RAMSEY, NJ - What a weekend it was for the Sparta wrestling team. Seven wrestlers finished in the top three of their weight class and will wrestle next Saturday in the regionals. Additionally, Head Coach Frank Battaglia won coach of the year for District 3 while.
"As I told the kids in the beginning of the year... In my coaching career, this is one of the hardest working groups of kids I coached. They work hard in the practice room, are very coachable, and believe in the program," Battaglia said of his team. The team took on his personality as a tough coach. He lived and died with every match. The praise kept coming from the coach. "As a team, our goal was to make the sectional tournament. With a tough schedule, strong senior leaders, and overcoming a lot of adversity, we stayed focused and did what we do.... wrestle tough!"
Those seniors led by example. Paddy Finnegan, Sean Finnegan, Mike Freeman and Zach Herbert all finished in the top three of their weight classes. Successful programs are built on the shoulders of seniors with underclassman following their lead; looking to lead later in their careers.
Christopher Huang and Garrett Stewart were the only Sparta wrestlers to win their weight class. Stewart is a freshman while Huang is a sophomore. Both will continue to improve and lead Sparta in the years to come. Robert Gennat, who finished second in his weight class, is a junior and will anchor this team next year.
Sparta caps a very successful season with the third place finish as a team behind Emerson and Don Bosco. The Spartan’s came away with 141.5 points from Don Bosco.
Battaglia was proud of his team. "Before we knew it we were first in the section for the first time in 34 years and won a section title for the first time in 17 years,” coach said. “We competed at the group state tournament with some of the best teams in NJ. For the seniors and the team to come away with a memory like that is priceless.
“From JV to Varsity, we all put our time in and helped each other become better wrestlers, people of good character, and stronger opponents. I am very proud of the team’s accomplishments and look forward to the season ahead."
Carter Sheridan and Sean McHugh came up just short, finishing in fourth place, one place away from qualifying for the regionals. But Sparta could not get to where they were without efforts from wrestlers up and down their roster.
The regionals will take place next Saturday as Sparta will be in Region 1. It will take place at Bergen County Community College.