The wrestling season is a grind, there's no two ways about it. A wrestler's resume is built and his craft honed during the regular season, but it is the postseason where the hammers can cement their legacy.
All season Roxbury has leaned on the undefeated tandem of senior Tim Garripoli and sophomore Dillon Artigliere, and on Monday night the duo proved how quickly they can swing a match. Trailing by two points to fifth-seeded Passaic Valley in the quarterfinals of the North Jersey Section 1, Group III tournament, fourth-seeded Roxbury received consecutive pins from Garripoli and Artigliere at 145 and 152 pounds to take a 10-point lead on its way to a 33-24 victory. Garripoli's first-period pin also earned him career victory 100 and pushed his season record to 27-0.
“It was most important to get the six points for the team,” Garripoli said following the match. “To get 100 wins is great and to do it in a match the team needed is even better.”
The Gaels (10-8) won nine of the 13 contested bouts to advance to Wednesday's semifinal round where they will take on top-seeded Paramus (15-4).
Standout senior Nick Pezzano won by technical fall, 16-1 in 4:28 over Jonathan Patane at 138 pounds, to give Passaic Valley a 20-18 lead with four bouts left. Garripoli gave Roxbury the lead right back by turning and pinning Muhammad Darwish in 55 seconds at 145. Artigliere followed by also improving to 27-0 with a pin.
Leading 4-0 in the second period, the reigning Region I champion locked up Nicholas Armagno with a cradle and finished off the pin at 3:18, giving Roxbury a 30-20 lead with two bouts left. Passaic Valley needed bonus points at 160 pounds to keep itself in contention but Stephen Satmaria was able to force overtime with David Cruz via a late takedown. In overtime, Satmaria clinched the match with a takedown with 15.4 seconds left, winning 9-7 and giving the Gaels a 33-20 lead heading into the final bout.
Peter Sutton staked Roxbury to a 3-0 lead by edging Robert Novak, 4-3, at 182 pounds. The bout was tied at two in the third period when Sutton scored a reversal to take a two-point lead. Novak escaped, but Sutton was able to hold him off for the decision. Roxbury led 6-3 heading into the heavyweight bout between Patrick Andriani and John Magi, but Passaic Valley took its first lead on a pin late in the third period. Andriani was leading 1-0 via a third-period escape when he threw Magi to his back and recorded the fall with just 0.2 seconds remaining, giving the Hornets (14-7) a 9-6 advantage.
Roxbury would battle back to take the lead on consecutive decisions at 106 and 113 pounds. Stephen Caserta used a first-period takedown and a third-period reversal to top Tyler Tepe, 4-0, before Devon LaFranco outlasted Billy Bici, 3-1 in overtime at 113, to give the Gaels a 12-9 lead. Edwin Aristizabal received a forfeit for Passaic Valley at 120 pounds to put the Hornets up 15-12, but Jake Legotte tied the match back up with a thrilling victory over Thomas Dunphy at 126 pounds.
A takedown early in the third period had give Dunphy a 4-0 advantage and the sophomore was in the midst of riding Legotte out for the win. But with under 20 seconds left in the bout Legotte pulled off a five-point move, reversing Dunphy to his back as the seconds ticked off for a 5-4 decision.
Roxbury junior Lightner Miller then defeated Brian Dillon, 4-3, at 132 pounds to put the Gaels up 18-15. They would go on to win three of the final five bouts to earn the victory.
Roxbury has won four sectional championships in program history, including last season's North Jersey Section 2, Group III title. They'll have to get through Paramus, which has won eight in a row, to do so.
“We just have to do what we do,” Garripoli said. “It's going to be a tough match but we've wrestled a lot of the top teams this year so we are used to big matches.”
Roxbury 33, Passaic Valley 24
182: Peter Sutton (Rx) d. Robert Novak 4-3
195: Stephen Arthur III (Rx) d. Kerem Ozgerek 5-0
220: Matthew Patten (PV) d. Ryan O'Connor 5-1
285: Patrick Andriani (PV) p. John Magi 5:59
106: Stephen Caserta (Rx) d. Tyler Tepe 4-0
113: Devon LaFranco (Rx) d. Billy Bici 3-1 (OT)
120: Edwin Aristizabal (PV) by forfeit
126: Jake Legotte (Rx) d. Thomas Dunphy 5-4
132: Lightner Miller (Rx) d. Brian Dillon 4-3
138: Nick Pezzano (PV) tf. Jonathan Patane 16-1, 4:28
145: Tim Garripoli (Rx) p. Muhammad Darwish 0:55
152: Dillon Artigliere (Rx) p. Nick Armagno 3:17
160: Stephen Satmaria (Rx) d. David Cruz 9-7 (OT)
170: Nick Andriani (PV) md. James Monaghan 17-6.
Records: at Roxbury (10-8); Passaic Valley (14-7)
Bob Badders covers wrestling for MSG Varsity. Follow him on Twitter: @Bob_Badders