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COVID-19 could not take down West Milford wrestlers

West Milford. The high school’s wrestling program thrives during shortened season, including hosting the first ever outdoor wrestling match in Passaic County.

| 13 May 2021 | 09:02

It’s a testament to powerful character of the student-athletes on the roster and of the coaching staff of the West Milford High School wrestling program that they were able to thrive this year despite the obstacles in front of them due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Taylor Pevny, the Highlanders’ head coach, recalled some of the highlight dual meet victories from the 2021 season.

“Our wins over Wayne Valley, Wayne Hills, DePaul and Pompton Lakes stood out the most,’’ Pevny said. “These are all teams that we have battled with the last few years and they traditionally have strong wrestling programs. We knew we weren’t going to get the tournaments we would get in a normal season so we focused on learning how to wrestle as a team and do the best we could as a team in dual meets.

“We hosted the first ever outdoor wrestling match in Passaic County high school wrestling history. We did this to kind of take advantage of the shortened season being moved to March-April due to the pandemic.’’

A well balanced lineup helped propel West Milford to seven dual meet wins.

Light weights

“Two freshmen in our light weights really led the way for us,’’ Pevny said. “Starting at 106 (pounds) just about every match really helped us. Benjamin Marchetto and Colin Menier really stepped up and got things going for us in dual meets. They were also two of the hardest workers in the practice room. They have bright futures ahead of them.

Middle weights

“In our middle weights Aiden Highers, Francesco Petrosillo and Aidan McGuire did a great job leading us in the practice room. They worked hard every single day and took on the responsibility of motivating others. All three had great seasons competing for us and made a difference with their work ethic.

Upper weights

“In our upper weights Norman Rubinsky has been leading by example ever since he was a freshman. He is the true example of a Highlander wrestler. Dylan Connors had an unbelievable season for us after getting back on the mat for the first time in four to five years. He picked things right back up and worked hard to build himself back up as a wrestler.’’

NJSIAA North 1 Super Region Tournament

West Milford showcased several wrestlers at the challenging NJSIAA North 1 Super Region Tournament.

“We had five wrestlers selected to enter the first stage of the New Jersey State Tournament,’’ Pevny said. “These five wrestlers were selected to the top 24 wrestlers in the North 1 Super Region which consisted of 80 teams from Bergen, Passaic, Sussex, Morris, Essex and Warren counties. Benjamin Marchetto 106 pounds (fifth place overall North 1 Super Region), Colin Menier 120 pounds (top 24 North 1 Super Region), Dylan Connors 170 pounds (top 16 North 1 Super Region), Norman Rubinsky 182 pounds (top 24 North 1 Super Region) and Tyler Wisnewski 220 pounds (top 16 North 1 Super Region).’’

The Highlanders will look to be productive on the mat well into the future.

“We return 11 of 14 wrestlers to the varsity line up,’’ Pevny said. “We also have another talented incoming freshman class next season.’’