OF NUTLEY SUNNutley wrestling hit the mat on Saturday for a very successful fundraiser for organ donation awareness, called "Organ Donation is a Major Decision." The Raiders hosted West Orange, Kearny and Cliffside Park for a quad meet. The proceeds from the meet are going to the Big D Gift of Life Foundation, a charity set up by Mike DiPiano, Sr., father of Nutley wrestling coach Frank DiPiano.
The meet was the culmination of a week-long project by the wrestlers to raise awareness for organ donation. The team wore green and white singlets with the green ribbon that symbolizes the cause on the back. They also took donations for every win they earned during the week, which included matches against Bloomfield and Livingston, as well as Saturday's contest. NutleyHigh School athletic director Joe Piro estimates the event took in between $3500 and $4500, but final tallies have not been taken yet.
The Raiders took two of their three matches during the meet. They were neck and neck with West Orange for the majority of their meet. After falling behind 12-6 due to two early pins, a decision victory by junior Nick Gaeta and pins by Jordan Nochimson and Carlos Rosa gave the Raiders a 21-12 lead. The Mountaineers were able to retake the lead by the 11th match. The final score was 37-32 in favor of West Orange.
In between the first and second matches, DiPiano, Sr. spoke to the big crowd about the importance of organ donation and introduced several transplant recipients to the crowd.
The crowd was loud and excited for all the action. The Raiders' match against Kearny was especially heated. After what some felt were questionable calls by the referee, two spectators got into a very vocal argument, bringing all the action to a halt for several minutes. After the short distraction, the matches resumed, and the Raiders went on to a dominating 30-point victory over the Kardinals.
The third match was another dominating win for the Raiders, 46-24 over Cliffside Park. After giving up an early pin, Nutley took seven straight victories to regain the lead, which they never gave up again.
The week of events kicked off with the Raiders' match against Livingston, which was exciting. The two teams traded wins back and forth early on, but Livingston put enough distance between itself and Nutley that a late pin by Robert Trombetta and a 7-3 decision by Ralph DiPasquale put the Raiders just three points short of victory, 33-31.
Nutley then hosted Bloomfield the night before the big quad meet. It was another close one, but the Raiders found themselves on the winning end of things Friday night, 30-29. A 6-0 decision for Gaeta and several late forfeits gave the Raiders the edge over the Bengals.
Overall, the event was deemed a success. "We're very pleased with the participation of the fans and the kids," DiPiano said.
"It exceeded our expectations," said Piro.
Several people signed up to be organ donors at the event. "A lot of the kids said they [would register as organ donors] when they get their driver's licenses," said DiPiano, Sr. Prior to the meet, he had spoken to all the teams about organ donation.
"We saved somebody's life on Saturday," said Piro.
Because of the success, DiPiano, Sr. says the meet will become an annual event. Next year, the event may be expanded to include eight teams.
With the charity event now over, the wrestling team's focus now turns towards theEssex County Tournament, which starts tomorrow night at the Codey Arena in West Orange.