WEST ORANGE, NJ - “Hey, considering how banged-up we are, this was a good weekend for us; and sixth place? We'll take it,” said longtime West Orange High School head wrestling coach Stephen Zichella of his team's results at the Essex County Tournament, a two-day event which came to a culmination on Friday night, Jan. 22, at Codey Arena in West Orange.
After finishing eighth last time around, the Mountaineers totaled 98 points on Friday, as compared with 87.5 in 2015, leaving them with a healthy sixth place showing.
West Orange-based Seton Hall Prep clipped Caldwell for the team title, 177-172.5, while Nutley was third with 161.
Rounding out the team totals were Verona in fifth place with 112, upstart Irvington with 96.5, Bloomfield with 82, West Essex, the 2015 champion, with 81.5, Livingston in 10th place with 79, Columbia with 56, Newark Academy with 47.5, East Side with 37, Belleville, Glen Ridge and Orange tied for 15th place with 34, Montclair with 19, Barringer with five and East Orange Campus and Shabazz tied for last place at zero points.
The locals' only champion was Victor Lopez, a top-seeded 113-pound junior who pinned Livingston sophomore Anthony Petrillo at the 5:30 mark of their county crown clash. That result moved the Mountain matsmen to 17-1 on the season.
In addition, West Orange’s 195-pound sophomore Noah Tandy moved to 11-8 by finishing fourth in his weight class, fellow 10th-grader Sebastian Rawls (14-3) ended up fifth at 170, heavyweight senior Brian Velez (11-7) also ended-up fifth, both 132-pound freshman Colin Morgan (10-8) and 145-pound junior Abraham Dada (10-10) snared sixth, 106-pound sophomore Andrew Roberts (4-6) took seventh and both 160-pound senior Temitayo Adesokan (6-9) and 182-pound junior Gabriele Andrade recorded eighth place efforts.
“This is, clearly, a rebuilding year for us; so, to come in sixth is very gratifying,” Zichella said, adding, “our kids really came through under pressure.”
Today, Wednesday, Jan. 27, should see Zichella's squad traveling to take on Bloomfield at 7 p.m., with a home mats matchup against Irvington on tap for Friday, the 29th.