Coach of the Year Dino DeBellonia and Player of the Year Alissa Alcindor

(above) Coach of the Year, Dino DeBellonia, and Girls Wrestler of the Year, Alissa Alcindor.

Wrestling Coach and Player of the Year

Township of Union Public Schools

Girls Wrestler of the Year: Alissa Alcindor, Union

After a sixth-place finish in the state last season, Alcindor was the only girls’ wrestler from the conference to get on the podium this season, finishing runner-up at 235 pounds to Ewing’s Shellitha Collins after losing in the state final. She beat Collins earlier this season at the Bloomfield Holiday Tournament as well.

Alcindor went 27-1 on the season with 21 pins, of which 10 came inside the first period. And while she improved on her state tournament finish from a year ago, she also won her first North 2 Region title after finishing runner-up there last year.

Among the signature wins for Alcindor this year were two decisions over two-time state medalist Saharia Quamina from Bloomfield, as well as two pins over state medalist Kayla Mena from Parsippany Hills/Parsippany and a pin over state medalist Samantha Domask in the state semifinals.

Coach of the Year: Dino DeBellonia, Union

It was a banner year for the Farmers this year under longtime coach Dino DeBellonia. As a dual meet team, they went 18-9, their most in a season since 2016 when they went 21-5, and are just two years removed from a 1-23 season. After going 12-17 last year, things seem to be trending in the right direction quickly for Union, and having this year as a recent proof of concept should only help increase numbers and results. They finished third in the Mountain Division with a 6-2 record and made the team state tournament for just the third time since 2016 this season as well. They had several important dual meet wins, beating Linden and Brearley for the first time since 2021, Elizabeth and Johnson for the first time since 2020 and Roselle Park for the first time since before 2010, among other signature wins.

And for as good as Union was as a team this year, it might have been an even better year on the individual front. They had four 20-plus match winners on the boy’s side, headlined by 175-pounder Daniel Collin and 126-pounder Gabe Hargrove. Collin went 35-8 and finished fifth at the region, just missing out on qualifying for Atlantic City this year in one of the deepest weights at the region. But the highlight of Collin’s season was in the Union County Tournament, where he pinned his way to a Union County title, becoming Union’s first county champ since 2017, snapping the longest drought of any team at this year’s tournament. Hargrove (36-7), meanwhile, began the season at 132 pounds and was 20-0 heading into the quarterfinals of the Union County Tournament, before losing twice and getting knocked out. He rebounded and took third in the district but most notably took third at Region 4 as the No. 13 seed to become Union’s first boys state qualifier since 2017 as well.

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