NOTE: The Courier News territory consists of Hunterdon and Somerset counties with portions of Middlesex (South Plains-Fanwood, Piscataway, Middlesex/Dunelan) and Union (Governor Livingston, Plainfield, New Providence, Scotch Plains-Fanwood, Westfield).
Last year’s record is in parentheses.
1. North Hunterdon (16-5): The Lions are a top-heavy team with big hammers joined by a handful of inexperienced varsity wrestlers. State medalists Logan Waddle (113), Alex Wryniak (190) and Brandon Reilly (215) lead the way, along with Danielle Deluson (144/150, 33-5). North Hunterdon will surely be tested heading into the season with another tough slate after being ranked No. 17 in the New Jersey Wrestling Writers Association’s top 20.
2. Central Hunterdon (17-4): The Red Devils add quality with seven returning qualifiers and three state teams, making them a dangerous team for the dual meet and tournament. Headliners include Anthony Rossi (120, 12 state tournament finals at 106) and Region 5 champion Tommy Brunetti, who moved from 165 to 175. Add in some young varsity newcomers, especially in the middleweights, and Hunterdon Central should contend for titles again. They were ranked 20th in the final NJWWA poll last year.
3. South Plainfield (16-3): The Tigers are among the top teams in Middlesex County with two state winners, Jason Giordano (144) and Nicholas Campagna (150), and six regional qualifiers. Nicolas Irizarry (120) and Andrew Lanewski (132) both earned 20-plus wins last season, while Adam Bowles and Mark Molinaro — also the best linebacker duo in football — each had 18 wins. The Tigers were ranked 18th in the NJWWA final poll last season.
4. Delaware Valley (17-5): The Terriers return most of their team that won the Group 1 championship last season. Yep, it should be another fun winter for Del Val fans. State qualifiers Owen Kuharski (106) and Chris Calasurdo (157) lead a balanced lineup. They even got a boost from senior transfer Garrett Tetemer (165), who finished seventh at Penn State last season.
5. Westfield (15-9): Westfield always seems to be in the postseason mix, and this season should be no different. The Blue Devils return state qualifier Michael Murphy (165 this season, 7th in the state at 157) and state qualifiers Ethan Composta (138, three state tournament wins at 126) and Brandon Ribiero (132). Three others reached Region 4: Aidan Harper (144), Richard DeRick (150) and Sergio Cabrera (215/285).
6. Hillsborough (10-10): The defending Somerset County Tournament champions return their entire lineup and are favorites to make a repeat appearance. Six regional qualifiers lead the way, including state winners Jack Miller (165) and Matt Jones (215). Hillsborough has eight wrestlers finish in the top 4 in the SCT and champions Jones, Joey Witzkoski (190) and Christian Quandt (285).
7. Governor Livingston (17-3): The Highlanders return five regional qualifiers and two other wrestlers with 20 wins each from a team that reached the North 2 Group 2 final. Gov. Livingston also finished as runner-up in the Union County tournament. GL could be good for a while as senior Dante Gioia (150) is joined by four sophomores who reached Region 4 as freshmen: Brandon Reijac (113), Enrique Riberio (120), Christian Gioia (144) and Jake Krisberg (157).
8. Piscataway (7-15): The good thing about a rebuilding year is that inexperienced wrestlers come back more experienced. The Chiefs lost just one varsity wrestler in 2021-22 and have a strong core in Brian Butler (138, 26-9), Richard Baa (215, 28-4) and Malachi Watt (285, 26-6). Marco Meneses (113), Jacob Marte (150), Garrett Pech (157) have double-digit wins.
9. Watchung Hills (16-11): It’s similar to last season for the Warriors, in which they started with several varsity newcomers and finished well, reaching the North 2 Group 5 final. Watchung Hills has key components in state qualifiers Christiana Calva (144) and Harry Liu (157), and also Jordan Besh, who finished 6th in the region (120).
10. Montgomery (12-9): The Cougars return three 20-match winners, including Region 5 finalist Lucas Allen (26-9 at 215), along with Jax Obe (138) and Elhaji Diarra (190). John Walters (165) also returned with a third-place finish at the SCT and district tournament.