Lyndhurst’s Weaver finally gets to win wrestling championship for father

It was almost predestined. Eventually, the day would come where Dylan Weaver would be wrestling for his father Scot at Queen of Peace High School, a place where the elder Weaver went out of his way and raised the money to build a wrestling room in the tiny school.

As far back as young Dylan could remember, he was going to be a wrestler for his legendary father, who coached at places like Lyndhurst, St. Mary’s of Rutherford, Brearley Regional in Kenilworth and then Queen of Peace (twice). Scot Weaver carved out a fantastic reputation as one of the finest high school wrestling coaches in New Jersey – heck, even the nation.

Kids would travel far and wide to have the opportunity to be tutored by Weaver, so why wouldn’t his son benefit from his father’s immense knowledge?

“It was always part of the plan,” Dylan Weaver said. “I always wanted to wrestle for my Dad. I was really looking forward to that.”

“When I coached at St. Mary’s and Dylan was old enough to sit up, he was used to everything,” Scot Weaver said. “When he was old enough to walk, he’d go right over and sit on the bench. He was running around our house with head gear and wrestling shoes on as an infant.”

And when Dylan became old enough to wrestle, like perhaps three or four years old, he was learning from the best that New Jersey had to offer in former state champions Damian Logan and Erik Norgaard, who both won state crowns during their schoolboy days at St. Joseph Regional in Montvale. Logan, who was recently named the athletic director at the school, won three state titles, while Norgaard won once.

“Both had a hand in Dylan’s development,” Scot Weaver said. “It all transcended into us being together at Queen of Peace. My long-term goal was to develop my sons at Queen of Peace.”

But it wasn’t meant to be. Queen of Peace shut its doors to the high school forever in 2017, ending all opportunity for a father and son tandem there.

“When Queen of Peace closed, it was horrible,” Scot Weaver said. “I was resigned to the fact that it just wasn’t going to happen. I just assumed that I would be a parent, that I would sit back and watch him wrestle. I was ready to let go of the dream. As long as we were together, I could handle being a parent.”

“I felt like it wasn’t going to happen,” Dylan Weaver said. “I didn’t think he was going to coach anywhere. I was a little disappointed. I was hoping that he would get a job somewhere.”

So last year, Dylan Weaver went to Bergen Catholic to wrestle and Scot was a dutiful father, attending the matches and minding his place. Dylan did well at BC, winning 25 matches. He was well on his way to a fine career at the top wrestling program in New Jersey.

However, things changed and opportunities arose.

Joe Collins, the former head coach of the Lyndhurst/North Arlington wrestling cooperative, decided to resign his duties as a head coach to concentrate on his family. The last-minute coaching opening was just perfect for the elder Weaver, who still resides just a few steps from the front doors of Lyndhurst High.

So Weaver contacted Lyndhurst athletic director Jeff Radigan to inquire about the opening. It was a no-brainer for Radigan to hire Weaver.

“It felt like I had come full circle,” said the elder Weaver, whose first coaching job came at Lyndhurst in the late 1980s. “Jeff and I had a long relationship. It was the perfect package.”

And with that, Scot Weaver was going to get the chance to coach his son – albeit after the NJSIAA’s 30-day mandatory waiting period for varsity student/athletes who transfer.

“When I was out for those four weeks, I took it as a time to get better,” said Dylan Weaver. “It was the best thing for me, because I was going to be with my Dad.”

“Finally, it was happening,” Scot Weaver said. “It took a while, but I was finally the coach and not the dad. I was withdrawing myself from it all.”

It almost never happened at all. When Dylan Weaver was 12 years old, he had to undergo open heart surgery, leaving his wrestling career in jeopardy at such an early age.

“Thank God, the surgery was successful,” the elder Weaver said. “There was a time when we were worried whether he would be okay.”

“I was really too young to realize just how dangerous it was,” Dylan Weaver said. “But it was a scary moment for my parents. I think that made me mentally tougher, physically tougher and stronger. I figured if I could get through that, then I could get through anything.”

The sophomore 138-pounder started his season a little late, but was the winner at the Elizabeth Minuteman Invitational Tournament last month, earning the Most Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament.

“I felt having the time off helped me,” Dylan Weaver said. “It really boosted my confidence and I just kept going from there.”

“When he hit my hand and went out to the mat, it was surreal,” Scot Weaver said. “It took a while for it to register, but then the coach in me kicked in. He dominated that tournament. It was really emotional for both of us. It was finally there.”

The younger Weaver has been a standout all season for the Golden Bears, winning 24 of his 25 matches, including three via pins Saturday at the NJSIAA District 10 tournament at Randolph High School.

Weaver won via pin in 54 seconds over Brandon DeOliveira of Cliffside Park in the semifinals, then disposed of Hanover Park’s highly rated Dominick DiFrancescantonio in 2:29 to claim the 138-pound championship.

And for his efforts, Weaver has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week.

The elder Weaver credits assistant coach Nick Lospinoso for his son’s development.

“He works with Dylan all the time,” Scot Weaver said of Lospinoso. “He’s on board with everything I’m thinking and Dylan reacts well to what Nick says. Dylan is incredibly fast. He’s very technical. He puts opponents in a bad place. He also takes the time to study other wrestlers and evaluate them. He’s then trying different things in the practice room. He’s an excellent on-top wrestler. He’s a pinner from on top.”

The younger Weaver likes the way he’s wrestling these days.

“I think I’m peaking at the right time,” Dylan Weaver said. “I know I have a chance to accomplish my goals.”

And one of those goals would be standing on the podium as a medalist in Atlantic City at the state championships in a few weeks.

“That would be the best thing,” Weaver said. “I think I can get on that podium. I feel like I can do big things.”

And overcoming the obstacle of open heart surgery?
“It made me stronger,” Weaver said. “I’m a stronger person now. I can get through anything.”

For now, Weaver will head to the Region 3 tournament at West Orange this weekend as the top seed at 138 pounds. Chances are that he might have to face DiFrancescantonio again at the regions.

Not looking too far ahead, but next year, there will be three Weavers in the Lyndhurst/North Arlington wrestling room, as Dylan’s younger brother Damian joins the mix.

“I’m looking forward to that a lot,” Dylan Weaver said. “It’s going to be awesome. It will be a lot of fun.”

Sure looks like Dylan Weaver is having a lot of fun already at Lyndhurst High.

Weaver wasn’t the lone Golden Bear wrestler to move on to Region 3. Three others were runners-up in their respective weight classes. Grayson Jurado (120), Derin Stitzer (152) and Victor Jorge (160) all punched tickets to the Region 3 tourney in West Orange this weekend.

Belleville will send four wrestlers on to Region 3 from the District 10 tourney. Angel Petrozzino (113) and David Guerra (145, the recent Observer Athlete of the Week after winning the Essex County championship) were both second and Lawrence Mendoza (120) and Hakim Fennell (160) were both third to earn a berth in Region 3.




Lyndhurst/North Arlington sophomore 138-pounder Dylan Weaver. Photo courtesy of Damian Weaver.





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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer

Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”