BELLEVILLE, NJ – David Guerra’s amazing wrestling journey will now make one more stop: Atlantic City.
Looking to become the next state champion in the program’s storied history, the Belleville High School junior finished runner-up in the 145-pound weight division at the Region 3 tournament held at West Orange High School, Feb. 21-23.
Guerra punched his ticket to the NJSIAA state finals at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, Feb. 28, March 1-2. The top four finishers in each weight division at the regions earned berths for the state finals.
Guerra won in the first round on Feb. 21, and won his quarterfinal bout Feb. 22. In the semifinals Feb. 23, he posted a close 9-8 decision over Hanover Park’s Dom Merola.
Guerra faced Alex Winant in the championship match, which was the final bout of the evening. Unfortunately, Guerra came up short in a 9-7 decision.
Guerra is the first Belleville HS wrestler to reach Atlantic City since 2012 when Justin Colon won the sixth-place medal at the 126-pound division.
The Bucs had three other competitors – Angel Petrozzino (113), Lawrence Mendoza (120) and Hakim Fennell (160) – at the region tournament, which consisted of the top three finishers from the district tournaments. Region 3 consisted of District 9, 10, 11 and 12. Belleville competed in District 10 at Randolph. Unfortunately, the three Bucs all lost in the first round to become eliminated.
Guerra this season won the Essex County Tournament title at 145 at Codey Arena in West Orange, Jan. 18. He was the Bucs’ first county champion since Jordan Greene won the 160 title in 2015.
At the state finals in Atlantic City, Guerra, seeded No. 21, lostto No. 12 seed Pasquale Vizzoni of Hunterdon Central, 5-4, in the preliminary round Feb. 28. The next day, Guerra lost to No. 28 seed Alec Meyers of Old Bridge, 9-6, in the consolation first round to end his great run.
In addition, Belleville High School’s Alisa Safforld competed in the first-ever NJSIAA girls wrestling finals, which were held at Boardwalk Hall along withe boys finals. Safforld finished in fourth place in the 100-pound division.
Safford pinned Quanizja Legagneur of Asbury Park in 2:44 in the 100-pound quarterfinals on March 1, but fell to Jasmine Aizley of Allentown, 8-7, in the semifinals later in the day. Safforld then pinned Breanna Cervantes of Secaucus, in 3:09. In the third-fourth place bout, Safforld was pinned by Anmarie Lebron of Pennsauken in 1:45.
At the District 10 tournament, Guerra finished in second place.
First round, Feb. 21
113: Steven Silva, Kearny, pinned Petrozzino, 1:05.
120: Cameron Weissberg, Morris Catholic, pinned Mendoza, 1:57.
145: Guerra pinned Marc Dilluvio, Morristown, 1:43.
Quarterfinals, Feb. 22
145: Guerra pinned Nick Samara, Madison, 5:23.
Semifinals, Feb. 23
145: Guerra decisioned Dom Merola, Hanover Park, 9-8
145: Alex Winant, Mendham, decisioned Guerra, 9-7
BELLEVILLE H.S. STATE CHAMPIONS
Chris Musmanno, 170-pound division
Armando Nardone, 130
Emilio Nardone, 125
Emilio Nardone, 130
John Perna, 119
Anthony Conte, 103
BELLEVILLE H.S. STATE RUNNER-UPS
Chris Musmanno, 158
Armando Nardone, 130
Dan Hywell, 160
John Perna, 103
Josh Cardinale, 119
John Perna, 112
Anthony Conte, 112
Nick Mattia, 103