WEST ORANGE, NJ – The 2017 wrestling season began tenuously for the West Orange High School Mountaineers, but they found their stride as they advanced to the semifinal team round of the North Jersey, Section 1, Group 5 state tournament with a 42-36 victory over Hackensack in the quarterfinal round.

Head coach Steve Zichella said it was one of the team’s best performances of the season.

“Upsetting Hackensack, the number four seed, by winning eight of the first nine bouts secured us the victory,” he said. “And we improved our team record to 10-4.”

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The Mountaineers began the season at 1-3, but have won nine out of their last 10 matches and now stand overall at 10-4. They entered the tournament as No. 5 seed. They beat Demarest 46-23 and moved on to defeat Hackensack.

They will face North Bergen on Feb. 8 in an away match beginning at 7 p.m.

“We’ll have our hands full when we play North Bergen, the number one seed,” said Zichella. “But our guys should be up for the challenge. We’re wrestling our best and the boys have shown a great deal of improvement. We’re peaking at the right time.”

Most notable is senior and team captain Victor Lopez, who improved his record to 23-1 and is one win away from tying WOHS alum Tommy Lorenzo’s record of 126 career wins in 2006. Lopez is currently wrestling at the 113-and 120-pound weight class.