ORADELL, N.J. – Bergen Catholic's wrestling team cruised to its fifth straight Non-Public A title over the weekend, knocking off St. Augustine Prep, 54-6.
The Crusaders made it look easy, winning all but two matches against their Atlantic County opponents Sunday at the Pine Belt Arena in Toms River.
But "it's not something we take for granted," head coach Dave Bell told Daily Voice.
"This is something we’ve been working for, for a long time,” said Bell, who has won a dozen sectional and seven state titles in 17 years with BCHS. “It’s always rewarding.”
Bergen Catholic was led by nationally-ranked sophomores Gerard Angelo (120 pounds) and Shane Griffith (138), along with seniors Nick Suriano (126), Joe Grello (170), Kevin Mulligan (195) and Danny DiLorenzi (285).
Bell said he knows how special the group is, "but to hear other people say that and recognize that, it means a lot.”
Brady Ford (152), Grello and Josh McKenzie (182) won their respective bouts via pinfall.
“You need to beat a lot of good guys [along the way] to beat us,” Bell said.
The individual portion of the season comes next.
Last year, eight Bergen Catholic grapplers placed in the individual state tournament at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
Four were champions: Suriano, who could become just the third wrestler to win four state titles and second to do so undefeated; Griffith, who was voted the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler; Grello and Mulligan.
The top-three in each weight class in their respective regional tournaments qualify for the individual state tourney.
“It’s safe to say we can send 10 or more [wrestlers to Atlantic City],” Bell said. “If we can get there, that would certainly be great. But it would be great to surpass that.”
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.