PARAMUS – The message was loud and clear from the start of the night.
St. Joseph is a force to be reckoned with when it steps on the mat.
Vincent Paino sparked his sideline with a leadoff pin and the second-ranked Green Knights rolled past No. 3 Paramus Catholic, 50-22, on Thursday night.
The Green Knights won 10 of the 14 bouts – including six by fall – to turn this battle of state powers into a blowout. They locked up the victory in the middle when Rocco Dellagatta (157) and Roberto Padilla (165) beat a pair of state qualifiers.
It solidifies St. Joseph as the top challenger to Bergen Catholic in the upcoming Bergen County Tournament.
"Tonight everything went right for us," coach Tom Farinaro said. "The kids wrestled well. I'm very happy with the effort. Big win for our program."
The lopsided score prevented a showdown between the top two heavyweights in New Jersey: 2020 state champion Jim Mullen and Paramus Catholic's Max Acciardi. The last meeting between them came two years ago when Acciardi bumped up for a 2-1 loss.
This time, Mullen watched from the bench in the final bout when Acciardi pinned backup Charles Blessing.
"Hopefully, they're going to wrestle Sunday in the county tournament," Farinaro said. "I know those two boys have been wrestling each other since they were little. Jimmy's had a good run in the last couple of weeks with the Powerade Tournament and Escape the Rock. We just decided to give him a night off and get ready for the county tournament this weekend."
What it means
The No. 1 ranking will be on the line next Friday when the Green Knights take on Bergen Catholic at home. But for now, the Montvale school will turn its attention to the BCCA Tournament as the two-time defending champion.
One luxury for St. Joseph this season is having a wrestler at each weight class. It's the first time under Farinaro, who routinely forfeited three matches a year ago.
"It means so much," said Padilla, a senior. "Instead of being down by 18, we're up by a lot. It keeps the momentum going."
The Green Knights never looked back after a momentum-boosting opening match from their 106-pound freshman. Paino kicked off the festivities by pinning Preston Montague in 26 seconds, then turned to fire up his bench.
"Vinny Paino is the kind of kid that gets everybody going," Farinaro said. "He was all fired up and the team was pumped up after that. With that energy, the kids fed off each other."
Top-ranked Dylan Ross put Paramus Catholic on the board at 113, but the Green Knights answered by reeling off four straight wins. The visitors built a comfy lead with pins from brothers Donny (120) and Alex Almeyda (138) that bookended nine-point wins from Joe Manno and Mateo Sgambellone.
The Green Knights polished off the victory later on behind another set of siblings. Junior Michael Dellagatta pinned his opponent at 175 pounds after watching freshman brother Rocco upset Dan Rella, 11-7, at 157.
"Saint Joes is unique becaue it's a lot of family," said Farinaro, who nephew wrestled on the team last season. "You get a lot of brothers that come here and a lot of father-sons. It's a lot of the same names."
Padilla clinched the win by downing Kosta Mavrikidis, 11-5, in a ranked matchup at 165.
"It feels really good, especially coming off a close loss yesterday againt (Paramus state third Eric Freeman)," Padilla said. "So I was really amped to come out here and do my thing."
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.
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: St. Joe's NJ wrestling sends message in win over Paramus Catholic