BLOOMFIELD, NJ – Led by second-year head coach Ryan Smircich, the Bloomfield High School Varsity Wrestling squad looks to carry lessons learned last year into the new 2018-19 season that’s about to begin.
 
Last year’s young Bloomfield squad finished sixth in team standings among nine teams in the NJSIAA District 9 Tournament held at Phillipsburg High School.  In the Essex County Tournament, Bloomfield finished 20th in team standings.
 
“Coach Smircich has been working tirelessly to increase participation in his program – and early results appear that he was successful,” said BHS Athletic Director Steve Jenkins.  “He has instituted off season workouts and strength training and we are hopeful we will see that translate into improved performance.”
 
 
Senior Xavier Gulley returns, and last season represented Bloomfield at 285-pounds in the Region 3 Tournament and District 9 Tournament.
 
Sophomore Zachary Andruchowitz is back after a successful freshman campaign.  He received a fourth-place finish in the 160-pound class in the District Tournament.
 
Another key returnee is Junior Jacob Febo, who finished in sixth place in the 113-pound class last year in the Essex County Tournament.
 
Victor Celi, now a senior, is not returning – instead choosing to focus on soccer.

 
Bloomfield begins the season by competing in the Kearny Tournament on Saturday, December 15 at 9:30 am, taking on opponents from Kearny and North Bergen.
 
The Bengals host their home opener against Livingston High School on Wednesday, December 19 at 6 pm.  The Bengals then visit Irvington High School on Friday, December 21 at 6 pm.
 
A home triple-header at Bloomfield on Saturday, December 22 pits the Bengals against East Side of Newark at 9 am, followed by East Orange at 10:30 am, then Dwight Morrow High School at 12 noon.
 
During the Christmas week break, the Bloomfield grapplers hit the mat during the Secaucus Patriot Invitational Tournament on Thursday, December 27 at 10 am, facing opponents from Secaucus and Bergenfield.
 
In addition to the off-season strength and conditioning work that should have the Bengals primed to start the season strong, making sure the student-athletes perform well in the classroom is more important to Smircich and Jenkins.
 
“Most significantly, Coach Smircich monitors his kids academic performance all year as he motivates and encourages them to do well on the wrestling mat and in all facets of their lives,” Jenkins added.  “In just his second year, he has established a great culture within the wrestling program.”
 
In a return to his alma mater, new head coach Rami Ratel of Cedar Grove leads the Panthers into Bloomfield High School to battle the Bengals in a highly anticipated match on Tuesday, January 15 at 6 pm.
 
Ratel was a standout grappler at Bloomfield and undefeated during his senior year at Montclair State University in 2003, winning 39 matches in the 149-pound class and capturing the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championship.  He was a longtime Bengals assistant coach prior to landing the gig with Cedar Grove.
 
Looking ahead, the Essex County Tournament is set for Thursday, January 17 and Friday, January 18 at Codey Arena in West Orange.
 
The Bengals are in the Super Essex Conference – American Division along with Cedar Grove, Nutley, Verona, West Orange, Caldwell, Irvington, Seton Hall Prep and West Essex.