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The action was intense in the Region 3 finals at West Orange as Caldwell's Carmine Sipper lifts West Essex's Alex Esposito in their 106-pound bout which was eventually won by Esposito, 3-2, while St. Benedict's Temuulen Mendbileg happily displayed his chart after winning the 175-pound title. Caldwell's Lorenzo Caamano grimmaces in his hard-fought 12-11 victory vs. Bergen Catholic's Genti Idrizi at 165, and Nutley's superb heavyweight Brandon Toranzo works on top of Bergen Catholic's Benji Shue and then is able to enjoy a post-match glow with coach Mike DiPiano. (Sideline Chatter photos)

(continued from page 1)

 Caldwell’s other state qualifier, second-seeded Lorenzo Caamano (36-5), bounced back nicely from a loss in the finals in the previous week’s Districts, to emerge as a Region 3 champion at 165 with a narrow 12-11 decision over Bergen Catholic’s top-seeded Genti Idrizi (18-7).

The Regions was the first time that Caamano had not worn a mask to protect a fractured nose that he absorbed earlier this season and he seemed quite comfortable going head-to-head with the athletic Idrizi.

“He has a funky style and it can be hard to keep up with the fast pace he keeps,” said the Caldwell senior now 2-time state qualifier. “But I was determined to show that my loss in the Districts was a fluke, and I think that this victory shows that I can be one of the top guys in the state in my weight class.

“I’m going to AC to get on that podium and I can’t wait to go down there!”

St. Benedict’s top-seeded Temuulen Mendbileg, who was also an Essex County Tournament champion earlier this season, impressed mightily in winning the 175-pound title in Region 3. The Gray Bees’ junior strongman won by technical fall in the quarterfinals and by major decision in both the semis and finals where he defeated West Essex’s second-seeded Carmine Masi, 11-3.

“It feels great to win a Region title, especially after our school has just returned to the NJSIAA for the first time in 30 years,” said the 17-year-old Mendbileg, who only came to America three years ago from his native Mongolia. “I’ve never been part of the state tourney so there is a little bit of the unknown as I head down there, but I’m definitely looking forward to the challenges ahead.”

NOTES- St. Benedict’s Mendbileg is a fourth-generation wrestler from Mongolia. His great-grandfather was a ‘traditional’ Mongolian wrestler, his grandfather was also a wrestler and his dad was a 3-time national champion and also on the Olympic team from Mongolia…Although he was pinned in quick fashion by Jack Myers of Morristown in the 144-pound Region 3 final, West Essex freshman Reid Clausi (33-4) has continued his outstanding rookie high school season on the mats for the Knights who will send five wrestlers to AC…Caldwell’s Sipper (39-1) was not the only previously-undefeated wrestler from Essex County to absorb an initial defeat in Region 3 as West Orange’s very talented senior Arthur Rosu (19-1), who was the No. 2 seed at 215-pounds, was edged, 4-3, by BC’s Mason Marck, in the semifinals….West Orange Athletic Director Stefan Zichella and his staff at the high school did another outstanding job hosting Region 3 and the venerable Cliff Sailor, a longtime veteran also of the Morris County Tournament, was back in Tarnoff Gymnasium helping to put together all the tally sheets on each weight class as he has done for many years...Bergen Catholic had five champions and four runners-up in the 14 championship bouts in Region 3.

Finals in Region 3 Tournament at West Orange:
106: Alex Esposito, West Essex, dec. Carmine Sipper, Caldwell, 3-2
113: Nathan Braun, Bergen Cath., TF (4:18) vs. Jakob Ferrer, Belle., 15-0
120: Christoher Nucifora, Bergen Cath., dec. Nick DiFrancescanton, Hanover P, 7-4
126: Jaden Perez, Del. Val., dec. Dalton Weber, Pope John, 10-9
132: Carson Walsh, Pope John, MD Nicolas Balella, Hackettstown, 12-1
138: Noah Kochman, Bergen Cath., pin Justin Holly, Pope John, 5:40
144: Jack Myers, Morristown, pin Reid Clausi, West Essex, 0:48
150: Jayden Iznaga, Bergen Cath., TF (2:47) Jake Ferry, Verona, 16-0
157: Ryan Ford, Bergen Cath., TF (2:40) Jordan Stallone, Becton/W-R, 18-2
165: Lorenzo Caamano, Caldwell, dec. Genti Idrizi, Bergen Cath., 12-11
175: Temuulen Mendbileg, St. Benedict’s, MD Carmine Masi, West Essex, 11-3
190: Vincenzo LaValle, Hanover Park, dec. Pantalaeo Varga, Berg. Cath., 8-3
215: Tommy Borgia, West Morris, dec. Mason Marck, Berg. Cath., 4-3
285: Brandon Toranzo, Nutley, dec. Benji Shue, Bergen Cath., 4-2   


Thursday, Feb. 29:
8 a.m.: boys and girls weight check
8:30 a.m.: boys and girls weigh-ins
10 a.m.: Girls pre-quarterfinals and Wrestleback 1 and 2 on 8 mats
10:30 a.m.: Boys preliminaries and Wrestlebacks on 8 mats
6 p.m.: Awards

Friday, March 1:
7 a.m.: Boys weight check
7:30 a.m.: Boys weigh-ins
9 a.m.: Boys WB2, quarterfinals, WB2 and3 on 8 mats
11 a.m.: Girls weight check
11:10 a.m.: Boys quarterfinals on Mats 3-4-5-6 and Boys WB3 on Mats 1-2 and 7-8
11:30: Girls weigh-ins
1 p.m.: Girls semifinals, WB3 on Mats 7 and 8
5:45 p.m.: Awards
6 p.m.: Boys semifinals on two middle mats. Girls consolation semifinals on outside 4 mats.
To follow: Boys WB5 immediately following completion of girls consolation semifinals.

Saturday, March2:
7 a.m.: Boys and Girls weight checks
7:30 a.m.: Boys and girls weighing
9 a.m.: Boys WB6 on 6 mats
9:45 a.m.: Boys and girls 3rd, 5th, 7th
12:45 p.m.: Girls parade
1 p.m.: Girls finals
3:30 p.m.: Boys parade
3:45 p.m.: Boys finals                    

Follow Steve Tober on 'X' (formerly Twitter) @Chattermeister

West Essex's Alex Esposito displays his usual competitive demeanor as he holds the chart for his championship at 106 following very entertaining match where Caldwell's Carmine Sipper, who can be seen at one point with grip on top of the Knights senior. St. Benedict's Temuulen Mendbileg gets a hold of West Essex's Carmine Masi in their 175-pound title bout. Meanwhile, the great setting in West Orange High's Tarnoff Gymnasium is in full evidence on the center mat as Bergen Catholic's Benji Shue is seen about to square off with Nutley's Brandon Toranzo in 285-pound final which was a great bout in the tourney.

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