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Long Valley Wrestlers End New Jersey Dynasty's 5-Year Run

A three-overtime final match puts the Wolfpack on top, giving South Plainfield its first loss since 2009.

The Long Valley Wolfpack celebrates after winning its match against undefeated South Plainfield. Photo Courtesy Jeff Hill.
The Long Valley Wolfpack celebrates after winning its match against undefeated South Plainfield. Photo Courtesy Jeff Hill.

The last time the New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Steelers won their respective championships was 2009. It was also the first year Barack Obama would serve as president.

Locally, another piece of history was marked: the South Plainfield 8th grade wrestling team lost a match. It is something that would not be seen again for half a decade.

Fast forward to Thursday, Jan. 23 in the West Morris Central gymnasium. The scene: Long Valley’s 8th grade wrestlers host the dynasty that has become South Plainfield. It was time for history to change course.

In the final match of the night, the Wolfpack’s Trey Zgombic took on an opponent 40 lbs. heavier, and the tilt couldn’t be completed in regulation. Nor did it find an end in the first or second overtime, but in the third extra period, when Zgombic made an escape with just seconds remaining to win the battle, 2-1. 

More importantly, that final win gave the team a 38-36 victory over South Plainfield, it’s first loss in five years.

“South Plainfield’s coach told me after the match that we were more aggressive from top to bottom tonight,” said Wolfpack head coach Sean Dolan. “Every single one of our wrestlers competed hard for every second of the match, even our guys that lost or got pinned wrestled their you-know-whats off.”

Bonus point wins came from AJ Hill (major decision), Justin LeMay (pin), Ethan Dolan (pin), and Luke Stefanelli (pin).

It’s also the little things that count, according to Matt Liberato, who handily won his contest 10-5. “Jack (Lyden), Robbie (Bohr), Robert (Rosen), and Marco (Gaita) may have lost their matches but battled and never gave up bonus points,” he said. “Colin (Loughney) upsets one of their studs in overtime to set the tone; that’s huge when you win a dual by two points.”

Coach Dolan emphasized the subtle contributions as well. “Guys like Eli (Shepard), Tommy (Pellegrino), Chris (Parisi) might not have won their matches, but they forced South Plainfield to put their studs on the mat to win those matches, setting our guys up for better match-ups. It also sends a message to the other team when those guys battle their studs hard…you have to bring your A-game to beat us tonight.”

“We had this match circled from the first practice,” said Grayson Dolan, who won by forfeit. “We think we’re one of the best wrestling teams in New Jersey, and tonight we took one more step toward proving that.”

Information and quotes provided by Jeff Hill. 

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