The Scotch Plains-Fanwood School wrestling program will likely have a new career win leader Friday or Saturday in senior 145-pounder Brian Lapham.
Lapham and the Raiders will hope to surprise favorite Cranford and win the District 11 Tournament at Westfield High School.
The Raiders, a runnerup the last two years, will likely not have enough guns to overtake the Union County Tournament champions.
But they do have three outstanding seniors in Lapham, 138-pounder J.T. Beirne – who recently earned his 100th career win – and senior 195-pounder Alex Mirabella.
Lapham should break a tie at the top of the SP-F win list with co-leader Pat Mineo. Both have 124 wins, followed by Steve Mineo’s 119 and Anthony Tufaro’s 112.
Tufaro’s last bout was in Atlantic City at the NJSIAA Tournament when he placed sixth at 285 pounds two years ago. Atlantic City is a place where Lapham, Beirne and Mirabella want to be. But that will take placing at least in the top three in the Region III Tournament.
‘It’s something we have been talking about for how I don’t know how long,” said Union County champ Mirabella, a former drill partner of Tufaro’s who also won a John Goles Tournament title this year.
Lapham beat Westfield’s graduated standout 145-pounder Matt Barber in the district final last season, but then lost to Barber in the consolation final at the region tournament. He watched as Barber went on to place fifth in the state.
“It’s such a bad feeling (to finish fourth at the region),” said Lapham, who will wrestle at Bucknell. “I think I’m more confident this year. I’m not afraid of anything.
“Having a finish like I did last year has motivated me to just go out and wrestle as hard as I can,” he added.
Lapham said it’s an honor to be atop the Raiders’ win board, but there is the objective to chase — one Beirne and Mirabella share.
“It’s a good feeling, but then I’ll have to clear my mind, at the end of the day it’s about being in the best position I can be in to get where I want to go and to be wrestling at my highest level,” said Lapham.
Beirne, who wrestled at 106 as a freshman, 113 as a sophomore and 126 last year, has been getting extra workout time with former SP-F star Derek Francavilla, a state runnerup, who went on to wrestle at Columbia.
“I definitely feel like I’ve improved working with Derek, and working at Apex,” said Beirne, 25-4. “I’ve known Alex and Lapham since back in middle school, it’s been a long ride, but we still want the same thing.”