BLOOMFIELD, NJ-- As Ryan Smircich begins his third season as head wrestling coach at Bloomfield High, he is very confident the program will continue the success it achieved last season, despite losing a key member of the team.

The Bengals will open the 2019-2020 regular season at the Kearny Tournament, on Dec. 21, at Kearny High, beginning at 9 a.m. On Dec. 27, the team heads to Secaucus High, for a holiday tournament, which starts at 9 a.m. The second annual Bloomfield Holiday Tournament, for the females, is set for Dec. 26, at Bloomfield High, beginning at 10 a.m.

Smircich led the Bengals to an outstanding season last winter, as the team finished 22-6, an incredible upswing off the previous year, when it finished 9-20.

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"We made a lot of progress last year," said Smircich. "And we want to continue that this season."

Bloomfield will be without the services of heavyweight Jeff Diaz, who injured his knee and will need surgery.

"That's a tough loss," said Smircich. "But Jeff will be an important part of the team. He's at every practice and we'll have him at our matches. He's a big part of this team."

There was an excellent turnout of wrestlers out for the team, with 50 boys and eight girls on the roster. The coaching staff consists of Smircich, Jason Galioto, Al Chiaravallo and James Chauncey. All three assistants are former Bengal standout wrestlers.

Among the new wrestlers this year is junior Dillon Jennings, a transfer student who should fit in well at 195 pounds. 

There's good competition at a number of the weight classes, heading into the Kearny Tournament.

"We have a lot of matches scheduled this year," said Smircich. "And with that, it should be give plenty of guys opportunity to compete. We oipen with a few tournaments, then get ready for our first quad (on Jan. 4). As a team, our goal is to finish in the top four in the county, as well as advance kids into the districts, regions and into the state championships. A lot of guys wrestled over the spring and summer and we've had good work in the weight room. Our kids are excited to get started."

At 106 pounds, Johnny Johnny Marfia and Justin Martinez have been working while Kevin Ortiz, Juan Millan, Kira Pipkins and Ernesto McRae have been candidates at 113 pounds.

Gerald VanBaelen and Elias Escobar are at 120 pounds while Jacob Febo and Jacob Suriel are competing at 126. Ramin B-Razavi (132), D'Isaiah Larrea and Jay Perez (138), Chris Kopacz (145), Jared Garcia (152), Raiden Pipkins, Sebastian Mendez and Milazim Malqi (160), Alex Soja (170), Zach Andruchowitz and Darren Delgado (182), Jennings and Yosvaldy Dominguez (220) and heavyweights Shamir Atkinson, Danny Nichol and Jimmy Rodriguez make up a majority of the varsity roster.