WEST ORANGE- One of Seton Hall Prep’s more dominant Essex County wrestling seasons was in full evidence once again on Thursday night as the Pirates came through with six individual champions and four runners-up while amassing a tournament record point total of 342.5 to eclipse the former top mark of 275 held by Livingston since 2001 in capturing the team title in the 47th annual event held at the Richard J. Codey Arena.
And, it’s not as if there aren’t other solid teams in the county as both second-place West Essex (260.5) and third-place Caldwell (162) should be legitimate contenders for team state sectional titles when the NJSIAA team state tournament commences on Feb. 7.
Still, the Pirates remain the standard bearer in Essex, and that superiority could persist for quite a while since of the West Orange Catholic school’s six county champs, two are juniors, one is a sophomore and two are just freshmen.
“All our guys have put in a tremendous amount of work in the room each and every day to achieve what they have so far,” said head coach Lou Mascola. “There is still a lot more to accomplish for this group and they are determined to maintain their focus on all the big matches and tournaments still ahead of them.”
SHP has regular season home dual matches remaining with St. John Vianney on Wednesday night (Feb. 1) and Red Bank Catholic next Friday (Feb. 3), plus a quad with Don Bosco Prep, DePaul and St. Joe’s (Met.) in Metuchen on Saturday (Feb. 4) before turning its attentions to the Non-Public, North A team state sectionals that run Feb. 7, 9 and 12.
District 11 (Feb. 18 at Livingston), Region 3 (Feb. 24-25 at West Orange) and the season-ending NJSIAA individual state tournament in Atlantic City (March 2-4) are also all on the agenda over the next month.
Winning an ECT title is always a terrific way to get primed for the most important portion of the tournament season, and the Pirates certainly wasted little time in making an imprint on the 2023 countywide mat event as they had 12 wrestlers advance through Wednesday’s quarterfinals, including 10 via pins. All but two weight classes saw SHP matmen in Thursday afternoon’s county tourney semifinals.
Then, the champions emerged in Thursday evening’s finals with sophomore Anthony Pellegrino at 106-pounds, junior Logan Brzozowski at 113, freshman Andre Morero at 120, junior Carlo VanVolkenburgh at 126, senior Anthony Cerreto at 175 and freshman Rocco Salerno at 215.
SHP runners-up were at 132, 138, 144 and 190 where champions were, respectively, undefeated Rocco Negron of Belleville (28-0), Jason Quirk of Livingston, Anthony Barra of West Essex and Arthur Rosu of West Orange (23-1).
Other individual ECT champs were Lorenzo Caamano (150) and Ian Flanagan (165) of Caldwell; Mike Maglione (157) of West Essex and undefeated Brandon Toranzo of Nutley (28-0 at 285).
The Maroon Raiders' strongman Toranzo was selected as the ECT's Outstanding Wrestler.