Wrestling: 42 Local High Schoolers Punch Ticket to State Championships

New Providence's Dan Kourakos battles with Hanover Park's Anthony Oliveri in the 160 lb. Region 3 championship bout. Oliveri won the match 5-1. Credits: Michael Bruchert

UNION, NJ – The Region 3 wrestling state championship representatives have been decided.

Following three full days of heated grappling, 42 high school wrestlers punched their ticked to next week’s state finals at Union High School.

Delbarton dominated the tournament, taking home five region titles and eight spots in the finals.

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Nick Farro, Delbarton’s junior 132 lb. grappler took home the top individual prize of the weekend when he was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler by the Region 3 coaches.

All Top 3 finishers move on to next weekend’s state championship at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Matches begin on Friday night, culminating in the state championship matches on Sunday afternoon.

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106 lb.

Championship Final: Pat Glory (Delbarton) def. Gerard Angelo (Hanover Park) by a 1-0 decision

Four escape points decided the entire 106 lb. weight class. Delbarton’s Pat Glory took advantage of the down position to open the second period, escaping the grasp of Hanover Park’s Gerard Angelo to take the only lead of the match. Glory then held Angelo from a equalizing the score in the third to take the top spot in the class.

Consolation Final: PJ Gohn (Parsippany) def. Joe Heilman (South Plainfield) by a 3-1 decision

Parsippany sophomore PJ Gohn and South Plainfield’s Joe Heilman exchanged escape points in the second and third period to force a sudden death overtime.  In the extra session Gohn took down Heilman with 35 seconds to play in the period, earning the third state championship spot, 3-1.

Top 3:
1st: Pat Glory - Delbarton
2nd: Gerard Angelo – Hanover Park
3rd: PJ Gohn – Parsippany

113 lb.

Championship Final: Sean Conley (Hanover Park) def. Kevin Jones (Parsippany) by a 4-1 decision

Sean Conley earned four points on two separate takedowns in the final two periods to defeat Kevin Jones in the 113 lb. final

Consolation Final: Chris Goral (Roselle Park) def. Nicholas Mele (Gov. Livingston) by an 8-3 decision

Chris Goral scored the first six points of the match, including two takedowns and a reversal, yet still found himself fighting for his state tournament life.

Leading 6-0 in the third, Nicholas Mele turned Goral around and earned three back points but couldn’t finish the pin with 1:30 to play. Less than a minute late, with Mele pressuring to earn more, Goral took the Highlander junior down to the mat for two more points and the region’s final spot in next week’s state tournament.

Top 3:
1st: Sean Conley (Hanover Park)
2nd: Kevin Jones (Parsippany)
3rd: Chris Goral (Roselle Park)

120 lb.

Championship Final: Ty Agaisse (Delbarton) def. Lou Raimo (Hanover Park) by major decision, 15-5

Ty Agaisse showed the crowd watching the Region 3 finals why he deserves to go back to Atlantic City. The defending state champion dominated Lou Raimo en route to a 15-5 major decision victory.

Consolation Final: Tom Di Giovanni (Cranford) def. Phillip Angelo (Summit) by a 3-2 decision.

Cranford’s Tom Di Giovanni led the third place match from start to finish, taking a coveted spot in next week’s final.

Di Giovanni picked up two points in the first period on a takedown. After Angelo earned a point in the final minute of the opener, Di Giovanni reciprocated with an escape point of his own to start the second period.

Trailing 3-1 in the third, Angelo took a 1-point escape in the last minute, but fell short of tying the score late in the period.

Top 3:
1st: Ty Agaisse (Delbarton)
2nd: Lou Raimo (Hanover Park)
3rd: Tom Di Giovanni (Cranford)

126 lb.

Championship Final: Anthony Cefolo (Hanover Park) def. Chris Scorese (Cranford) by pinfall.

The highest scoring match of the Region 3 finals didn’t even come down to points. Leading 12-6 in the final minute of the middle frame, Anthony Cefolo pinned Chris Scorese at the 3:04 mark.

Cefolo took Scorese down four times in the first period, but a nifty escape-turned-takedown by the Cranford sophomore in the final minute cut the match to 10-6.
After a fifth 2-point takedown in the opening minute of the second period, Cefolo earned the pin to take the weight class.

Consolation Final: Val Miele (Delbarton) def. Jeff Johnson (Middlesex/Dunellen) with a 3-1 decision.

Top 3:
1st: Anthony Cefolo – Hanover Park
2nd: Chris Scorese - Cranford
3rd: Val Miele - Delbarton

132 lb.

Championship Final: Nick Farro (Delbarton) def. Craig De La Cruz (Summit) by a 6-5 decision.

Craig De La Cruz never trailed in the 132 lb. consolation final until the final minute. With the score 4-3 in the third period, De La Cruz lost his grip on Nick Farro, who earned a 1-point escape to tie the score. Farro quickly followed with a 2-point takedown with 50 seconds to play to take his first lead of the match.

De La Cruz fought for an escape point with 19 seconds to play but couldn’t manage another scoring opportunity, as Farro took the final state tournament spot with the 6-5 decision.

Consolation Final: Austin Nash (Hanover Park) def. Stephen Persaud (Parsippany) in a 3-1 decision.

Top 3:
1st: Nick Farro - Delbarton
2nd: Craig De La Cruz - Summit
3rd: Austin Nash – Hanover Park


138 lb.

Championship Final: Tyler Gazaway (New Providence) def. JT Beirne (Scotch Plains-Fanwood) by a 2-1 decision.

No. 2 JT Beirne  led top-seeded Tyler Gazaway 1-0 on a single escape point heading into the final period.

Going from the down position in the third, Gazaway reversed Beirne down to the mat, earning two points en route to his first career Region 3 title.

Consolation Final: Daniel Hedden (South Plainfield) def. Aidan Monteverdi by a 6-1 decision

Following a scoreless opening period, Daniel Hedden earned two sets of takedown points in the middle frame to take control of the third place match. Hedden added a two more takedown points in the final period, before Monteverdi avoided the shutout with an escape in the match’s final 30 seconds.

Top 3:
1st: Tyler Gazaway – New Providence
2nd: TJ Beirne – Scotch Plains-Fanwood
3rd: Daniel Hedden – South Plainfield

145 lb.

Championship Final: Travis Vasquez (Delbarton) def. Alex Murray (Watchung Hills) by a 5-0 decision.

Travis Vasquez scored two takedown points 20 seconds into the match, his first of three scoring plays, en route to a 5-0 shutout victory to win the weight class.

The senior grappler added a 1-point escape and a second takedown in the second period to beat the second-seeded Alex Murray.

Consolation Final: Christian Bassolino (Hanover Park) def. Brian Lapham (Scotch Plains-Fanwood) by a 9-3 decision

Hanover Park’s Christian Bassolino scored the first four points of the match and never looked back, defeating Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s Brian Lapham by a 9-3 decision.

Bassolino took Lapham done to the mat twice in the first period, before Lapham got on the scoreboard with an escape point in the early stages of the middle frame. Bassolino answered with a third takedown to lead 6-2 after two periods.

In the third, the Hanover Park senior escaped from Lapham’s grasp then quickly turned the move into his fourth takedown to go on top 9-2. Lapham added an escape point in the final minute.

Top 3:
1st: Travis Vasquez - Delbarton
2nd: Alex Murray – Watchung Hills
3rd: Christian Bassolino – Hanover Park


152 lb.

Championship Final: Joe Tavaso (Delbarton) def. Gavin Murray (Cranford) by a 6-4 decision

Cranford’s Gavin Murray lost just one match heading into the Region 3 final. Facing Joe Tavoso, one of the biggest opponents of Murray’s year, Tavoso capitalized on three takedowns to beat top-seeded Murray, 6-4.

Tavoso sandwiched two takedowns around a Murray escape in the first period to lead 4-1. After Murray escaped Tavaso’s initial grapple in the second, the Delbarton senior added his third takedown in the final minute to take a 6-2 advantage into the third period.

In the final period, Murray earned a 2-point takedown in the first 15 seconds but couldn’t muster another chance, falling 6-4.

Consolation Final: Samuel Champi (Morristown) def. Majid Abdur Rahman (Rahway) by pinfall

Morristown’s Samuel Champi picked up his first pinfall victory of this region tournament, holding Abdur Rahman to the ground eight seconds into the second period.

Starting from the high position, Champi wrestled the Rahway senior to the ground then turned Abdur Rahman onto his back. After earning two back points, Champi finished the match with a pin at the 3:12 mark.

Top 3:
1st: Joe Tavaso - Delbarton
2nd: Gavin Murray - Cranford
3rd: Samuel Champi - Morristown

160 lb.

Championship Final: Anthony Oliveri (Hanover Park) def. Dan Kourakos (New Providence) in a 5-1 decision

Hanover Park’s Anthony Oliveri earned the first five points of the match en route to the Region 3 championship over New Providence Dan Kourakos, 5-1.
Oliveri earned his first two points on a takedown off a neutral restart in the final 15 seconds of the first period. Five seconds in to the second, Oliveri earned a third point on an escape and kept that lead going into the third.

Trailing by three, Kourakos couldn’t escape from Oliveri’s grasp in the opening seconds of the final frame. Instead, Oliveri took down the New Providence senior 45 seconds in to take a 5-0 lead.

Kourakos managed to break the shutout with five seconds to play via an escape point.

Consolation Final: Joseph Prato (Whippany Park) def. Jarek Gozdieski (Westfield) by a 3-1 overtime decision

Whippany Park’s Joseph Prato and Westfield’s Jarek Gozdieski alternated escape points in the second and third periods to force overtime. In the extra session, Prato earned two takedown points with four seconds left to earn the class’s third state tournament bid.

Top 3:
1st: Anthony Oliveri – Hanover Park
2nd: Dan Kourakos – New Providence
3rd: Joseph Prato – Whippany Park

170 lb.

Championship Final: Evan Goodridge (Rahway) def. Luke Anselmi (Delbarton) by a 7-3 decision

Rahway’s Evan Goodridge took Luke Anselmi down three times during the course of the match, including twice in the second period to set the pace.

Leading 4-2 after two, Anselmi earned an escape point in the opening seconds of the third frame, followed by a takedown in the final 30 seconds of the period en route to a 7-3 victory.

Consolation Final: Aarin Feliz (Parsippany) def. Eric Fiorino (Boonton) by a 7-3 decision.

Top 3:
1st: Evan Goodridge - Rahway
2nd: Luke Anselmi - Delbarton
3rd: Aarin Feliz – Parsippany

182 lb.

Championship Final: Niko Cappello (Cranford) def. Rohan Phillip (Plainfield) by a 7-5 overtime decision

Niko Cappello almost didn’t get to overtime.  The Cranford junior trailed by two in the third period before he earned three back points to take the late lead.

Facing his first deficit, Rohan Phillip tied the match with an escape point that sent the final into overtime, setting up Cappello’s championship-winning takedown.

Cappello came from behind in the third period to force the extra session. Trailing by two in the final frame, Cappello earned three back points to take a one point advantage. Phillip was able to tie the score with an escape point.

Consolation Final: LJ Castellano (Delbarton) def. Christian Gonzalez (South Plainfield) by a 10-4 decision

South Plainfield’s Christian Gonzalez was sitting in the driver’s seat of the 182 lb. third place match. However, LJ Castellano came alive for eight points in the final 40 seconds of the second period en route to a 10-4 victory.

Gonzalez earned two points in each of the first two periods on takedowns.

Top 3:
1st: Niko Cappello - Cranford
2nd: Rohan Phillip - Plainfield
3rd: LJ Castellano - Delbarton

195 lb.

Championship Final: Andrew Massefski (Parsippany) def. James Valley (North Plainfield) by a 6-5 overtime decision

Parsippany’s Andrew Massefski took the air out of the North Plainfield crowd in the second overtime period. After James Valley took a 5-4 lead early in the extra session, Massefski earned a 2-point takedown with 21 seconds to play to clinch the 195 lb. Region 3 title.

The duo exchanged leads throughout regulation, with Valley controlling the first period on a takedown, before Massefski earned escape and takedown points in the middle frame.

Trailing by one in the third, Valley forced overtime with an escape of his own.

Consolation Final: Alex Mirabella (Scotch Plains-Fanwood) def. Khalil Burns (Linden) by pinfall

Scotch Plains-Fanwood senior Alex Mirabella pinned Linden’s Khalil Burns at the 2:50 point of the match to take third place in Region 3 and punch his ticket to the state finals.

Top 3:
1st: Andrew Massefski - Parsippany
2nd: James Valley – North Plainfield
3rd: Alex Mirabella - Scotch Plains-Fanwood


220 lb.
Championship Final: David Tobe (Elizabeth) def. Saverio Salcfas (Brearley/Dayton) by a 3-2 ultimate tie break

Elizabeth’s David Tobe and David Brearley/Jonathan Dayton’s Saverio Salcfas went as far as you can go in high school wrestling.

Normal overtime periods weren’t enough for the duo, as the 220 lb. final came down to the ultimate tie break.

Tobe held on to Salcfas’ leg as the final overtime ticked down to zero, earning one point and the Region 3 title.

Consolation Final: Alexis Villegas (Morristown) def. Colter Spurlock (Westfield) by a 5-3 decision

Morristown’s Alexis Villegas and Westfield’s Culter Spurlock traded points the entire match. Unfortunately for Spurlock, Villegas scored four takedown points plus an escape, to win the consolation final, 5-3.

After Villegas scored an escape point to open the second period, the score remained 1-0 until the final frame.

Spurlock countered with an escape of his own in the opening seconds of the third. Tied at 1-1, Villegas scored four points in the final minute on two takedowns to secure the victory.

Top 3:
1st: David Tobe - Elizabeth
2nd: Saverio Salcfas – David Brearley/Jonathan Dayton
3rd: Alexis Villegas - Morristown

285 lb.

Championship Final: Lloyd Jackson (Elizabeth) def. Victor Rivera (Barringer) by a 2-1 decision

Elizabeth’s Lloyd Jackson outlasted Barringer’s Victor Rivera, 2-1, to take home the Region 3 title. Jackson’s victory capped Elizabeth High School’s domination of the two biggest weight classes in the region.

Consolation Final: David Brown (Union) def. Edson Flores (Middlesex/Dunellen) by a 3-2 ultimate tie break.

Top 3:
1st: Lloyd Jackson - Elizabeth
2nd: Victor Rivera - Barringer
3rd: David Brown - Union

Editor’s Note: Michael Bruchert contributed to this story.

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