NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - New Providence High School wrestling team faced-off against Brearley on Friday for the Pioneers' last home match of the season on a night to honor their seniors, as well as past Pioneer champions and future all-stars.
The senior wrestlers were called up to the mat, one-by-one, to be formally recognized, accompanied by their parents and New Providence head coach John Scholz. The seven seniors honored were: John Currie, wrestling at 145, Jack Peterson at 152, wrestling captain Mike Bottazzi at 138, Chris Reynolds at 160, Dante Tripicchio at 170, Doug Chacon at 182, and captain Andrew Joachim at 195.
The Pioneer future wrestlers were the first to be recognized. Dominic DiGiovanni, Gavin Tripicchio, Jack Wichtendahl, and Charlie Palmer were called onto the wrestling mat, to be acknowledged for their dedication to the sport as soon-to-be rising freshman to the Pioneers wrestling team. Youth State Qualifiers Ryan Knight, Andrew Stafford, and Paul Ferrigno were also called to the mat, as they represent the future of the Pioneer wrestling team.
These up and coming wrestlers were then met on the mat by former Pioneer greats:
John Ferrara, two-time district champ, 1st place winner at Regions, and 1969 State Champ at the 106 lb weight class.
Rich Billitz, 4-time District champ, 2-time Region placer, and 1976 State Champ at the 122 pound weight class.
Donnie Defillippis, 4-time District champ, 4-time Region champ, 2nd place State Champion in 1996 and 1998, 1st place in 1999, at the 140 pound weight class.
Jose Huerfano, who was part of the 1999 sectional champs, 3-time District champion, 4-time Regional placer, Champion in 1999, and 2-time State place winner.
Jon Reedy, 2-time District champ, Regional place winner, and dedicated volunteer coach. Ross Baldwin, 4-time District champ, 2-time Regional place winner, Champion in 2003, and State place winner.
Shane Mallory, 3-time District champion, 3-time Regional champion, 2-time State place winner, winner in 2005.
Peter Terrezza, District champion, 2-time Regional placer, Champion in 2008, State place winner.
Zach Troutman, District champion, 2-time Region place winner, Champion in 2011, 2-time State place winner.
Carmine Boccellari, District-champion.
Dan Kourakos, District-champion and Regional place winner.
Tyler Gazaway, who holds the all time school record for most wins at NPHS. He also is a 3-time Union County Champion, 3-time District champion and 3-time region place winner, twice champion, and reached the quarter final round of the New Jersey State Championship in Atlantic City.
The audience could look on to the contributions of past wrestlers and catch a glimpse at a promising future.
The Pioneers had a rough outing with Brearley -- scheduled for 14 matches, and losing 10. Of the 10 losses, four were by forfeit. While the Pioneers didn’t have their best night, there were some bright spots in the lineup that made for some entertaining battles.
Chris Reynolds overpowered Austine Oguh, winning with a major decision and giving the Pioneers a 4-point reward on the scoreboard. Reynolds is no stranger to major decisions, already racking up four.
Dante Tripicchio, who was in trouble early-on in his match, battled back to win, in dramatic fashion in the 3rd period by pin. Tripicchio who is often described as a resilient wrestler, wears his opponents out with his relentless intensity in the match.
Winning by pin was Andrew Joachim and Owen Smith. Joachim winning the match decisively in the in the 1st period, in just a little over a minute left, and Smith earning his pin in the beginning of the 2nd period.
The rest of the Pioneers, although not victorious, still gave their best efforts. Doug Chacon, powered through some complications during the match, and mustered up the energy to finish, for what turned out to be a great rival.
As the Pioneer’s season comes to a close, plagued by a lack wrestlers, causing forfeits, they end their last home meet with the satisfaction that they gave it their best efforts, when the odds were against them.