Gigi Riccardi '17
8 February 2017
The Hornet wrestling team has been switched into a higher, more competitive region. The entire state of New Jersey has been re-aligned for fairness. The balance of numbers (how many schools) and the balance of power (higher ranked) was becoming a problem so a fix had to be made. Now, each region and district has the same number of teams across the state of New Jersey. Also, each region and district has a balanced amount of parochial powerhouse teams as well as a balance amount of top 25 public schools.
Passaic Valley now shares a region with Bergen Catholic, Depaul Catholic, Roxbury, Paramus, Clifton, Passaic County Tech, Wayne Valley, Montville, Cedar Grove, Hasbrouck Heights, Fair Lawn, and Morris Knolls.
Head coach Mr. Joseph Benvenuti has been with the team for the past ten years. When asked about the switch, Mr. Benvenuti said that it is “definitely more difficult” but this was said with no fear, as he is confident that his team will succeed as well as last year.
Hornet wrestlers are now in competion with one of the best teams in the state, Bergen Catholic. There are five teams in the top ten in NJ that are now in the same region . Coach Benvenuti said, “The one positive thing is that now the top four place winners go to states, when last year it was the top three”.
The region switch is a big change to all schools across New Jersey, but the wrestling team is confident that they will be able to attain their goals. Benvenuti’s goals for this season are the same as every other year: league, district, and state champions. “We keep the same goals in mind every season and go about accomplishing them through hard work, both physically and mentally.”
Wrestlers also have the same goals as their coach. Kenny Kerwin ‘17, a four year wrestler, and one of the team’s captains, expects to have one of his best seasons yet. When asked about the upcoming season, Kerwin said, “Yes, I expect to have a better season than the last one. I prepared better this past off season, so I’m hoping for a better outcome for myself and the team”.
The team practices every day after school, but Benvenuti never lets the practice time exceed two hours. “I believe anything over two hours in any sport is counter-productive. As the season goes on we make practice shorter and shorter to keep the team sharp and healthy,” he says.
At every practice, the boys condition, run drills, etc. Two days a week, they strength train in the morning, arriving before most teachers to hit the gym in preparation for upcoming matches.
Another senior, Nick Denora , is hoping for a state championship title this year. He stands with Kerwin as the team’s other captain.
Denora believes that the region switch will be harder for some, but the competition is much better. “It’s more motivating,” he says. “The coaches keep us on task, and make sure we’re working hard and to our potential.” Since the team is going to be challenged, they all must stick together and be there to keep each other on point. Denora refers to his team as a family, and that they are always there to push him harder to be better.
Kerwin, Denora, and the rest of the wrestlers are not letting this switch hold them back from going after their goals. Benvenuti holds the team to a high standard because he knows their capabilities. This season may be challenging, but it will challenge Passaic Valley wrestlers to prove themselves to be known as the amazing team that they are.