WEST ORANGE, NJ - Mountaineer wrestling has had its share of success in recent years. Finishing with a 12-8 regular season record last year and winning the State Sectional Title two years ago, the Mountaineers plan to continue their success. If this year's start is any indication, they are well on their way to another outstanding season.
The Mountaineers started off their season on a high note, tying for First place at the Dover Holiday Tournament amongst some of the state's most elite programs. “The coaching staff could not be happier with how our wrestlers competed,” said Head Coach Stephan Zichella.
On January 8, West Orange toppled Montclair, 72-4. On Jan. 10, the team took on West Essex and lost, 34-24, and turned around on Jan. 11 to beat both South and East Brunswick, 48-21 and 46-21, respectively. The Mountaineers have a current 3-1-0 standing.
Several wrestlers graduated in June 2013, and the Mountaineers will look to up and coming wrestlers to fill gaps. “Having to replace last year's seniors will be tough, but we have to look at the positive and ready some of our inexperienced wrestlers,” said Zichella.
106 pound freshman Victor Lopez is a newcomer that looks to make a lot of noise during his freshman campaign. A few others that should bolster a solid line up for the Mountaineers are Senior Dean Franco (126 pounds), Junior Sam Zheng (132/138 pounds), Junior Alexander Elliott (152 pounds), Sophomore Temitayo Adesokan (160 pounds), Junior Justin Givens (220 pounds) and Senior Antoyne Ageday (220 pounds/ Heavyweight).
As the underclassmen continue to develop, the Mountaineers also have solid core of wrestlers to lead the way. Senior Jordan Velez (145 lbs.) has started off the season on an excellent note, winning the Dover Holiday Tournament in December. Senior captain Jordan looks to win his 100th career match this season, a milestone accomplished by only a small handful of elite West Orange wrestlers. “Jordan has become one of the best wrestlers in Essex County,” said Zichella. “We are expecting big things from him.”
The second of the three captains is 220 lb. Dylan Pennell, who is bound for the Naval Academy in June. “He is one of the strongest leaders we've had in this program,” said Zichella. The Mountaineers will depend on Pennell to add depth to the top of the lineup.
Third captain, Junior Chris Morgan is, has already made a name for himself, winning 30 matches and a district title as a sophomore. “There are very few kids in the state that can match Chris's work ethic,” said Coach Zichella. “He has a high ceiling and we are expecting great things from Chris over the next two years.” Morgan started off the season placing first in the Dover Holiday Tournament.
The solid supporting cast of Junior 113 pounder Isaiah Adams has put in a strong off-season and looks to be among the top 113-pounders in Essex County. 120 pound Kevin Guardado is looking to build on a strong Junior year. “Guardado has been in the weight room every day,” said Zichella.
132 pound Senior Antonio Penna is one of the strongest wrestlers on the mat we've had in the past few years. “The highlight of Antonio's junior season came when he rattled off a few upsets in winning the District Championship at the 126 pound weight class,” said Zichella. 145 pound Senior Ronnie Charles will help the Mountaineers in the middle of the lineup, and Seniors McDerby Ceneus and Noah Miller (160 and 170 lbs.) are expected to bolster the team in their final season.