March 9, 2014 at 5:50 PM
WEST ORANGE, NJ - The West Orange Wrestling Mountaineers recently wrapped up yet another successful season. In a season filled with many high points, the biggest moment came on January 31 when the Mountaineers defeated a very tough Caldwell team to secure the Super Essex Conference championship. “The goal of every single year is to win one of the four major championships and we did just that,” said head coach Stephan Zichella.
West Orange concluded with a very impressive final record of 16-3. A standout victory this season included defeating Seton Hall Prep who was ranked second in the county at the time. Two of the losses came in close fashion to Clifton, a top-ranked team in the state.
The Mountaineers not only had tremendous success as a team but had individual standouts as well. The team boasted three district champions: freshman Victor Lopez (106 lb.); senior Jordan Velez (145 lb.), and Junior Chris Morgan, (182 lb.).
The team had six region quarter finalists: seniors Kevin Guardado (120); Antonio Penna (132 lb.), and Jordan Velez (145 lb.); juniors Isaiah Adams (113 lbs.) and Chris Morgan (182 lb.); and freshman Victor Lopez (106).
Jordan Velez and Chris Morgan both qualified for the state competition in Atlantic City. Velez lost in the preliminary round and Morgan lost in the semifinals but that did not diminish their outstanding talent. Velez celebrated his 100th victory last weekend and Morgan, a junior, will be formidable competition next season.
The success of the wrestlers is also owed to an outstanding coaching staff working alongside coach Zichella, consisting of Joe Spina, Jeffery Mazurek, Mark D'Elia, and Bryant Wanamaker. “They've always put our kids first and tried their best to challenge all the kids and make them better wrestlers,” said Zichella.
Zichella describes this year's team as having the highest character of any team he's ever coached. “They've showed exemplary character and it was apparent in everything we did. They built on an already extremely positive culture.” Senior leadership was a very large part in the teams successful 2013-2014 campaign.