Kupa, Lee, Vazquez shine at BCWCA event
- Written by Ed Mills
- Published in Recreational
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SUFFERN, N.Y. _ Kayla Vazquez kept her wits about her and impactfully delivered a crunching mid-season mat statement.
Vazquez, Kinnelon's standout junior, earned a hard-fought 4-1 victory over another top-shelf competitor, Boonton sophomore Julia Fongaro, in the 132-pound final at the Bergen County Women's Coaches Association (BCWCA) Invitational Wrestling Tournament on Sunday, Jan. 22 at Rockland County Community College.
Vazquez earned a third-place finish at the previous two state tournaments while Fongaro took a silver medal in the 126-pound class at last year's state tournament at Phillipsburg High School, falling in the final to Maya Hemo, who pinned the Bomber in 5:32 after Fongaro led, 1-0, with about 50 seconds remaining in the third period.
Fongaro's Boonton teammate, fellow sophomore Samira Kupa, won the 145-pound title at the fourth annual BCWCA event, which was run by Elmwood Park assistant coach Dennis Murri, with a pin in 28 seconds in the final round over Morris Hills' Amaya Legra.
Another North Jersey winner at the BCWCA tournament was Kailin Lee of Newton. Lee took first in the 165-pound final with a pin over Madelyn Schaper of Passaic County Tech in 1:04. Lee's Braves teammate, Gianna Simeone, was pinned in the 107-pound final by Leeana Mercado of Lodi in 26 seconds.
In the 120-pound final, two-time state medalist Kyara Montoya of Morris Hills, a senior, was pinned by Riley Lerner of Cedar Creek in 5:27.
Now Vazquez is 2-1 in all-time in varsity bouts against Fongaro, the talented Boonton grappler. They also met several years ago in club bouts, where Vazquez now wrestles at that level for both the Mat Club in Butler and the Olympic Club in Wyckoff in Bergen County.
"I thought Kayla wrestled very well. She did a superb job for all six minutes she was out on the mat," said Kinnelon eighth-year coach Eric DiColo. "She is very good both on her feet and on the bottom and is quick and physical at the same time. I think she has a real good chance at going a long way in the states later this year. She competed in judo as a youngster and that helps her in what she does in wrestling."
The lone female member of the Kinnelon team, Vazquez should contend, along with Boonton's Fongaro, for high state honors this year. Both Vazquez and Fongaro engaged each other quickly and both had chances at takedowns that were repelled by each competitor before Vazquez held off her neighboring Morris County competitor to get the win.
Fongaro's teammate, Kupa, put in a solid performance in her first-period pin over Morris Hills'; Legra, who did a stellar job of making it to the finals. Both wrestlers are likely to contend for medals at the North regional tournament in February.
In other finals at the BCWCA Invitational, senior Kira Pipkins of Bloomfield became the first girl wrestler in New Jersey state history to triumph in 100 career bouts. A three-time state champion who will aim for an unprecedented fourth later in February and in early March at Phillipsburg High School and Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall, Pipkins, a top-notch student headed for Columbia University in the fall, decisioned Liliana Zaku-Ramos of Newton, 4-1, in the 126-pound final.
In the 100-pound final, Ridgefield Park/Bogota's Theresa Zeppetelli decisioned Olivia Klein of Paramus, 4-1 and at 114 points Bound Brook's Lennix Horsburgh pinned Northern Highlands' Amanda Connors in 3:53 in the title bout.
At 138 pounds, Taylor Peterson of Garfield pinned Gianna Puzycki of Bayonne in 1:41 and at 152 pounds Kamila Castro of Ridgewood came up with a 13-7 victory over Parmus' Emma Mees.
In the 185-pound final, Bloomfield's Reno Prochilo pinned Jade Hahn of Donovan Catholic in Toms River in 4:37. And, at 235 pounds, Alissa Alcindor of Union edged Lakeland's Caroline Biegel, 1-0.
The girls region tournament will be held Region 1 at Vernon on Feb. 19 and at Phillipsburg on Feb. 26.