A year ago, the St. Peter’s Prep wrestling team totally dominated the NJSIAA District 16 tournament, winning an astounding 11 individual championships en route to the Marauders’ fifth straight team title.
Well, as Yogi Berra once said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”
Last Saturday, the Marauders won 10 individual titles and captured their sixth straight District 16 crown, defeating runner-up North Bergen by 83 points.
“We had a really good performance in the finals,” said St. Peter’s Prep head coach Anthony Verdi. “We started off outstanding, winning four in a row and it just went from there. I think the other guys just fed off that. I think it says a lot about the team, because you never know who’s going to be in what weight class. These kids have been wrestling all year long, so they put the high expectations on themselves.”
Michael Russo (120 pounds), Connor Burkert (138), Jordan Fox (220) and Armond Cox (heavyweight) all won District 16 gold for the third straight year.
Alec Kelly (106), Ryan Burkert (145), Manny Ramirez (152) and Christian Colucci (195) all won for the second straight time. Steven Kellner (160) and Nicholas Santos (112) both earned District 16 gold for the first time.
Verdi had some concerns, especially after the Marauders suffered a heartbreaking setback to Don Bosco Prep in the NJSIAA Non-Public A North state playoffs a week earlier.
“We had two days off after that loss,” Verdi said. “But the kids came back into the wrestling room and put that loss behind them. It definitely was motivation going into the Districts. There was no drop-off in intensity. They really came back and wrestled well.”
North Bergen and Secaucus each crowned two individual champions.
The Bruins saw 126-pounder Axel Urgiles and 132-pounder Anthony Giraldo win their respective weight classes.
Giraldo earned district gold for the fourth straight year. The defending state champion now owns an impressive 37-0 record this season heading into the Region 4 championships this weekend in West Orange.
“I was really excited about Axel winning,” North Bergen coach Jerry Maietta said. “Anthony wasn’t in any real danger. He will now see some good competition in the regions. He doesn’t have a walk in the park there. All our kids wrestled pretty well. I’m pretty happy with the performance.”
Secaucus football stars Sean Roesing (170) and Jan Castellanos (182) each kept their undefeated records intact with wins in their respective District championship matches. Both will shoot for berths in the upcoming state championships in Atlantic City, a location that is very familiar to some of the Prep wrestlers.
Russo and Fox finished sixth in the state last year, while Connor Burkert finished seventh and twin brother Ryan was eighth. The Marauders are hoping for better results this year.
“I think we have a good shot of advancing a few,” Verdi said. “I like our chances against anyone, especially the way our guys train.”…
The NJSIAA basketball state playoffs begin this week with some interesting matchups.
St. Anthony is the top seed in Non-Public B North and will face the winner of Dwight-Englewood/Morristown-Beard Thursday at P.S. 17 in Jersey City. Hudson Catholic is the No. 2 seed in the bracket and will face the winner of Montclair Kimberley/Queen of Peace at Hudson Thursday. The two appear on a collision course once again for the state sectional final at Rutgers March 13.
St. Peter’s Prep is the third seed in Non-Public A North. The Marauders face Union Catholic in the first round Friday at the Prep.
In North Jersey Section 2, Group II, Snyder is the fifth seed and earned a home game against Fort Lee Tuesday. Lincoln is the 15th seed and travels to Newark Tech.
In North 1, Group IV, North Bergen is the 15th seed and gets Paterson Kennedy, while Union City is the No. 8 seed and gets a home game against Ridgewood, with the winner facing top-seeded Paterson Eastside. Memorial is the No. 7 seed and gets a home game against West Orange.
In North 2, Group IV, Dickinson is the 16th seed and goes to face top-seed Linden. Bayonne is the No. 9 seed and travels to Union.
In Non-Public B South, Marist is the No. 7 seed and plays host to Timothy Christian. If the Royal Knights win, they travel to face the Patrick School of Elizabeth, coached by former Marist head coach Chris Chevannes.
Among the girls, Lincoln, which was slated to face Bayonne for the Hudson County Tournament title on Saturday, earned the No. 3 seed in North 2, Group II. The Lions will face Hillside. Good news for the Lions is that Shabazz, the No. 1 team in the state, is no longer in that section.
Secaucus is the No. 3 seed in North 2, Group I and will face North 13th Street Tech. The bad news for the Patriots is that Shabazz now resides in their bracket.
Dickinson is the No. 12 seed in North 2, Group IV, making its first state playoff appearance in almost 20 years. The Rams will travel to face Westfield in the first round. Bayonne is the No. 2 seed in that bracket.
In North 1, Group IV, North Bergen is the No. 5 seed and drew a home game against Livingston…
It was a bad break – literally – for McNair Academic standout softball catcher Sarah Beckner.
The All-Area backstop, who led the county in home runs last season, fractured her tibia plateau or shin bone playing basketball and will miss the entire softballs season. Beckner, a senior, had surgery four days after suffering the break. She’s at home recuperating. Her mom, Jeanne, reports that poor Sarah “is devastated, but determined.” Here’s hoping that Beckner has a speedy recovery…
New Jersey City University basketball standout Bria Smith earned the New Jersey Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year. The former St. Dominic All-Area performer was named the NJAC Rookie of the Week a record eight times…--Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.