The Verona Junior Wrestling program capped its 2012-2013 season by sending 15 wrestlers to the Suburban Junior Wrestling League Championship Tournament and capturing 11 awards. The team also captured second place in the tournament team score, avenging its regular season dual-meet loss to arch-rival Nutley, which placed third in the team scoring. Verona sent eight grapplers into the championship round, a record high for the program whose inception dates back to the late 1990s. Verona captured three first-place gold medals, five second-place silver medals, and three fifth-place ribbons.
Jimmy Loudon and Nick Fierro culminated their “senior” campaigns by capturing first-place medals and finishing the league season undefeated in 15 bouts. Loudon captured the crown by defeating his Cedar Grove opponent 9-0, using his height as an advantage to take down his opponent several times and again demonstrate why he will be a formidable high school grappler in the years to come. Nick “The Beast” defeated his Caldwell opponent 10-0, again showing a powerful and punishing style of wrestling that has become his trademark. Frankie Riggio also placed first, besting his Caldwell opponent 7-2 and improving upon his second-place tournament finish last year. While still young, Frankie has built a reputation as a strong wrestler and one who will capture many more medals in the years to come.
Capturing second place medals were Sammy Zamloot, Maguire Pecci, Nick Riggio, and Gabriele twin brothers Frankie and Johnny. Sammy improved upon his third-place tournament finish last year, losing to his Cedar Grove nemesis in the finals after pinning his two early round opponents. Maguire lost a close 3-2 match to his Cedar Grove nemesis, who accounted for his only two losses during the season. Maguire had pinned his two early round opponents to secure his repeat trip to the finals. After scoring two early round decisions, Nick lost to his Caldwell opponent in the finals, improving upon his third place tournament finish last year. After scoring a major decision and a fall in the early rounds, Frankie lost a close 2-1 match in the finals to his West Essex opponent while improving upon his third-place finish last year. Johnny scored an early round decision and a fall but lost in the finals to his Cedar Grove opponent while showing huge improvement from his tournament showing last year.
Dan Zamloot, Jake Parent and Billy Fauerbach each took home fifth place ribbons for Verona, each wrestling four matches to grind out a place. These boys showed great determination in not giving up after first-round tournament losses. Also participating in the tournament and representing the program very well were Dean Palmer, Matt DiDia, Sean Ryan (sixth place) and Billy Czupak.
The Suburban Junior Wrestling League is a 13-team league of Essex County teams that are made up of kids in the eighth grade and younger. Verona finished the regular season with a 10-2 record, good for third place. While a first-place league finish still eludes the Verona Junior Wrestling program, the outlook for next year looks promising with 10 of the 16 starters returning and a deep pipeline of talent ready to step up.
Several Verona grapplers have participated in state wrestling qualifier tournaments and have qualified for the state championship tournament to be held later in March. We wish them all the best in their quest to bring home a state championship medal.