Seton Hall Prep advances four wrestlers to state finals in Atlantic City

WEST ORANGE, NJ – The Seton Hall Prep varsity wrestling team advanced four wrestlers to the NJSIAA state finals in Atlantic City.

Charles Cunningham, Danny Young, Alex Garcia, and Niko Diakides finished in the top four of their weight classes at the Region 4 tournament held at Union High School, Feb. 21, 23 and 24.

Cunningham, a senior who was the top seed at the 132-pound weight class, defeated Thomas Fierro, of South Plainfield, 5-2, to earn his first region title. Young, a senior who was the No. 2 seed at 160, was the runner-up to top-seed John Poznanski, of Colonia, who won by pin in :27. Diakides, a junior who was the third seed at 285, lost in the final to the No. 1-ranked wrestler in New Jersey, Lewis Fernandez, of Voorhees, when he was pinned in 2:31.

Garcia, a sophomore at 170, finished fourth after losing his third-place consolation to Vincent Mattaliano of Watchung Hills by pin in 1:18.

Senior Maguire Pecci finished in fifth place at 138 as he defeated Alex Amato of South Plainfield with a pin in :54. Conner Decker, a freshman at 113, finished in sixth place, dropping his fifth-place match to Colby Koshinski of Voorhees by pin in 3:56.

The following SHP wrestlers finished in seventh/eighth: sophomore 106-pound Larry Melchionda, freshman 145-pound Jack Wilt, sophomore 152-pound Michael Massa, and sophomore 182-pound Zach Merlino. Freshman 126-pound Cole Carroll lost in the first round.

The region tournament consisted of the top three finishers in each weight class from the District 13, 14, 15, and 16 tournaments. SHP competed in District 13 where it finished in second overall.

Following his region final match, Cunningham said,”I felt in control and confident. This year I was the number one seed and I expected to win it.” Young said, “It was a great feeling to reach the final because I really wanted to earn my ticket to Atlantic City. I am not happy that I did not win the weight class but I wrestled to my seed (No. 2) which I wanted to accomplish.”

Seton Hall Prep, which had a 19-1 dual-meet record this season,was also honored by being selected the number one ranked team in Region 4 in the coaches final poll, which is a tribute to ack Decker, who is in his ninth season as the SHP head coach and his excellent staff.  

The state finals will be held at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, March 2, 3, and 4.