Passaic Valley wrestling benefits from good competition
A tough week of competition proved beneficial to the Passaic Valley High wrestling team.
Head coach Joe Benvenuti saw his Hornets win a league match over Lakeland, 58-12, then finish 1-2 in a quad match last Saturday at Mendham High School, defeating Jefferson, 39-27, while falling to Mendham, 37-30, and Emerson/Park Ridge, 40-28.
Passaic Valley will take a 5-2 record into a match at Garfield on Jan. 13, which starts at 6 p.m. The Hornets will host a quad match on Jan. 14, starting at 10 a.m., as Bloomfield, Pequannock and North Bergen come to town. There is also a match with Hopatcong, tentatively scheduled for Jan. 11, but Benvenuti wasn’t sure, yet, as to whether it would be home, or away.
On Jan. 18, a big match awaits, as arch rival Wayne Valley comes to Little Falls in a 7 p.m. start. Following Wayne Valley, PV is away for five straight matches, including the county championship. The next home match will be on Feb. 1, when Fair Lawn visits.
Despite losing for the first time this season last Saturday, Benvenuti was far from disappointed.
“It was a great quad at Mendham,” the coach said. “All of the matches were decided by 13 points, or less. All four schools were so evenly matched, and it made for a great day of wrestling. Unfortunately, we handed the match to Mendham. We had wrestlers in close matches get pinned late in the third period, and lost a few by pin when we had the lead in the third. It doesn’t matter who you’re competing against, it’s difficult to overcome major point swings like that.”
Despite losing two of three, Benvenuti saw a lot of good come from the quad.
“There were some bright spots throughout the day,” said Benvenuti. “We are struggling with consistency and need more regular contributions from a handful of wrestlers that have the potential, but are struggling with confidence now. We put the challenge out to a couple of guys that we need them to get on board with the rest of the lineup. They know what they need to do, and without a team effort, we will come up short.
“When we get everyone’s confidence level where I know it should be, we can be very good, as a team.”
After falling in the first two matches last Saturday, PV defeated Jefferson.
“It was a heated environment and great experience for our team to be put into the fire for three matches in a row,” said Benvenuti. “With the goals we have for the end of the season, it will be matches like these that will prepare us to be mentally tough to withstand the pressure (in February and March) and achieve our goals.”
Among the wrestlers who stood out for the Hornets at Mendham were Nick DeNora, a team captain, who remained undefeated on the season at 106 pounds with three wins. Also finishing 3-0 on the day were team captain Kenny Kerwin, at 113 pounds, and Yousef Karmi, who won all three of his heavyweight bouts.
“Nick DeNora is proving to be a tremendous leader for us, on and off the mat,” said Benvenuti.
Greg Sabbak, a sophomore 120 pounder, continues to lead the Hornets in pins.
Benvenuti has also been pleased with the effort of sophomore Jordan Sconciafurno, at 126 pounds.
“Jordan has put together a solid season so far,” the coach said. “He has definitely become a kid we can count on for maximum effort. He has also developed into a more complete wrestler, so it has been nice to gain another kid with great ability and a lot of heart.”
The upcoming schedule will have plenty of post-season ramifications.
“We’ll be facing some teams in our new district,” said Benvenuti, referring to Garfield and Hopatcong. “And there are some good rivalry matches coming up with North Bergen, Bloomfield and Wayne Valley.”