WEST ORANGE, NJ – The West Orange High School and Seton Hall Prep varsity wrestling teams featured several wrestlers on the All-Super Essex Conference-American Division.
• 120 pounds: Victor Lopez, West Orange
• 152: T.J. Calas, Seton Hall Prep
• 170: Aidan Monteverdi, Seton Hall Prep
• 195: Noah Tandy, West Orange
• Open: Edgar Moreno, West Orange
• 120: Maguire Pecci, Seton Hall Prep
• 126: Charles Cunningham, Seton Hall Prep
• 285 heavyweight: Niko Diakides, Seton Hall Prep
• Kevin Valle and Abraham Dada, West Orange
• Larry Melchionda and Michael Massa, Seton Hall Prep
Lopez, who competed mostly at the 113-pound weight class, finished his career as the all-time winningest wrestler at WOHS with 136 wins, breaking the old record held by 2006 graduate Tommy Lorenzo. Lopez is a four-time District champion and won at least 30 matches in each of his four years. He also made it to Atlantic City for the second year in a row at the NJSIAA state tournament. Franklin and Marshall has shown interest in Lopez, who is also talking to Rider University, noted WOHS head coach Stephan Zichella. Lopez, indeed, was inpirational as a captain. “He was always working with everyone on the team,” Zichella said. ”His character and his leadership this year was equally impressive as the star season he had.”
Tandy, a junior, was an Essex County Tournament champion and District 10 Tournament champion who was a real surprise for the team this year, posting 37 wins. “He was really at a level we didn’t think that we would see from him.”
Moreno, a sophomore, also was a ECT champion at 120.
Valle and Dada, like Lopez, are other seniors who will be missed.
Valle, a 170-pounder, was the hardest worker in the wrestling room. His resiliency was impressive. “He came back from a lot of deficits and had the most upsets of anyone we had. He was just a great overachiever,” Zichella said.
Dada, who will be attending Harvard University, is a high character individual who was even more committed to the program this year. “He really wanted to make a statement and he did just that,” Zichella said of the 145-pounder.
As a team, the Mountaineers finished 12-6 and were semifinalists in the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group 5 tournament.
Meanwhile, SHP was the best team in the county and one of the best in the state this season. The Pirates, under head coach Jack Decker, finished with a strong 25-2 record and won the Essex County Tournament title for the second year in a row. The Pirates also won the District 13 Tournament title in Scotch Plains where they advanced a whopping 12 wrestlers out of a possible 14 to the Region 4 Tournament in Union. From the Regions, SHP advanced five wrestlers to the NJSIAA state tournament in Atlantic City: Monteverdi, Calas, Melchionda, Cunningham and Pecci.
Monteverdi, the ECT Most Outstanding Wrestler, finished fourth in the state tournament to cap a brilliant 40-3 season and 127-28 career.
Calas finished with a 35-3 record and 116-29 for his career.