WEST ORANGE, NJ - The West Orange Mountaineer Wrestling team captured the Super Essex Conference Championship, 33-29, on Jan. 31 over the Caldwell Chiefs.
“We knew in the beginning of the year Caldwell was the team to beat,” said West Orange's head coach Stephan Zichella. “We were certainly the underdogs and we got an exceptional effort from all fourteen kids who wrestled today.”
The match opened at 106 pounds with freshman Victor Lopez of West Orange beating Kyle Maw by major decision, 11-1. West Orange continued their roll with a 2-1 victory from 113-pound junior Isaiah Adams over Dean Caravela, scoring on a reversal late in the match.
“Isaiah lost to Dean three times in the past and it's been a challenge of his to beat him,” said coach Zichella.
Momentum turned in favor of Caldwell with victories from 120-pound Mario Pitch (5-3), 126-pound Christian Della Riva (13-5), 132-pound Nick Russomano (8-1), and 138-pound Ryan Condit (sudden victory), all coming in a row for the Chiefs.
A major decision from 145-pound senior captain Jordan Velez and a decision from 160-pound McDerby Ceneus showed that West Orange was not out yet. The momentum carried when Daniel Okechukwu (170 pounds) pinned Joseph Valentino in the first period.
Junior Chris Morgan won by forfeit and pressure was on Alex Schuppel at 195 pounds, who clinched the Mountaineer's conference championship with a first period pin.
“Alex wasn't a varsity wrestler at the beginning of the year and he worked hard and he made himself very good,” said Zichella.
“This is the third conference championship we've won and this was unexpected. We're really excited and for us to beat them; I think everyone is going to consider us the best in the county,” added Zichella.
The Mountaineers look forward to carrying their success into the State Sectional as well as District Championships.