Nutley’s Bobadilla, Rivera medal at NJSIAA Girls Wrestling State Tournament

As girls wrestling continues to grow in popularity both in Nutley and across the state, the goals continue to rise for the Raiders program.

Both Isabella Bobadilla and Carina Rivera are proof of that.

Not only did the two Nutley wrestlers achieve their original goal of making it to Atlantic City for the NJSIAA Girls Wrestling State Tournament, they went out and raised the standard again, by placing in the tournament.

Rivera, a junior, finished seventh at 165 pounds, while Bobadilla, a senior, took eighth at 126 pounds.They became the second and third girls in Nutley history to reach the medal stand, joining Mariah Koster in 2022.

A week prior both Rivera and Bobadilla qualified after finishing third in their respective weight classes at the North Jersey, Section 1 Region Tournament in Vernon. Earlier in February, they were champions in the inaugural Essex County Girls Wrestling Invitational.

“We knew that they had tough draws, but we were prepared,” head coach Mike DiPiano said. “They worked extremely hard the last couple weeks and the goal was to get there (to Atlantic City). Then, once we got down there, the goal switched and the goals were to get on the medal stand. They had some really nice wins and really, really made us very proud.”

Rivera, who has an extensive martial arts background, joined the team before last season and made an immediate impact, winning 25 matches and finishing just one victory short of qualifying for the state tournament.

This year, Rivera earned a spot in the 12-wrestler tournament and as the seventh seed, opened with a 4-1 decision over Zedekiah Pollard of New Brunswick. After getting pinned in the quarterfinals, Rivera then went 2-1 in wrestlebacks, finishing her tournament by winning a 4-3 decision over Steinert’s Ella Johnson in the seventh place match.

“(Carina) put together a fantastic season. She ended up with 30 wins,” said DiPiano. “To only start wrestling last year and then place in the state tournament in her second year shows you what kind of kid she is. What she did this year was amazing. And to be able to come back next year and try to climb up that podium a little more, I know that she’s going to put in the work all season long to do that.”

Bobadilla in particular has been instrumental in building the girls wrestling program into what it currently is. When she started wrestling as a sophomore it was just her and Koster. This season, she was the lone senior on a team that has expanded to nine wrestlers.

Bobadilla was seeded 11th in her bracket and promptly delivered one of the tournament’s first upsets when she rallied from a 5-0 deficit to pin sixth-seeded Isabelle Konopka of Seneca at the 3:29 mark.

Later, after being defeated in the quarterfinals, Bobadilla pinned Carly Poggio at 1:27 in the wrestlebacks bracket to guarantee a spot on the medal stand.

“Bella was really out there trying to recruit these girls. This year we were up to nine and she definitely helped do that,” DiPiano said. “She had a huge, huge win in her first match. She was down 5-0, came back and pinned (Konopka) and it put her in the perfect position to place.

“She’s one of the pioneers (of this program). She placed in the region three times and she ended her career as a state place winner. We’re extremely, extremely proud of her.”

Between Rivera, Bobadilla as well as boys heavyweight Brandon Toranzo, it was the largest state tournament contingent Nutley has had in recent memory and the first time the program has had multiple state medal winners since 2013. An accomplishment DiPiano gives a lot of credit to the work of the entire coaching staff and whole Nutley wrestling community.

In addition, Bloomfield sent four wrestlers to Atlantic City, a quartet highlighted by fifth place finishes by sophomores Leanna Noel at 145 pounds and Saharia Quamina at 235 pounds.

Alexha Montalvo (120 pounds) and Madelyn McLaughlin (132 pounds) also competed, but did not place.

Learn more about the writer ...

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 (, The Jersey Journal, The Star-Ledger.)