BELLEVILLE, NJ – The Belleville High School wrestling team will host its inaugural Belleville Buccaneer Classic this Saturday, Jan. 12, beginning at 9 a.m.
The teams participating in the Belleville Buccaneer Classic are Belleville, Becton, Columbia, Cliffside Park, Dover, Glen Ridge, Morris Knolls, Union City, Waldwick and Weehawken.
“This is our first-ever tournament here at Belleville High School and we are excited for the turnout,” said BHS head coach Joseph Pizzi Jr. “This year we are hosting three quads and one first tournament, so we are getting exposure and continue to grow.”
The Buccaneers defeated Millburn, 51-18, Wednesday, Jan. 11 at home to improve to a 5-5 record. Belleville will face Montclair on Friday, Jan. 11, at 6 p.m. at Montclair, before hosting the Buccaneer Classic on Saturday morning.
Indeed, Pizzi has been elated with his team’s determination and effort this season.
“This team continues to show how tough and resilient they are each week,” said Pizzi. “I challenged this team by putting together a more difficult schedule this year and they stepped up to the challenge and some. They show up everyday, push in pace in the room, challenging one another during each drill and live situation.
“The record doesn’t mean as much to me as the effort, attitude, relentlessness and toughness these student-athletes have shown me this year,” continued Pizzi. “Our female wrestlers are representing Belleville in a huge way as well and I am glad that aspect of the sport is growing. Every single wrestler is pitching in and contributing to big victories for our team. It’s not like we are just relying on three or four wrestlers each match. Young wrestlers and veterans are all stepping up and showing teams that we are going to bring fighters each match who are going to push it to the max no matter who walks out onto the mat. They are mentally and physically prepared and their mat awareness and intensity is exactly where we need it to be in order to be a competitive program.”
The Bucs have shown class and dignity, much to Pizzi’s delight.
“We continue to turn heads each match and we will hold them to that high standard each day,” Pizzi said. “We represent our team and our town with class and we are professional, on and off the mat. One thing we preach is sportsmanship and they show that whether they win or lose. Like I’ve always said, we are here to mold young men and women to be productive members of society who represent themselves in a positive manner with class at all times, and with that….the wins will come.”
With Pizzi at the helm, the Bucs have continued to make tremendous strides.
“When I first took over four years ago, we had about 24 kids on the team and now we are currently at about 36, including five females who are wrestling exceptionally well. We receive compliments from referees, opposing coaches and spectators on our wrestlers’ performance and how they carry themselves on and off the mat. This could not have been possible without the help of my assistant coaches Mark D’Elia, Dan Giangrande and Jay Isip who share my philosophy and get a great response from the kids. They all bring something valuable to the table and that’s what makes this staff so amazing.”