Bergen Catholic wrestling ties BCCA record with 7 champs at Bergen County Tournament

·3 min read

HACKENSACK – Remy Brancato was thrilled to carry on two winning traditions on Sunday.

One for his family. The other for Bergen Catholic.

The top-seeded Brancato picked up his first BCCA championship, at 190 pounds, and lifted the Crusaders to the overall team title at the Bergen County Wrestling Tournament. A one-point win against Joshua Palacio (North Bergen) made Brancato the third wrestler in his family to win county gold.

Along the way, the Crusaders tied the tournament record with seven champions to go with an unprecedented 14 medalists. It was the perfect way to bounce back after losing to national power Blair Academy earlier this month.

"We needed to make a statement," Brancato said. "We had a bad taste in our mouth and said that we need to get better every day. Not worrying about weight. Not worrying about who we got next. Just worrying about getting better as a team and loving each other and being there for one another."

Nick Fea of Bergen Catholic is on his way to defeat Rocco Dellagatta of St. Joseph Rigional in the 157 pound match of their quarter final during the Bergen County Wrestling Tournament Day 2 at Hackensack High School in Hackensack on Sunday, January 23rd, 2022.
Nick Fea of Bergen Catholic is on his way to defeat Rocco Dellagatta of St. Joseph Rigional in the 157 pound match of their quarter final during the Bergen County Wrestling Tournament Day 2 at Hackensack High School in Hackensack on Sunday, January 23rd, 2022.

Bergen Catholic crowned another three champions in the upper-weight session on Sunday, including Nick Fea at 157 and AJ Fricchione at 215.

Fea put on an offensive blitzkrieg in the final when he scored at least 20 points for the fourth time in five matches.

The title by Fricchione was impressive in other ways – he weighed in at only 183 pounds, but had to bump up after losing a wrestle-off. In the final, Fricchione used his agility to get the first takedown and roll past Zach Dolack (Paramus), 7-4.

"I think we're one of the hardest-working teams in Bergen County," Fricchione said. "Our room is like no other."

The room in Oradell is flush with talent with Brancato being one of three returning state finalists.

Aj Fricchione of Bergen Catholic is on his way to defeat Aidan Schlett of St. Joseph Regional in the 215 pound match of their quarter final during the Bergen County Wrestling Tournament Day 2 at Hackensack High School in Hackensack on Sunday, January 23rd, 2022.
Aj Fricchione of Bergen Catholic is on his way to defeat Aidan Schlett of St. Joseph Regional in the 215 pound match of their quarter final during the Bergen County Wrestling Tournament Day 2 at Hackensack High School in Hackensack on Sunday, January 23rd, 2022.

Brancato first started wrestling to get better at football, but eventually got hooked on the mat. His uncles, Tony and Bryan DiPasquale, both won county titles at heavyweight while wrestling for Elmwood Park in late-80's.

As luck would have it, Bryan DiPasquale was at Hackensack on Sunday to present the award at 190 to Brancato.

"My uncle acted like a father figure to me," said Brancato, who is committed to wrestle at Lehigh. "He would take me to practice. He would pay for club. He would take me around the country. Having him as my support system my entire life has been awesome."

For Bergen Catholic, it's the 20th county title in program history and the first since their most recent tournament appearance back in 2015.

The Crusaders decided to return this year, partially due to uncertainty around COVID and national events. They re-affirmed that decision last week despite a short turnaround from a Friday dual against CBA.

"It was up in the air during the week," Brancato said. "I said you know what guys, we're going to counties. We need to make a statement. Everyone was like, let's go. We were all so enthused."

Coaches and teammates for Aj Fricchione of Bergen Catholic (shown Right foreground) as he fights against Aidan Schlett of St. Joseph Regional in the 215 pound match of their quarter final during the Bergen County Wrestling Tournament Day 2 at Hackensack High School in Hackensack on Sunday, January 23rd, 2022.
Coaches and teammates for Aj Fricchione of Bergen Catholic (shown Right foreground) as he fights against Aidan Schlett of St. Joseph Regional in the 215 pound match of their quarter final during the Bergen County Wrestling Tournament Day 2 at Hackensack High School in Hackensack on Sunday, January 23rd, 2022.

Bergen Catholic finished the two-day competition with 325 points – a few points shy of its own 2013 scoring record – to fend off Big North rival St. Joseph.

The Green Knights placed second with 289.5 points after repeat titles from Michael Dellagatta (175) and Jim Mullen (285) on Sunday. Paramus earned the most points by a public school and fourth overall thanks to a gold medal run from Most Outstanding Upper-Weight Eric Freeman (165).

Lyndhurst produced its first county champion since 2000 when Damian Weaver (150) upset each of the top two seeds. Weaver scored his second straight win over a state qualifier with a 5-2 decision over Paramus Catholic's Dan Rella in the final.

In the end, no one was stronger or deeper than Bergen Catholic.

"It was nice to come back and make an impact," assistant coach Donny Spataro said. "It's nice to get the underclassmen exposed to this tournament. It's a tradition in Bergen County and it's good that they're starting to learn about it."

Sean Farrell is a high school sports reporter for NorthJersey.com. For full access to live scores, breaking news and analysis from our Varsity Aces team, subscribe today. To get breaking news directly to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter and download our app.

Email: farrells@northjersey.com

Twitter: @seanfarrell92

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Bergen Catholic NJ wrestling ties record with 7 county champs

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