BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Gov. Livingston High wrestling team got off to a fast start on Thursday afternoon winning the first six bouts against the Brearley/Dayton co-op team to earn its fourth victory of the season - a 52-27 decision - in Kenilworth.
"We wrestled well," said Highlanders' head coach Rick Ortega. "We got good results early on and that helped a lot."
The match began at 145 pounds with Jack Huss winning by fall in 3:46 followed by Joseph Dasti earning a 10-0 major decision at 152.
After Kyle Savino won by forfeit at 160 pounds, Theodore Scalora (170), Bejamin Faxon (182) and Jayson Schmidt (195) all won by pinfall to give the Highlanders a 34-0 lead.
Luke Stallone (heavyweight) and Christian Sabatino (106 pounds) won by forfeit before Jack Sergio earned a win by fall at 126 to cap the victory.
"Huss, Dasti, Scalora, Faxon, Schmidt and Sergio all did a good job for us," said Ortega, who was the 130-pound state champion for Gov. Livingston as a senior in 1993.
Huss moved up to 145 on Thursday to fill the void left by junior Scott Rayack, who suffered a season-ending dislocated elbow injury on Tuesday in a match against Johnson.
"Scotty was actually up 14-5 and the injury happened on a weird exchange," Ortega explained. "He was in good spirits the next day and came back to visit the team, which was good to see."
The injury default by Rayack left the Highlanders trailing Johnson, 24-12, after seven bouts but Gov. Livingston rallied to win the next four bouts and trailed by just three points, 36-33, with one bout remaining.
In the deciding bout, Stallone made quick work of Dante Montuori and earned a pin in just 30 seconds to lift the Highlanders to a 39-36 win.
Stallone, now 4-1 this season, is back wrestling after taking a over a year away from the sport.
"I'm glad Luke decided to come back," said Ortega. "He left during his sophomore season, but he's been an active voice in our locker room and has been wrestling well."
The Highlanders are now 4-1 this season, which began in mid-March due to the coronavirus parameters set forth by the NJSIAA earlier this year.
"I think it's more odd for me as a coach than them," said Ortega. " It's good for them to be out and competing. Right now we're making sure we continue to do the right thing and stay safe, so we can continue to have a season."
While there won't be any county or team tournaments this season, there will still be a post-season individual state tournament, including four 'super region' tournaments on April 17-18 and a final tournament at Phillipsburg High on April 24-25.
"I'm not really sure how to feel about it yet, but it's something," said Ortega. "Everything will be done by committee, so it leaves lots of room for error, but it is what it is and hopefully next season is better."
Gov. Livingston will next be in action on Saturday, March 27 at Nutley at 1 p.m. before hosting Hillsborough on Monday, March 29 at 1 p.m., Linden on Tuesday, March 30 at 4 p.m. and Summit/Chatham on Thursday, April 1 at 4 p.m.