NUTLEY, NJ--The expected tight match between Nutley and Bloomfield came off right on schedule, as the Bengals rallied from a 30-9 deficit to edge the Raiders, 34-33, on criteria, before a packed house in Nutley, on Jan. 8.

Bloomfield improved to 4-0 on the season while Nutley fell to 4-3. Both teams will have busy upcoming schedules, as the winter campaign is well underway. Nutley will be at the Gift of Life Duals, on Jan. 11, at St. Benedict's Prep, in Newark, starting at 9 a.m. while Bloomfield hosts a quad match with North Bergen, Hackensack and Morristown, on Jan. 11, starting at 10 a.m. On Jan 14, the Bengals host Belleville at 6 p.m., in the fabled Bloomfield Pit.

The Bloomfield-Nutley match started at 145 pounds. The Raiders were the stronger team in the middle and upper weights, and took control quickly. Nutley's Jacob Gonzalez and Sal Mainiero recorded pins at 145 and 160 pounds respectively while Peter Haverick won by decision at 152 pounds to give the Raiders a 15-0 lead.

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The Bengals got its first win at 170 pounds when Jarred Garcia won a 6-5 decision, then fell behind 21-3 when Michael LaTorre won by fall at 182 pounds. Zachary Andruchowitz (195) and Dillon Jennings (220) won by decision for Bloomfield to make it 21-9, but Billy Searle gave Nutley a big win, by fall at 285 pounds which extended the Raiders' lead to 27-9.

Franco Graffeo, a freshman, picked up his first varsity win for Nutley at 106 pounds to make it 30-9, but Bloomfield began its comeback at 113 pounds as Juan Millan won by fall. Bloomfield followed with pins at 126 and 132 pounds by Gerald VanBaelen and Elias Escobar, respectively and also picked up six points when Ernesto McRae prevailed by injury default at 120. 

Escobar's pin gave Bloomfield a 33-30 lead, with one bout remaining. There, Nutley's Dean Polewka won by decision, at 138 pounds, to tie the match, at 33, and set up the criteria which is used for breaking ties in matches. Bloomfield was named the eventual winner.

"It was a very tough defeat, losing the match on the ninth criteria, which is most first points scored," said Nutley coach Mike DiPiano. "We asked our guys to compete harder and tougher than they did on Saturday, I think 80% of our guys did that. We have older guys still making beginner mistakes, and it hurt us tonight.

"It was another great atmosphere, and our fans were awesome as always. It’s quickly becoming the place to be on Wednesday and Friday nights."

DiPiano noted that Michael LaTorre did a tremendous job at 182 pounds, with a big pin. 

"Michael and I have been talking one-on-one more this year, and he’s gaining more trust in his abilities," said DiPiano. "It was a nice win for him. Dean Polewka stepped up and got us a nice win in the last bout of the evening. It was one of his signature wins. I was very happy for him.

"Franco Graffeo got his first varsity win. He’s had a tough early run as freshman, but has wrestled some strong competition. I am hoping that this win can jump-start him a little."

DiPiano felt it was a match the Raiders could have won.

"It was an exciting match," the coach said. "I thought there were some close calls, on the part of the official, and it was a hard-fought battle by both teams. 

"But make no mistake, we made too many mistakes and left too many points on the mat, and that hurt us."