WEST ORANGE – Led by four individual champions and two runner-ups, the Seton Hall Prep varsity wrestling team won the team title at the Essex County Tournament, Jan. 21-22, at Richard J. Codey Arena in West Orange.
The Pirates, under head coach Jack Decker, had 177 team points, edging second-place Caldwell, which had 172.5 points, in the team standings. Nutley was third with 161 points; Cedar Grove was fourth with 137 and Verona was fifth with 112 among the 21 scoring teams.
The SHP champions were Charles Cunningham at the 126-pound weight class; Jake Smith at 132; T.J. Calas at 160; and Jonathan Alvarado at 220.
Joseph Pratola and Aidan Monteverdi each finished second at 120 and 152, respectively.
Maguire Pecci and Danny Young each finished third at 113 and 145, respectively.
The Pirates won their second ECT team title in three years and fourth overall.
SHP now has 45 ECT champs. It is now nine straight years that they have had at least one champion. It was the most champions (four) since 2005 when they had six. It is the most finalists (six) since 2005 when they had seven. Over the last 15 years (2002-16), SHP has placed in the top 3 finishes as a team in 10 of those years.
Following the announcement of the team champion, Decker said, “I am really proud of the effort of the entire team. Our set guys really wrestled to their seed in the tournament or exceeded it. They are gaining momentum going into the post-season, which is so important, team states, districts, regions, and state finals.” Cunningham said, “It feels great to win the title because I took third last year. It is a stepping stone for the districts, regions, team states, and state finals.”
Calas commented, “It feels great to win the ECT title. I watched my brother, Brenden, win three ECT titles and I want to follow in his footsteps.” Brenden Calas is a 2013 SHP graduate who was a two-time state champion in 2011 at 103 and 2012 at 113 and a state-runner-up in 2013 at 120.
Smith said, “It is a testament to how hard we work as a team in the room all season long. I am going to use this title as a stepping stone to work harder for the upcoming post-season.”
Alvarado is the fourth SHP freshman to ever win the county title. The others were Donnie DeFilippis, Angelo DiLeo and Lou Mascola. “It feels great to help the team win the county tournament,” Alvarado said. “This will help motivate me more to win the districts, regions and states.”
Pratola commented about the team title. “This feels awesome,” he said. “This is a great group of guys. We have a lot of fun. I would not want to be anywhere else but out here working with them.”
For West Orange High School, Victor Lopez won the 113-pound title and Noah Tandy finished fourth at 195. WOHS finished sixth in the team standings.
Earlier in the week, SHP dropped two tough dual meets. On Monday, Jan. 18, SHP fell at St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, 39-30. On Tuesday, Jan. 19, SHP lost at home to Nutley, 37-32.
SHP and WOHS results
113: Lopez, No. 1 seed, pinned Anthony Petrillo, Livingston, No. 2 seed, 5:30
120: Anthony Clarizio, Cedar Grove, No. 1 seed, pinned Pratola, SHP, No. 2 seed, 1:00
126: Cunningham, SHP, No. 1 seed, decisioned Frank Gabriele, Verona, No. 2 seed, 6-3
132: Smith, SHP, No. 4 seed, decisioned Jack Schultz, Cedar Grove, No. 3 seed, 5-1
152: Stevie Bonsall, Newark Academy, No. 3 seed, decisioned Monteverdi, SHP, No. 4 seed, 4-2
160: T.J. Calas, SHP, No. 1 seed, decisioned John Zarro, Nutley, No. 3 seed, 4-1
220: Alvarado, SHP, No. 1 seed, decisioned Adam Lutick, Bloomfield, No. 3 seed, 5-3
113: Pecci, SHP pinned Jimmy Loudon, Verona, 5:36
145: Young, SHP, decisioned Noah Struss, West Essex, 3-0
195: Donchard Jean-Paul, Irvington decisioned Tandy, West Orange, 5-2