UNION, NJ - The New Providence and Gov. Livingston High wrestling squads were each represented as the individual portion of the 2021 wrestling season began this past weekend at four sites across the state.
While the traditional sequence of 'Districts-Regions-State Tournament' wasn't followed this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic the NJSIAA put forth what they deemed the next best thing.
Four 'Super Regions' were contested with the top four wrestlers in each weight class in each region advancing to the state tournament on April 24-25 at Philipsburg High. The traditional state tournament would normally be held on the first weekend in March at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
"Considering everything that the teams have gone through this year I think they did as well as they could," said New Providence head coach Shane Mallory. "It ran pretty smooth for both days, all things considered."
New Providence and Gov. Livingston each participated at Union High, which was the home of the North Jersey, Section 2 Region, which included teams from the traditional Regions 3 and 4.
For Gov. Livingston, senior Patrick Nevins was seeded fifth for the 152-pound bracket and won his first match on Sunday morning, earning a fall in 2:42 over 12th-seeded Hunter Cleaver of Phillipsburg.
Nevins then battled but suffered a hard-fought 6-4 loss to 13th-seeded Jack See of Somerville in the quarterfinal round.
Nevins then dropped into the consolation bracket and again fought valiantly but lost an 11-9 decision to Nicholas Campagna of South Plainfield in a wrestleback quarterfinal.
Nevins' teammate, Kyle Savino, a junior, was seeded 14th in the 160-pound bracket and was defeated by third-seeded Blake Bahna of Watchung Hills, 8-0, in his first round match to finish 5-2 this year.
Bahna, a senior, went on to defeat fifth-seeded Louis Cerchio of Delbarton in a 5:30 fall for the 160-pound championship.
Gov. Livingston finished this season with a 5-1 dual meet record under head coach Rick Ortega, who was the 130-pound state champion for Gov. Livingston as a senior in 1993.
Gavin Trippichio was the lone New Providence wrestler who qualified for the Super Regions.
The talented senior was seeded 13th in the 182-pound bracket and lost by fall in 2:23 to fourth-seeded Alex Uryniak of North Hunterdon in his first round match.
Uryniak went on to claim the bronze medal in the 182-pound weight class while Trippichio finished his season with a 7-3 record.
"I think Gavin wrestled hard," said Mallory. "It was a tough matchup for him against a kid that should be competing for state titles over the course of his career.
"Considered that qualification was based on last year's criteria I was pleasantly surprised that Gavin was able to take part but I'm glad he did and was able to experience this as a senior."
Mallory, like Ortega, has a strong pedigree in the sport. Mallory is a three-time Region 3 champion and was the state runner-up at 189 pounds as a senior in 2005. In 2010, Mallory competed in the NCAA Division 2 championships and finished second in the 184-pound weight class earning all-America status in the process.
This year, New Providence fashioned a 2-9 record in dual meets.
"It takes patience and time to develop a program," said Mallory, who just concluded his fourth season at the helm of the Pioneers. "My first two years we had one and two team wins, respectively, before winning 11 matches last year. This year effected everybody and was tough on so many programs it sort of halted our momentum. Hopefully we can have a more normal season next year."