Passaic Valley wrestling has strong nucleus in place
For Passaic Valley High wrestling coach Joe Benvenuti, two words came to mind right away in discussing his program.
Enthusiasm and competition.
They are attributes which have defined a winning program for the past decade, and what the coach is seeing so far in practice.
“Enthusiasm and competition come to mind when I reflect on our young season, so far,” said Benvenuti.
The Hornets will have some big shoes to fill, after winning a state championship last year, in North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3, as well as a second straight District 13 title, but Benvenuti feels the nucleus is in place for more success during the 2016-2017 season.
“We talk daily about legacy and ownership here with PVHS wrestling,” the coach said. “This has always been a winning program, with lofty goals and expectations year in and year out. We talk endlessly about our responsibility to carry on this winning tradition. So, we focus on ownership, meaning the team must “own” the process and the outcome each and every time on the mat.”
Benvenuti knows the significance ot being a successful PV wrestler, having wrestled for the Hornets 20 years ago.
“The team must also own the responsibilities that come with having a target on your back,” the coach said. “When a program wins all the time, other teams enjoy knocking you off. If you’re not ready for every other teams “A” game, someone will catch you sleeping.”
While practice has been ongoing, the Hornets are seeing their leaders take over.
“Our captains, Kenny Kerwin and Nick DeNora have been lighting the practice room on fire with their energy and leadership,” the coach said. “We have really liked what Vin Brigati, Hunter Fortier and Jeremy Galletta have brought to the table, now that they are upperclassmen. They are excited to practice and have fun going through the daily grind. That is very rare, but definitely an asset for the rest of the team to try and exemplify.”
The team’s upper weights have also been impressive.
“Obviously, we are going to be extremely tough at 220 and heavyweight, with Tom Marretta and Yousef Karmi,” said Benvenuti. “These two have been battling in practice every day. It’s been difficult to get them proper work, but our assistant coaches have taken on much of the punishment from these two, so that they will be ready in a few weeks.”
Greg Sabbak has also been doing a good job.
“This season, Greg Sabbak, will not be able to sneak up on his competition,” said Benvenuti of the sophomore. “After the tremendous season he had last year, everyone will know and be ready for him. He has grown and put on some muscle mass, and should no doubt be able to improve upon his great freshman campaign from a year ago.”
The coach is also optimistic about the performances of Zach Ulrich and Greg Fellanto.
“These two wrestlers were in and out of the varsity line-up last season,”: said Benvenuti. “This experience should prove to be valuable for them. Both wrestlers have put in serious work during the off-season, so we are counting on the two of them for winning seasons and major contributions.”
The Hornets will have a scrimmage at home on Dec. 10, against High Point and Becton, starting at 9 a.m. The regular season begins on Dec. 17, at the Morris Knolls Tournament.