Locals wins titles in state individual wrestling tournaments

Since the start of the season, Nutley’s Brandon Toranzo and Lyndhurst-North Arlington’s Damian Weaver have had their sights set firmly on the medal stand at Atlantic City. After Saturday’s NJSIAA District Wrestling Championships, the two local standouts are one step closer to that goal.

Like they have all season long, both were dominant on the mats this weekend. In District 9 at Nutley, Toranzo kept his undefeated streak alive and won another Most Outstanding Wrestler award after defeating Delbarton’s Connor Martin in the 285 pound final by a 12-5 decision.

Toranzo, who earlier in the day made quick work of Cliffside Park’s Jonathan Viton by pin in the semifinals, improved his record to 39-0 on the year. He will look to continue upon that streak at Region 3 in West Orange.

The title is just the latest for the Nutley junior, who is enjoying the best season by an Observer area upper weight in recent memory. Toranzo was also the MOW at the Essex County Championships as well as the Kearny and Rahway Holiday Tournaments.

Toranzo was the only wrestler not from Delbarton to win an individual in District 9, which also included Belleville, Kearny and Bloomfield among others.

It is the first district title for Toranzo, who missed his entire sophomore wrestling season due a torn ACL and was the backup to Kearny native James Mullen at St. Joseph Regional.

Weaver (34-2) repeated as a district champion at District 11 in Livingston. The Lyndhurst-North Arlington senior was a force at 157 pounds, needing just 50 seconds to pin Livingston’s Sean Smolyanskiy in the semifinals. In the final, Weaver delivered another first period pin, defeating West Orange’s Jaiden Mendez at 1:27.

Weaver isn’t the only Lyndhurst-North Arlington wrestler moving on to next week’s Region 3 at West Orange. Michael Simeone took second place at 165 pounds, Kieran McNeil finished third at 126 pounds and Tommy Montillo took third at 175 pounds. For all four, it marks a second-straight trip to the regions.

Wrestlers had to finish in the top three in their district in order to qualify for Regions.

As a team, Lyndhurst took fourth in the district, which was won by Seton Hall Prep. At District 9, Nutley finished second to Delbarton, with Bloomfield taking third, Belleville fifth and Kearny seventh.

In addition to Toranzo, Nutley had a pair of second place finishers in Franco Graffeo (126 pounds) and William Jennings (175). Lower weights Christopher Cifelli (106 pounds), Patrick Chell (113) and Jacob Harlow (120) all took third place to advance.

Belleville had a trio of District runners up in Jakob Ferrer (106 pounds), Leo Tiankee (120) and Fernando Collado (165). Kearny also has three wrestlers moving on to West Orange as Joshua Baeza finished second at 132 pounds, Joseph Rooco took third place at 138 pounds and Trayton Witt earned third at 144. Bloomfield had six qualify for Region 3. Anthony Lizama (113 pounds, Rahjohn Plummer (138) and Michael Marzano (144) all took second place in their respective weight classes. The trio of Juan Millan (126 pounds), Estuardo Lopez (150) and Gabriel McCulloch (285) all finished in third.

On Sunday, the NJSIAA Girls Wrestling Regional Championships were held and at the North Jersey, Section 1 Region in Vernon, Ava Krzykalski became the first Lyndhurst wrestler to qualify for the State Championships when she took second place at 114 pounds.

Krzykalski (24-5), a sophomore, earned her spot at Phillipsburg next week  by recording consecutive pins over Kat Miachleder of Old Tappan (1:21), Drew Bonnet of Morris Hills (3:36) and Joan Vince of Vernon (3:20) before falling in the final to Paige Kirk of Ramsey at 4:48. Kirk also pinned Nutley’s Mariah Koster in the semifinals.

At the North Jersey, Section 2 Region in Union, Bloomfield’s Kira Pipkins continued her pursuit of a fourth state championship, defeating Eva Altamirano of South Plainfield, 8-2, to win the region title at 126 pounds. The Bengals also had a pair of second place finishers in Ahlexa Montalvo (114 pound) and Reno Prochillo (165) and two third place finishers in Madelyn McLaughlin (138 pounds) and Saharia Quamina (185).

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Jason Bernstein | Observer Sports Writer

Jason Bernstein joined The Observer as its sports writer in March 2022, following the retirement of Jim Hague. He has a wealth of sports-writing experience, including for NJ Advance Media (nj.com, The Jersey Journal, The Star-Ledger.)