BLOOMFIELD, NJ — The Bloomfield High School wrestling team enjoyed a great season this winter.
The Bengals, under head coach Ryan Smircich, finished with a stellar 25-6 record, including advancing to the semifinals of the North Jersey Section 1, Group 5 state tournament.
In addition, the team defeated Kearny, Clifton, West Orange Nutley for the first time in more than a decade, said Smircich.
“We had a solid year and are continuing to improve as a program,” Smircich said.
BHS enjoyed many highlights, led by freshman Kira Pipkins, who won the 114-pound title at the second-ever girls wrestling state tournament at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Pipkins went 21-1 against girls this season. Her lone loss came against Samantha Larsen of Wallkill Valley in the region tournament at Union HS. But she beat Larsen in the semifinals of the state tournament before pulling off a dramatic 6-4 sudden victory over Katrina Kling of Warren Hills in the final.
Smircich acknowledged that the loss of heavyweight Jeff Diaz, a state tournament qualifier last year, to injury was difficult.
But the addition of junior Dillon Jennings, a transfer, at the 195-weight class was a benefit to the program as he went 30-5 on the year. Unfortunately, he was injured before the start of the District 9 tournament in Livingston.
Zach Andruchowitz, a junior, continues to be a leader on and off the mat, Smircich said. Andruchowitz won the district title at 182 and was named the district most outstanding wretler. He also took third place in the Region 3 tournament at West Orange HS to earn a berth in the state tournament in Atlantic City for the second year in a row. Andruchowitz won his first match, but lost the next two to end his season with a 37-5 record. Last year at the state tournament, he lost both of his matches.
Senior D’Isaiah Larrea, at 145, also had a great year, finishing third in the district to qualify for the regions. He finished with a 30-10 record.
Larrea and Andruchowitz made second team, and Diaz and Jennings made honorable mention on the All-Super Essex Conference-American Division.
Juan Millan, a freshman at 113, was outstanding all year, going 28-9.
Other standouts included sophomore 126-pound Gerald VanBaelen, who took second at the district and finished 26-11; junior 113-pound Justin Martinez, 17-12 record; sophomore 120-pound Ernesto Rae, 18-8 record; junior 138-pound Ramin B-Razavi, district third place, 18-21 record; junior 170-pound Alex Soja, 18-13 record; senior 220-pound Yosvaldy Dominguez, 20-13 record; and senior 138-pound Jacob Febo, 13-3 record.
Smircich is excited about the future of the program.
“We finished the year with 45 boys and eight girls and look to continue to keep the high school numbers around 60,” he said. “We like getting many kids opportunities in the varsity line-up. We are ready to rest up for a month and heal up. April to June, the kids will have the option to wrestle in the township recreation’s spring wrestling for three months, three days a week. We are grateful to have such a supportive recreation department. We will compete again at the North Jersey Duals in Hopatcong in July and go to overnight summer camp at Kutztown University. We are extremely pleased how we are able to work together in town with all three levels of wrestling.”