The Linden High School wrestling team has not crowned a Union County Tournament champion in 17 years, but that could all change today.
Nick Tekula, a two-time UCT finalist and the top seed at 126 pounds, provides the Tigers with their best chance for an individual title.
Roselle Park is the prohibitive favorite to run away with the team championship even though the county has recently become more balanced.
“The county overall has gotten more competitive each year for the last five years, to the point where there are even tough matches in the pre-quarterfinal round, which we haven’t had here in a long time,” Linden coach Anthony Reinoso said.
Owner of a 13-0 record, Tekula could have a rematch with Rahway’s Devin Jefferson, the No. 2 seed, in the final. Tekula scored a 3-1 decision in a meeting between the two earlier this year and also decisioned Jefferson last season.
Linden, which debuts in the Home News Tribune Top 10 this week at No. 8, captured the Rahway Tournament last month and placed third in the Elizabeth Tournament (behind Wall and Becton).
The Tigers finished ahead of Carteret at the Rahway Tournament and ahead of Bishop Ahr at the Elizabeth Tournament.
Linden, which has wrestled shorthanded of late, proved to be a quality dual meet team at the start of the season, opening the year 5-1 before enduring two losses this week.
Two-time district place-winner Diego Ataca (No. 5 seed at 132), Max Bergos (No. 3 seed at 285), Lester Dwah (No. 4 seed at 170), Khalil Burns (No. 4 seed at 182) and Dominick Robinson (No. 5 seed at 113) represent Linden’s other best chances for UCT medals.
Dwah, who owns a 12-2 record, may be the team’s second best wrestler. Robinson and Burns have won 10 and nine bouts, respectively.
Old Bridge and Bishop Ahr will host their respective Alumni Day meets next week.
Bishop Ahr’s event will take place Jan. 25 beginning at 5 p.m. prior to a dual with Piscataway, which is coached by Bill Pavlak, who is a graduate of the parochial school.
Nick Tonzola, a Bishop Ahr alum and the school’s current head coach, invites all former wrestlers to attend. An alumni presentation will precede the dual meet.
Old Bridge’s Alumni Day festivities will precede a 6 p.m. Jan. 24 dual meet with Perth Amboy.
Anyone previously affiliated with the Old Bridge, Madison Central, Cedar Ridge and Madison Township programs (wrestlers, coaches, managers) are invited to attend.
More than 100 former wrestlers have already committed to the event. All wrestling alumni will be introduced prior to the dual meet.
A reception will follow the dual meet at venue to be determined.
Bobby Jordan (113) and Bryan McLaughlin (138), who both remain undefeated, each won titles at last weekend’s Kinnelon Colt Classic Tournament.
Teammate Joey Marty (120) placed third in the event.
Pin of the week
With his team trailing by five points entering the final bout, heavyweight Will Allardice pinned his opponent in 12 seconds, leading Colonia to a 40-39 comeback victory over South River on Wednesday night.