Lyndhurst-NA wrestling co-op tries to cope

The Lyndhurst/North Arlington wrestling co-operative program has gone through its fair share of hell just trying to get on the mats for this truncated bizarre season that began last Friday.

“It’s been traumatizing, not only as a coach, but as a parent,” said veteran Lyndhurst/NA head coach Scot Weaver.

Weaver should know firsthand what dealing with the coronavirus has meant to his wrestlers. His daughter Madison and wife Nicole were both diagnosed with having COVID-19, which meant that he and his two wrestling sons, state contender Dylan and up-and-comer Damian, had to be quarantined for 14 days until the deadly virus left the family’s system.

But there were other obstacles that Weaver’s program had to endure while the Weaver family was under lockdown.

For one, there was the injury to talented senior Anthony DeMarco, who has already signed his national letter of intent to wrestle next year at Sacred Heart University. DeMarco suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee during football season. DeMarco is still rehabilitating the knee after surgery and will miss the entire season.

There was another victim of injuries suffered during football season, as senior Danny Martinez sustained an injury during football season that will prohibit him from wrestling this year.
And then there were the rules set upon wrestling by the NJSIAA. Forget the fact that the state’s governing body for high school sports moved wrestling from its usual spot in the winter months to this new season created just for wrestling and volleyball. It’s just a weird feeling starting a season when you should be completing one.
“To have it jammed into a five-week season is just not fair,” Weaver said. “The kids are not getting a fair shake. We’ve already had three matches canceled. We’re trying to produce a legitimate practice schedule. I’ve always been a 90-minute (practice) guy. We like to go hard and fast.”

The Golden Bears began their season with a victory over Belleville last Friday night. Whatever it is, Weaver has his Bears moving forward in this wacky season.

The Bears’ 106-pounder brings a lot of promise. Freshman Kieran McNeil comes from a great wrestling background. Both his father Ryan and uncle Mike were regional champions and state tournament medal winners during their days in North Bergen.

The McNeil family has passed on that great knowledge to young Kieran.

“He has a great work ethic,” Weaver said of McNeil. He’s very coachable and has a great motor. He loves the sport. His pedigree is strong. He wants to be a winner. His dad and uncle were both very successful when they wrestled. In a shortened season, I like the kids who have a background in the sport. We’re going to get him ready to compete at the highest level.”

At 113 pounds is senior Damian Marreira, who didn’t wrestle last year, but has returned to the program.

“He will train a lot with McNeil,” Weaver said. “He does have a lot of rust from being away from the sport. But he’s a scrappy guy, a tough kid.  He’ll work through the tough spots.”

At 120 pounds is sophomore Alex Yadimarco, who was the team’s 106-pounder last year.

“He’s very undersized,” Weaver said of Yadimarco, who will hopefully settle into his new weight class.

Senior Grayson Jurado is the team’s 126-pounder. Jurado was second in the district tournament the last two years.

“He could be a good senior leader for us,” Weaver said. “I hope he gets close to the top 16.”

Weaver is alluding to the top 16 kids in each region qualify this season. There are no district tournaments that allow you to qualify for anything further on your own. This is all subjective rankings.

The 138-pounder is junior Eddie Ortiz, another wrestler who had to endure North Arlington’s battle with the virus. Ortiz is back now after the COVID-19 quarantine and he’s ready to get things started.

“He’s as tough as they come,” Weaver said of Ortiz, who won almost 30 matches last season. “He comes from a boxing standpoint, where they learn never to quit. He’s more mature now. He has everything under control. He’s done a great job working in the weight room. I’m expecting big things from him.”

The Golden Bears do not have a 145-pounder. At 152, Lucas DeOlivero is the mainstay. He’s also from North Arlington.

“He’s a scrappy kid with a lot of potential,” Weaver said. “He has martial arts, ju jitsu, in his background. He has a big upside to him.”

At 160 is Weaver’s older son, Dylan, who has won more than 30 matches in each of his two seasons with the Golden Bears after transferring from Bergen Catholic. Dylan Weaver fell short last year in the state tournament, losing in the semifinals. He already earned his 100th career win at the state championships in Atlantic City last year and got win No. 101 Friday night against Belleville.

“He’s exactly where we want him to be,” Weaver said of his son, who signed his national letter of intent with Rutgers earlier this year/ “He’s working on his skill set every day. He’s on a mission this year. When it’s game time, he has the opportunity to dominate opponents. He’s wrestling like he’s a college kid already. We’re preparing him for that. I’m amazed by his work ethic and attitude right now. He’s pissed off about what happened last year.”

Dylan’s younger brother, Damian, is now bigger than his more decorated brother. Damian is the team’s 170-pounder, giving the Golden Bears a solid 1-2 in the middle of their lineup than anyone around these parts has seen.

Damian Weaver is content being the bigger younger brother.

“He’s more of a physical brawler than Dylan,” Weaver said his sophomore son. “He’s a physical kid. He will go up against older and bigger kids and that’s going to help him. He’s always had that football mentality.”

And comparing the two sons?

“Dylan is more a slick wrestler who is extremely technical,” the elder Weaver said. “Damian comes right at you.”

At 182 pounds is sophomore Mike Simeone, who is taking a huge step up the lineup.

“He wrestled for us last year at 145,” Weaver said. “He grew five inches. He has a large upside to him, He’s committed himself to the sport. He’s a great kid. He’s very athletic. He trained with the Bitetto Club (Bitetto Trained in East Rutherford). He’s going to be okay.”

Sophomore Tommy Montillo is the team’s 195-pounder who is Simeon’s best friend.

“They’re like book ends.” Weaver said. “They all train together. With Damian, those three are like The Three Stooges. They are that close. I’m hoping to get him aboard as a full-time wrestler, because his upside is tremendous. He’s a big strong kid.”

Weaver said that Tommy is built like his father, John, who also wrestled for Weaver in his first stint at Lyndhurst.

“It’s all come full circle,” Weaver said.

At heavyweight is sophomore Kevin Carranza, who is not your typical heavyweight wrestler.

“He’s pretty athletic and light footed,” Weaver said. “I’ve worked with him. He loves the sport and wants to be good. That makes him a future talent.”

With all the craziness going on, Weaver said he’s just happy to get the kids back on the mat.

“It’s just a surreal feeling,” Weaver said. “But I love doing this. I am blessed to have the opportunity to coach this team and coach my sons. My assistant coaches are like family.”

Nick Lospinoso (Brearley Regional), Andrew Polidore (three-time state qualifier from Queen of Peace), Matthew DeMarco from Lyndhurst and Enrique Sanchez from Queen of Peace are assistant coaches under Weaver.

The Golden Bears return to their home mats Wednesday at 6 p.m. when they face Bayonne.

It should be an interesting season for the Golden Bears, that’s for sure.




The Weaver family, namely Dylan (left), father Scot (center) and Damian (right), play a major role in the success of the Lyndhurst/North Arlington wrestling co-operative. Photo by Jim Hague



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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.”