There’s a new voice leading the Allentown High School wrestling team this season, but that hasn’t changed the great family culture that has been surrounding the Redbirds the last few seasons.
Marc Cunigilo has stepped up from his assistant coach role to replace Mitch Nock as head coach this season. The new head man has helped Allentown continue its success over the last few years this winter.
The Redbirds are out to a 12-6 start to the season and are geared up for a run at their third Colonial Valley Conference Colonial Division title in four years and a Mercer County team championship.
That success is due in part to Allentown sticking together as a team and being there for one another.
“We’re a family instead of a team,” senior PaskalMiga said. “Everyone knows each other and there’s always a shoulder to lean on.”
Allentown is led by the program’s all-time victory leader in senior Joey Lamparelli at 120 pounds.
Lamparelli has posted an individual mark of 19-0 as he pushes to place at the state tournament this upcoming March.
“What we lack in quantity, we make up in quality with the wrestlers we have on our team,” Lamparelli said. “Most of our kids know how to wrestle and how to wrestle well. Our younger kids have been improving a lot this season.”
Allentown is loaded up with a lot of senior experience up and down its roster.
Standing at 152 pounds is senior Matt Paglia, who is hoping to reach the 100 career win mark this season.
Paglia is gunning to qualify for the state tournament for the first time in his career, finishing one place shy of making it last year at the Region 6 tournament.
The senior, who started the season off 16-2, is also shooting to win a district and county championship this winter.
“We wrestle as a team,” Paglia said. “One kid wins, the whole team wins. You root for your teammates as you want them to root for you.”
Senior Nick Golden (160) was also one match short of qualifying for the state tournament last season for the Redbirds, finishing with a 32-5 mark as a junior.
Like Lamparelli, Golden is striving to get on the podium at the state tournament this season and stands with a 17-1 individual mark on the season.
“We got a bunch of good wrestlers here,” Golden said. “We’re all looking to do well and achieve team goals.”
Seniors Miga and Jacob VanDenBogart lead the way for the Redbirds in the upper weight classes.
Miga has been solid at 182 for the Redbirds, while VanDenBogart has performed well at heavyweight when he’s been able to get on the mat this winter. VanDenBogart picked up a huge 4-3 decision victory to help Allentown edge out Robbinsville, 38-37, in their dual meet on Jan. 15.
After placing second in the first ever NJSIAA girls wrestling state tournament at 100 pounds last season, senior Jasmine Aizely returns to the mat for Allentown.
Aizely will wrestle for the team at 106 during team meets in the regular season, and will shoot to wrestle at 100 pounds in the girls’ wrestling tournaments.
The senior fell in love with the sport when she joined the team as freshman and is happy to see the sport of girls’ wrestling grow in the state during her time in high school.
“It’s the fastest growing sport in the nation,” Aizely said on girls’ wrestling. “It’s great to see that and cool to be apart of.”
Despite injuries and a tough schedule to begin the season, Allentown sits at No. 7 in the power index rankings in Central Jersey, Group 3 and in second place behind Hightstown in the CVC Colonial Division standings.
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