Spartan Wrestlers Take the NJSIAA North 1 Group 3 Title from Old Tappan

Sparta High School Wrestling Takes NJSIAA North 1 Group 3 title over Old Tappan Credits: Jennifer Dericks
Sparta High School Wrestling 2017 seniors Credits: Jennifer Dericks
Sparta High School student section Credits: Jennifer Dericks
Credits: Kada Cernek
Credits: Kada Cernek
Credits: Kada Cernek
Credits: Kada Cernek
Credits: Kada Cernek
Credits: Kada Cernek
Credits: Kada Cernek
Credits: Kada Cernek
Credits: Kada Cernek
Credits: Kada Cernek
Sparta High School Wrestling team wins NJSIAA North 1 Group 3 Credits: Jennifer Dericks

SPARTA, NJ – It went down to the last match to determine the winner of the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group 3.  The main gym at Sparta High School was packed with loud, enthusiastic students and family as Sparta took down Old Tappan on Friday night 29-25. 

The regular season ended in unfamiliar territory for the wrestling program. It was the first time the team had earned a first seed ranking in 34 years, according to head coach Frank Battaglia.  It was also the first section title since 2000. 

While the sport is considered more about individual performance on the mat, Battaglia disagrees.  “We preach family.  We talk about having each other’s back.”

Sign Up for E-News

“The concept of teamwork can be a difficult one to understand,” Battaglia continued, “but after tonight it really sinks in.”

As with all teams, the real work happens off the field of play.  Spartan wrestling is no different.  Battaglia, still beaming after the big win, talked about sacrifices the student athletes had to make; “changing weight classes, tough practices, pushing through to overcome adversity.  It’s a team effort.  In the practice room, we strive to make each other better.”

“If one man falls we all pick him up, like with what happened to Sean Finnegan.  Paddy Finnegan came back to get the win.” Sean had lost in a quick pin.  Next to the mat was Paddy who came away with a 4-2 decision.

Other results:

106 lbs Cooper Stewart took a 7-3 decision

113 lbs Marcus Bitetto lost in a 13-3 major decision

120 lbs Christopher Hwang won in a major decision 13-5

126 lbs Rocco Gigantelli lost an 8-3 decision

132 lbs Garrett Stewart took a 3-0 decision

138 lbs Carter Sheridan lost a 3-1 decision

145 lbs Kevin Berlin was blanked in a 7-0 decision

152 lbs Sean McHugh lost a 3-0 decision

160 lbs Sean Finnegan was pinned

170 lbs Paddy Finnegan took the 4-2 decision

182 lbs Mike Freeman lost a 10-4 decision

195 lbs Robert Gennat got the pin in 3 minutes

220 lbs William Loewen go the forfeit

285 lbs Zach Herbert got the 10-2 Major decision


In his sixth year as head coach Battaglia said, “I felt we had hit a plateau in the past.  This puts us through.  It is great for the kids.” With eleven seniors on the squad “it will be a great memory.”

Most on the team’s roster put together solid winning records. Garrett Stewart has a season record of 20 wins and four losses with 10 pins. 

Senior Gennat has a season record of 15 and four with six pins. Senior McHugh put together a record of 15 wins, eight loses with four pins. Sheridan has 15 wins eight losses with eight pins.   

Bitetto has a record of 13 wins and seven losses with seven pins. Stewart earned 13 wins, two losses and eight pins.

Paddy Finnegan has a season record of 12 and six with three pins. Sean Finnegan finished the regular season with 12 wins nine losses and four pins.  Hwang has 12 wins and one loss with a pin. 

Herbert, a senior, has had 10 wins and one loss this season.  Seven wins were pins.  After the emotional win he said, “It’s been a long season.  It’s a great ending to a great season.  The team’s just going to continue to get better and better for years to come.”

Senior Loewen has a record of nine wins and two loses with six pins.  Berlin put together a record of seven wins, six losses with four pins.

Sparta goes on to the first round on NJSIAA Group 3 championships against South Plainfield in the Pine Belt Arena on Sunday, Feb 12 at 9 a.m.

In a final thought about the win Battaglia said, “It’s magical, it’s priceless.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Sparta Police: Speeding Stop Nets Drug Charges for Two Brooklyn Men

June 19, 2018

SPARTA, NJ – Two men from Brooklyn, New York stopped for speeding are facing drug charges.  On June 16 around 11 a.m. Sparta Police Officer Thomas Herd pulled over a grey Toyota Rav4 driven by David Mai, 20 going 95 MPH in a 55 MPH zone, police said.

When Herd spoke with the Mai, the officer smelled marijuana in the car. Mai said he had pot in his backpack.  Sparta Police ...

Sparta Police: Wanted Sparta Man Stopped for Speeding

SPARTA, NJ — A Sparta resident was picked up on an active warrant after getting stopped for speeding on Route 181. On June 16 around 1:35 a.m. Cpl. Marc Rubino stopped John Clark, 51 in his black Ford pickup driving 60 in a 45 MPH zone, police report.

Clark was not able to show the officer his license but gave his personal information. Rubino found Clark’s license had expired and ...

Sparta Police: Wanted Man Picked Up in Speeding Stop, Gets Drug Charges

SPARTA, NJ — A Newark man was picked up when the car in which he was riding was stopped for speeding. On June 8 around 11:50 a.m. Sparta Police Officer Thomas Herd pulled over Tashiana Martin, 27, of West Orange for speeding, police report.

When Herd spoke with Martin he smelled marijuana in the car. Herd also saw that passenger Ibenabdul Harden, 28, was not wearing a seat belt. When the ...

Sparta High School Time Capsule

June 20, 2018

To the editor: 

For this year’s AP project in our English class, we have put together a 2018 Sparta High School time capsule to be opened in 25 years. The capsule, likely to be buried next to the garden behind the school, will contain student testimonies, memes, and other relics of our time. Hopefully with this project we hope to preserve our unique experience of teenage ...

The Power of Positive Engagement

To the Editor:

I wanted to share this letter from Laurie Beacham, Media Director for NJ 11th for Change, about the notable increase in voter turnout and citizens deciding to run in the recent primary election:

"The 11th Congressional District has a lot to be proud of. In the June 5th primaries, voter turnout climbed from almost 33,000 in 2014 to over 86,000. Democratic ...

Upcoming Events

Thu, June 21, 2:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Summer Afternoon Garden Soiree

Home & Garden


Sat, June 23, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market

Sat, June 23, 10:00 AM

CASA of Morris and Sussex Counties, Morristown

CASA Information Session

Sun, June 24, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River



Mon, June 25, 5:30 PM

Mohawk Avenue School, Sparta

Sparta Board of Education Meeting UPDATED



Sat, June 30, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market


Sat, July 7, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market


Sun, July 8, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Sussex County Views: The Art of Toni Chaplin

Home & Garden


Sun, July 8, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Sussex County Views: The Art of Toni Chaplin

Arts & Entertainment


Sat, July 14, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market

Sussex Stags Football Team to Hold Fourth Annual Golf Outing

June 16, 2018

NEWTON, NJ—The Sussex County Stags will be holding their fourth annual gold outing on Saturday June 23.

Arrival time is 11:30 a.m. at the Minebrook Golf Club located at 500 Schooleys Mountain Road in Hackettstown. Golfing will begin at 1 p.m. and tickets can be purchased online at

Tickets are $125 per person and include the following: golfing, the cart, an all you ...

Update: Police Break Up Fight Involving 40-50 People at Bridgewater Commons Mall

June 15, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ — No injuries have been reported in an incident that shut down Bridgewater Commons Mall Thursday evening after a fight involving a crowd of 40-50 people.

Police are still investigating unconfirmed reports of shots being fired, according to the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office.

The mall is closed for the evening as the investigation continues.

Somerset County ...

Why Buying a Home is Better Than Renting

People often ask if now is a good time to buy a home in New Jersey, but nobody ever asks whether or not it’s a good time to rent. Regardless, Team Nest Builder wants to make certain that everyone understands that now is NOT a good time to rent.

The Census Bureau recently released their 2018 first quarter median rent numbers. This graph from their report shows rent increases from 1988 ...

5 Fab Father's Day Happenings in Sussex & Morris Counties

Father’s Day hits this Sunday--what do YOU have planned? Team Nest Builder offers a slew of Father’s Day fun in Morris and Sussex County. Read on and surprise Dad with cool activities! (Be sure to check if registration is required prior to showing up!)

Alstede Farms' Father's Day Brunch – Chester

From 9am-noon, take a scenic hayride to a brunch buffet that offers ...

Don't Miss Sunday's OPEN HOUSE for 4BR Sparta Mountain Beauty

Perched handsomely on an acre in the beautiful SpartaMountain community, 28 Waters Edgeoffers a 4BR 2.5 Bathroom home with space and style. Come see for yourself this Sunday, June 17th, from 1-3pm at our OPEN HOUSE!

Located in the prestigious Sparta Mountain Reserve, this large, beautiful center hall colonial with open floor plan has a nice, level play yard with direct ...

Days on The Housing Market Drops to New Low

According to recently released data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median number of days that a home spent on the market hit a new low of 26 days in April, as 57% of homes remained on the market for under a month.

NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, opined,

“What is available for sale is going under contract at a rapid pace. Since NAR began tracking this ...

Pass It Along Triathlon

Tri-something new this July and sign up for the Pass It Along Triathlon!

The 9th annual Pass It Along Triathlon will take place on Saturday, July 28, 2018, at the Lake Mohawk Country Club. This triathlon features two USAT-certified courses - Olympic and Sprint. This triathlon has become a Sparta tradition and everyone is welcome to attend to cheer on athletes and be a part of the ...

June 13 Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders meeting

NEWTON, NJ - The June 13 Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders meeting video.


Summer Hockey Programs at Skylands: 3v3, U8 and Beginner Hockey Camp

June 19, 2018

Skylands U8 Cross Ice Challenge League

Skylands Cross Ice Challenge League is an intermediate league for kids ages 8 and under. Emphasis on fun, skill progression, and player development, it de-emphasizes stressful, high-pressure, game scenarios and ultra-competitive play. It's focus is more on individual skating, player skills & puck touches
One practice per week ...