Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Wrestling: Warren Hills at North Hunterdon preview

What: Warren Hills Blue Streaks at North Hunterdon Lions.

Where: North Hunterdon Regional High School, Clinton Township.

When: Wednesday, 7 p.m. (Tri-meet includes: North Hunterdon vs. Montgomery, 4 p.m., followed by Warren Hills vs. Montgomery).

Conference: Skyland cross-divisional.

Records: Warren Hills 10-3; North Hunterdon 9-0.

State rankings: (New Jersey Writers): North Hunterdon, No. 4.

Area rankings: (Open Mike): Warren Hills, No. 7; North Hunterdon, No. 1.

Coaches: Dave Sbriscia (26-7, second season, 0-1 vs. NH); Chris Hrunka (45-8, third season, 2-0 vs. WH).

Series history: North Hunterdon owns a 39-22 edge overall dating to 1957, when Warren Hills was known as Washington High School, and has won three in a row, including a 40-18 victory last season on Jan. 25, 2019. Warren Hills, which has dropped seven of the previous eight meetings and is 10-29 in the series since 1979, has not beaten the Lions since a 28-27 win in 2016. The schools have split a pair of postseason matchups -- Warren Hills scoring a 42-27 win in the 1997 Group 3 final and North earning a 40-26 victory in the 2005 North 2, Group 3 sectional semifinals. Since 1997, the Streaks have gone 4-17 in the series -- winning in 2004, '06, '10 and '16. Teams did not meet in 1985, '96 and 2012.

Note: Warren Hills wrestlers listed first with season records in parentheses.

106 -- Fr. Kevin Riedinger (5-14) vs. Fr. Logan Wadle (17-2).

113 -- Fr. Shawn Redfield (12-10) vs. So. Nick DeLorenzo (9-7).

120 -- Sr. Greg Slivka (14-5) vs. Jr. Frank DiEsso (15-3).

126 -- So. Jared Lee (15-8) vs. Fr. Daniel Delusant (7-8).

132 -- Sr. Logan Nauta (16-5) vs. Jr. Connor Quinn (12-5).

138 -- Sr. Geir Nemeth (15-6) vs. Sr. Drew Doscher (11-3).

145 -- Jr. Reese Manfredi (3-8) vs. Sr. Evan Klimas (15-2).

152 -- So. Stephen Malia (18-4) vs. Sr. Kyle Anderson (9-5).

160 -- So. Owen Frizzell (16-5) vs. So. William Cole (11-4).

170 -- Sr. Nick Hildabrant (8-5) vs. Jr. James Holder (13-4).

182 -- Jr. Brandon Riggs (3-13) vs. Sr. Nate Fossett (15-2) or Fr. Alex Uryniak (12-3).

195 -- So. Michael Galka (8-6) vs. So. Kyle Schultz (5-3).

220 -- Jr. Logan Polcari (10-7) vs. Sr. Ian Gaburo (13-1).

285 -- So. Tyler McCatharn (18-3) vs. So. Liam Akers (15-2).

North can clinch the division title vs. Montgomery.
Breakdown: In the opener, North Hunterdon looks to clinch the Skyland Conference Raritan Division title with a win over Montgomery. ... The series with Warren Hills reunites former teammates and district champions for the Blue Streaks -- Sbriscia (2005-06) and Hrunka ('07). ... The teams have gone head-to-head nine times this season between the John Goles Invitational and Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex tournaments (DeLorenzo d. Redfield, 5-3; Lee p. Delusant; Quinn d. Nauta, 8-3 and 7-3; Doscher d. Nemeth, 6-5; Frizzell p. Cole; Holder p. Hildabrant; Akers d. McCatharn, 2-1) -- with North winning seven of those
matchups. ... I don't think we're going to see much, if any, juggling on both sides for this one. North rates as the favorite at 106, 120, 132, 145, 170, 182, 195 and 220. Warren Hills has the edge at 126, 152 and 160. Let's call 113, 138 and 285 tossups, though the Lions won close decisions at all three earlier this season. The bout at 120 could also be interesting, though DiEsso is 2-0 all-time against Slivka dating to last season. The Streaks would likely need all three (I think they get two) to go their way to make this close, but bonus points will be hard to come by, while North, which wins nine bouts, should have opportunities there in at least five weights. The problem, as is the case for most of North's opponents, is dealing with the Lions' balance and formidable upper weights. Warren Hills will be the underdog at several weights where it counts on getting wins in most matches.

Prediction: North Hunterdon, 39-21.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Wrestling: New Jersey Writers Association Top 20

Phillipsburg is the biggest mover as four teams from the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex area grace this week's New Jersey Wrestling Writers Association Top 20 poll.

The Stateliners (5-1), who are gearing for their annual clash with border-rival Easton (Pa.) -- the 83rd meeting in a series led by the Red Rovers, 64-18 -- on Thursday and a showdown against No. 9 Southern at home on Saturday, jump up five spots to No. 7, following a 29-28 independent victory over then-No. 9 Toms River North last Thursday. P'burg was coming off a 30-24 loss to North Hunterdon in a crucial Skyland Conference Raritan Division clash the previous evening in Lopatcong Township.

North Hunterdon (9-0), which can win the division title outright with a victory over Montgomery as part of tri-meet with Warren Hills on Wednesday, moves up to the No. 4 spot as the state's top-ranked public school. Coach Chris Hrunka's Lions will also be in action, along with No. 11 High Point and unranked Warren Hills, in the Patriot Duals this Saturday at North Warren. The eight-team field also includes No. 18 West Essex (9-0) -- last season's Group 3 state champion.

High Point (2-1), which saw its scheduled clash against P'burg on Saturday moved to Monday, Jan. 27, returns to action on Tuesday at West Morris. Coach John Gardner's Wildcats, who are starting to get healthy, could match up against Warren Hills (10-3), which recently finished third at the Jack Welch Duals and seems to be rounding into form after a rash of early-season injuries, and North Hunterdon at the Patriot Duals.

Pope John (5-2), which had a finalist and three other medal winners in the rugged Escape the Rock Tournament this past weekend, check in at No. 13 this week. The Lions, who will face Don Bosco Prep on Tuesday and West Morris at home on Thursday, cap their week with a tough quad at No. 5 Kingsway that also includes No. 1 Bergen Catholic and Jackson Memorial.

No. 5 Kingsway (9-1), which dropped a 40-21 decision to North Hunterdon in the championship match at the 15th annual Henry Boresch Duals on Jan. 4, is hoping that senior Cheney Kinner, a Region 8 fifth-place finisher, can return to the lineup at some point before the end of the season.

Kinner, who last season helped secure the program’s first state title (a 26-20 win over Phillipsburg in the Group 4 final) since 2007, sustained a broken left arm in a car accident in December. Dragons coach Mike Barikian said the senior recently had the cast removed and could rejoin the team soon.

Rank
School
Record
Previous
1
Bergen Catholic
(9-2)
1
2
Delbarton
(11-2)
2
3
Camden Catholic
(8-2)
4
4
North Hunterdon
(9-0)
5
5
Kingsway
(9-1)
8
6
Howell
(15-1)
7
7
Phillipsburg
(5-1)
12
8
Toms River North
(11-3)
9
9
Southern
(7-1)
6
10
St. Joseph-Montvale
(3-3)
3
11
High Point
(2-1)
10
12
St. Augustine
(8-2)
13
13
Pope John
(5-2)
11
14
Paulsboro
(8-2)
14
15
St. Peter's Prep
(4-3)
16
16
Seton Hall Prep
(7-1)
15
17
Brick Memorial
(11-2)
17
18
West Essex
(9-0)
18
19
Montville
(7-1)
NR
20
South Plainfield
(12-4)
19

Others receiving votes: Paramus Catholic and Williamstown.

NJWWA voting members listed in alphabetical order: Donald J. Brower (GardenStateHSWrestling.com); Frank D’Esposito (theshoreconference.com; Steven Falk (Asbury Park Press and APP.com); Sean Farrell (The Record of Hackensack and NorthJersey.com); Jane Havsy (Daily Record and DailyRecord.com); “Screwy” Louie Lazzari (New Jersey wrestling historian); John Lewis (Burlington County Times and phillyburbs.com); Ron Mazzola (NJWWA president and Region V ranking chairman); Tom McGurk (Courier Post of Cherry Hill); Andy Mendlowitz (Courier News and MyCentralJersey.com); Greg Tufaro (Home News Tribune and MyCentralJersey.com); Michael Weilamann (Open Mike).

Wrestling: Local teams set to clash in Patriot Duals

The field for the much anticpated Patriot Duals is set as three state-ranked teams are set to battle it out on Saturday at North Warren Regional High School.

North Hunterdon looks to add another title trophy.
North Hunterdon (9-0), ranked No. 4 by the New Jersey Wrestling Writers Association and winner of the 15th annual Boresch Duals on Jan. 4, drew the No. 1 seed, while No. 11 High Point is the No. 2 seed.

Warren Hills (10-3) and North Warren (4-5) round the locals competing in the eight-team field, which also includes No. 18 West Essex (9-0), the No. 4 seed, Westfield (8-0), Bound Brook (4-5) and Morris Catholic (0-13).

North Warren coach Kellen Bradley, now in his second season, immediately sought to bring back the once popular Patriot Duals, which began under former coach Jim Lehman in the mid-1990s. But they abruptly ended following the 2015-16 season. After a three-year hiatus, the tournament is back in full force with some of New Jersey's top programs.

"Over the years it's been pretty good," Bradley said in the offseason. "When it started, North Warren won it a few years, then it started to be pretty competitive. We're looking to make wrestling more of an event at North Warren. We're trying to do that in different ways."

Here is the schedule (All times approximate as a new round will begin following the completion of the previous session):

Quarterfinals, 9 a.m.

1-North Hunterdon (9-0) vs. 8-Morris Catholic (0-13)
4-West Essex (9-0) vs. 5-Bound Brook (4-5)

Quarterfinals, 10:30 a.m.

3-Warren Hills (10-3) vs. 6-Westfield (8-0)
2-High Point (2-1) vs. 7-North Warren (4-5)

Semifinals and wrestlebacks, noon

North Hunterdon-Morris Catholic winner vs. West Essex-Bound Brook winner
North Hunterdon-Morris Catholic loser vs. West Essex-Bound Brook loser

Semifinals and wrestlebacks, 1:30 p.m.

Warren Hills-Westfield winner vs. High Point-North Warren winner
Warren Hills-Westfield loser vs. High Point-North Warren loser

Consolation round, 3 p.m.

Fifth- and seventh-place matches.

Championship round, 4:30 p.m.

First- and third-place matches.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Wrestling: Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex rankings

It's been a struggle on the health front for Warren Hills' wrestling program, but the Blue Streaks seem to be rounding into form as we steam toward the final weeks of the regular season.

Coach Dave Sbriscia's team enjoyed a solid week, going 4-1 and finishing in third place at the 14th annual Jack Welch Duals on Friday and Saturday at Moorestown High School.


Warren Hills at the Jack Welch Duals. (Dave Sbriscia)
Warren Hills (10-3), which won its pool with a 33-25 victory over Long Branch, suffered its only loss to overall champion Delbarton, ranked No. 2 in the state by the New Jersey Wrestling Writers Association, 62-6, before rebounding with a 37-30 victory over Cherokee.

"We knew it was going to be a dogfight between us and Long Branch," said Sbriscia, whose team has another big week on tap, including a Skyland Conference cross-divisional match at North Hunterdon on Wednesday to cap a tri-meet that begins with the Lions taking on Montgomery at 4 p.m., followed by Warren Hills vs. Montgomery. "Cherokee was tough. The way the matchups fell, we saved some bonus points, and where we needed to hit them up top, we did."

The Streaks, who were missing six starters in a 36-27 loss to Hunterdon Central on Dec. 31, are still not at full strength, as freshman Jarett Pantuso (170) and sophomore Ryan Galka (182) have been out indefinitely in the upper weights, while promising freshman Cody Miller (145) was lost for the season due to a knee injury. The good news for Warren Hills is that senior Nick Hildabrant (8-6 at 170), sophomore Michael Galka (8-6 at 195) and junior Logan Polcari (10-7 at 220) all recently returned to action.

"You never wish for [injuries], but it's given a lot of our JV guys some varsity experience," Sbriscia said. "Going into the season, I thought we were a pretty deep team. Obviously it's showed by beating some quality teams having guys out."

Sophomore Stephen Malia (18-4 at 152), an HWS Tournament runner-up, is enjoying a breakout season, while senior Greg Slivka (14-5 at 120) and sophomore Jared Lee (15-8 at 126), along with seniors Logan Nauta (16-5 at 132) and Geir Nemeth (15-6 at 138), give Warren Hills a formidable middle of the lineup. In addition, sophomore Owen Frizzell (16-5 at 160) has been a pleasant surprise after going 2-5 in a limited role as a freshman. The upper weights are anchored by sophomore Tyler McCatharn (18-3 at 285).

"We're still a young team," said Sbriscia, who regularly employs a combination of seven freshmen and sophomores, along with three juniors in the starting lineup.

With Group 3 being extremely wide open once again, the focus in a few weeks will be on the North 2 section, which includes defending state champion West Essex and Warren Hills, which is looking to capture the program's sixth sectional title and first since 2007. Both teams will be in action at the Patriot Duals on Saturday at North Warren. Montville is the team to watch coming out of North 1.

"I think it's going to come down to our section -- who is healthy and wrestling well that time of year," Sbriscia said.

Now, onto this week's rankings:

1. North Hunterdon (9-0) -- Lions snapped a 17-match skid against Phillipsburg and secured at least a share of the Skyland Conference Raritan Division title with a 30-24 victory on Wednesday -- the program's first win in the series since Jan. 6, 2007. Junior Frank DiEsso (120) and senior Drew Doscher (138) delivered pins, while senior Ian Gaburo added a key decision win at 220. Coach Chris Hrunka's team could face another stiff test against High Point on Saturday as the state-ranked teams will likely draw the top two seeds for the Patriot Duals.

Up next: Montgomery and Warren Hills at home on Wednesday; Patriot Duals at North Warren on Saturday.

2. Phillipsburg (5-1) -- Stateliners, who won six bouts and gave a good account in their 30-24 loss to North Hunterdon on Wednesday, bounced back with a 29-28 win over Toms River North on Thursday as freshman Hunter Cleaver (1-2), who coach Dave Post mentioned as a wrestler to watch following the North match, delivered a clutch pin at 138 pounds in his varsity dual meet debut. Sophomore Joey Innamorato, who scored a big win at 132 pounds in the loss to North Hunterdon, missed the Toms River North match due to illness. The annual "Return to The Pit" match this season featuring High Point, which was to be contested on Saturday, was rescheduled to Monday, Jan. 27. The 'Liners will seek their fifth win in the last seven meetings against Easton on Thursday. The 40-22 triumph over the Red Rovers last season was their largest margin in the series since a 34-8 victory on Feb. 5, 1970.


Up next: Ridge at home on Wednesday; at Easton (Pa.) on Thursday; Southern at home on Saturday.

3. High Point (2-1) -- In their only action last week, the Wildcats cruised to a 55-18 victory over Hackettstown in an NJAC Freedom Division match. Senior Billy Talmadge (18-0 at 138), who is 118-26 overall, is four victories shy of moving into the school's Top 10 list. The good news for coach John Gardner's team was it featured a healthy 13 starters on the mat -- freshman Shane Woolf is likely out for the season with a knee injury -- and junior Nick Douma (126-132) could be back in a few weeks to help bolster the lineup.

Up next: at West Morris on Tuesday; at Mount Olive on Thursday; Patriot Duals at North Warren on Saturday.

4. Pope John (5-2) -- Lions went 3-0 in dual-meet action with wins against North Warren (47-25), Roxbury (51-9) and Mendham (39-25), the latter two were NJAC American Division clashes, and capped the week in the Escape the Rock Tournament. Senior Eddie Ventresca (19-2 at 126), who secured second place on the school's all-time wins list (136-14) this past week, was an Escape the Rock Tournament finalist, suffering his second loss this season to PIAA Class AA state champ Ryan Crookham of Notre Dame (Pa.), 1-0, while junior Shane Percelay (seventh at 120), senior Kaya Sement (fourth at 145) and sophomore Jack Stoll (seventh at 182) earned medals.

Up next: Don Bosco Prep at home on Tuesday; West Morris at home on Thursday; Bergen Catholic and Jackson Memorial at Kingsway on Saturday.

5. Delaware Valley (11-1) -- Terriers rolled to a 54-18 win over Voorhees in a Skyland Conference Valley Division clash on Wednesday before going 2-1 in a quad -- minus sophomore Robert Groogan (113) and senior Ryan Sutter (285) due to illnesses -- at home on Saturday, including a 39-28 victory over Kittatinny and a 28-27 criteria win (least forfeits, 1-0) over West Morris, as well as a 44-15 loss to Westfield. Junior Corey Crater (145) and senior Derek Schepens (113), who bumped up from 106, had key decisions against Kittatinny. Coach Andy Fitz, with 214 career wins and his father, Vince (284), are closing in on a milestone with a combined 498 victories. Del Val is at 786 total.


Up next: Watchung Hills at home on Tuesday; Bernards at home on Wednesday; Hillsborough at home on Friday; Manalapan and Perth Amboy at Sayreville on Saturday.

6. Hunterdon Central (5-4) -- Red Devils scored a Skyland Conference Delaware Division win over Bridgewater-Raritan (53-21) on Tuesday and beat Hillsborough (63-12) on Thursday before splitting a tri-meet on Saturday with a win over host Emerson (No. 990 for the program) and a loss to Mount Olive (35-24). Junior Colton Washleski (145) and senior Anthony Romaniello (152) are each approaching 80 career victories.

Up next: Morris Knolls at home on Wednesday; Roxbury, Westwood and Woodstown at home on Saturday.

7. Warren Hills (10-3) -- Blue Streaks opened last week with a 67-6 win over Bernards in a Skyland Conference Valley Division showdown before going 4-1 at the Jack Welch Duals over the weekend, including a 37-30 victory over Cherokee in the third-place match. Sophomores Owen Frizzell (160) and Tyler McCatharn (285), and senior Nick Hildabrant (170), all went 4-1 in the tournament.


Up next: Montgomery at North Hunterdon tri-meet on Wednesday; at Somerville on Friday; Patriot Duals at North Warren on Saturday.

8. Kittatinny (3-4) -- Cougars rolled to wins over Morris Hills (42-17) on Wednesday and Hanover Park (43-24) on Friday before going 0-2 in a quad at Delaware Valley on Saturday, including a 39-28 loss to the Terriers and a 35-33 defeat against Westfield. Junior Jackson Crawn, who enters the week with 68 career wins, decked Del Val senior Zach Zuchowski, an HWS Tournament runner-up, at 220. Veteran coach John Gill will face his friend and former wrestler Eric Bollette in a key NJAC Freedom Division clash at Newton on Thursday.

Up next: at Newton on Thursday; Passaic Valley and Teaneck at Dumont on Saturday.

9. Sparta (6-4) -- Spartans went 1-2, falling to a pair of state-ranked teams in Delbarton (60-13) on Wednesday and 43-27 to St. Peter's Prep at home as part of a tri-meet on Saturday, which included a 39-38 victory over Pompton Lakes. Junior Spencer Stewart (19-0), who is sitting on 92 career wins, secured the victory with a 17-second pin in the final bout at 132 pounds. Senior Garrett Stewart, a two-time HWS runner-up who is 123-24 overall, recently passed Ian Burke (120-23 from 2011-15) for second place on the school's all-time wins list and is four shy of surpassing Robert Gennat (126-32 from 2014-18) for the top spot.

Up next: Montville at home on Thursday; Wallkilll Valley, Demarest and Pascack Hills at home on Saturday.

10. Newton (6-6) -- Braves pulled out a 33-31 win over Jefferson in an NJAC Freedom Division matchup on Wednesday before going 3-2 at the Jack Welch Duals with victories against Northern Burlington (35-30), Holy Spirit (53-18) and Cinnaminson (51-21). Against Jefferson, junior JoJo Lotruglio scored a decisive 7-5 decision over Austin Jack in sudden-victory overtime in the final bout. Coach Eric Bollette's team will look to secure second place in the division with a win over archrival Kittatinny on Thursday.

Up next: Kittatinny at home on Thursday; Montgomery at New Brunswick on Saturday.

Wrestling: Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex standings

(Through Saturday's matches)

Skyland Conference
Delaware Division
Overall
Division
Hunterdon Central
(5-4)
(1-0)
x-Watchung Hills
(3-2)
(1-0)
Franklin
(12-1)
(2-1)
Bound Brook
(4-5)
(1-1)
Bridgewater-Raritan
(1-6)
(0-3)
Raritan Division
Overall
Division
xy-North Hunterdon
(9-0)
(3-0)
Ridge
(5-3)
(1-1)
Hillsborough
(5-7)
(1-2)
Montgomery
(5-2)
(0-1)
Phillipsburg
(5-1)
(0-1)
Valley Division
Overall
Division
Delaware Valley
(11-1)
(2-0)
Warren Hills
(10-3)
(2-0)
Bernards
(6-1)
(1-1)
Somerville
(1-4)
(0-1)
Voorhees
(1-9)
(0-3)
Mountain Division
Overall
Division
Manville
(7-3)
(2-0)
Belvidere
(2-4)
(2-0)
North Plainfield
(4-2)
(1-2)
Rutgers Prep
(1-5)
(0-1)
Pingry
(1-6)
(0-2)
Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference
Freedom Division
Overall
Division
High Point
(2-1)
(2-0)
Newton
(6-6)
(2-0)
Jefferson
(9-4)
(0-1)
Kittatinny
(3-4)
(0-1)
Hackettstown
(4-2)
(0-2)
American Division
Overall
Division
Delbarton
(11-2)
(4-0)
Pope John
(5-2)
(3-1)
Montville
(6-1)
(2-1)
Sparta
(6-4)
(1-2)
West Morris
(4-5)
(1-2)
Mendham
(6-3)
(1-3)
Roxbury
(1-8)
(0-3)
Colonial Division
Overall
Division
Hopatcong
(1-4)
(1-0)
North Warren
(4-5)
(1-0)
Lenape Valley
(4-5)
(1-1)
Vernon
(5-6)
(1-1)
Wallkill Valley
(0-7)
(0-2)
x-county champion
y-clinched share of division title