Berkeley Heights PAL Wrestling Crowns 3 Champs, 10 Place Winners at League Tourney

Central Jersey Tournament Champs: Nate Faxon, Lucciano Santamaria, and Cristian Gioia Credits: BH PAL
Central Jersey Placewinners. Credits: BH PAL

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - After an eight-year absence, the Berkeley Heights PAL travel wrestling team made the bold decision to return to the elite Central Jersey League for the 2017-2018 season. The boys finished 7-7 in dual meet competition but saved their best for the prestigious year end tourney where they crowned three champions and 10 place winners out of 17 weight classes in the varsity division.

Fifth grader Lucciano Santamaria won the 67-pound division after pinning a tough opponent from Union in the finals. “Looch” scored repeatedly with a variety of leg attacks before getting the fall with a vicious reverse half nelson. Mountainside sixth grader Cristian Gioia came out of the No. 3 seed spot in the 80-pound division and ran the table with three consecutive wins including a major decision in the finals against a very experienced Edison opponent. None of Gioia’s opponents had an answer for his “Blair Ride” and cross wrist tilt series from the offensive position. At heavyweight fifth grader and top seed Nate Faxon pinned his way through the tourney to earn the gold medal.  The 10-year-old Faxon locked up a devastating cross-face cradle to stick a 12-year-old Middlesex wrestler in the finals.

In addition to these three champions, Berkeley Heights had seven other placewinners in the varsity division. Sixth graders Christian Sabatino (77 pounds) and Mac Chiefa (83) both finished as runners-up in deep and competitive weight classes. Sixth grader Joe Dasti (110) and third grader Nick Schiano (50) each lost tough semi-final matches but then dominated the consolation rounds to finish in third place. Sixth graders Grant Young (87), Matt Stecher (90) and Jace Wanca (70) all finished in fourth place. These 10 place winners will all advance to the season ending “A Flight” tourney that features the best of the best sixth grade and under wrestlers around.

Sign Up for E-News

Also wrestling in the varsity division were Owen Chait (95 pounds) and Troy Mayer (102). As a team, Berkeley Heights finished a scant three points behind Edison despite missing two key wrestlers due to illness.

Berkeley Heights also crowned a champion in the JV division as lightweight sensation Brandon McGuire brought home the title at 45 pounds. Fifth grader Chris D’Amato had a strong tourney, finishing in third place at JV 90 pounds. Also participating for Berkeley Heights in the JV division were Ollie Chait, Connor Jakubowski, Vincent Liss and Dean Santamaria.

In addition to this remarkable performance in Central Jersey and a fine season in the 8th grade and under North Jersey league, several Berkeley Heights matmen have been competing on the USA Wresting circuit with three young grapplers qualifying for the NJ State Championships to be held March 10th and 11th in Trenton. Nate Faxon qualified at 10 and under (125 pounds) where he looks to improve on his fifth place finish from the 2016 state championships. Cristian Gioia, who qualified at 12 and under (80 pounds), finished one match short of the podium last season and is poised to make a deep run in this year’s event.  Seventh grader Dante Gioia, who will be competing at 14 and under (85 pounds) is a definite state title threat at 85 pounds despite being the youngest grappler in his bracket.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News


Dear Susan: Beauty Tips from a Beauty Expert, Spring Edition

SUSAN BARBAGLIA, owner of Skin Deep Salon and Spa in New Providence, offers a wealth of knowledge and expertise as a leader in the beauty industry. With over thirty years experience in skin care, Susan can answer your most challenging beauty questions. Email your ...

Upcoming Events

Thu, March 22, 7:00 PM

Summit Free Public Library, Summit

The Long march home: An American Soldier's Life ...

Education Other


Fri, March 23, 4:00 PM

Resolve, Scotch Plains

Free Teen Anxiety Group (Ages 14-17) at Resolve

Fri, March 23, 8:00 PM

Burgdorff Center for the Performing Arts, Maplewood

Strollers Present John Patrick Shanley's "Doubt"

Arts & Entertainment

Sat, March 24, 10:00 AM

Burent Middle School , Union

Union County Wide - March for Our Lives

Government Law & Justice


Sat, March 24, 12:00 PM

Mountainside Rescue Squad, Mountainside

Mountainside Volunteer Rescue Squad Hosts Easter ...

Arts & Entertainment

Sat, March 24, 8:00 PM

Burgdorff Center for the Performing Arts, Maplewood

Strollers Present John Patrick Shanley's "Doubt"

Arts & Entertainment

Springfield Fire Department Delivers Baby on West I-78

March 22, 2018

SPRINGFIELD, NJ - On March 20, 2018 at 8:14 a.m. the Springfield Fire Department was dispatched to Route 78 Westbound near milepost 50.2 for a report of a woman in labor on the side of the road.  

Captain Mastroeni (Unit 2) & Chief Palumbo (Unit 1) were the first units to arrive on scene, and quickly recognized that the woman would be unable to make it to the hospital in time for ...

Driver Escapes Icy Waters After Car Goes Off Road Near Clark and Cranford Borders

March 21, 2018

CLARK, NJ –A car went off the road and into the river on the northbound Garden State Parkway between the Clark and Cranford exits during Wednesday night’s snowstorm.

According to Clark’s Chief of Police, Pedro Matos the car’s driver managed to escape the water.  Divers went in to the river and determined the car to be empty.  The sole occupant was ...

Holy Week Services at Trinity Cranford March 25th– April 1st, 2018

March 22, 2018

Trinity Episcopal Church, 119 Forest Avenue Cranford, invites everyone to come celebrate the Holy Week services at Trinity Cranford from March 25 to April 1st.  

Join us to feel the Grace of God throughout this exceptional week beginning with Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem on Palm/Passion Sunday, the contemplative Taize service on Monday, see the origins of the Eucharist ...

The Role of Meal Replacements in Weight Loss

March 20, 2018

Obesity is at epidemic proportions in the United States and in other developed and developing countries. The prevalence of obesity is increasing not only in adults, but also in children and adolescents. We all know that obesity is a significant risk factor for various chronic illnesses, most importantly heart disease and diabetes, but also cancer and osteoarthritis, liver and kidney disease, ...

You Want a Check for How Much!

 My first admissions gig was working for a small liberal arts college with a pretty hefty price tag.  Picture me at a college fair: name tag in place, pile of brochures ready to go.  An eager family would walk up and we’d start a conversation.  One of the first questions I’d get from parents was about cost and the moment that $50,000-plus figure left my mouth I ...