Thursday, December 18, 2014

Wrestling: Sussex preview capsules

High Point Wildcats

Coach: John Gardner (285-77-2, 17th season).

2013-14 record: 17-4, 7-0 NJAC American Division, North 1, Group 2 and Group 2 champions.

Returning starters (7): So. Chase Babus (16-20, D3) 113; Sr. Dom Gallo (32-10, D3, R2) 126-132; So. Aric Wingle (11-14, D4) 132-138; Sr. Mike Derin (33-9, D2, R1) 138;  Sr. Jason Gaccione (37-7, D1, R2) 138-145; Jr. Jared Kobis (4-1, D1-2013) 138-152; Sr. Ryan Cullen (17-15, D3) 152-160.

Key losses: Chris Auer (22-15, D2) 152; Tommy Hooker (24-13, D1) 160; Colby Brands (19-19, D3) 170; Antonio Porraspita (26-14, D3) 182; Kyle Stoll (37-7, D1, R1) 195; Bobby McDonnell (23-17, D2) 220; Gunther Wassong (13-6) 285; Chris Campbell (13-14, D2) 285.

Key returnees: Jr. Justin Liebl 106; Jr. Garrett Fenlon 120-126; Jr. Kurt Rosner 170; Sr. Ryan Olinger (3-2) 182; Jr. Kevin Lewis (4-2) 220; Sr. Henry Kuperus (1-2) 285.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Trey Osborn 113; Fr. Shane Kobis 120; So. Richard Kinkead 195.

Outlook: Wildcats are coming off back-to-back Group 2 championships, but they took a big hit with the graduation of seven starters, including a solid group of upper weights. However, there is a solid nucleus returning, led by former state placewinners Derin and Gaccione. Jared Kobis won 36 bouts as a freshman, but he's been hampered by injuries, including a broken hand that cost him most of his sophomore season. When healthy, he's a threat to place high on the podium in AC. If the upper weights can hold their own, this team has the talent to make another run at sectional and state titles. Gardner, who is closing in on 300 wins, really likes the younger wrestlers on the roster, so the future looks bright in Wantage.

Hopatcong Chiefs

Coach: Eric Fajerman (115-210-3, 15th season).

2013-14 record: 1-21, 0-7 NJAC Freedom Division (eighth).

Returning starters (6): Sr. Joe Aumann (30-8, D3, R4) 113; Jr. Alex Micevski (2-11) 120; Sr. Joey Ioffredo (9-9) 145; So. Jake Wilkerson (18-11, D4) 160; Jr. Brandon Marazzo (6-17) 195; Jr. Christian Burgos (23-8) 220.

Key losses: Troy Bongiovanni (23-15, D2) 170.

Key returnees: Jr. Giancarlo Varrone (2-12) 170.

Promising newcomers: So. Brandon Olmstead 106; Fr. Anthony Mastroeni 132; Sr. Glenn Haines (4-1, transfer from Lenape Valley, D1-2013, R2-2012) 138; Fr. Kurt Hergert 182; Jr. Charlie DeFranza 285

Outlook: It's been a question of numbers for the Chiefs in recent seasons. Forfeits have hampered the program in dual meets, but it appears that if everything shakes right this season, there may only be two weights vacant for most days. Aumann, Wilkerson and Burgos are all coming off successful seasons and the addition of Haines, who reached the Region 1 finals as a freshman, is a big bonus. He was sidelined by a shoulder issue most of last season. Fajerman usually gets the most out of the talent he has so expect to see an improvement in the win column.

Kittatinny Cougars

Coach: John Gill (504-152-5, 35th season).

2013-14 record: 18-3, 7-0 NJAC Freedom Division, North 1, Group 1 champions.

Returning starters (5): So. Kasey Hotz (18-14) 113-120; Jr. Nick Klinger (31-8, D2) 120; Jr. Taylor Molfetto (17-14, D4) 126; Jr. Austin Scrivani (31-10, D1, R3) 132; So. Josh Klimek (9-11) 170.

Key losses: Christian Silva (27-16, D1, R3) 126; Nick West (11-18) 138; Nick Romyns (27-6, D3, R1) 152; Kieran Gerrity (39-6, D1, R3) 170; Dylan Wunder (29-11, D1, R4) 170-182; Garrett Armstrong (33-10, D2, R3) 195; Andrew Simpson (22-12, D4) 220; Tom Smith (27-11, D3) 285.

Key returnees: Sr. Christian Blanton (1-1) 132; Jr. Jake Vanwingerden (4-5, D3-2013) 145-152; Sr. Trevor Schutte (0-12) 145-152; Jr. Luke DeGroat (2-1) 182; Sr, Tyler Wehrenberg (0-1) 195; Jr. Nick Simpson 195; Sr. Peter Block (1-1) 195; Sr. Kyle Cornman (0-1) 220.

Promising newcomers: So. Mark DiGeronimo (transfer from Pope John) 106; Fr. Perry Maio 113; Fr. Calvin Brook 120; So. Dylan Minter 138; So. Cody Mitchell 160; Jr. Griffin Waldron 285.

Outlook: Cougars have been one of the most successful and consistent programs in New Jersey for the better part of two decades. This is looking like one of those rare seasons where it will be a work in progress following heavy graduation losses, especially up top where there are questions for the first time in quite a while. Klinger and Scrivani are two horses that Gill can count on most matches, but the bulk of this lineup is pretty untested. Brook is a talented freshman and will make an impact. Unfortunately, two blue-chip freshmen, Carmen Ferrante (Bergen Catholic) and Jake Brown (Pope John) are wrestling elsewhere. Both would have been starters. If the upper weights can develop, expect this team to exceed expectations. It will certainly be challenge as Kittatinny celebrates its 40th season overall.

Lenape Valley Patriots

Coach: Doug Vetter (165-140-1, 14th season).

2013-14 record: 9-11, 5-2 NJAC Freedom Division (third).

Returning starters (9): Jr. Zach Merkey (15-12) 113; So. Anthony Smaha (7-13) 120; Jr. Aaron Arzon (17-12, D4) 132; So. Nick Palumbo (19-11, D2) 138; Sr. Joe LaBell (23-11, D3) 170; Sr. D.J. Barrett (31-8, D1, R3) 182; Jr. Sam Palumbo (20-14, D1) 195; Jr. Ralph Hall (19-13, D1) 220; Jr. Richie Fritzky (7-18) 285.

Key losses: Sr. Glenn Haines (4-1, D1-2013, transferred to Hopatcong) 145; Dominic LaBell (14-7, D3) 152-160.

Key returnees: So. Ray Smaha (5-7) 113; Jr. Aaron Merkey (3-7) 126; Sr. Josh Bostwick (0-2) 145; Jr. Mike Katz (5-11) 152-160; Jr. Nick Seck (1-6) 152-160; Jr. David Ottoson 170; Jr. Scott Prior (1-3) 182; Sr. Hussein Hamed 285.

Promising newcomers: So. Jake Falleni 106; Fr. Neil Kelly 106; Fr. Jake Hickey 120; Fr. Jordan Costanza 145; So. Ky Dickerson 152.

Outlook: Patriots, who reached the North 1, Group 1 final two seasons ago, are looking to bounce back off a tough campaign. This group, unlike others in the county, features a pretty strong set of upper weights, led by state qualifier Barrett, along with District 2 champs Sam Palumbo and Hall. LaBell is another solid starter up top. There are question marks down low with some inexperience at this level, but this squad has the potential to be pretty balanced and that will almost certainly produce a good number of wins in dual meets. This could be a team that no one wants to see late in the season.

Newton Braves

Coach: Eric Bollette (176-141-1, 14th season).

2013-14 record: 14-13, 4-3 NJAC Freedom Division (fourth).

Returning starters (10): Sr. Trevor Morales (31-7, D2) 120; So. Nick Giordano (16-14) 126; Sr. Eddie Medina (28-12, D2) 132; Sr. Ryan Brigante (11-20, D4) 138; So. Jake DeLuca (8-9, D3) 145; Jr. Lance Fischer (18-19, D4) 160; Sr. Benjamin Sibblies (16-18) 170-182; Sr. Gus Protogeropoulos (35-8, D1, R3) 195-220; Jr. Ethan Reczka (17-12, D4) 195-220; Jr. Tyler Pittenger (13-18) 285.

Key losses: Michael Larsen (9-8) 138; Niko Grello (24-14, D2) 138.

Key returnees: Jr. Mateo Valentine (2-1) 106-113; So. Justin Scribner (2-3) 106; Jr. Michael Valentine (1-9) 132; Sr. Sam Brothman 152; Jr. Ryan Lazar (0-9) 160; So. Skylar Hildebrant 152-160; Jr. Robert Borgognoni (1-6) 160; Jr. Brian Zakrzewski 182; Jr. Koty Wilkenson (1-8) 220; Jr. Nick Zaremski (0-1) 285.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Tim Houlihan 106; Fr. Jonathon Borgognoni 126; Fr. Devon Mager 182; So. Louis Arrazola 182; Fr. Joey DeLuca 195; Jr. Aaron Anane-Agyei 220.

Outlook: Braves snapped a string of back-to-back losing campaigns last season and seem primed for another successful campaign, if things can fall into place. Unfortunately, Medina tore his ACL during football and will miss at least the entire dual meet season. He has a chance to return for districts. His loss creates some lineup dilemmas, but there is talent, especially up top with state qualifier Protogeropoulos anchoring at either 195 or 220. Morales and DeLuca were Region 1 qualifers last season. With the sectional realignment, the Braves figure to be one of the teams to beat in North 1, Group 1, now that Kittatinny is in North 1, Group 2.

Pope John Lions

Coach: Mark Piotrowsky (8-14, second season).

2013-14 record: 8-14, 1-6 NJAC American Division (seventh).

Returning starters (10): So. Ryan Luchs (17-7, D2) 113-120; Sr. Dominic Koert (14-2) 120-126; Jr. Caleb Lewie-Cepero (12-16, D4) 132-138; Sr. Nick Esposito (10-19) 145; Jr. Billy Koenig (7-18) 145-152; Sr. Anthony Azzaritti (17-13, D3) 152-160; Sr. Deriam Guridy (11-10, D3-2012) 182-195; Jr. Michael Anderson (5-18) 182; Jr. Joe Frumolt (7-6) 195; Sr. Marino Priori (1-19) 220.

Key losses: Austin Sisco (35-6, D1, R3) 113; Zeke Lewie-Cepero (14-15, D4) 126; Noa Merritt (30-4, D1, R2) 285.

Key returnees: So. Christian Deehan 106; So. Travis Healy 126-132; Sr. Rich Peterson 170; Jr. Conner Lenehan 285; Sr. Scott Black (1-2) 285.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Jake Rotunda 106-113; Fr. Jake Brown 170.

Outlook: Lions struggled some in dual meets last season, but they managed two representatives in Atlantic City. Luchs and Azzaritti both advanced to Region 1, while Koert enjoyed a successful campaign until an injury sidelined him late. The addition of Brown, a blue-chip freshman out of the Kittatinny system, is a big bonus. He's legit. Expect this group to produce a few more wins and enjoy some individual postseason success.

Sparta Spartans

Coach: Frank Battaglia (36-32, fourth season).

2013-14 record: 13-6, 4-3 NJAC American Division (fourth).

Returning starters (13): Jr. Garrett Gerndt (24-5, D1) 113-120; Sr. Sierra Blasone (5-11) 113; Jr. Andrew Legge (9-13) 120-126; So. Sean McHugh (11-13) 132-138; So. Paddy Finnegan (5-14) 138-145; Sr. Ian Burke (29-4, D1) 145-152; Sr. Walker Schmitzer (27-5, D2) 152-160; Sr. Nathan Sowers (12-10, D2) 160-170; Jr. Al Falco (22-11, D2) 160-170; Sr. Connor Lore (16-12, D4) 182-195; Jr. Zach Herbert (8-13, D4) 182-195; Sr. Gavin Lally (25-8, D3) 195-220; Sr. Jake Vogel (8-15) 285.

Key returnees: Jr. Grant Gerndt (6-4) 120.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Mason Veron 106-113; Fr. Nick Casasenta 126-132; Fr. Anthony Casasenta 126-132; Fr. Kevin Berlin 132; Fr. Josh Fenners 145; Fr. Robbie Gannat 220.

Outlook: Spartans are coming off seasons with 15 and 13 victories after the program pretty had much hit rock bottom. Now, the bar is set higher, as coach Battaglia's group is expected to be one of the better squads in Sussex County. With 12 starters back, including three-time Region 1 qualifier Burke, this could be a banner campaign. Gerndt also won a District 3 title, while three others reached the finals. There are a few suspect weights, but this lineup is pretty balanced. It will be fun to see how this squad does this winter with expectations for the first time.

Vernon Vikings

Coach: Bill Panfile (5-17, second season).

2013-14 record: 5-17, 0-7 NJAC American Division (eighth).

Returning starters (5): So. Roman Moss (7-18) 120; Sr. Sultan Destani (9-13) 132; Jr. Cole Nagle (14-11) 145; So. Mike Roccasanta (1-24) 152; So. Mike Alvarez (8-11) 220.

Key losses: Jerrian Arroyo (9-13) 152; Jr. Tim VanLenten (17-3, D3-2013) 160; Pat Thompson (14-12) 182; Jesse Cornwell (15-6, D4) 195; Bobby Chavez (14-11, D4) 285.

Key returnees: So. Storm DiGuiseppe (2-6) 160.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Sergio Germinario 106; Fr. Charles Emanuel 113; Jr. Brandi Braico 138; Sr. Austin Rappold 170; Jr. Zach Jano 182; Jr. Connor Fitzsimmons 285; Sr, Logan Jones 285.

Outlook: Vikings, once a Group 4 school and now a Group 2, are struggling with low numbers. Making matters worse, VanLenten, a District 3 placewinner as a freshman, did not come out for his junior season. That means that no one in the lineup has earned a district medal. Nagel and Alvarez will be counted on for their leadership, as a young group goes throw growing pains. The goal will be to improve each week and possibly approach last season's win total.

Wallkill Valley Rangers

Coach: Jeff Churchill (first season, 159-89-3 from 1989-2003 at Morris Knolls).

2012-13 record: 4-16, 1-5 NJAC Freedom Division (T-sixth).

Returning starters (7): So. Dillion Whitley (5-21) 126; Sr. Sean Siek (20-10, D4) 138; So. Trevor Kish (11-14) 145; Sr. Joe Tizzano (14-10, D4) 152; Sr. Alex Shucai (5-13) 170; Sr. Patrick Endrikat (16-9) 182; Sr. Ian McDonald (7-9) 195.

Key losses: Andrew Reed 152; Tylar Creeden (11-15) 182.

Key returnees: So. Mark Teevan (4-6) 106; Sr. Brandon Barnet (did not wrestle last season) 132; Sr. Brad Lodema (did not wrestle last season) 160.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Sean DeCoursey 113; Fr. Justin Lindquist 120; Fr. Brodie McDonald 220; So. John McCarthy 285.

Outlook: After going 16-55 over the previous three seasons, the Rangers look to start anew under Churchill, who enjoyed a lot of success during his tenure at Morris Knolls. His two sons, Kevin and Steven, were standout wrestlers at Newton. This will be a challenge for the veteran coach, who inherits a program that's fallen on hard times. Siek and Endrikat are two of the squad's most seasoned wrestlers, while Tizzano finished top four in District 3. Churchill has been working the halls as he brought Barnet and Lodema back into the fold after both sat out in 2013-14.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Wrestling: HWS schedule for Dec. 19-28

Friday, Dec. 19

Skyland Conference

Manville at Voorhees, 6:30 p.m.

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Vernon at Boonton, 6 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 20

(All tournaments 9 a.m. start unless noted)

Phillipsburg at Beast of the East, 8:30 a.m.
High Point at Colt Classic
Hackettstown, Hunterdon Central and Kittatinny at Caldwell Tournament
Lenape Valley and North Warren at Dover Tournament
Newton at Mount Olive Tournament, 8 a.m.
Belvidere, Pope John, Sparta at Hopatcong Tournament
Vernon at Delaware Valley's Wendy Pandy-Leh Tournament
Wallkill Valley at Morris Knolls Tournament
Voorhees at Mahwah Tournament
Warren Hills at Southern Tournament, 9:30 a.m.
North Hunterdon at Neptune Classic

Sunday, Dec. 21

Phillipsburg at Beast of the East, 8:30 a.m.

Monday, Dec. 22


Lawrence at Delaware Valley, 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 23

(All matches 6 p.m. unless noted)

Skyland Conference

Watchung Hills at Hunterdon Central

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Vernon at Morris Catholic
Mount Olive at Hackettstown


Phillipsburg at Howell
Delaware Valley at Hopewell Valley
Kittatinny at West Milford quad, 4 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 27

(All tournaments 9 a.m. start unless noted)

High Point at Brick Memorial's Mustang Classic
Belvidere and North Warren at Kittatinny's Linn Crawn Classic
Voorhees and Wallkill Valley at Lenape Valley Tournament
Delaware Valley, Newton and North Hunterdon at Warren Hills' John Goles Invitational
Hackettstown at Hunterdon Central Invitational
Pope John at Parsippany Tournament


Vernon at Colonia, 1 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 28

Phillipsburg at Bethlehem Holiday Classic

Monday, December 15, 2014

Wrestling: Hunterdon-Warren preview capsules

Belvidere County Seaters

Coach: Dan McIntyre (39-24, fourth season).

2013-14 record: 12-8, 4-1 Skyland Conference Valley Division (second).

Returning starters (13): So. Gio Campana (4-15) 106; Sr. James Smith (16-18, D3) 113; Sr. Javan Viola (12-16) 126; Sr. Matt Hambacher (2-25) 132; Sr. Kenny Kane (19-11, D2) 145; Sr. Brett Hoffmaster (7-14, D4) 145; Sr. Rene Sousa (13-13, D3) 152; Sr. David Harris (25-9, D2) 160; Sr. Kevin Merle (28-10, D2) 170; Sr. Stephen Merle (21-7, D4) 182; Sr. Ryan Stephen (12-7, D3) 195; Sr. Aidan Nelson (1-13) 220; Sr. Bryan Snyder (3-21) 285.

Key losses: Kenny Morgan (11-16) 126; Tyler Dombrosky (11-17) 138; Mark Wolfe (15-15) 195.

Key returnees: Sr. Ture Leahey (2-4) 132; Jr. Robert Panetta (6-7) 138; Sr. Ashton Robinson (2-0) 182.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Ryan Lensi 106; Fr. Krishna Panetta 113; So. Nick Cassidy (transfer from New York) 120; Sr. Jarrod Kiefer 120; So. Cooper Kornegay 126; So. Michael Domingues 132; So. James Galicki 132; So. Nick Appleby 138; So. Joey Sena 138; Sr. Christian Redden 138; So. Alex Nelson 145; Fr. Jeremy Sarson 145; Fr. Tyler Turner 152; Sr. Bill Flohn 160; Sr. Josh Pershpalaj 160; So. Kyle Hartzog 160; So. Craig Cronce 170; Fr. Hunter Smith 170; So. Chris Dragone 182; Sr. Matteo Reina 182; Jr. Jacob Gallagher-Murphy 195; So. Terrell Tutka 220.

Outlook: County Seaters were expected to be in full rebuilding mode last winter, but they surprised with a solid campaign. The addition of the Merles from Stroudsburg, Pa,. helped solidify the lineup. They will be the leaders again this season for coach McIntyre's squad, which returns a wealth of experience and an awesome number of 39 wrestlers in the room. That is outstanding for a tiny Group 1 school. This lineup looks to have balance and a solid coaching staff, which includes former Belvidere standout Seth Wisner, should have this group primed for perhaps its finest dual season under this regime.

Delaware Valley Terriers
Coach: Andy Fitz (121-43, eighth season).

2013-14 record: 20-7, 4-2 Skyland Conference Raritan Division (third).

Returning starters (6): Jr. Kyle Refalvy (15-17, D3) 120; So. Matt Kolonia (25-12, D2) 126; Sr. Ryan Erwin (16-9) 132; So. Rhys Zigich (8-12) 138-145; Sr. Cory Lightner (23-12, D3) 160; Jr. Kyle Schlittler (23-10, D4) 182.

Key losses: Tyler Smith (20-16, D3, R4) 120; Codey Leh (18-13) 138; Nour Mays (26-12, D3) 160; Luke Zehnbauer (7-4) 170; Kody Eichlin (33-3, D1, R3) 182; Brian Baehr (20-13, D2) 220; Marek Tomanek (34-6, D1, R3) 285.

Key returnees: Jr. Jake Moore (3-0) 113; Jr. Vito Intili (3-4) 120-126; So. Connor Mills (7-9, D4) 138; So. Tanner McLaughlin 145; So. Chase Bauberger (6-6) 152; Sr. Brock Hauser (7-3) 195; Jr. Zach LaDuca (1-2) 220.

Promising newcomers: Jr. Matt Meehan 170; Sr. Matt Powell 285.

Outlook: Terriers, who enter the season six wins shy of 700 as a program, sustained heavy graduation losses, including a pair of state qualifiers, and are looking to be in a rebuilding mode. Kolonia, Lightner and Schlittler were 20-match winners last season and will be counted on for greater success this winter. Fitz likes the depth in the middle of the lineup, but most of the upper weights are untested and any great dual meet success will hinge on their improvement. With the school's last sectional title coming in 2006, this squad is aiming to challenge Raritan in Central Jersey, Group 2.

Hackettstown Tigers

Coach: Frank Rodgers (184-185-4, 12th season of second stint, 19th overall).

2013-14 record: 10-16, 3-4 NJAC Freedom Division (fifth).

Returning starters (9): So. Steven Nicotra (10-13) 113; Jr. Joe Renne (32-8, D1) 126; So. Anthony Gonzalez (12-23) 145; Jr. Anthony Carida (24-11) 152; Jr. Thomas Bordi (1-12) 170; So. Kyle Connelly (12-19, D4) 182; Jr. Tahke Martin (3-23) 195; Sr. Teddy Gurnowski (19-16) 195; So John Jensen (1-16) 220.

Key losses: Tony Figueroy (18-16, D4) 113; Matt Nicotra (18-17) 132.

Key returnees: So. Justin Bennett (6-6) 106; So. Jake Figueroy (0-8) 126; Jr. Brandon Baker (5-9) 132; So. Tyler Palomino (7-8) 138; Jr. Eldin Ribic (8-14) 160; Jr. Robert Trineer (2-7) 220.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Alex Carida 120; Fr. Robert Spezza 138; Fr. Shawn Burke 152; Jr. Nick Renne 160.

Outlook: Tigers enjoyed a nice bounce-back season with 10 victories and have a bonafide star in Renne, who won his first District 1 title last season. His twin brother, Nick, is out for the first time after wrestling on the youth level and Rodgers is hopeful he can be another solid contributor. The upper weights, which were a huge question mark last season, figure to be improved. The question is if there is enough balance in the lineup to improve on last year's win total. Competing in a tough division will also be a challenge once again for the Warren County school.

Hunterdon Central Red Devils

Coach: Jon Cantagallo-Rohm (first season).

2013-14 record: 19-7, 4-1 Skyland Conference Delaware Division (T-first).

Returning starters (8): So. Peter Nace (30-9, D1) 113; Sr. Kyler Rodriguez (18-13, D2-2013) 132-138; So. Chris Taylor (5-19) 132; Sr. Nick Taylor (17-17, D4) 138-145; Sr. Hunter Orr (9-20) 145; Sr. Joe Scerbo (31-11, D3, R4) 160-170; Sr. Nestor Crespo (25-12, D3) 182-195; Sr. Nick Suk (27-11, D1) 182-195;

Key losses: Dylan Nace (43-4, D1, R2, S5) 132; Collin Boylan (42-6, D1, R3, S8) 145; Gary Dinmore (39-3, D1, R1, S2) 152; Arturo Hernandez (9-12, D3) 220; Dan Hausman (21-16, D3) 285.

Key returnees: So. Bryce Hall (3-2) 106-113; Jr. Gabino Careaga (2-1) 145; Jr. Christian Long (3-6) 145-152; Sr. Sean Dalgauer (2-3) 152-160; So. Michael Iodice (1-1) 170-182; Sr. Bryan Bausback (1-0) 170; Sr. David Furmato (5-6) 182-195; Sr. Leo Acquino (injured last season) 220-285; Sr. Eric Navarro (1-2) 220-285; So. Andres Navarro (2-0) 220-285.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Hunter Graf 106; Fr. Kevin Ciresa 138-145.

Outlook: Red Devils have a new coach this season in former assistant Cantagallo-Rohm, who took over for Steve Gibble when he was unceremoniously dismissed last month. Central was hit hard by graduation for the second straight season, but eight starters return, including District 17 champs Nace and Suk. Scerbo and Crespo are also proven winners, so there is a nucleus to build around. If some of the inexperienced wrestlers in the lineup can contribute, this team has a chance to surprise and very well could reach the Central Jersey, Group 5 final.

North Hunterdon Lions

Coach: Tim Flynn (75-28, sixth season).

2013-14 record: 17-3, 5-1 Skyland Conference Raritan Division (second).

Returning starters (8): Sr. Paul Robinson (21-8, D1-2013) 106-113; Sr. Luke Approvato (18-15, D3) 120-126; Sr. Ryan Pomrinca (39-2, D1, R1, S3) 126-132; So. Matt Mohan (11-8, D2) 126-13; Jr. Derek Ciavarro (20-13, D3) 145-152; Jr. Brian Smolinsky (24-8) 152-160; Sr. Michael Sicola (29-11, D1, R3) 160-170; Jr. Tyler Gapas (11-14, D4) 182.

Key losses: Eric Martin (25-9, D3) 132; Mike Ciavarro (35-9, D2, R2) 152; Joe Guzzo (33-7, D1, R2) 170; Tim Bartlett (16-11) 220.

Key returnees: Sr. Mike Bednar (5-10) 138-145; Sr. Miles Mohan (1-5) 138-152.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Andrew Gapas 113-120; Fr. Will Hughes 113-120; Jr. Thomas Attansaio 126; Fr. Tucker Kirchberger 126-132; So. Jack Carroll 126-132; So. Cole Marra 132; Jr. Wyatt Vrancken 170-182; Sr. Connor Farina 182; Sr. Gregg Luberto 182-195; Jr. Will Moody 195-220; Jr. John Williams 220; So. Charlie Tordik 285.

Outlook: Lions return eight starters and are always well coached, so this is shaping up to be another solid campaign for the clearcut team to beat in Hunterdon County. Pomrinca, a two-time state placewinner, is one of the top wrestlers in the state and is heading to Lehigh next season. The younger Gapas enjoyed a very successful career on the youth level and will help solidify a talented group of lower weights. Once again the upper weights are a bit of a question mark, but regardless, North is looking like the class of the newly created North 2, Group 5 section.

North Warren Patriots

Coach: Scott Stoll (first season).

2013-14 record: 8-14, 1-5 NJAC Freedom Division (T-sixth).

Returning starters (6): So. Steven Skuropacki (2-19) 106; Sr. Gino Fluri (24-12, D3) 138; Jr. Anthony Duardo (14-14) 152; Sr. Jack Butrymowicz (17-13) 182; Jr. Bryan Benson (5-21) 182; Jr. Alex Leontaris (9-16) 195.

Key losses: Matt Ritchie (29-8, D1) 126; John Norgard (15-12, D3) 145; Johnny Hayes (25-5, D4) 160; Sr. Will O'Connell (19-14, D2) 285.

Key returnees: Sr. Tyler Giacobbe (1-0) 132; So. Shannon Grogan (8-6) 145; So. Ryan Reyes (0-7) 160; Jr. Ryan Baldwin (1-1) 195; Sr. Sean Drylie (0-1) 285.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Colin Keoghan 113; Fr. Michael Pell 120.

Outlook: After a strong debut two seasons ago as members of the NJAC, the Patriots took a big step back last season as they finished near the bottom of the Freedom Division. This season, the Warren County school will start anew with former assistant coach Stoll, who takes over for the classy Matt Parzero. It won't be an easy start, as the Pats are behind the 8-ball numbers-wise, while Fluri is the only wrestler on the squad with a district medal on the resume. With no standout individuals -- O'Connell is not with the team this season for undisclosed reasons -- the Pats will look to build on the team concept and need some of the younger wrestlers to improve as the season wears on. It's looking much like another rebuilding campaign in Blairstown.

Phillipsburg Stateliners

Coach: Dave Post (60-13, fifth season).

2013-14 record: 18-0, 6-0 Skyland Conference Raritan Division (first).

Returning starters (10): Jr. Brandon Paetzell (39-2, D1, R1, S2) 113; Jr. Tyler Agans (9-14) 120; Jr. DJ Wissing (19-12) 138; Sr. Steve Friedman (18-16, D2) 145; Sr. Corey Zinsmeister (26-10, D3, R4) 152; Sr. Jimmy Schuitema (23-4, D1, R1 in 2013) 160; Sr. Max Elling (34-6, D1, R4) 170; So. Drew Horun (20-8) 182-195; Sr. Joe Maso (25-9, D2) 195-220; So. Robert Melise (5-6, D3) 220-285.

Key losses: Tylor Petchonka (15-12) 126; Garrett Wolfinger (12-6) 145; Broderick Bupivi (24-9) 160; Jake Kocsis (30-12, D1, R2, S4) 170.

Key returnees: Jr. Kyle Markus (2-0) 106; Jr. Tom Kosar 113-120; Sr. Donald Agans (4-2) 132; Sr. Yann Ondele (1-2) 182; Sr. Tim Hinkle (8-7) 182-195.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Brian Meyer 126; Jr. Kyle Nothnagel (transfer from Pa.) 285.

Outlook: Stateliners, who are 12 wins shy of 900 as a program, are coming off the program's fourth unbeaten season and first since 1969-70, capping it with a thrilling Group 4 title win over Southern. It's a new season, but the 'Liners are primed to repeat with one of the most balanced lineups in the Garden State. Paetzell, one of 10 returning starters, gets it started down low as he attempts to capture state gold. Schuitema and Elling should be plenty hungry to claim their first medals in AC in the final seasons of their outstanding careers. Nothnagel is a bonus addition up top, but the former P'burg elementary product may have to sit 30 days per NJSIAA transfer rules. Anything short of the program's 19th state team championship would be a major disappointment. As usual, the schedule is loaded with duals scheduled against state-ranked teams like Bound Brook, Southern, Howell, Hanover Park and High Point.

Voorhees Vikings

Coach: Eric Hall (87-21, fifth season).

2013-14 record: 20-7, 3-3 Skyland Conference Raritan Division (fourth).

Returning starters (6): Sr. Harley Sacks (24-11, D2) 120; Jr. Kyle DiNapoli (34-7, D1, R3) 126; Sr. Jack Blunk (8-15) 138; Jr. Devan Thomas (14-11, D4) 145; Jr. Derek Howerth (12-18) 195; Sr. Alex Fischetti (2-1, D1-2013) 285.

Key losses: Cody Ihling (31-9, D1, R2) 120; Thomas Bieshke (13-4) 132; Mike Muscatello (24-7, D2) 138; Christian Okulicz (26-10, D3) 145; William Gonsiewski (12-14) 152; Jordan Juliano (27-10, D2) 170; Cody Kubinak (13-18) 182; Merritt Francis (16-17, D3) 195.

Key returnees: So. Liam Cutri-French (2-2) 113; Jr. Garrett Birchenough (1-1) 132; So. Michael Fernandes (5-2) 152; Sr. Thomas Riley (10-9) 160; Jr. Charlie Rodenberger (5-9, D4) 182.

Promising newcomers: So. Augi Hietoff 106; Fr. Colby Koshinski 106; Sr. Clayton Birchenough 138; Sr. Sam Lamport (3-4) 170; So. Colton Curtis 170; So. Adam Murdock 220.

Outlook: Vikings return only six starters and are two years removed from claiming the North 2, Group 2 sectional championship -- the program's 15th title. The program lost quite a bit to graduation, including five Region 5 qualifiers. The good news is that Fischetti, a District 17 champ two seasons ago, is back after sustaining a season-ending knee injury at Warren Hills on opening day last year. DiNapoli is a bonafide star and is coming off a fine offseason. As always, one major goal is to go unbeaten against the other three Hunterdon County schools, something the Vikes, who went 0-for-3 last season, haven't done since 1996. This squad will be well coached, so expect it be much improved by season's end.

Warren Hills Blue Streaks

Coach: Jarrett Hosbach (120-93, 10th season).

2013-14 record: 11-11, 2-4 Skyland Conference Raritan Division (fifth).

Returning starters (9): So. Ryan Mosher (6-22) 113; So. Matt Valli (26-9, D1) 120; Sr. John Fluck (9-7, D3-2012) 126; So. Zach Nauta (18-10, D4) 132; Sr. Max Nauta (30-8, D1, R2) 138; Sr. Austin Pidoto (19-15, D3) 145; Jr. Anthony Roessner (13-19, D4) 160; Jr. Kurt Nemeth (3-4, D3) 195; Sr. Andrew Pacheco (35-5, D1, R1, S6) 285.

Key losses: Ryan Ostir (19-13, D1) 160; Steve Cleaver (22-10, D3) 182; Ryan Witner (23-12, D3) 220.

Key returnees: Sr. Christian Wanamaker 126; Sr. Tyler Annunziata (1-2) 138; So. Rashon Wade-Taylor 152; So. Taylin Zafis (0-1) 220.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Kyle Wulff 106; Fr. Cody O'Rourke 106; Fr. Pedro Cruz 120; Fr. Cameron Nauta 132; Fr. Jarod Ostir 145; So. Brody Oberly 182.

Outlook: Blue Streaks were expected to make a major push forward last season, but injuries helped to derail their season. There's enough talent returning for this group to make a push for the North 2, Group 3 title, and really this squad should be the favorite if everyone can fall into the right weight classes. Valli had an outstanding rookie season and will anchor things down low, while Max Nauta, a three-time state qualifier, and Pacheco, a medal winner, aspire to finish high on the podium in AC.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Wrestling: HWS active victories leaders

  (Minimum 50 victories)

  *Note: Glenn Haines will wrestle for Hopatcong this season.

Ryan Pomrinca
North Hunterdon
Jason Gaccione
High Point
Max Nauta
Warren Hills
Jimmy Schuitema
Max Elling
Ian Burke
Mike Derin
High Point
Dom Gallo
High Point
Andrew Pacheco
Warren Hills
Brandon Paetzell
D.J. Barrett
Lenape Valley
Gus Protogeropoulos
Joe Aumann
*Glenn Haines
Lenape Valley
Kyle DiNapoli
Joe LaBell
Lenape Valley
Steve Friedman
Joe Renne
Austin Scrivani
Trevor Morales
Nestor Crespo
Hunterdon Central
Joe Scerbo
Hunterdon Central
Will O'Connell
North Warren
Sean Siek
Wallkill Valley

Friday, November 21, 2014

Wrestling: Gibble deserved better fate at Central

After 22 seasons, with over 300 wins and 11 sectional championships, Steve Gibble was officially dismissed at Hunterdon Central by a 7-2 vote at last Monday night's Board of Education meeting, Gibble also was relieved of his coaching duties in football and lacrosse.

For what reason? According to board president Claire Curry, Gibble made on off-handed remark to one of his wrestlers at a Rutgers summer camp. The exact statement was not made available to the public. Suffice it to say, at least, that no one is talking about specifics on the record. Both Gibble and longtime athletic director Bob Rossi have not returned messages seeking comment.

On the bright side, Gibble managed one more vote of support at Monday's meeting than he did on Oct. 20, when he was suspended from his coaching duties. Credit board members Lori Blutfield and Paul Ransavage for having the guts to vote against Gibble's termination, which is telling because if what Gibble said was so egregious, then why did he have any supporters on the board?

Furthermore, Gibble is still employed by the Hunterdon County school as a social studies teacher. Again, how damaging could his statement(s) to that wrestler have been?

In an ironic twist, the only two wrestling coaches in Hunterdon Central's history dating to 1957 had unceremonious endings to their tenures.

Gibble took over as head coach for the 1992-93 season when legendary coach Russ Riegel, who started the program in 1957, retired after 35 seasons following an offseason incident at a summer camp. Gibble, who wrestled under Riegel, won a region title in 1980 at 188 pounds for the Red Devils.

Gibble's teams compiled a 348-119 overall record and captured four Skyland Conference titles, in addition to winning 11 of the program's 19 sectional championships. Central also reached the Group 4 final seven times (1993, '94, '95, '99, 2000, 2003 and 2010) under Gibble. Riegel's teams went 1-4 in Group 4 finals, winning the program's only title in 1989.

This past season, Central went 19-6 and dropped a 55-9 decision to Phillipsburg in the North 2, Group 4 final. Speaking of P'burg, Gibble boasts five wins over the Stateliners in 26 meetings, including postseason victories in 2010 and '13. The 2009-10 squad joined the 1989-90 Warren Hills teams as the only clubs to defeat P'burg in a sectional final. The only coaches in the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex area with more career wins over P'burg are the late John Goles at Washington/Warren Hills with 12 and Henry Boresch at Newton with seven, along with Kittatinny's John Gill with six.

One look at Gibble's record and it's clear that the decision to remove him was not about wins and losses. In fact. many coaches would kill for that resume. In his 22 seasons, Central was ranked in the Coaches Top 25 Poll on 16 occasions -- missing only in 1995-96, 2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08, 2011-12 and 2013-14 -- and finished in the top 10 in eight seasons, peaking at No. 4 in 1999-2000. The Red Devils were ranked No. 17 in the New Jersey Wrestling Writers Top 20 this past season.

Hunterdon Central has earned the state's No. 1 ranking just once -- in 1975-76 under Riegel.

Since 2000, Hunterdon Central has produced a Hunterdon-Warren best 23 state placewinners, including state champions Mike Carr (2000) and Alex Shaffer (2010). P'burg is next with 16, followed by Delaware Valley (14), North Hunterdon (10), Warren Hills (6), Belvidere and Voorhees (5), Hackettstown and North Warren (4). Overall, Gibble has coached a total of 36 state placewinners.

Gibble, like Riegel, has certainly had his detractors over the years. Many feel like Central has vastly underachieved with an extremely strong feeder program in place. I will say that you won't find a more standup guy, win or lose, as he always faced the music with media members after a match. I have covered Hunterdon Central wrestling for the better part of two decades and all of my experiences with Gibble have been extremely positive, and I can recall maybe one instance where he read his team the riot act after a loss.

How sad that his final act as a coach ended at during a summer camp where he was volunteering his time to help make kids better wrestlers.

A strong showing of support at Monday's meeting and the one in October indicates that Gibble was also popular with his wrestlers and parents, who spoke on his behalf in support. But in this day and age, it's becoming increasingly more difficult to coach and despite having more wins than losses, it could be over in a blink.

Jon Cantagallo-Rohm, as first reported by Open Mike in October, on Monday was appointed as Gibble's successor, perhaps only on an interim basis. Practices will "officially"start on Monday, Nov. 24 in New Jersey. The late dismissal of Gibble also is extremely unfair to the program.

Coaching is a tough job in this politically correct world with plenty of overzealous parents. And the dismissal of one of the good guys shows it just got a lot tougher on many levels.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Field hockey: Streaks' run ends in TOC semifinals

Warren Hills' field hockey team, fresh off winning its first Group 3 title, dropped a 4-2 decision to Oak Knoll on Wednesday in the Tournament of Champions semifinals at Rider University.

The Blue Streaks (23-4), who had their 11-game winning streak snapped, finished the greatest season in program history with a school record for wins as well as the program's 12 sectional championship. Coach Laurie Kerr's team earned its first TOC appearance with a 5-4 win in overtime against Ocean City on Saturday in the Group 3 final -- snapping the Streaks' eight-game skid in state finals.

Oak Knoll (24-1) advances to face top-ranked Eastern in Friday's championship game.

Trailing 2-0 against Oak Knoll, senior midfielder Nikki Profita cut the deficit to one with her 20th goal of the season with 19:08 left in the second half. Profita, a Rutgers recruit, finishes a stellar four-year career ranked third on the school's all-time list for goals (65) and assists (51). She also is tied for third place on the Streaks' points list with Niki Miller, who also amassed 179 from 2009-12.

Junior midfielder Katie Thompson was credited with the assist on Profita's goal. Thompson was stellar over the second half of the season, logging four goals and 17 assists in the final 12 games, in which she posted at least one goal or an assist.

Carolina Andretta stretched Oak Knoll's lead to 3-1 with the first of her three second-half goals with 14:26 remaining on the clock.

Sophomore forward Dani Profita (22 goals, 17 assists) also scored for Warren Hills off a feed from senior back Allie Brouhard.

Brouhard was among six senior starters playing in their final high school game. Drexel-bound forward Sydney Muntone (29 goals, 20 assists) ends her career as the Streaks' single-season and career goals leader with 77 to with 57 assists, which matches Miller for the all-time lead in that category. Muntone also holds the record for career points with 211, while her season total of 78 is one shy of Miller's record of 79 in 2012.

Warren Hills also set new records for goals (147) and assists (113), shattering the previous marks of 110 and 83 in 2011.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Field hockey: Five thoughts from Streaks' title run

Safe to say it was worth the wait for Warren Hills' field hockey program, which will savor its first Group 3 title -- the first for any female sport at the school -- for a long time to come.

Players past and present, along with coaches and alumni, came out in full support on Saturday to Bordentown Regional High School to watch the Blue Streaks make history with a thrilling 5-4 win in overtime against nemesis Ocean City. The team was even welcomed back into town with an escort to the school, courtesy of the Washington Police and Fire Department.

Warren Hills' seniors with the trophy. (Courtesy Michelle Pulsinelli Profita)
Savor it they all will, considering it was this Ocean City program that had been the bane of Warren Hills' existence -- prevailing in five previous title game meetings, including the last two. But the ninth time was the charm. I've covered all but one other championship game -- the 1999 loss to OC and former coach Luanne Ferenci's final game. The classy Ferenci was on hand Saturday and I was sorry we didn't get the chance to talk.

Ferenci was instrumental in putting this program on the state map nearly 20 years ago, guiding Warren Hills to its first Group 3 final in 1996. Overall, her teams went 226-101-41 in 19 seasons from 1981-99 and captured four sectional titles (1984, '96, '97, '99) in six finals appearances. The '96 team, led by scoring machine Kate Alleger, who logged a then-record 26 goals, and Courtney Fritts, one of three talented sisters to play for the Streaks, was the first to reach a Group 3 final, losing 2-1 to West Deptford.

That 1996 team raised the bar to where we are now as Warren Hills is annually one of the top programs in the state.

Here's five things to note from Saturday's milestone win:

1. The "Super Six" seniors -- forwards Sydney Muntone, Jessica Nissen, midfielder Nikki Profita, along with backs Amanda Crampton, Allie Brouhard and Amanda Oberly -- have left a permanent mark on the program. It's without question the greatest group to come through the program, even without the state title. Over the last four years, Warren Hills is 89-11-1, posting 22-wins seasons in 2011, '12 and '13 before setting a record 23 to date, to go with three sectional titles and two Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex championships. All of this year's seniors were super in this one. Brouhard converted a huge penalty stroke just after Ocean City had gained momentum with one of its own to tie it in the first half.

Profita played perhaps her finest game on Saturday, scoring a goal and adding three assists, including setting up Crampton's game-winner on a penalty corner in OT. She astutely noted that this trophy, which she ran off with shortly after the official presentation, was for all of the past players, especially those who played and came up short in the previous eight finals, including her cousin, Becky Pulsinelli (2000, '01). At the young age of about 12, Profita watched the 2009 Streaks lose a heartbreaker in OT to Ocean City. "I remember when [star forward Toni Popinko in '09] said how she always dreamed of playing the state final," Profita said. "There were a lot of former players here. This really is for them." Popinko, a big addition to the Phillipsburg staff this season, and sister, Tori, were on hand to celebrate the win. Assistant coach Josie (Schanzenbach) Potter was a freshman on the '96 team and a key starter in '99.

2. Defense wins championships for sure and the rock-solid unit for Warren Hills was at it again in this one. If not for Ocean City midfielder and Penn State recruit Lauren McNally, who scored three goals including two on penalty strokes, this may have been a one-sided affair. Crampton and Co. in the backfield were on point the entire game. Oberly made a big goal-line save, while sophomore goalie Jackie de Raismes, who was thrown into the fire this season when a spot opened unexpectedly in the cage, played extremely well. In fact, de Raismes stopped two goals with the pads but the balls took unlucky bounces over the line. She had McNally's second stroke -- the tying goal before halftime -- stopped cold but the ball got away. de Raismes did former star keepers Alyssa Cannavo (2000-01) and Carolyn Kisling (2003) proud, as both lost in state final heartbreakers. In five postseason games, the Streaks have yielded a total of six goals. During the current 11-game win streak, it's seven overall.

3. Speaking of penalty strokes, there were three in succession that resulted in goals -- two for Ocean City -- in the first half. McNally made both for OC, while Brouhard executed on a big one, her fourth of the season and fifth in two years. There were also a few cards handed out for not being five yards away on defense and one on Streaks junior back Rachel Phillips for what I thought was a bad call that led to McNally's first stroke. Officials ruled that Phillips, who made a great save with her stick parallel in the air to the field, moved the stick forward to defend the play. Luckily, that did not lead to a goal with her on the sideline for five minutes as Warren Hills was a player down. McNally left the game in the second half due to a push and OC wasn't nearly the same team. The Streaks took advantage as sophomore forward Dani Profita connected off a feed from her sister for a short-lived 4-3 lead with 11:57 left in regulation. I didn't see three penalty strokes all season, let alone three in a state final.

4. Credit coach Laurie Kerr for working on penalty corners in practice the day before the big game. The winning goal was scored on the exact same play the Streaks ended their session with on Friday. Crampton, being the heads-up player she is, recognized that a hard shot from the right post would most likely wind up being blocked. Instead, she alertly lifted the ball over the goalie, who was down on the field. But make no mistake, that corner doesn't happen if not by the shot off the pads from Nikki Profita on the previous corner in OT.

5. To give you an idea of what a slugfest Saturday was, consider that three of Warren Hills' five shots-on-goal in the second half and OT resulted in scores. Getting back to that stellar defense, the only two shots the Streaks gave up in the final 22 minutes of regulation were goals, while allowing zero in OT. Warren Hills finished with a 6-5 edge on penalty corners, also reflective of two skilled teams going toe-to-toe.