Seven West Morris Central wrestlers medaled at Saturday’s NJSIAA District 1 championship in Phillipsburg, qualifying for the Region 1 championships. Jesse Windt won his second consecutive District title while Shane Metzler, Kade Loughney, John Schade, Dylan Luciano and David Migliaccio took home silver, and Mike Oros bronze.
District medal winners advance to Regions this week, where they compete with medalists from four Districts (34 schools). The top three Regions place winners in each weight class advance to the NJSIAA State Championships in Atlantic City March 7-9.
“I was really pleased with our District 1 performance,” said head Coach Ken Rossi, “especially the semifinal round where we went 6-1. I'm looking forward to seeing all the boys compete in the Regions.”
Windt – now ranked #7 in NJ – is the first WMC wrestler to repeat as both District and County champion.
Windt walks in the footsteps of Wolfpack legends Dave McAllister (1986-87), Mike Mulrooney (1990-91), Dan McGuire (1990-91) and Nick Matthews (2011-12) – the previous Wolfpack two-time District champs.
Greg Cholish (1971-73) stands alone as WMC’s three-time District Champion.
Schade and Migliaccio won their second straight District silver medals. Luciano’s silver improved on last year’s 3rd place finish.
“Having seven Region qualifiers is a big deal,” said Windt, “since we lost so many seniors last year.”
Last year’s storied squad had nine, including seniors Cory Fleming, Nick Matthews, Adam Kratch, Brandon Carcuffe and John Sickles, along with Windt, Migz, Luciano and Schade. Matthews, Kratch and Carcuffe then qualified for States.
Saturday, Windt (34-1) pinned Belvidere’s Mark Wolfe in the semis, then defeated Mendham’s Tim Byrne 5-1 in the 220 title bout.
Metzler (27-7) decked Belvidere’s Giovanni Campana in the 106 quarterfinals, and then outscored Shane Murphy to earn silver – Metzler’s second win over the Mt. Olive wrestler this month. P-burg’s Brandon Paetzell took gold.
“Coach told me ‘good job, but it’s not over yet,’” said Metzler, “meaning we still have Regions to get through.” Metzler’s plan there is to “take it one match at a time and make no mistakes on the mat.”
Loughney (19-16) made quick work of Mt. Olive’s Thomas Harrington in the 113 quarterfinals, and then earned his place at Regions by defeating Hackettstown senior Tony Figueroy 12-6.
Schade (21-14) dominated Mendham’s Dylan Bluestone 12-3, then topped Gino Fiuri of North Warren 3-2 in the semis. Hackettstown’s Joe Renne took home the 120 title.
Loughney and Schade both avenged earlier-season losses to upset the 2nd seeded wrestlers in their respective brackets.
Luciano (25-9) pinned Mendham’s Chris Schlegel at 2:38 in the semi-finals—his second win over Schlegel this season – before falling to North Warren’s Matty Ritchie in the 126 finals.
After falling to top-seed Max Nauta in the semis, Oros punched his ticket to Regions by upsetting Belvidere’s Kenny Morgan 4-3.
Migliaccio (25-9) pinned Phillipsburg’s Corey Zinsmeister at 4:08 to win silver, before losing a heartbreaker to Mendham’s Eric Friedman in the 138 finals, 1-0.
The tournament had a cloud of controversy, as seven Phillipsburg wrestlers were scratched after posting a photo now under investigation by the Division on Civil Rights. Phillipsburg wrestlers, two with hoodies molded to a point, posed with a wrestling dummy hanging by its neck. The dark-leather dummy was dressed in a Paulsboro High School t-shirt. The teens issued a statement saying, “We are truly sorry for any harm we may have caused.”
Ultimately, no Wolfpack wrestlers qualified in place of a suspended P-burg wrestler.
Warren Hills won the District 1 team championship, as depleted defending champion Phillipsburg placed second, and the Wolfpack third. Belvidere placed fourth, followed by Mendham, Mt. Olive, North Warren and Hackettstown.
“Every individual came to perform and they did fantastic during the Districts and we hope to keep that momentum going,” said Windt.
“The season is long and the guys work hard,” said Rossi. “This post-season is a very fun and rewarding time of year."