Survival of the fittest: Rating N.J.'s 10 toughest wrestling districts

By Joe Zedalis | NJ Advance Media for
It is the first step on the road to Atlantic City.
The top three finishers in all 32 of the NJSIAA/Rothman Orthopaedics District Wrestling Tournament will advance to next week’s eight regional tournament.
While the NJSIAA has gone to great efforts to balance the power in each district, some are still better than others.
The wrestling staff ranked the 10 toughest districts in New Jersey.
Share the list with your wrestling-loving friends.

4-District 5 at West Essex
Teams: Bogota/Ridgefield Park, Dover, Emerson/Park Ridge, Morris Knolls, Mount Olive, Paramus, Paterson Kennedy, Teaneck, West Essex
He enters as an undefeated senior and returning state finalist, but Bardhyl Gashi of West Essex wasn’t even the best heavyweight in his own district a season ago. Gashi’s emergence in the postseason in 2019 sums up what makes District 5 one of the toughest. While there may not be any juggernaut programs, West Essex, Mount Olive, Paramus and Emerson/Park Ridge all bring some highly ranked individual talent and perennially turn in some sleepers - like Gashi -- capable of putting together spectacular postseason runs. This year alone, District 5 will feature three returning state finalists: Gashi, Emerson/Park Ridge’s Nick Babin and Kyle Jacob of Paramus.
Returning champions: 113: Nick Babin, Emerson, Sr.; 120: Logan Mazzeo, Emerson, Sr.; 138: Aaron Ayzerov, Paramus, Jr.; 145: Hunter Perez, Mount Olive, So.; 195: Kyle Jacob, Paramus, Sr.