BLOOMFIELD, NJ — The Bloomfield High School wrestling program, under head coach Ryan Smircich, enters the season with much optimism.
On the girls side, the program will be led by senior Kira Pipkins, arguably the best female wrestler in the state. Pipkins is a three-time New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association girls state champion.
“This season we are happy to have Kira Pipkins back for her senior season,” said Smircich in an email to The Independent Press. “She is a role model to all wrestlers in our program, and she continues to be a positive role model on and off the mat.”
This summer, Pipkins, along with 2022 BHS graduate and state champion Gianna Faura, participated in the USA Wrestling Junior National Championships in Fargo, N.D. Pipkins finished between 12th and 16th out of 100 competitors in her weight class.
Ahlexa Montalvo, a junior, and sophomore Madelyn McLaughlin also will be leaders who had excellent offseasons that included participating in other sports, Smircich said.
Smircich is also excited about freshmen Leanna Noel and Saharia Quimina.
“Both of these girls have multiple years of rec wrestling experience,” Smircich said.
BHS will participate in the girls Garfield Holiday Wrestling Tournament on Friday, Dec. 16, to begin the season, and will host its Girls Holiday Wrestling Tournament on Sunday, Dec. 18. Bloomfield also will host two girls-only dual meets, on Friday, Dec. 30, against Vernon, and on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 16, against Morris Hills.
The Bloomfield boys will be led by senior Juan Millan, a returning district champion. Smircich is also expecting big seasons from seniors Alexavier Hansen and Estuardo Lopez, juniors Trevor Frantantoni and Damian Torres, and sophomores Gabriel McCullough and Anthony Lizama.
In addition, Smircich has high expectations for Rahjohn Plummer, Michael Marzano and Adrian Ortiz, who have put in a lot of time during the offseason. Meanwhile, freshman Matthew Miller is expected to see varsity action, as he has been a mainstay in the Bloomfield recreation program and a club wrestler, noted Smircich.
Overall, the program is expected to have a roster of 60 wrestlers.
Bloomfield will take part in the Kearny Holiday Tournament on Saturday, Dec. 17, and host Secaucus and Montclair on Monday, Dec. 19.
Smircich’s assistant coaches are Jason Galioto, Kyle Christensen and Christopher Lombardi, a former Long Island standout who wrestled at The College of New Jersey.
Kelechi Ibeh has been added to the coaching staff. He is a BHS graduate and a physical education and health teacher. “We are looking forward to his presence and having another coach on staff in the building,” Smircich said.
A major addition to the program is BHS’s new strength and conditioning program, which is led by Al Chiaravallo. “Strength and conditioning will be year-round for BHS athletes and started in July, and many wrestlers have taken advantage of this new program,” Smircich said.
Here is the schedule.
- Dec. 16: Garfield Holiday Girls Tournament.
- Dec. 17: Kearny Tournament, 9 a.m.
- Dec. 18: Bloomfield Girls Tournament.
- Dec. 19: vs. Secaucus and Montclair, 6 p.m.
- Dec. 21: vs. Seton Hall Prep, 6 p.m.
- Dec. 28: at Weehawken, 1 p.m.
- Dec. 29: Cliffside Park Tournament, 9 a.m.
- Dec. 30: vs. Vernon, girls only, 11 a.m.
- Jan. 4: vs. Caldwell, 6 p.m.
- Jan. 6: at Irvington, 6 p.m.
- Jan. 7: vs. Clifton, Teaneck, Westfield, 10 a.m.
- Jan. 8: at Elizabeth Girls Tournament, 9 a.m.
- Jan. 10: at Hackettstown, 6 p.m.
- Jan. 12: vs. Millburn, 6 p.m.
- Jan. 13: vs. West Essex, 6 p.m.
- Jan. 14: vs. North Bergen, Hackensack, Morristown, 10 a.m.
- Jan. 15: at Somerville Girls Tournament, 9 a.m.
- Jan. 16: vs. Morris Hills, girls only, 11 a.m.
- Jan. 18: at West Orange, 7 p.m.
- Jan. 20: at Livingston, 7 p.m.
- Jan. 21: at Kearny, with Belleville, Orange, 10 a.m.
- Jan. 22: Bergen County Girls Tournament, at Rockland Community College, 9 a.m.
- Jan. 25-26: Essex County Tournament, at Richard J. Codey Arena, in West Orange, 5 p.m.
- Jan. 30: at Lyndhurst, 7 p.m.
- Jan. 31: vs. Union City, Cedar Grove, 5 p.m.
- Feb. 3: vs. Nutley, 6 p.m.
- Feb. 4: vs. Columbia and Verona, boys; vs. Verona, girls, 10 a.m.
- Feb. 10: vs. Pascack Hills, 6 p.m.
- Feb. 11: vs. Union, Rutherford, Belvidere, 10 a.m.
- Feb. 18: Districts.
- Feb. 19: Girls Regions.
- Feb. 24-25: Regions.
- Feb. 26: Girls State Tournament, at Phillipsburg High School.
Photos Courtesy of Jerry Simon