VERONA, NJ - After a dominant weekend at the Garden State Classic Verona’s John Gabriele has started his senior year with a statement to all opponents in the State and earned TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove Hillbilly Athlete of the Week honors.

“I’m pretty proud to start off the season strong,” said John Gabriele.

Gabriele was impressive to say the least. Competing at the 152 pounds class the senior captain notched three straight victories by pinfall to claim the title. For Gabriele it was a direct result of strategy and hard work.

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“I didn’t really have a strategy I just went to my normal stuff like arm bars and tilts…I’ve been wrestling a lot in this offseason,” said Gabriele.

The senior grappler has been a staple on the Verona squad since his freshman year. Over the last four years he’s excelled and is now on the verge of winning 100 matches in his varsity career.

“It’s easy for me when you pencil John into the lineup to know I’m going to get a quality performance and I can count on getting points from him,” said coach Pete Foster.

Gabriele is one of several Captains on the Hillbilly Wrestling Team this year.  Despite his calm nature he’s a fierce presence on the mat who constantly competes with class

“He’s humble in victory, he’s gracious in defeat, he’s just a great example for all of us to follow,” said Foster.  

As one of the team’s top performers Gabriele wished to improve on fundamentals with the goal of making it to the State Final in Atlantic City. He spent all off-season working on various techniques to improve his chances at making it past Regions.

“[I wanted to] work on my feet getting better [with] takedowns and stuff like that to set up my shot,” said Gabriele.

After working this past offseason Gabrielle has drastically improved the minor details in his technique to make him an even more dangerous opponent. According to his coach in both standing and bottom position Gabriele poses an even more versatile scoring threat to Verona’s oppositions.

“To be at that upper level and still make improvements is hard to do because all those other guys are as well…he’s come back this year and he’s really sharpened some techniques,” said Foster.

While on the mat Gabriele is a consummate professional and teammate, his true value to Verona lies in his leadership abilities. While not a vocal leader, Gabriele leads by example showing younger wrestlers on the roster improvement methods to reach their optimal performance.

“He cares about the other guys, he’s quiet, he’s not a real vocal guy, but I see [how he leads] and that stuff doesn’t go unnoticed,” said Foster.

Gabriele will continue to progress as the season rolls on for the Verona. He hopes that continued hard work will payoff for him with a trip to Atlantic City at the end of the season.

“I just keep training hard that’s pretty much it,” said Gabriele.


TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove  is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.

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