Passaic Valley wrestling facing tough schedule
Passaic Valley High wrestling coach Joe Benvenuti never hesitates in providing his team as competitive a schedule as it can get, in the hope of making the Hornets better for the key stretch in late February and early March.
The Hornets opened its 2016-2017 season last Sunday, by competing in a tough tournament at Morris Knolls High School.
PV will be busy during the Christmas holiday. The team faced Elmwood Park earlier this week and will visit Nutley on Dec. 23, at 3 p.m. On Dec. 28, Passaic County Tech comes to PV for a dual match, starting at 11:30 a.m. and on Dec. 29, it’s off to the Panther Invitational Holiday Tournament, at Roselle Park High School.
Last Sunday’s performance showed Benvenuti that his team has plenty of work to do.
“It was a tough tournament, for sure,” said Benvenuti. “We usually open at the Hopatcong Tournament. The tournament at Morris Knolls seemed a bit deeper. We definitely learned a few things about getting to the next level. For our kids, that’s a good thing, because no one remembers December when it comes to winning a state sectional (in February) and doing well in the districts, regions and ultimately the states.”
Among the powerhouse teams at the Morris Knolls tourney were South Plainfield, which won it, as well as second place Seton Hall Prep, Watchung Hills, which was third and Montville, the fourth place finisher.
For Passaic Valley, Nick DeNora, a senior and team captain, was outstanding in winning at his 106 pound weight class.
“Nick will be a major force at this weight class,” said Benvenuti. “He was the talk of the tournament by opposing wrestlers and coaches. He hammered his way through, picking up bonus point wins.”
Kenny Kerwin bumped up a weight class to 120 pounds and finished a solid fourth. The senior and team captain got some good work in, according to his coach.
“Kenny will be back down 113 pounds, and all things considered, will be back on track,” said Benvenuti.
Jeremy Galletta finished second at 145 pounds and advanced to the finals in a tournament setting for the first time in his career.
“Jeremy showed great toughness and skill in taking second place in the tournament,: said Benvenuti. “It will give me a good confidence boost.”
Tom Marretta was fourth in a very good 220 pound weight class. Last season, as a sophomore, Marretta wrestled at heavyweight and eventually qualified for the NJSIAA championships at Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City.
“Tom lost some close matches and wrestled well for his first competition at 220 pounds,” said Benvenuti. “This young man lost 35 pounds to help his team, and I am proud of his effort in a rough tournament.”
Yousef Karmi, PV’s heavyweight, turned in an excellent performance.
“Yousef’s only loss was to the eventual champion,” said Benvenuti. “He wrestled great and won the award for most pins in the least amount of time. Yousef has exceptional technique for a heavyweight, and that is going to provide dividends during the post-season, when technique and mental toughness prevail.”
Overall, the experience was a good one for the Hornets.
“We need a lot of improvement, if we want to accomplish any of our goals,” said Benvenuti. “I am confident the team will bounce back quickly. For us, it’s always about February and March. All of this, now, is a learning process.”