Gabrieles Lead Verona Wins At Essex County Tournament

By on January 21, 2018

Frank Gabriele ECT hampionWrestling’s Essex County Tournament took place at the Codey Arena this weekend and brothers Frank and John Gabriele took first and second in their respective weight classes for Verona High School.

Frank Gabriele, on the podium above, had been expected to be a headliner at the ECT and lived up to that billing. Wrestling at 145, he opened with a win by fall over Derek Lombardi of Belleville and followed that with a win by fall over Montclair’s Benjamin Baily. He squared off against Blake McGowan of Columbia in the semis and came away with a 15-0 technical fall. He similarly crushed the first place match, scoring a 17-2 tech fall over Jon Bartley of West Essex, and his first ECT championship.

But that wasn’t the only high point for Frank Gabriele. That opening round victory over Lombardi was his 124th win, which meant that he broke the VHS win record set by Colin Farawell in 2011. Gabriele scored his 100th win in his junior year.

John Gabriele, who wrestles at 152, marched through the opening rounds of the tournament with ease. He started with a win by fall over Richard Norman of Irvington and followed that with a win by fall over Ben Morris of Columbia in the quarterfinals. In the semis, John Gabriele scored a 5-0 decision over Michael Massa of Seton Hall Prep. But the top step on the podium eluded the VHS senior in his final match, where he lost a major decision to Jerry Jones of Caldwell.


The strong finishes by other Verona wrestlers helped the team to earn a seventh place overall. Wrestling at 160, junior Nick Riggio earned a fourth place for Verona. He opened with a win by forfeit over Lazaar White of Weequahic, before going on to score a fall over Thomas Hales of Newark Academy) in the quarterfinals. In the semis, Riggio lost to Danny Young of Seton Hall Prep and lost again in the third place match, this time to Luke Dignazio of West Essex.

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Dean Palmer placed fifth at 120. Palmer opened the ECT with a win by fall over Brandon Costello of Belleville. He slipped in the quarterfinal, coming up at the short end of a match against James Benjamin of West Orange, but rallied back in the consolation round with a 9-1 major decision over Brian Aguilar of Barringer. Palmer’s fifth place match was a nail-biter against Terell Ashman of Irvington, who had led the match until Palmer got two critical points.

Frank Riggio also earned a fifth place for Verona, wrestling at 132. He opened with a fall over Thomas Rosenthal of Montclair but lost to Charlie Cunningham of Seton Hall Prep in the quarterfinals. Like Palmer, he rallied in the consolation round, earning a win by fall over Nick La Greca of West Essex. The fifth-place match was a high stress event against Brisner Xavier of Irvington, but Riggio fought it to a 4-2 decision.

Bill Fauerbach placed sixth at 182. He scored a fall over Dan Jennings of Nutley in the opening round, but lost by decision to Sam Gladson of Millburn in the quarterfinals. Fauerbach recovered in the consolation round, winning by decision over Devonne Swan of East Orange Campus in a hard-fought 6-5 match. The fifth place win was taken by Zachary Merlino of Seton Hall Prep.

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Mike Garcia, wrestling at 106 placed 7th. After getting a bye in the opening round, Garcia struggled in the quarterfinal and consolation round. But he roared back in the seventh place match with a win by fall over Vin Negra of Nutley. Cade Byrne, Verona’s heavyweight, also placed seventh. The underdog opened strong with a fall over Tashon May of Orange, before losing in the quarterfinal and consolation rounds. In the seventh place match he won by forfeit over Brandon Myree of Weequahic.

And there was one other big win at the ECT that will be of interest to Veronans: Maguire Pecci, who wrestles for Seton Hall Prep, took first place at 138. Pecci had taken second last year at 120.

Verona resident Maguire Pecci, in blue, wrestles for Seton Hall Prep and earned at first place at 138 pounds.

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