Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Field hockey: Warren Hills tabs Rothman as coach

The search is over.

After nearly two months and with the field hockey season just 12 days from the start of official practices for the upcoming season, Warren Hills finally has a new head coach.

Former Lenape Valley coach Kate Rothman accepted the job on Tuesday and met with her captains for this year's squad. She will be introduced to the rest of the team on Thursday.

"It feels great. I'm thrilled," said Rothman, who had recently accepted an assistant coaching position at Randolph High School.

Former Hackettstown and Pope John coach Gina DiMaio also was in the running for the vacant job and was informed of the school's decision on Wednesday.

Warren Hills athletic director Pete Lubrecht is pleased to bring Rothman into the fold.

"I like her enthusiasm and she has a great amount of experience," said Lubrecht, who is currently on vacation in El Paso, Tex. "She has a sense of integrity and has a good track record. She knows the program is so visible and what she's taking over."

Rothman, 50, is inheriting one of the top programs in New Jersey. Her staff will consist of former Wallkill Valley player Selena Agnor and Warren Hills alum Gregg Wiseburn, a former wrestler for the Blue Streaks, who has recently served as an assistant coach for both field hockey and wrestling at Delaware Valley.

"Selena will be a nice complement to me, she's young and gung-ho," Rothman said of Agnor, who was a volunteer assistant at Hackettstown last season. "[Gregg] is going to help me a lot with analyzing other teams, which he did at Del Val."

Warren Hills, coming off the best season in program history that culminated with its first Group 3 championship, had been without a coach since Laurie Kerr resigned due to family reasons in early June. Over the past four years, the Streaks have gone 89-13-1.

With no teaching positions available, Warren Hills' search became more difficult, along with the timing of Kerr's resignation. As for taking over a program under some tough and unusual circumstances with the season fast approaching, Rothman isn't too concerned.

"Experience helps you there and I am going to be myself," Rothman said. "I have all the respect in the world for [Kerr]. But give me a chance. I'm here to coach the kids and not everyone is going to love what you do. But I'm here to make the transition as easy as possible and hopefully have a winning season like they're used to here."

Rothman, who graduated from Rutgers with a degree in computer science, is not a teacher and can devote her full attention to field hockey. The Independence Township resident has four children, including sons Jason and Brandon, who both wrestled at Hackettstown. Her daughter, Danielle, played field hockey for the Tigers from 2004-07 and is an assistant coach at Hillsborough.

Kate Rothman revived the Lenape Valley program during her three-year tenure as the Sussex County school's head coach, inheriting a program that went 1-15-2 in 2010 and had won a total of 84 games in 11 seasons.

The Patriots went 20-34-3 from 2011-13, finishing 15-6-1 and reaching the North 1, Group 1 semifinals, where they lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to eventual champ Mountain Lakes, in her final season. Lenape also reached the quarterfinals in the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament, dropping a 3-2 decision in overtime to Voorhees.

Rothman, who has also served as Hackettstown's middle school coach, was not rehired for the 2014 season. The Patriots went 14-6 and won the NJAC Freedom Division title this past season under Lauren Fasano, but were stunned by Kittatinny, 2-1, in the North 1, Group 1 semifinals. They also dropped a 5-0 decision at Warren Hills on Sept. 20.

Warren Hills is coming off its most successful campaign in 50 seasons, finishing 23-4 -- a school single-season record for wins -- and capturing both its 12th sectional title and the program's first state title with a thrilling 5-4 overtime win against nemesis Ocean City in the Group 3 final. It's also the first state championship in any female sport for the Warren County school.

Kerr, a former star player at Warren Hills and 1987 graduate, turned the program into a state powerhouse during her 15 seasons at the helm. Her teams went 264-71-12 overall and won or shared six Skyland Conference Delaware or Raritan Division titles and the school's only county championships in 2009, '11, '13 and '14.

In addition, the Streaks claimed eight of their 12 sectional titles and appeared in the Group 3 finals seven times under Kerr, who surpassed her predecessor and coach Luanne Ferenci (226-101-41 from 1981-99) as the winningest coach in program history.

The Washington/Warren Hills program is 601-250-92 overall. The 600th win came on Nov. 12, 2014, a 6-1 victory over Northern Highlands in the Group 3 semifinals. A 4-2 loss to Oak Knoll in the school's first Tournament of Champions appearance ended an 11-game win streak.

Rothman, who is the program's seventh head coach in 51 seasons, will dive right into things with an opening game at home against state power and Group 2 runner-up Madison on Friday, Sept. 4. But the matchup six days later will be most interesting as the Streaks travel to Hackettstown on Sept. 10, in what will be sort of a homecoming for Rothman, who will also face her daughter's Hillsborough team at home on Sept. 24.

The rest of Warren Hills' ambitious schedule includes games against acrhrival Voorhees (Sept. 15 at home), perennial Group 4 champion Eastern (Sept. 26 at home), Bridgewater-Raritan (Sept. 29 away) and at 16-time Group 2 champion West Essex (Oct, 29 away).

Monday, July 27, 2015

Field hockey: Warren Hills closing in on new coach

With the field hockey season a mere 16 days from the start of official practices for the upcoming season, it appears Warren Hills' search for a head coach is coming to an end.

According to several sources, former Lenape Valley coach Kate Rothman appears to be the leading candidate. Former Hackettstown and Pope John coach Gina DiMaio also is in the running for the vacant job. Warren Hills officials are expected to make a decision, perhaps as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday. Athletic director Peter Lubrecht is away on vacation and could not be reached for comment.

The Blue Streaks, coming off the best season in program history that culminated with its first Group 3 championship, have been without a coach since Laurie Kerr resigned due to family reasons in early June. Several other candidates, according to multiple sources, have interviewed for the job, including former Streaks star Toni Popinko and current Hackettstown coach Steve Speirs.

Toni Popinko has since withdrawn her name from consideration and was recently appointed as a health and physical education teacher at Phillipsburg, where she also serves as an assistant field hockey coach on Jennifer Paulus' staff.

With no teaching positions available, Warren Hills' search became more difficult, along with the timing of Kerr's resignation.

Rothman revived the Lenape Valley program during her three-year tenure as the Sussex County school's head coach, inheriting a program that went 1-15-2 in 2010 and had won a total of 84 games in 11 seasons.

The Patriots went 20-34-3 from 2011-13, finishing 15-6-1 and reaching the North 1, Group 1 semifinals, where they lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to eventual champ Mountain Lakes, in her final season. Lenape also reached the quarterfinals in the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament, dropping a 3-2 decision in overtime to Voorhees.

Rothman, who has also served as Hackettstown's middle school coach, was not rehired for the 2014 season. The Patriots went 14-6 and won the NJAC Freedom Division title this past season under Lauren Fasano, but were stunned by Kittatinny, 2-1, in the North 1, Group 1 semifinals. They also dropped a 5-0 decision at Warren Hills on Sept. 20.

DiMaio sports an overall coaching mark of 145-102-18 in stints at Hackettstown, Newark Academy and Pope John, where she spent the last three seasons before retiring last December. The Lions finished 10-9-1 overall and 6-2 in the NJAC American Division, while advancing to the Non-Public North quarterfinals.

But DiMaio made her mark at Hackettstown, where she resurrected a program that had been idle for 15 years. DiMaio took over in 2001 and the school spent one season on the junior varsity level before becoming a varsity program in '02.

The Tigers enjoyed immediate success as they qualified for the state playoffs in 2003 and every year after until '09. Hackettstown went a combined 111-49-9 in her eight seasons in charge, winning three Skyland Conference Raritan Division titles and the school's only two Hunterdon-Warren Tournament championships in 2004 and '05.

In the spring of 2010, DiMaio, a standout defensive player during her high school days at Belvidere, was informed that she would not be rehired for a ninth season at Hackettstown. She then was hired as the head coach at Newark Academy for the 2010 season.

Warren Hills is coming off its most successful campaign in 50 seasons, finishing 23-4 -- a school single-season record for wins -- and capturing both its 12th sectional title and the program's first state title with a thrilling 5-4 overtime win against nemesis Ocean City in the Group 3 final. It's also the first state championship in any female sport for the Warren County school.

Kerr, a former star player at Warren Hills and 1987 graduate, turned the program into a state powerhouse during her 15 seasons at the helm. Her teams went 264-71-12 overall and won or shared six Skyland Conference Delaware or Raritan Division titles and the school's only county championships in 2009, '11, '13 and '14.

In addition, the Streaks claimed eight of their 12 sectional titles and appeared in the Group 3 finals seven times under Kerr, who surpassed her predecessor and coach Luanne Ferenci (226-101-41 from 1981-99) as the winningest coach in program history.

The Washington/Warren Hills program is 601-250-92 overall. The 600th win came on Nov. 12, 2014, a 6-1 victory over Northern Highlands in the Group 3 semifinals. A 4-2 loss to Oak Knoll in the school's first Tournament of Champions appearance ended an 11-game win streak.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Wrestling: P'burg-Washington impress in Pin Cancer

PHILLIPSBURG -- We may be in the heart of the summer season, but a balmy Friday night of wrestling certainly had a winter flavor to it.

Phillipsburg, for the second straight year, staged a late rally to earn a 40-24 win over Washington in the fourth annual Pin Cancer event before a crowd of about 800 at Maloney Stadium.

The upper weight trio of Drew Horun (197), Robert Melise (220) and Kyle Nothnagel (285) sealed a fourth straight P'burg win in this tremendous event, which raised a boatload of money for a worthy cause.

"This is amazing. Wrestling under the lights on our home football field with our fans," said P'burg senior Kyle Markus, who pinned Cody O'Rourke at 123 pounds. "This is such a great cause."

Phillipsburg coach Dave Post was extremely happy with his team's performance.

"I thought we wrestled awesome," said Post, who believes this Pin Cancer was the best one yet. "I bet if you count everyone who was here, we had close to 1,000 people. We had 40 cheerleaders and Washington brought its whole squad. The fans really get involved."

After a 7-3 loss in the opening bout of last year's event, Markus was determined to go out a winner in his final Pin Cancer match. In typical P'burg fashion, he scored three points with an escape and takedown in the final seven seconds of the second period after a tight first period against O'Rourke.

"I didn't want to go out on a bad note," said Markus, a District 1 champion and Region 1 third-place finisher at 106 pounds as a junior. "He took a bad shot. I was ready to defend it and swing behind."

In what became the marquee bout of the night after some lineup juggling just hours prior to the start of the main event, Washington sophomore Jarod Ostir scored an impressive 5-1 win over District 1 runner-up DJ Wissing at 162.

Ostir, who finished fourth in District 1 as a freshman, scored the opening points with a second period takedown and converted another in the third to ice the win. Ostir was extremely physical, returning Wissing to the mat with authority several times and nearly getting back points off the second takedown.

For the first time in the four-year history of this event, Washington finished with a 16-12 advantage in takedowns.

"I figured out my best chance to win was on my feet," Ostir said. "Hard work [in the offseason] has put me in a good state of mind. Working out and constant drilling. This really boosts my confidence a lot and I feel like I can go with anyone."

Ostir also enjoyed avenging a loss in last year's event.

"I love it. It's great wrestling out on the football field," he said. "It's a great experience for everyone."

Ostir's win started Washington on the comeback trail, closing its deficit to 27-12 through nine bouts. Anthony Roessner (173) and Nick Galka (185) followed with pins to make it 27-24 before the formidable group of P'burg uppers sealed it.

Horun racked up three takedowns in an 11-2 major of Brody Oberly, while state placewinner Robert Melise got a five-pointer with 31 seconds left in the third period for a 6-1 win over senior Kurt Nemeth. In the final bout, Nothnagel built a 5-0 lead before decking Taylan Zafis.

Washington freshman Cody Harrison was impressive with six takedowns in a 13-5 major decision over Cullen Day to kick things off at 107, while P'burg senior Tom Kosar converted two takedowns and a three-point nearfall for an 8-1 win over Wulff in a good matchup at 115. Washington junior Matt Valli scored a 17-2 technical fall win over freshman Kyle Tino at 135.

"I thought Tommy Kosar was really impressive," Post said. "Wulff is a solid wrestler. Tommy's offense was phenomenal and he was tough on top. I was most impressed with him."

Kosar burst onto the scene last season when two-time state placewiner Brandon Paetzell was lost for the season with a hand injury. Kosar finished second in District 1 at 113 pounds and helped the Stateliners claim their second Group 4 title in three years. Paetzell, a Rutgers recruit, did not compete on Friday but was in attendance. He projects to open his final season at 120-126 pounds.

In another entertaining bout, P'burg sophomore Brian Meyer held on for a 3-2 win over Zach Nauta at 145. Meyer was seemingly in control with a 3-0 lead in the second period before getting launched to his back. Nauta got a takedown to make it a one-point bout and a one count for backs, but he was ridden out in the final period.

In a special moment before the match, a moment of silence was held for longtime Phillipsburg fan Joe Kopesky, who died of cancer before last season. This was the first Pin Cancer without him in attendance. His son, Bryan, is an assistant coach for Phillipsburg.

PHILLIPSBURG 40, WASHINGTON 24

107 -- Cody Harrison, W, md. Cullen Day, 13-5.
115 -- Tom Kosar, P, d. Kyle Wulff, 8-1.
123 -- Kyle Markus, P, d. Codey O'Rourke, 3-0.
130 -- Lance Wissing, P, p. Pedro Cruz, 2:03.
135 -- Matt Valli, W, tf. Kyle Tino, 17-2, 3:46.
140 -- Tyler Agans, P, p. Cameron Nauta, 2:25.
145 -- Brian Meyer, P, d. Zach Nauta, 3-2.
154 -- Chris Ruiz, P, p. Brandon Winger, 3:38.
162 -- Jarod Ostir, W, d. DJ Wissing, 5-1.
173 -- Anthony Roessner, W, p. Austin Roth, 1:38.
185 -- Nick Galka, W, p. Mario Higueros, 3:33.
197 -- Drew Horun, P, md. Brody Oberly, 11-2.
220 -- Robert Melise, P, d. Kurt Nemeth, 6-1.
285 -- Kyle Nothnagel, P, p. Taylan Zafis, 2:46.
Officials -- Chip Castner and Frank Leitner.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Wrestling: Streaks-'Liners set for Pin Cancer clash

Action from the third annual match. (Courtesy of Pin Cancer)
The fourth annual Pin Cancer match between Washington and Phillipsburg will be held on Friday, July 24 at Maloney Stadium. There will be 11 junior high bouts starting at 6 p.m., with the high school match to follow.

Phillipsburg defeated Warren Hills, 58-6, when the teams met during the 2014-15 high school season at The Pit.

Phillipsburg won the three previous Pin Cancer matches, including a 34-19 victory last year in Washington.

"It should be a good night," said P'burg coach Dave Post, whose team won the Lycoming Camp competition this offseason. "We will have cheerleaders from both schools and the coaches involved. Tommy Kosar's mom got a grant from Kohl's [department store] and our local store is supporting the event. They will have at least five volunteers at the event and all of the donation goes to the charity."

One notable absence for Phillipsburg in this year's event is two-time New Jersey state placewinner Brandon Paetzell, who competed in the past three Pin Cancer matches. Paetzell, a rising senior who missed most of his junior season due to a hand injury, is lessening his offseason workload. The Rutgers recruit, who is 88-9 overall and projects to start the high school season at 126 pounds, also will miss the upcoming 1000 Islands Summer Duals on July 31-Aug. 2 in Clayton, New York.

The weight classes for the Pin Cancer match are designed to follow those used at 1000 Island Duals, according to Post.

"It's a little variation because New York has that 100-pound weight class," Post said. "We do away with that and put an extra class in the middle."

Ticket price is $5. All proceeds go to cancer research and development. Check out http://www.pincancer.org/ for more information on this tremendous organization.

Tentative matchups are listed below with Washington listed first.

107 -- Cody Harrison vs. Cullen Day
115 -- Kyle Wulff vs. Tom Kosar
123 -- Codey O'Rourke vs. Kyle Markus
130 -- Pedro Cruz vs. Lance Wissing
135 -- Matt Valli vs. Kyle Tino
140 -- Cameron Nauta vs. Tyler Agans
145 -- Zach Nauta vs. Brian Meyer
154 -- Jarod Ostir vs. Chris Ruiz
162 -- Anthony Roessner vs. DJ Wissing
173 -- Brandon Winger vs. Austin Roth
185 -- Nick Galka vs. Mario Higueros
197 -- Brody Oberly vs. Drew Horun
220 -- Kurt Nemeth vs. Robert Melise
285 -- Taylan Zafis vs. Kyle Nothnagel

(Box from this past season's high school dual)

PHILLIPSBURG 58, WARREN HILLS 6

182 -- Jimmy Schuitema, P, p. Brody Oberly, 2:49.
195 -- Drew Horun, P, p. Kurt Nemeth, 4:43.
220 -- Robert Melise, P, p. Taylan Zafis, :40.
285 -- Kyle Nothnagel, P, d. Andrew Pacheco, 6-1 OT3.
106 -- Jacob DiNapoli, WH, d. Cullen Day, 4-3 OT3.
113 -- Tom Kosar, P, md. Codey O'Rourke, 16-7.
120 -- Tyler Agans, P, p. Pedro Cruz, 1:12.
126 -- John Fluck, WH, d. Brian Meyer, 7-6.
132 -- Donald Agans, P, d. Zach Nauta, 6-4.
138 -- DJ Wissing, P, d. Max Nauta, 6-4.
145 -- Steve Friedman, P, p. Austin Pidoto, 3:23.
152 -- John Kaluzny, P, d. Jarod Ostir, 5-2.
160 -- Max Elling, P, p. Anthony Roessner, 1:34.
170 -- Yann Ondele, P, forfeit.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Field hockey: Warren Hills continues quest for coach

Nearly two weeks after the last Open Mike post, Warren Hills' state championship field hockey program is still without a head coach just weeks away from the official start of the fall season on Monday, Aug. 10.

According to multiple sources and what has been reported here previously, several candidates have either applied or interviewed for the position, which opened when former head coach Laurie Kerr surprisingly stepped down due to family reasons in early June.

Former Blue Streaks standout Toni Popinko was among the candidates to interview. Popinko, an assistant coach at Phillipsburg, recently withdrew her name from consideration. One sticking point in this process is there are no health and physical education openings at Warren Hills.

Popinko, a four-year starter from 2006-09 and a key player on the '09 team that won a sectional title and reached the Group 3 final, ranks fifth all-time on the Streaks' career points list with 117 and is among the top 10 in career goals (39) and assists (27).

Other candidates to at least inquire about the Warren Hills coaching job, according to multiple sources, include Hackettstown coach Stephen Speirs, who sources said interviewed with Streaks athletic director Peter Lubrecht late last week. Lubrecht, who is on vacation until later this month, did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment on Thursday.

Speirs, a 1980 Warren Hills graduate, would neither confirm nor deny that he in fact interviewed at his alma mater, but emphatically stated that he isn't leaving Hackettstown.

"I'm flattered that Warren Hills would be interested, but I'm in a great position where I am," Speirs said during a phone conversation on Wednesday evening. "I'm very loyal to the players and people that have gotten [the program] to that place. I have a lot of support from my superintendent [David Mango] and athletic director [Bob Grauso]. I wish Warren Hills and the players all the best in the search."

In five seasons under Speirs, Hackettstown is 50-43-2 overall, including a 15-5 campaign this past season in which the Tigers reached the North 1, Group 2 semifinals, beating Parsippany, 3-1, in the quarterfinals for the program's first state playoff victory since 2010. The 15 wins were the most for the Tigers since 2009. In addition, the Tigers reached the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex final in 2013, dropping a 1-0 decision to Warren Hills. His daughter, Lexie, scored the game-winning goal for Hackettstown in its 2004 Hunterdon-Warren title win at Warren Hills -- the first of the Tigers' only two county championships.

Speirs' teams are 0-6 against Warren Hills and have been outscored 24-1 in those meetings, which include two HWS matchups in 2013 and '14. The Streaks hold a commanding 39-4-3 edge in the all-time series dating to 1969, including a pair of 3-0 wins in '14. The Tigers' last win was 2-1 in '06.

Warren Hills, which opens the season at home against Madison on Friday, Sept. 4, will travel to Hackettstown for an independent contest the following Thursday.

Selena Agnor, a former player at Wallkill Valley and a volunteer assistant coach on Speirs' staff last season was also said to have interviewed for the Warren Hills job. Agnor, who also played at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pa., is a teacher at Mansfield Elementary school in the Warren Hills district.

Warren Hills is coming off its most successful campaign in 50 seasons, finishing 23-4 -- a school single-season record for wins -- and capturing both its 12th sectional title and the program's first state title with a thrilling 5-4 overtime win against nemesis Ocean City in the Group 3 final. It's also the first state championship in any female sport for the Warren County school.

Kerr, a former star player at Warren Hills and 1987 graduate, turned the program into a state powerhouse during her 15 seasons at the helm. Her teams went 264-71-12 overall and won or shared six Skyland Conference Delaware or Raritan Division titles and the school's only county championships in 2009, '11, '13 and '14.

In addition, the Streaks claimed eight of their 12 sectional titles and appeared the Group 3 finals seven times under Kerr, who surpassed her predecessor and coach Luanne Ferenci (226-101-41 from 1981-99) as the winningest coach in program history.

The Washington/Warren Hills program is 601-250-92 overall in 50 seasons. The 600th win came on Nov. 12, 2014, a 6-1 victory over Northern Highlands in the Group 3 semifinals. A 4-2 loss to Oak Knoll in the school's first Tournament of Champions appearance ended an 11-game win streak.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Wrestling: Local greats to attend Newton camp

The third annual Newton High School Wrestling Camp will be held July 13-17 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. each session.

Chris Skretkowicz instructing at last year's clinic. (Courtesy of Eric Bollette)
Former New Jersey state champions Chris Skretkowicz and Dan Vallimont will be among the guest clinicians, along with two-time runner-up and Division III national champion Kodie Silvestri.

Former state runner-up and current Braves assistant coach Ted Sibblies, and West Morris head coach Ken Rossi, a four-time state placewinner, round out the stellar group.

"We've been fortunate to have great groups every year," Newton coach Eric Bollette said. "We have had D1 and D3 national champs, All-Americans, as well as great coaches."

Up first on July 13 is Skretkowicz, the former Wallkill Valley standout and two-time state finalist. Skretkowicz, who compiled a career mark of 124-13 from 1997-2001, went on to become a two-time NCAA All-American at Hoftsra under coach Tom Ryan, who guided Ohio State to its first national championship this past season. Skretkowicz is now the head coach at Virginia Military Institute.

Vallimont, who will appear on July 14, was a two-time state champion at Jefferson Township High School and a two-time All-American at Penn State, where he qualified four times for the NCAA Tournament and placed second in 2010. He's now an assistant coach at Hofstra.

Rossi also was a star at Jefferson in the early 1990s and a member of the 1992-93 team that won the Group 2 title and was ranked No. 1 in the country by USA Today. He will appear at the camp on July 15, with Sibblies slated for July 16.

Rounding out the five-day event will be Silvestri, a former star at Wallkill Valley (145-18 career mark from 2005-09) who went onto a successful collegiate career at Wartburg, where he also was a national runner-up.

The camp is open to grades 4-12 and registration fee is $200 per family. Walk-ins are welcome. For information, or to register, contact Bollette via e-mail at ebollette@newtonnj.org.

Goles fills out lineup


The 58th annual John Goles Invitational, slated for Monday, Dec. 28 at Warren Hills, will have two new additions this season.

Pope John is back in the tournament after a two-year absence. The Lions, coached by Mark Piotrowsky, were Goles members for 11 straight years from 2002-12, before joining the Mountain Lakes Holiday Tournament.

Warren Hills coach Jarrett Hosbach on Monday confirmed that Palisades (Pa.) will round out the 10-team field.

In addition to Pope John, Palisades and Warren Hills, the 2015 field includes Delaware Valley, Newton and North Hunterdon, along with Edison, Millburn, Scotch Plains-Fanwood and West Morris.


Tournament time


Pending construction at the high school, the 24th annual Kittatinny Tournament is tentatively set for Saturday, July 18. It's a round-robin format and the pre-registration entry fee is $20 (postmarked by July 10). There is a $25 walk-in fee. For information, contact Michele Molfetto at 862-354-4009 or e-mail at tdc3@ptd.net.

The 29th annual Warren County Farmers' Fair Tournament is slated for Saturday, Aug. 1 at the Fair Grounds in Harmony Township. There are youth and high school divisions. High school weights are 106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 171, 182, 195, 220 and HWT. Weigh-ins will be conducted using the Madison system. Fee is $27 (pre-registered by July 30). No walk-ins.

First session (8-under, 10-under, 12-under) begins at 9 a.m., followed by the 14-and-under and high school divisions at 2 p.m. A $500 college scholarship will be awarded to the outstanding senior wrestler. For information, contact Ron Nauta at 908-684-8853 or send an e-mail to warrenhillswrestlingclub@yahoo.com.

The Red Devil Classic will be held Saturday, July 25 at Hunterdon Central Regional High School. There are youth and high school divisions. Weigh-ins will be conducted using the Madison system and weight classes will be determined after. Fee is $25 (pre-registered or postmarked by July 18) and $30 at the door. You can register online at flemingtonwrestling.com. For information, email flemingtonelkswrestling@gmail.com.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Field hockey: Warren Hills still searching for coach

It isn't exactly ideal to be conducting the search for a new head coach in early July.

But that's what Warren Hills' field hockey program is faced with after last month's surprising resignation by Laurie Kerr, who stepped down after 15 highly successful seasons in charge at her alma mater due to "family reasons." The move was first reported by Open Mike.

The Blue Streaks are coming off their most successful campaign in 50 seasons, finishing 23-4 -- a school single-season record for wins -- and capturing both its 12th sectional title and the program's first state title with a thrilling 5-4 overtime win against nemesis Ocean City in the Group 3 final. It's also the first state championship in any female sport for the Warren County school.

Warren Hills athletic director Pete Lubrecht said "a few" candidates have applied or interviewed for the job, but he declined to reveal names. According to multiple sources, former Warren Hills star player Toni Popinko, now an assistant coach at Phillipsburg, interviewed for the Streaks' job.

Popinko, a four-year starter from 2006-09 and a key player on the '09 team that won a sectional title and reached the Group 3 final, ranks fifth all-time on the Streaks' career points list with 117 and is among the top 10 in career goals (39) and assists (27).

"This is an important spot, we recognize that. But it's important to strike a balance. We are giving it our due diligence like any other position, but we don't want to sacrifice being thorough to rushing into something. We are sensitive to the time [of year] and I don't want to be here in August having the same conversation."

Kerr's top assistant coach Josie Potter (nee Schantzenbach), another former standout player for the Streaks and team MVP in 1998, also resigned from the coaching staff in June. Laura Blackwell, who is highly regarded as the program's middle school coach, supposedly has not applied for the varsity job.

Another in-house candidate, Courtney Hoffman (nee Fritts) and former top player for the Streaks, confirmed via text message that she will not seek the job due to family reasons. Hoffman was an assistant coach at Ocean Township for several seasons.

One potential sticking point for a new hire is also getting a teaching position. Currently, there are no physical education openings at Warren Hills and most positions for the next school year are typically filled during the spring. The superintendent of schools can approve a coaching hire at any time to expedite the process. The next board of education meeting is scheduled for Aug. 23.

With the fall sports season scheduled to officially begin in mid-August, time is certainly of the essence to getting a head coach into place. Lubrecht said there is no specific time frame to hire a coach, as the school wants to get the best person for what's been a high profile program in all of New Jersey.

Kerr, a former star player at Warren Hills and 1987 graduate, turned the program into a state powerhouse during her 15 seasons at the helm. Her teams went 264-71-12 overall and won or shared six Skyland Conference Delaware or Raritan Division titles and the school's only county championships in 2009, '11, '13 and '14.

In addition, the Streaks claimed eight of their 12 sectional titles and appeared the Group 3 finals seven times under Kerr, who surpassed her predecessor and coach Luanne Ferenci (226-101-41 from 1981-99) as the winningest coach in program history.

The Washington/Warren Hills program is 601-250-92 overall in 50 seasons. The 600th win came on Nov. 12, 2014, a 6-1 victory over Northern Highlands in the Group 3 semifinals. A 4-2 loss to Oak Knoll in the school's first Tournament of Champions appearance ended an 11-game win streak.