Union began its season with a confidence builder, topping the new program at Hillside High School 54-24 at home on Friday, Dec. 16. The Farmers won two of the matches by pin, with freshman Aidan Cross stopping Musaddiq Ahmad in just 10 seconds at 150 and Daniel Collin halting Darren Ikinnagbon in 1:03 at 190 to give Union the lead for good at 24-18.
“It was good to get a ‘W’ to start the season against Hillside,” DeBellonia said.
On Saturday, Dec. 17, DeBellonia had eight varsity wrestlers competing in the JV Dover Holiday Tournament. “I sent the bulk of our guys, because of their lack of experience, to a junior varsity tournament,” DeBellonia said.
Of Union’s eight grapplers who competed at Dover, four of them placed. Senior Nick Gonzalez won at 215, Cross was second at 144, Collin was third at 190 and sophomore Gabriel Hargrove was fifth at 150.
Gonzalez pinned all three of the wrestlers he faced. He first beat an opponent from West Milford High School in 1:41 in the quarterfinals and then in the semifinals stopped a grappler from Roxbury High School in 1:10.
In the 215 final, Gonzalez went up against a wrestler from Madison High School. The match was back and forth until Gonzalez found a way to gain an edge for good, ending the bout at 5:05.
“Nick did a really good job,” DeBellonia said. “His last match was a real battle, until he was able to put his opponent on his back.
“Four of our eight wrestlers placed, so I was very pleased with that.”
Collin is Union’s only returning district medalist, placing third at District 14 last year at South Plainfield.
Union is next scheduled to host a quad on Friday, Dec. 23, at 2 p.m., against Elizabeth, Rahway and New Providence high schools.
“I think this will be good for everyone, based on where each team is at the moment,” DeBellonia said.
Union is then scheduled to compete in the Gary Vittorio Holiday Classic at Parsippany Hills High School on Thursday, Dec. 29, starting at 9 a.m.
Formerly known as the Parsippany Tournament at Parsippany High School, the event was moved to sister school Parsippany Hills High School for the first time last year. Vittorio was a highly successful head coach at Parsippany High School for many years, going back to the 1970s.
Union’s first scheduled match in January is at Arthur L. Johnson High School on Friday, Jan. 6, at 6 p.m.
For the first time the Union County Tournament will be at Kean University’s Harwood Arena in Union on Saturday, Jan. 21. Union last hosted the event in 2020. There was no UCT in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, while Johnson hosted the 2022 UCT after an attempt to have it at the Thomas G. Dunn Sports Center in Elizabeth did not work out.
Union will host Region 4 again at its Louis J. Rettino Gymnasium on Feb. 24 and 25.
• 106: Jaydon Robles, freshman
• 112: Aidan Acevedo, sophomore
• 120: Macain Romain, freshman
• 126: Woodley Auciel, sophomore
• 132: Ariel Azeredo, freshman
• 138: Aidan Cross, freshman
• 144: Gabriel Hargrove, sophomore
• 150: Joshua Deleon, sophomore
• 157: Sean McElroy, sophomore
• 165: Adams Jacques, junior
• 175: Daniel Collin, junior
• 190: Nick Gonzalez, senior
• 215: Nicholas Bertolotti, freshman
Head coach: Dino DeBellonia