Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Field hockey: Voorhees picks Hughes as head coach

Voorhees has a new head coach after a four-month-long search.

Shannon Hughes, a former star player at South Plainfield and Rider University, was approved as the program's eighth head coach during a Board of Education meeting on Tuesday.

Vikings athletic director Brian Baumann confirmed the hiring via text message on Wednesday.

Hughes succeeds Taylor Webb, a star player at Voorhees and the Hunterdon County school's head coach the previous seven seasons. At South Plainfield, Hughes played for her mother, Cheryl, who succeeded longtime coach Fran Flannery. Shannon's sister, Caity, shattered every South Plainfield scoring record before graduating in 2017.

Shannon Hughes enjoyed a stellar playing career -- scoring 28 goals with 23 assists her senior season in leading South Plainfield to a 20-4 record and its second straight appearance in the North 2, Group 2 sectional final. Upon graduation in 2014, Hughes shared the Middlesex County school's all-time point record with Meghan Schweers before Caity Hughes broke it her junior season in '15. Another sister, Meghan, also played for the Tigers.

At Rider, Shannon Hughes, a forward, led the team in assists this past season with seven and finished with career totals of 11 goals and 13 assists in 77 games (36 starts). The Broncs finished 8-11 in 2017 and lost in the opening round of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament.

Webb, 33, a former midfielder and considered one of the school's greatest players, guided her teams to an overall mark of 112-31-4, including a 14-6 campaign in 2017. The Vikes captured four Skyland Conference division titles as well as a Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament title (2012) and a sectional championship (2016).

Baumann, who has been on the job for two years, admitted during a December interview that finding Webb's successor wouldn't be an easy task.

"You're not going to replace her knowledge and love for the game ... it's a huge loss," he said.

Voorhees, which has had just three losing seasons in its 43-year history and none since 2004, has long been one of the state's most successful and storied programs. Webb played under former coach Ann Bonavita, who built the program into a powerhouse during her 11 seasons from 1992-2002.

Bonavita's final season as head coach -- she also served as Webb's assistant for a few seasons -- culminated with a North 2, Group 2 sectional title before dropping a tough 2-1 decision in overtime to eventual Group 2 champion West Essex in the state semifinals. Webb, who still owns the Vikes' all-time assists record (58), went on to play at the University of Iowa before transferring back home to finish her career at Rider.

Webb became Voorhees' seventh head coach in 2011, succeeding Beth Stocker, who continued the program's winning tradition in her eight seasons from 2003-10. Under Stocker, the Vikes went 130-29-9 and captured the North 2, Group 3 title in 2006, falling 1-0 to Moorestown in the Group 3 title game -- the Hunterdon County school's second and last appearance in a state final.

Voorhees went nine seasons after that postseason loss without winning a sectional title until a 1-0 win in overtime against Hackettstown secured the North 2, Group 2 championship in what would be Webb's second-to-last season.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Wrestling: Sbriscia tabbed as Warren Hills coach

Warren Hills' search for a new head wrestling coach is over.

Dave Sbriscia, a former wrestler for the Warren County school and an assistant on former Blue Streaks coach Jarrett Hosbach's staff, accepted the position on April 17, pending approval by the Board of Education. His hiring was not on Tuesday's agenda, and the next scheduled meeting is Tuesday, May 8.

Former PIAA state qualifier Josh Nordmark, a Stroudsburg High School alum who also is employed in the district a science teacher at Warren Hills Middle School, was also a finalist for the job. He and Sbriscia had final interviews on Monday.

"I'm very excited. Dave was very prepared and has a plan in place," Warren Hills athletic director Geri McKelvey said on Tuesday.

Longtime area coach Rick Thompson, along with former Delaware Valley and Voorhees assistant coach Steve Barkman, former Paramus coach and Wilson Area High School star Steve Klass and former Camden Catholic coach John Denuto also had recently interviewed for the job, which opened when Hosbach resigned after 13 seasons following the 85th State Championships in Atlantic City earlier this month. It was immediately speculated that Sbriscia would be a candidate to become the 81-year-old program's eighth head coach.

The advertisement seeking fall and winter coaches was posted on the school's web site on Feb. 28. McKelvey, who originally had no timetable to fill the head wrestling position, recently said she felt it was necessary to expedite the hiring process with scheduling and offseason commitments hanging in the balance.

Sbriscia, a 2006 graduate and a three-year wrestler for Warren Hills, going 78-22 overall, won two district titles and was a two-time region placewinner -- winning a Hunterdon-Warren Tournament championship at 215 pounds in his senior season. He is a Health and Physical Education teacher at the middle school.

Nordmark, who has been running his own club -- Ring of Fire in Monroe County, Pa. -- since 2006, wrestled for longtime coach Ron Spinner at Stroudsburg before graduating in 1996. Nordmark, the only candidate with no prior high school coaching experience, qualified for the state tournament in Hershey, Pa., his junior season, going 29-8 and finishing third in the Northeast Region at 130 pounds in '95. He went on to wrestle and graduate from Bloomsburg University.

Klass and Thompson were the only candidates with previous head coaching experience.

Klass, a PIAA Class AA state champion at Wilson as a senior in 1993 under legendary coach Dave Crowell, did a fine job in his nine seasons at Paramus. Klass, who amassed 119 career wins for the Warriors, guided his teams to six sectional final appearances and the North 1, Group 3 title in 2015. The Spartans were the Group 3 runners-up in '15, after defeating Sparta, 29-24, in the sectional final. Klass, who resides in Easton, Pa.,  and is still employed at Paramus as a biology teacher, is currently on Crowell's staff at Nazareth.

Thompson, 62, who stepped down after nine seasons as the head coach at Bangor Area High School in Pennsylvania following the 2016-17 campaign, also has made stops at Mountain High School (Orange, N.J.), Hackettstown, Franklin and Voorhees in addition to his three successful stints at Phillipsburg, where his teams went 268-59-1 overall and captured 15 sectional and seven state championships -- the most under any Stateliner coach.

Overall, Thompson, a Slippery Rock University graduate, is 471-231-4 -- going 124-81 in his most recent stint at Bangor. An accomplished wrestler, Thompson won two state titles (1971 and '73) and placed third ('70), while winning four district and three region championships for the Stateliners.

Hosbach's teams at Warren Hills finished 165-135 overall, including a 7-13 campaign this season. The Streaks advanced to the North 2, Group 3 sectional semifinals, dropping a 48-25 decision to champion Voorhees.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Wrestling: WH set to interview coaching candidates

Warren Hills appears to be close to hiring its next head wrestling coach.

Open Mike has learned Dave Sbriscia, a former wrestler for the Warren County school and an assistant on former Blue Streaks coach Jarrett Hosbach's staff, is among six candidates slated for interviews to be conducted on Thursday and Friday.

The others, according to multiple sources, are: longtime area coach Rick Thompson, along with former Delaware Valley and Voorhees assistant coach Steve Barkman, former PIAA state qualifier Josh Nordmark, a Stroudsburg High School alum and a science teacher at Warren Hills Middle School, as well as former Paramus coach and Wilson Area High School star Steve Klass.

The sixth member of this group, who has New Jersey ties, has yet to be identified.

"We will have a better grasp [of who the best candidate is] by the end of the week," said athletic director Geri McKelvey, who would neither confirm or deny whether any of the names above were on the scheduled interview list. The next Board of Education Meeting will be held on Tuesday, with another slated for Tuesday, April 24.

"By the end of April, we will have all of our [fall and winter] head coaches. Then they can pick their assistants."

Hosbach, who guided the Warren Hills program for the past 13 seasons, officially submitted his letter of resignation following the 85th State Championships in Atlantic City earlier this month. It was immediately speculated that Sbriscia would be a candidate to become the 81-year-old program's eighth head coach.

The advertisement seeking fall and winter coaches was posted on the school's web site on Feb. 28. McKelvey, who originally had no timetable to fill the head wrestling position, said on Tuesday that she felt it was necessary to expedite the hiring process in recent days with scheduling and offseason commitments hanging in the balance. Another factor limiting the candidate pool is the unknown with regards to potential teaching positions becoming open for the next school year, but McKelvey feels they will be scarce with the current budget.

"I don't want to hurt kids' opportunities," McKelvey said. "I don't want to make those decisions without the coach's input. Right now, there is no coach as a contact for the out of season [events]."

McKelvey outlined her criteria for hiring the next coach earlier this month.

"I'm looking for someone who will take control of the program, someone with managerial know-how, and will look out for the best interests of our kids," she said. "There are a lot of things, not just the knowledge of the sport."

The second-year AD also formed a committee to help with selecting the next coach.

"We have a lot of people with head coach-mentality on the panel," she said. "Whoever we hire has to have that mentality, and they'll know whether [that candidate] can handle it."

Sbriscia, a 2006 graduate and a three-year wrestler for Warren Hills, going 78-22 overall, won two district titles and was a two-time region placewinner -- winning a Hunterdon-Warren Tournament championship at 215 pounds in his senior season.

Thompson, 62, who stepped down after nine seasons as the head coach at Bangor Area High School in Pennsylvania following the 2016-17 campaign, also has made stops at Mountain High School (Orange, N.J.), Hackettstown, Franklin and Voorhees in addition to his three successful stints at Phillipsburg, where his teams went 268-59-1 overall and captured 15 sectional and seven state championships -- the most under any Stateliner coach.

Overall, Thompson, a Slippery Rock University graduate, is 471-231-4 -- going 124-81 in his most recent stint at Bangor. An accomplished wrestler, Thompson won two state titles (1971 and '73) and placed third ('70), while winning four district and three region championships for the Stateliners.

Barkman, who is involved with the Hunterdon Hills Wrestling Club, served on Dave Gaunt's staff at Del Val for two seasons in the mid-1990s. Barkman, a district champion at Hunterdon Central and an NCAA Division I qualifier at Indiana State, won a gold medal at 63 kilograms in Greco-Roman at the 2015 Veterans World Championships in Greece -- just the seventh U.S. wrestler to do so at the time.

Klass, a PIAA Class AA state champion at Wilson under legendary coach Dave Crowell, did a fine job in his nine seasons at Paramus where he led his teams to six sectional final appearances and the North 1, Group 3 title in 2015. The Spartans finished as the Group 3 runner-up in '15, and defeated Sparta, 29-24, in the sectional final. Klass, who still teaches at Paramus, is currently on Crowell's staff at Nazareth.

Hosbach's teams at Warren Hills finished 165-135 overall, including a 7-13 campaign this season. The Streaks advanced to the North 2, Group 3 sectional semifinals, dropping a 48-25 decision to champion Voorhees.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Wrestling: Ostir OW as Jersey wins Lions Classic

Warren Hills senior Jarod Ostir was among six area wrestlers who were victorious in helping New Jersey end its skid with a 32-17 victory over Pennsylvania in the 38th annual Easton Lions Club All-Star Wrestling Classic on Tuesday night at Easton Area High School's 25th Street Gymnasium.

It was the first win for the Garden State -- the match pits seniors from New Jersey against their counterparts from Pennsylvania's rugged District 11 -- since 2012.

Jarod Ostir after winning the District 12 title this season.
Pennsylvania, which had won the previous five events, still owns a 22-16 lead in the all-time series dating to 1981.

Ostir, a district champion and region runner-up who is tied for 13th on the Blue Streaks' all-time wins list with 91, rolled to an 11-1 major decision over Parkland's Adam Lizak, who finished fourth in the PIAA Class AAA Northeast Region.

Scott Fernandes of Voorhees (195) and Hunter Graf of Hunterdon Central (132), along with state placewinners Andrew Gapas of North Hunterdon (138), Alex Carida of Hackettstown (145) and Brian Meyer of Phillipsburg (152) also won for the New Jersey squad.

Carida's 2-0 decision over Freedom's Ben Huber, clinched it for New Jersey. Meyer, a state runner-up, capped the four-bout run for Jersey, which won six of the last seven to close out the match, with a 6-3 win over Bangor's Eddie Hay.

NEW JERSEY 32, PENNSYLVANIA 17

160 -- Caleb Clymer (43-1, 144-23, D1, R1, S1), PA-Northwestern, tf. William Hughes (26-7, 54-34, D1, R3), North Hunterdon, 15-0, 3:12.

170 -- Cade Wilson (36-5, 102-30, D1, R1, S3), PA-Nazareth, d. Lance Wissing (41-6, 49-26, D1, R3), Phillipsburg, 7-2.

182 -- Jarod Ostir (28-4, 91-37, D1, R2), NJ-Warren Hills, md. Adam Lizak (31-14, 49-29, D4, R4), Parkland, 11-1.

195 -- Scott Fernandes (37-6, 115-39, D1, R2), NJ-Voorhees, d. Haakon Matthewson (20-5, 47-16, D5, R5), Bangor, 3-0.

220 -- Sam Wustefeld (48-3, 116-15, D1, R1, S2), NJ-Scotch Plains-Fanwood, p. Jacob Frank (26-9, 44-21), Easton, 1:57.

285 -- Jonathan Pineda (32-7, 69-18, D1, R2), PA-Easton, d. Joe Andes (40-3, 86-33, D1, R1), Hackettstown, 3-1.

113 -- Michael Caso (34-13, 86-35, D2, R3), NJ-West Morris, d. Jon Consorti (23-8, 112-29, D1, R2), Wilson, 5-4.

120 -- Matt Armamento (43-5, 101-21, D1, R1), NJ-Roselle Park, d. Logan Ninos (24-18, 89-61, D4, R4), Northampton, 7-6.

126 -- Nick Dolak (23-9, 90-34, D4, R2), PA-Parkland, p. Codey O'Rourke (26-10, 57-39, D2, R4), Warren Hills, 1:45.

132 -- Hunter Graf (38-6, 143-29, D1, R2), NJ-Hunterdon Central, d. Ryan McGuire (32-6, 131-38, D1, R2, S5), Notre Dame-Green Pond, 3-2.

138 -- Andrew Gapas (37-5, 109-26, D1, R3, S6), NJ-North Hunterdon, md. Jason Jones (37-6, 150-48, D1, R2, S7), Saucon Valley, 8-0.

145 -- Alex Carida (46-2, 142-28, D1, R1, S3), NJ-Hackettstown, d. Ben Huber (23-6, 97-30, D4, R5), Freedom, 2-0.

152 -- Brian Meyer (39-3, 131-35, D1, R1, S2), NJ-Phillipsburg, d. Eddie Hay (29-6, 118-32, D3, R4), Bangor, 6-3.

Outstanding Wrestler Award -- Jarod Ostir, Warren Hills.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Wrestling: Thompson, Sbriscia apply for WH job

It didn't take long for some names to surface as Warren Hills seeks its next head wrestling coach.

Open Mike has learned that former Phillipsburg coach Rick Thompson and Dave Sbriscia, a former wrestler for the Warren County school and an assistant on former Blue Streaks coach Jarrett Hosbach's staff, have inquired about the vacant position.

Hosbach, who guided the Warren Hills program for the past 13 seasons, officially submitted his letter of resignation last Monday morning. It was speculated that Sbriscia would be a candidate to become the 81-year-old program's eighth head coach, but Thompson, one of the most decorated coaches in New Jersey history, is certainly an intriguing name in the process.

The advertisement seeking fall and winter coaches was posted on the school's web site on Feb. 28. Although the deadline to apply was this past Friday -- a span of nine days -- athletic director Geri McKelvey said she was giving it 15 days since Hosbach had just submitted his letter. She also said there is no immediate rush to hire a new coach.

"To be fair, we wanted to give [candidates] an ample amount of time," said McKelvey, who figured she had received four or five inquiries about the wrestling job as of this morning. "But it's not on my radar right now as I'm focused on getting our spring sports up and running."

McKelvey also realizes the unknown of potential teaching openings for 2018-19 may also be limiting the number of potential candidates, though she is still accepting applications. As someone who has been employed at the school for 24 years, McKelvey is well aware of its rich wrestling tradition -- formed under legendary coach John Goles -- and how important that next hire will be to the community.

"We're not going to fill [the coaching position] for the sake of filling it," McKelvey said. "I'm not opposed to giving it a little extra time. We don't create jobs to hire coaches. It's education first, then athletics. We will go through the process and I will create a panel [to help with finding a coach]."

What qualities is McKelvey seeking in that next coach?

"I'm looking for someone who will take control of the program, someone with managerial know-how, and will look out for the best interests of our kids," she said. "There are a lot of things, not just the knowledge of the sport."

Sbriscia, a 2006 graduate and a three-year wrestler for Warren Hills, going 78-22 overall, won two district titles and was a two-time region placewinner -- winning a Hunterdon-Warren Tournament championship at 215 pounds in his senior season.

Thompson, considered one of the sport's premiere motivators, stepped down after nine seasons as the head coach at Bangor Area High School in Pennsylvania following the 2016-17 campaign. But he's ready to get back in the saddle.

"I made a mistake [retiring from coaching]," Thompson recently told Open Mike. "I'm not looking to step on anyone's toes [at Warren Hills]. All I can do is offer my services."

Thompson, 62, also has made stops at Mountain High School (Orange, N.J.), Hackettstown, Franklin and Voorhees in addition to his three successful stints at Phillipsburg, where his teams went 268-59-1 overall and captured 15 sectional and seven state championships -- the most under any Stateliner coach.

Overall, Thompson, a Slippery Rock University graduate, is 471-231-4 -- going 124-81 in his most recent stint at Bangor. An accomplished wrestler, Thompson won two state titles (1971 and '73) and placed third ('70), while winning four district and three region championships for the Stateliners.

His first tour as Phillipsburg's head coach was from 1980-88, leading the school to seven team state finals in eight seasons at the helm and its first championship in '83. His second tour was from 1991-95, where he won two more titles in Group 3. The third tenure was for three seasons from 2003-06, guiding the 'Liners to a Group 3 championship in 2004.

Hosbach's teams at Warren Hills finished 165-135 overall, including a 7-13 campaign this season. The Streaks advanced to the North 2, Group 3 sectional semifinals, dropping a 48-25 decision to champion Voorhees.

During his tenure, Hosbach guided Warren Hills to its fifth sectional title in 2007, while coaching 29 district, nine region and 17 county champions, along with three state placewinners -- Dave Richmond (third in 2006), Jon Slack (third in 2010) and Andrew Pacheco (sixth in 2014).

Warren Hills, which had a lot of success on the youth level this season, is expected to return nine starters on the high school team in 2018-19, including state qualifier Nick Galka (220) as well as Region 3 qualifiers Greg Slivka (113), Chris Ostir (145), Nick Hildebrant (160) and Duro Ajayi (285).

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Wrestling: Easton Lions Club Classic matchups, info

The 38th annual Easton Lions Club All-Star Wrestling Classic will be held on Tuesday at Easton Area High School's 25th Street Gymnasium.

The match pits seniors from New Jersey against their counterparts from Pennsylvania's rugged District 11. The high school event, slated for 8 p.m., is preceded by a youth event at 6.

Pennsylvania won last year's event, 26-21. New Jersey, which has lost the last five events, had won three straight and four of the five classics prior to a 32-15 setback in 2013. Pennsylvania leads the overall series, 22-15, dating to 1981.

Bouts will be three periods of 2 minutes, 1 1/2  and 1 1/2 minutes in length.

Tickets, available at the door, are $6 for adults, $4 for seniors (65 and older) and $3 for students.

Tentative high school matchups (New Jersey listed first):

113 -- Michael Caso (34-13, 86-35, D2, R3), West Morris, vs. Jon Consorti (23-8, 112-29, D1, R2), Wilson.

120 -- Matt Armamento (43-5, 101-21, D1, R1), Roselle Park, vs. Logan Ninos (24-18, 89-61, D4, R4), Northampton.

126 -- Codey O'Rourke (26-10, 57-39, D2, R4), Warren Hills, vs. Nick Dolak (23-9, 90-34, D4, R2), Parkland.

132 -- Hunter Graf (38-6, 143-29, D1, R2), Hunterdon Central, vs. Ryan McGuire (32-6, 131-38, D1, R2, S5), Notre Dame-Green Pond.

138 -- Andrew Gapas (37-5, 109-26, D1, R3, S6), North Hunterdon, vs. Jason Jones (37-6, 150-48, D1, R2, S7), Saucon Valley.

145 -- Alex Carida (46-2, 142-28, D1, R1, S3), Hackettstown, vs. Ben Huber (23-6, 97-30, D4, R5), Freedom.

152 -- Brian Meyer (39-3, 131-35, D1, R1, S2), Phillipsburg, vs. Eddie Hay (29-6, 118-32, D3, R4), Bangor.

160 -- William Hughes (26-7, 54-34, D1, R3), North Hunterdon, vs. Caleb Clymer (43-1, 144-23, D1, R1, S1), Northwestern.

170 -- Lance Wissing (41-6, 49-26, D1, R3), Phillipsburg, vs. Cade Wilson (36-5, 102-30, D1, R1, S3), Nazareth.

182 -- Jarod Ostir (28-4, 91-37, D1, R2), Warren Hills, vs. Adam Lizak (31-14, 49-29, D4, R4), Parkland.

195 -- Scott Fernandes (37-6, 115-39, D1, R2), Voorhees, vs. Haakon Matthewson (20-5, 47-16, D5, R5), Bangor.

220 -- Sam Wustefeld (48-3, 116-15, D1, R1, S2), Scotch Plains-Fanwood, vs. Jacob Frank (26-9, 44-21), Easton.

285 -- Joe Andes (40-3, 86-33, D1, R1), Hackettstown, vs. Jonathan Pineda (32-7, 69-18, D1, R2), Easton.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Harrison, Jones, Melofchik eyeing state gold in '19

ATLANTIC CITY -- Phillipsburg junior Cody Harrison really turned things up another level this weekend with a fourth-place finish at 138 pounds in the 85th State Wrestling Championships at Boardwalk Hall.

But that seemed secondary after watching senior Brian Meyer, his good friend and workout partner, fall short of his title dream in the 152-pound final. However, Harrison, now a two-time state medal winner, has all the motivation he needs for 2018-19.

Cody Harrison among the four locals on the podium at 138.
"I want to win [a state title] for Brian," said Harrison, who avenged an earlier defeat against North Hunterdon senior and two-time placewinner Andrew Gapas with a 5-3 decision in the consolation semis before a 9-1 loss to Pope John junior JoJo Aragona in the third-place bout at 138.

"He's my practice partner, pushes me every day. He's the reason I finished fourth in the state."

Harrison, along with Meyer and junior Travis Jones (seventh at 120) gave Phillipsburg three placewinners in back-to-back years for the first time since 1998 (five) and '99 (three).

"I came here wanting to place high and I knew it would be hard," said Harrison, who finished eighth at 126 pounds as a sophomore. "I really wanted to meet Gapas again and get revenge [for a 5-3 loss on Feb. 8].

That he did. Harrison totally flipped the script from that first meeting, where he gave up two early takedowns. This time around, Harrison got takedowns in the first two periods and fought off Gapas' only legitimate shot at a takedown with 13 seconds left in the bout.

Phillipsburg coach Dave Post said that he and his staff picked up on some things from that first meeting against Gapas, who finished sixth in the state, that helped Harrison turn the tables in the rematch.

"We had a good game plan. I just opened up more," Harrison said. "I was sick in the middle of the year for a while. I got healthy the last couple of weeks and picked up my conditioning. I peaked at the right time."

Winning feeling


Jones (41-6) could very well be in the title hunt with Harrison next season after a strong showing in his second state tournament appearance. Already an outstanding mat wrestler, Jones knows he could really be force with even more improvement in the neutral position.

"I'm going to try freestyle this offseason. It's definitely going to help," he said. "Brian [Meyer] did it and he was in the state finals. I still have a lot to learn in all positions."

After finishing fourth in Region 3 as a sophomore, Jones, who was right there in a 3-1 loss in sudden-victory overtime in the quarterfinals against former champion and 2018 runner-up Antonio Mininno of Gateway-Woodbury, felt a little more at home in Atlantic City following his first region title. The bar has again been raised for his senior season.

"It's a pretty good feeling [winning that first state medal," said Jones, one of the most personable wrestlers in the area who scored an 8-2 win over Don Bosco Prep's Will Grater in the seventh-place bout.

"Last year, I kind of slid in here [finishing fourth]. This year, it still felt a little out of reach, but I had a lot more confidence. Next year, I'm looking to be on top of the podium. I'm definitely going to try my best."

Super effort


Junior Quinn Melofchik (40-5) capped a fine season with a seventh-place finish at 106 pounds -- the 16th medal winner for Belvidere and its first since the late Tyler Smith (second in 2007, third in '08 at 189).

Quinn Melofchik has even loftier goals for 2018-19.
"It's pretty awesome. Obviously, I would have liked to have done better," said Melofchik, who is 108-16 overall and will enter his senior season needing 24 wins to surpass Dylan Thorsen (131-15 from 2008-12) as the Warren County school's all-time leader.

Melofchik lost a rematch with Delbarton freshman Nicholas Nardone, 3-2, in the quarterfinals, who he had defeated in the Region 3 semifinals, 3-2. Hanover Park freshman Joey Olivieri, the Region 3 champ who beat Melofchik twice this season, once in the ultimate tiebreaker, won the state title at one of the most loaded weight classes.

"I'm very capable. I just didn't have it this weekend," said the well-grounded Melofchik, who lists Brown, Penn and Buffalo among his college choices. "I placed and I'm very happy with that. You think about it the whole year. It doesn't always happen. I'm excited."

Melofchik intends to make a return appearance at Super 32 this offseason, as well as the Virginia Dual Tournament. He wants to get bigger and expects to go 120 to start off next season before a potential drop to 113 for the postseason.

Spartan pride


Senior Robert Gennat made a little history of his own this weekend with his fourth-place finish at 195 pounds. He's the first placewinner for Sparta since Matt Stoppay finished fourth at 135 in 2003.

Gennat (40-5), who is will major in Engineering and wrestle at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken this fall, had already etched his name in the Sussex County school's record books as only the second to win a Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex title this season, while becoming its all-time wins leader at 126-32 -- tied for 26th on the county's career list.

"It's been something I've dreamed of since I was a youth wrestler -- to get on the board with the other Sparta greats," said Gennat, a student of the fine wrestling tradition at his school. "Guys like John Place [the Spartans' third and last state champion in 1983] and [two-time region champ] Matt Stoppay. I was seeing that the board in the wrestling room was empty since 2005. Coach [Frank] Battaglia has done an excellent job of rebuilding [the program]."

Back points


Rounding out the list of area medal winners are: Hunterdon Central freshman Brett Ungar (sixth at 106), High Point junior Brandon LaRue (sixth at 113) and senior Shane Kobis (138), Pope John's Eddie Ventresca (third at 113), Jake Rotunda (132), Reece Muldoon (182) and Jake Brown (sixth at 195), Kittatinny junior Zach Mafaro (sixth at 182) and Voorhees junior Lewis Fernandes (first at 285).

Kobis dropped his first-round match on Friday and roared all the way back through the consolations -- going 5-1 overall and finishing with a 7-5 win over Princeton's Alec Bobchin. LaRue, the No. 25 seed at 113 pounds and among four who finished fourth in the region to medal, along with Muldoon, won two bouts on the winners' side and went 2-2 in the consolations, dropping a 7-0 decision to Kyle Kaiser of Paramus in the fifth-place bout.

Region 2 led the medal count with 19 and Region 1 was next with 16. Region 3 had 14, along with Regions 5, 6 and 8. Region 7 had 12 and Region 4 was last with nine.

Attendance has noticeably been dwindling the past few years. One factor this year was Friday's poor weather along the coast, but there's one simple solution if you want more people in the stands for the championship finals. Scrap Sunday and go Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The place will be packed for the finals on Saturday night. Sunday was never a good idea. People have to work on Monday, and most people stay Saturday into Sunday anyway. It's a no-brainer, which is why it will likely never happen.

LaRue is the prime example of why there needs to be a change in the seeding process. He was a No. 25 seed by virtue of finishing fourth in the region. The solution is to seed the entire bracket 1-32, not just firsts, seconds and thirds. Under that formula, LaRue would have been the No. 7 seed. We get the idea of why they don't. The thought was there would be incentive for not bailing on the third-place bout in the regions. But those bouts have no juice any way since fourths are guaranteed a trip to AC.

Maybe that could be one of the first acts for Ken Rossi of West Morris, one of the best in the business and a seeding guru, now the president of the New Jersey Coaches Association, succeeding all-round good guy Dan Smith of Watchung Hills. Smith was named State Coach of the Year on Sunday.

Finally, I missed this earlier, but congratulations to former Warren Hills standout Mike Lamb, who was named the District 18 Coach of the Year and has been the head man at Rutgers Prep since 2002. Lamb, a region champion and fifth-sixth place state finisher at 145 pounds in 1991 for the Blue Streaks, would have been a strong contender for a state title in '92, if not for a season-ending knee injury sustained just prior to the postseason.