MAPLEWOOD, NJ – The Columbia High School varsity wrestling team finished second overall among 11 teams at the Belleville Buccaneer Classic on Saturday, Jan. 12.
The Cougars were led by four individual champions: senior Naquan Tory at the 106-pound weight class; senior Devin Rocha at 145; senior Blake McGowan at 170 and junior Max Moore at 195.
In addition, the team had two second-place finishers: junior CJ Love Jr. at 132 and freshman Tyson Carroll a 182.
Senior Amiri Greene placed third at 138.
“We had a very strong tournament and look to continue this momentum into the county tournament,” said CHS head coach Mike Freedman.
The Essex County Tournament will take place Thursday and Friday, Jan. 17-18, at Richard J. Codey Arena in West Orange.
“We have many guys that should have a strong Essex County Tournament showing,” said Freedman. “As a coach, I view the counties as a tournament right before the postseason, so our guys can see where they are at and what corrections they need to make to go far for the postseason.
“At 106, Naquan Tory will be a major factor, and if he wrestles to his ability, should be at the top of the podium,” added Freedman. “He is dropping down a weight class as he was at 113 for the majority of the season.”
Tory raised his record to 13-4 record following the Belleville tournament.
Love Jr., at 132, sported a 12-4 record. He won five straight matches entering the Belleville tournament.
Rocha, who improved to 16-3 following the Belleville tournament, finished runner-up at the ECT at 138 last season and will vie at either 138 or 145. He is looking to become Columbia’s first ECT champion since Rodney Cenat, who won the 285-pound title as a senior in 2013.
McGowan, who had a stellar 16-1 mark after the Belleville tournament, will be seeded either second or third. He can challenge for a title as well, Freedman said. “A few of our other wrestlers have a chance to do well and we should easily contend for a top 10 finish,” added Freedman.
The Cougars this season had a 4-3 dual-meet record through Jan. 11.