Devin Rocha finishes runner-up to pace Columbia HS wrestling team at Essex County Tournament

MAPLEWOOD, NJ (updated Monday Jan. 22, 11:11 a.m.) – Devin Rocha finished in second place in the 138-pound weight class to lead the Columbia High School varsity wrestling team at the Essex County Tournament, Jan. 18-19, at Richard J. Codey Arena in West Orange.

Rocha, a junior who was seeded No. 2 in the tournament, advanced to the final where he lost to top-seeded Maguire Pecci of Seton Hall Prep by a 7-3 decision.

Blake McGowan, a junior at the 145-pound weight class, and senior Hunter Dallison, at 195, each finished fourth for Columbia.

CHS sophomore Ben Morris finished seventh at the 152-pound class as he pinned Montclair’s Chad Sutherland in 2:38 in the seventh-place consolation bout.

Freshman Nathaniel Rocha, at 113, and senior Galileo Hetherington, at 285 heavyweight, each finished eighth for Columbia, which finished 10th in the team standings. Seton Hall Prep won the team title for the third straight season.

Devin Rocha finished in second place in the 138-pound weight class to lead the Columbia High School varsity wrestling team at the Essex County Tournament, Jan. 18-19, at Richard J. Codey Arena in West Orange.

Rocha, a junior who was seeded No. 2 in the tournament, advanced to the final where he lost to top-seeded Maguire Pecci of Seton Hall Prep by a 7-3 decision.

Blake McGowan, a junior at the 145-pound weight class, and senior Hunter Dallison, at 195, each finished fourth for Columbia.

CHS sophomore Ben Morris finished seventh at the 152-pound class as he pinned Montclair’s Chad Sutherland in 2:38 in the seventh-place consolation bout.

Freshman Nathaniel Rocha (Devin’s brother), at 113, and senior Galileo Hetherington, at 285 heavyweight, each finished eighth for Columbia, which finished 10th in the team standings. Seton Hall Prep won the team title for the third straight season.

“We had a good county tournament, but could have been a lot stronger pending certain circumstances,” said CHS first-year head coach Michael Freedman. “Both Hunter and Galileo were unable to compete the second day because of injuries. Hunter made the semifinals, but didn’t wrestle the second day so he finished fourth. Galileo also didn’t compete the second day, losing to the eventual champion on Day One, but we choose to rest him and heal for dual meets coming up. Nathaniel lost an overtime bout in the quarterfinals on Day One on a controversial call to the top seed, but didn’t make weight the second day.

“We had three wrestlers in the semifinals and honestly should have had four. Finishing in the top 10 is always a goal; however, we easily could have been top 6 or 7 as a team, but it is something to build on. This tournament showed the coaching staff  some of the things that the team has to fix heading into the postseason.”

NOTE: The CHS wrestling team will host a quad meet on Saturday, Jan. 27, against Bernards, Montclair and Belleville, beginning at 10 a.m. Bernards is coached by Dave Brothers, a CHS alumnus who preceded Hal Garwin as the Cougars head coach. Montclair is coached by Eugene Kline, Garwin’s former assistant coach.

Following the quad, Garwin will be honored at a Retirement Party during the annual CHS Wrestling Hall of Fame Dinner at O’Reilly’s Pub in Maplewood.

Garwin stepped down as CHS head wrestling coach at the end of last season. Garwin has been involved with wrestling in the Maplewood and South Orange communities for more than four decades. He started the youth program in 1972 and ran it until 1986. Garwin then coached the CHS freshman and JV teams from 1988 to 2006 where he then took over as varsity head coach.

There will not be an induction this year to the CHS Wrestling Hall of Fame.

ET team scores

1-Seton Hall Prep, 239.5 points; 2-West Essex, 169.5; 3-Caldwell, 150.0; 4-Cedar Grove, 142.0; 5-Livingston, 138.0; 6-Nutley, 116.5; 7-Verona, 113.0; 8-West Orange, 87.5; 9-Irvington, 83.0; 10-Columbia, 67.0; 11-Orange, 57.0; 12-Montclair, 50.0; 13-Millburn, 38.0; 14-Glen Ridge, 31.0; 15-East Orange, 25.0; 16-Newark Academy, 23.0; 17-Belleville, 22.0; 18-East Side, 14.5; 19-Barringer, 11.0; 20-Bloomfield, 10.0; 20-Newark Collegiate, 10.0; 22-Weequahic, 5.0

 

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