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Columbia High School Athletic Director Larry Busichio, who is the Cougars' former head baseball coach, is thrilled to now be joining Verona's AD Gary Farishian as co-director of the Greater Newark Tournament which seeds its 2014 field on Tuesday night at Verona High School. (Photo by Doug Allen)

Columbia AD Relishes New Role
As Co-Director For 2014 GNT
By Steve Tober

Columbia Athletic Director Larry Busichio has already enjoyed the excitement of the Greater Newark Tournament as a player and coach. Now, he’s embarking in his new association with the historic baseball tournament as GNT co-director along with Verona’s Gary Farishian.

The GNT assembles its field for the 2014 tourney on Tuesday night at Verona, as Busichio, Farishian and coaches from high schools including Seton Hall Prep, Caldwell, Columbia, Bloomfield, Newark Academy, East Side, St. Benedict's Prep, and Science Park partake in discussions leading up to the actual seeding of the teams entered.

SHP, the defending champion, is expected to be accorded the top seed in this year's tourney followed by Millburn in the second slot. Bloomfield, Nutley and West Essex are all jockeying for position as other likely higher seeds.

For Busichio, becoming part of the GNT in his latest role was a no-brainer in that he knew he would enjoy the challenges of his new position.

“When I became an AD, I looked to get involved in this process as soon as possible,” he said. “You want to help the other ADs as much as possible and volunteer for committees, so why not the GNT as a former baseball coach?

“Most of the ADs in the SEC are former football/basketball guys, so I thought I could help lend a different perspective to the tournament. This is one of the most prestigious tournaments in the state, so to be a part of it is an honor.

“I've now had a chance to play, coach, and now help run the GNT.”

Busichio and his longtime Columbia assistant Matt Becht could certainly appreciate the special quality of the GNT as former players in the ultimate baseball game in Essex County.

“Matt and I played in 1995 when we won, 1-0 (over Belleville) in the final,” said the Columbia head mentor who played with Becht under coach Jerry Battaglini. “There is a tremendous amount of excitement centered around the GNT, whether it’s at Verona, where we won in ’95, or at Bears & Eagles Stadium where the final has been played in most of the recent seasons.”

Columbia, which has also won GNT crowns in 1978, 1979 and 1986, also appeared in the finals in 1999, when it lost to Seton Hall Prep, 4-3, and in 2010 when it was edged by West Essex, 5-4.

Busichio now appreciates working side by side with a veteran AD in Farishian, who has a wealth of experience in a number of different sports.

The Verona AD has helped a great deal in regards to this year’s GNT, working the phones and requesting assurances from the powers that be in Essex County that Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium in Newark will be in tip-top condition for the GNT final at noon on Saturday, May 17, despite the fact that the professional team that had been based there - the Newark Bears - have folded as an organization and have announced they are selling all their equipment as part of a liquidation sale.

“Gary has done a great job staying in contact with (Essex County Executive) Joe 'D' (DiVincenzo) people who have assured us that the stadium will be ready for the finals,” said Busichio.  “We will use the county parks crew to take care of the field.

“New Jersey Institute of Technology and Newark Rutgers are playing home games there all year, and the county is taking care of the field for them.  We should be in good shape!”

2014 Greater Newark Tournament:

Seeding Meeting: 7 p.m., Tuesday, April 21, at Verona High School

Game Dates: Note: Prelims, first round and quarters all at higher seed

Preliminary Rounds “Play-In” Bracket: Thursday, April 24; Saturday, April 26 and Thursday, May 1

First Round (Round of 16): Saturday, May 3 at 2 p.m.

Quarterfinals: Thursday, May 8 (TBA)

Semifinals: Saturday, May 10, 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. at Verona’s Doc Goeltz Field

Final: Saturday, May 17, noon, at Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium in Newark

Former Montclair coach Ron Gavazzi holds the coveted GNT plaque after his Mounties captured the 2012 title. (Sideline Chatter photo)


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