Seton Hall Prep wrestling team has high hopes for another dominant campaign

Pirates return 13 of 14 starters, including five state tourney qualifiers

Michael Massa competes at the Essex County Tournament last season.
Photos by Rich Morris/Courtesy of SHP.
Larry Melchionda, top, competes at the Essex County Tournament last season.

WEST ORANGE, NJ — As the Seton Hall Prep wrestling team has begun to practice and prepare for the 2019-20 season, head coach Jack Decker and his staff — Ron DiLeo, Nick Dorey and  Lou Mascola — are really excited about the upcoming season.

Decker is entering his 11th year as the head coach of the Pirates and has a 148-69  dual meet record while his teams have captured five Super Essex Conference-American Division titles, including the last three in a row, five Essex County Tournament titles, including the last four in a row and two district titles.

Decker said, “We return 13 of 14 starters, including five state tournament qualifiers. We have a very experienced group of returning wrestlers. We will be a very balanced lineup and we will have some depth, which is very useful in close matches.”

Among the top returning wrestlers are seniors Larry Melchionda, Zach Merlino, Michael Massa, Andrew Mitzak, Aidan Cunningham, Dean Musialowicz and AJ Hinton; juniors Jack Wilt, Conner Decker, Cole Carroll and Gabriel Jimenez and sophomore Joe Sciarrone.

A few seniors also had some thoughts on the upcoming season. Melchionda said, “We are ready for the season and excited for the team. It is a good group of guys coming back and I feel that we can make a big impact this year.”

Merlino added, “I think we look good with five state qualifiers back from last year and another seven guys that can make a push to Atlantic City. We have very good chemistry that has been built over the last four years.”

Massa commented, “I am excited about the season because we have a lot of experienced wrestlers coming back and we should do very well as a team.”


Dec. 20-22, Beast of the East, at University of Delaware, 8:30 a.m.

Dec. 28, at South Plainfield, 11 a.m.

Dec. 30, Tri-meet at Delsea with Kingway, 10 a.m.

Jan. 3-4, Sam Cali Battle for the Belt Invitational, at West Orange, 9 a.m.

Jan. 8, at Verona, 7 p.m.

Jan. 10, Nutley, 7 p.m.

Jan. 11, Quad meet at Livingston, with Rumson-Fair Haven, Mahwah, 9  a.m.

Jan. 16-17, Essex County Tournament, at Codey Arena, 4 p.m.

Jan. 22, at Bloomfield, 7 p.m.

Jan. 24, Caldwell, 7 p.m.

Jan. 25, Tri-meet at St. John Vianney with Paramus Catholic, 11 a.m.

Jan. 28, Piscataway, 7 p.m.

Jan. 29, at Belleville, 6 p.m.

Jan. 31, at West Essex, 7 p.m.

Feb. 2, St. Peter’s Prep (Jersey City), 10 a.m.

Feb. 5, at Pope John (Sparta), 7 pm.

Feb. 7, West Orange, 7 p.m.

Feb. 10, Non-Public “A” North state tournament quarterfinals

Feb. 12, Non-Public “A” North state tournament semifinals

Feb. 14, Non-Public “A: North state tournament final

Feb. 16, Non-Public “A” final, at RWJ Barnabus Heath Arena, Toms River North High School

Feb. 22, Districts, at Scotch Plains HS

Feb. 26, 28-29, Regions, at Union HS

March 5-7, State Finals, at Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City