WEST ORANGE – Head coach Stephan Zichella knows this year’s West Orange High School varsity wrestling team will have their work cut out for them.
“This is the most inexperienced team we’ve had in about 15 years,” admitted the coach, noting this season’s group will feature two seniors. “We’re very young this year.”
Despite the team’s youthfulness, the coach said the schedule remains just as challenging as in years past.
“We face a grueling schedule and that hasn’t changed,” said the coach. “It’s tough competition, but we’re just trying to do the best we can.”
The two seniors on the team’s roster this year are 160-pound Tim Matteo Adusukon and 285-pound Brian Velez.
Along with those two 12th-graders, the coach said he would look for leadership from his two captains: 138-pound junior Iassa Arrowosaye and Andrei Rosu, a standout soccer player who has been injured and is expected back later in the month.
“Both are two of the hardest workers I’ve ever coached,” Zichella said.
Along with those grapplers, Zichella will also look to 113-pound junior Victor Lopez.
“Victor Lopez is off to a good start as he went 3-0 at the Dover Tournament and then went 2-1 at the Walter Wood Tournament to make his record 5-1 to start the year,” said the coach. “Victor finished in the top 16 last year in his weight class and this year his goal is to place in the state and finish in the top eight.”
In addition, at 170, sophomore Sebastian Rawls is also off to a solid start, beginning his season by winning the Dover Holiday Tournament.
“Rawls then followed that performance by placing third at the Walter Wood tournament to make his overall record also 6-1 to start the year,” said the coach. “Sebastian placed in the districts last year and so we are excited to have him back. He could go on to do some big things and I could see him contending for a county championship.”
Overall, the coach said his team’s health was his main concern at this point during the season.
“We need to maintain our health; we’ve had our share of injuries, but we will do our best to compete,” Zichella said. “We will have our hands full, but we want to qualify for the states. We know it won’t be easy. We want to compete and get better and better throughout the year.”
Notably, another wrestler who also enjoyed a noteworthy performance at Dover was freshman Edgar Moreno, who placed third.
Meanwhile, other notable performances at the Walter Woods Tournament included Noah Tandy, who took fourth; and Colin Morgan and Tyler Eatman, who both took sixth.