VERONA, NJ - As the opening match rapidly approaches the Verona wrestling team has set its sights on continued success in 2019.
“We want to be as competitive at as many spots as we can. We want to qualify for states. We’ve done it a number of years in a row, and we want to try to get back there again,” said Head Coach Peter Foster.
Verona is currently going through wrestle-offs to determine a number of key position battles. The squad has come prepared having stayed in shape most of the offseason.
“Right now early in the season we’re just looking to get ourselves in shape, get through certification and stay healthy,” said Foster.
Frank Riggio will headline Verona’s junior class contributions this year. Riggio was 35-8 last season at the 152 pound class. He will most likely compete at 160, but could move around depending on matchups. Riggio will look to complete unfinished business having missed the State Tournament cut off by one victory.
“[Riggio] likes to fight out there and likes to brawl. He’s not afraid of his opponent, and he brings that mentality every time he wrestles,” said Foster.
Joining Riggio will be fellow juniors Dean Palmer and John Pavia. The duo was 54-22 last season for Verona wrestling in the 126 and 160 pound classes. This season they will compete at the 132 and 170 or 182 class respectively.
Senior Sam Zamloot will once again factor into the lightweight class for the Hillbillies. Zamloot at 126 last season was 13-17. This season Zamloot is expected to bump up to 138 for the squad.
“[Zamloot] has been a varsity wrestler for a number of years now. He’s been wrestling his whole life and obviously is going to be a major contributor to our team…he’s skilled at all positions in getting points,” said Foster.
Ryan Huze will be another senior looking to continue on a strong 2018 campaign. Huze won a number of big matches last year for the squad boasting an 11-9 record at the 160 pounds class. This season he will be bumped to 170 and look to grow in his role.
“[Huze] won a number of big matches for us last year in close out fashion -- the match was kind of on the line with one match to go and multiple times last year he closed it out for us and had a number of exciting wins for us,” said Foster.
Rounding out the senior group for Verona will be Cole Hildebradt who is expected to see some time at the 152 pounds class among other classes. In limited action last year due to an injury, Hildebrandt was 1-2 and will look to have a potential career year for the Hillbillies.
“[Hildebrandt] was able to contribute for us last year and had a big win for us against Elizabeth…he’s put a lot of time in the weight room in the offseason, so he’s come back in shape and looking to compete,” said Foster.
A host of underclassmen will round out the lineup for Verona this year. Last year the sophomore grouping of Derek Bernardino, Jayden Czupak and Nick Handler had some growing pains with a combined record of 31-45, but they are expected to learn from their experiences and produce at the 120, 145 and 138 classes this year.
Verona opens up their season on December 21 in tournament play when they take on Edison.
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