The Essex County Wrestling Tournament wrapped up yesterday at Codey Arena with two Verona High School wrestlers making it to the podium. Dean Palmer took third place at 132 pounds, while Jayden Czupak took fifth at 152.
Palmer, who is in his junior year at VHS, had had a strong run through this year’s ECT. In the first round, the No. 5 seed in the 132 class pinned Adrian Grace of Irvington in just 35 seconds. In the quarterfinals, he scored a 3-0 decision over Nicholas Coletta of Cedar Grove. But in the semifinals, he was not able to overcome West Essex’s Carson Barry.
Czupak, who is only a sophomore, also opened with a pin of an Irvington wrestler. In his case, it was Roodario Destin, who Czupak put on his back in just under a minute. But in the quarterfinals, Czupak, who had been the No. 6 seed at 152, came up on the short end of a 4-3 decision in favor of Sam Cohen of Millburn.
Seven other Verona wrestlers competed in the ECT this year. Matt Steitz was seeded 14th at 106 and was pinned in his opening round. Derek Bernardino, who was seeded 11th at 120, lost his quarterfinal found 6-4. PJ Shaw, was was 10th at 126, scored a 10-1 decision over his Irvington opponent in the opener but was pinned by Seton Hall Prep in the quarterfinal. Sam Zamloot, who was 8th at 138, was pinned in his quarterfinal. Ryan Huze, who was 6th at 160, scored a pin in his first round, but lost by pin in the quarterfinals. John Pavia was the No. 8 seed at 170 and got a 9-1 win in his opening round before falling to Zachary Merlino of Seton Hall Prep in the quarterfinals. Jacob Lapid was 12th seed at 220 and lost by pin in the opener.
Wrestling is off until Wednesday, January 22, when they travel to Caldwell for a 6 p.m. match.
Photos copyright Joanna Breitenbach. Used by permission.