The seeds are out for the first qualifying tournament for the state wrestling championship and Verona High School wrestlers have earned some prime spots.
Mark Riggio is the #1 seed at 182 pounds for the district qualifier. The junior has 29 wins and just three losses to his credit this season. Verona also has three wrestlers who earned the #2 spot in their weight class for districts: Jimmy Loudon (106), a sophomore with a 23-10 record; Frank Gabriele (120), a freshman with a 29-4 record; and his twin brother John (132), who has 20 wins and 13 losses.
Three VHS grapplers are the #3 seeds in their weight class: Senior Joe Ballantyne (126), who has 20-13 record; Billy Czupak (160), with 18 wins and 10 losses; and Patrick Paluszek (220), who also has an 18-10 record.
Rounding out the Verona continent that will be at West Essex High School on Saturday are #5 seeds Andrew Oliver (113), Mike DeSomma (152), and Brian Wagner (170). Thanasi Grillias (145) and AJ Pengue (195) both earned a spot as the #8 seeds in their weight class.
Coach Pete Foster is proud of his squad. “All of our wrestlers have been working hard this season to achieve their goals,” he says. “The seeding for the tournament is based on the individual records each wrestler has accomplished throughout the season. Many wrestlers will be competing against people they have previously competed against during the year. This is the most exciting time of the year for wrestlers and coaches, and Saturday is the start of these tournaments.”
To move on from districts to regions, the Verona wrestlers must finish first, second or third this weekend. The top three from each of New Jersey’s eight regions will go on to the state championship, which is held in Atlantic city.
Photos copyright Donna Giuliano. Used by permission.