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Referee Mark Sherman raises the left arm of Caldwell's Gerald Jones after the prize Chief freshman won the 106-pound title during Saturday's Essex County Tournament championships at Codey Arena in West Orange. (Photo by Gene Nann-nannphoto)

A smiling Anthony Clarizio of Cedar Grove (center), the ECT 113-pound champion, stands on the podium Saturday between the runner-up Pablo Estevez of Bloomfield (left) and West Essex's third-place finisher Marco Macrino. (Photo by Gene Nann)

Caldwell's Gerald Jones (left) and West Orange's Victor Lopez are wrapped up with each other during 106-final. (Photo by Glenn

Cedar Grove's Anthony Clarizio (right) gets a firm hold on Bloomfield's Pablo Estevez before pinning him in 1:14 in their 113-pound ECT title bout. (Photo by Glenn Kross)

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“There are a lot of good rivalries I can see developing for me in the county, but all I want to do is continue to work hard and strive to be a District, Region and state champ,” said the Chiefs’ prize freshman. “You simply train every day to try and beat the best guys out there and our coaching staff does a great job getting us ready for the next challenge.”

Wrestling, unlike most high school sports, involves freshmen at an impact level right from the start, as the six freshmen in 106 and six more at 113 in the 2015 ECT is testament to.

Plus, with terrific town programs as both Caldwell and Cedar Grove have, the youngsters such as Jones and Clarizio are well prepared to compete at a high level right from the get-go.

“We’ve been fortunate to have some very good young wrestlers in my time at Cedar Grove,” said Panthers coach Derrick Goduto. “And, with freshmen like Anthony and Joe McCarthy (third-place finisher at 138) it’s obvious that we have a great combination of youth and talent on this team to go along with our veteran kids like (junior) Mike Dugan (ECT runner-up at 160) and (senior) Mike Brown (fourth at 145).”

Cedar Grove recently had a very nice SEC dual match win over West Orange, a triumph that carried over energy-wise for the team into the county tournament.

“We also beat our rival Verona (42-19, Jan. 16), and then that energy just carried over to our win against West Orange (38-25, Jan. 21) and then right into the ECT,” said Clarizio. “We knew this was going to be a challenging tournament, but we all look forward to more great matches as the competition only gets better along the way.”

Caldwell, despite not having prize junior state contender Dean Caravela (120) for the counties due to an injury, still finished a very impressive third in the final ECT team standings (with 125 points) behind team champ West Essex (172 ½ points) and runner-up Nutley (161).

In addition to Jones’ title at 106, Ryan Schaffer (21-5) was a runner-up at 170, and Christian Dalla Riva (21-4 at 160) and Ian Davidson (20-4 at 220) were third-place finishers as the Chiefs had their success stories in the ECT in addition to solid wrestleback performances all around.

“Dean is such a good team leader and not having him for the counties was something our coaches told us we just had to accept and simply go out and wrestle our best,” said Jones. “We have other guys who also lead on this team, a lot of people have stepped up for us, and that’s why we’ve done so well as a team in the counties.”

ECT MAT NOTES- There are three former Essex County wrestling standouts, including two multiple county champs, who wrestled for one school and now coach at another and were present over the weekend at the ECT. Mike Markey, an ECT champ at Caldwell in 1998 and 2000, is now a coach at West Essex; while Filiberto Colon, one of just nine 4-time county champs in the 41-year history of the tournament (2005-2008 for the Belleville Buccaneers), is now an assistant at Nutley, and Brandon O’Rourke, who wrestled at Cedar Grove, is now on the Seton Hall Prep coaching staff…This season marked the first time since 1995 that Livingston did not have a county champ; that’s a run of 19 years (1996-2014) when the Lancers had at least one individual winner in the ECT…former MKA head coach Neal Picillo is an assistant coach at Nutley. Picillo, who wrestled at West Orange and Seton Hall University, headed the MKA mat program for 15 years before the Monclair private school dropped wrestling three years ago…Among highly-successful head coaches in other sports helping out their respective wrestling programs as assistants on Saturday at the ECT were Darnell Grant (football at Shabazz) and Carl Houser (lacrosse at Glen Ridge)…Among the athletic directors on hand for Saturday’s ECT finals were Belleville’s Tom D’Elia and Cedar Grove’s Rob Gogerty…speaking of youth fourth-place SHP entered 12 wrestlers in the ECT and eight are underclassmen.

Follow Steve Tober on Twitter @Chattermeister

Cedar Grove head coach Derrick Goduto (left) takes in the mat action as he keeps close eye on how his Panther grappler is progressing in a recent match. (Photo by Gene Nann)

Caldwell's 106-pound champion Gerald Jones (center) holds up his bracket sheet on the podium while joined by West Orange's runner-up Victor Lopez (left) and Anthony Petrillo of Livingston (right), the third-place finisher, during ECT finals. (Photo by Gene Nann)

Caldwell wrestling has strong staff of ardent assistant coaches (Photo by Gene Nann)

Cedar Grove's Anthony Clarizio (bottom) takes control of his 113-pound championship match vs. Bloomfield's Pablo Estevez before pinning Bengal. (Photo by Glenn Kross)

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