Saturday, July 26, 2014

Wrestling: P'burg rallies to win Pin Cancer clash

WASHINGTON TWP. -- There aren't many summertime wrestling rivalries to speak of, but Phillipsburg and Washington have a pretty good thing going -- and for a worthy cause.

The third installment of the annual Pin Cancer match did not disappoint the 600 or so fans in the stands as P'burg won the final six bouts to post a 34-19 victory at Warren Hills School District Stadium.

P'burg seniors Steve Friedman and Max Elling -- two Pin Cancer veterans -- were among the winners down the stretch. Friedman's 8-2 win over talented freshman Jarod Ostir at 154 pounds started the run, while Elling needed just 18 seconds to deck Brendan Stewart to tie the match at 19.

"It's been pretty good [to wrestle in this three times] and it's fun to be outside," said Elling, who has amassed 85 wins on the high school level in three seasons. "This is fun. This is a rivalry, but nothing like Easton-P'burg. We were pretty confident."

Pins by Yann Ondele at 185 and Joe Maso in the final bout at 220 sandwiched Tim Hinkle's thrilling 8-5 win over Kurt Nemeth at 197 to close it out. Ondele's stunning pin in a 5-2 bout at the time gave P'burg its second lead at 25-19. John Kaluzny added an impressive 13-3 decision over Anthony Roessner at 162.

P'burg coach Dave Post was pleased with the effort by his team, which was without two of its top wrestlers in Corey Zinsmeister and Jimmy Schuitema. Last-minute fill-in Chris Ruiz did a nice job in a 9-1 loss to Austin Pidoto, while DJ Wissing gave three-time state qualifier Max Nauta all he could handle before dropping a 4-2 decision in sudden victory.

Wissing got the first takedown and led 2-0 after the first period (bouts were three periods of 1 1/2 minutes). Despite Nauta's superior mat prowess, Wissing took bottom to start the second period and was ridden out. Nauta was down to start the third and got a reversal to force overtime before converting the winning takedown with nine seconds left in OT.

"We gave DJ the option [to start the second period] and he wanted to challenge himself -- he started pointing down right away [after Nauta deferred the choice]," Post said. "Chris Ruiz was a quarter-turn with his hips from possibly winning that match [with Pidoto]."

Coach Jarrett Hosbach's team started strong by winning six of the first seven bouts, including five in a row after P'burg state runner-up Brandon Paetzell's pin at 115. Freshman Kyle Wulff scored an impressive 7-3 win over Kyle Markus in the opening bout at 107, while John Fluck got a third-period reversal for a 2-1 win over Tyler Agans to start Washington's run of five straight.

In another tight one, sophomore Zach Nauta got an escape and a takedown in the third period for a 4-2 win over Donald Agans at 135. Brother Max's win stretched Washington's lead to 15-6 before Pidoto's major made it a 13-point margin. Pidoto trailed 1-0 after two periods, but he caught Ruiz for five points in the third and added a three-point nearfall late to secure the major, his team's lone bonus-point win.

"I thought both of our freshmen [Wulff and Ostir] wrestled well," said Hosbach, whose team was without star heavyweight Andrew Pacheco, who is on vacation. "We're at everything [P'burg] is at from the first dual tournament in April through the summer. We'll see them again next week at the [Warren County] Farmer's Fair."

About the only downside to the evening was the condensation problem on the mat that surfaced about halfway through the match. It prompted some slippery conditions and breaks between bouts to dry the mat. It was a first-time occurrence and it has both coaches considering some options for next year, such as moving the date up in July.

"It was tough. I had to go down to a knee," Elling said.

Both coaches are proud to take part in an annual event that seems to be growing in popularity each year. And they are always looking to tweaks things to make it even better.

"This is a great event and it's so much fun to be a part of, and it's fun for the kids," Hosbach said. "And it's for a great cause."

"This is a learning process. We learn something new each time," said Post, whose team enjoyed a 14-9 advantage in takedowns. "You want to put on a good show for the fans or you can't bring the people back."

PHILLIPSBURG 34, WASHINGTON 19
107 -- Kyle Wulff, W, d. Kyle Markus, 7-3.
115 -- Brandon Paetzell, P, p. Tommy Vega, 2:18.
123 -- John Fluck, W, d. Tyler Agans, 2-1.
130 -- Matt Valli, W, d. Shane Saydek, 7-1.
135 -- Zach Nauta, W, d. Donald Agans, 4-2.
140 -- Max Nauta, W, d. DJ Wissing, 4-2 OT.
145 -- Austin Pidoto, W, md. Chris Ruiz, 9-1.
154 -- Steve Friedman, P, d. Jarod Ostir, 8-2.
162 -- John Kaluzny, P, md. Anthony Roessner, 13-3.
173 -- Max Elling, P, p. Brendan Stewart, :18.
185 -- Yann Ondele, P, p. Anthony Casiano, 3:49.
197 -- Tim Hinkle, P, d. Kurt Nemeth, 8-5.
220 -- Joe Maso, P, p. Taylan Zafis, :42.
Officials -- Chip Castner and Frank Leitner.

Monday, July 21, 2014

'Liners-Blue Streaks lineups for Pin Cancer match

The third annual Pin Cancer match between Phillipsburg and Washington will be held on Friday on the turf at Warren Hills School District Stadium. Match time is 7 p.m.

Phillipsburg defeated Warren Hills, 65-9, when the teams met during the 2013-14 high school season in Washington.

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.

Both teams will be missing state qualifiers as Phillpsburg's Jimmy Schuitema and Warren Hills' Andrew Pacheco will not compete. The Streaks will forfeit 285.

Tentative matchups are listed below with Phillipsburg listed first.

107 -- Kyle Markus vs. Kyle Wulff
115 -- Brandon Paetzell vs. Tommy Vega/Ryan Mosher
123 -- Tyler Agans vs. John Fluck
130 -- Shane Saydek vs. Matt Valli
135 -- Donald Agans vs. Zach Nauta
140 -- DJ Wissing vs. Max Nauta
145 -- Corey Zinsmeister vs. Austin Pidoto
154 -- Steve Friedman vs. Jarod Ostir
162 -- Jack Kaluzny vs. Anthony Roessner
173 -- Max Elling vs. Bryce Butka
185 -- Yann Ondele vs. Anthony Casiano
197 -- Tim Hinkle vs. Kurt Nemeth
220 -- Joe Maso vs. Taylin Zafis
285 -- Robert Melise vs. Open

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

PHILLIPSBURG 65, WARREN HILLS 9
152 -- Jr. Jimmy Schuitema, P, p. Sr. Esco Blaylock, 1:10.
160 -- Jr. Max Elling, P, p. Sr. Ryan Ostir, 4:55.
170 -- Sr. Broderick Bupivi, P, p. So. Kurt Nemeth, 2:28.
182 -- Sr. Jake Kocsis, P, d. Sr. Steve Cleaver, 6-1.
195 -- Jr. Joe Maso, P, p. Sr. Nigel Taylor, 3:10.
220 -- Fr. Drew Horun, P, d. Sr. Ryan Witner, 3-2.
285 -- Jr. Andrew Pacheco, WH, forfeit.
106 -- So. Kyle Markus, P, p. So. Ryan Mosher, 2:53.
113 -- So. Brandon Paetzell, P, tf. Fr. Matt Valli, 20-5, 4:18.
120 -- Fr. Zach Nauta, WH, d. So. DJ Wissing, 10-6.
126 -- Sr. Tylor Petchonka, P, p. Jr. Austin Pidoto, 2:37.
132 -- Jr. Steve Friedman, P, p. Jr. Carsen Johnson, 3:18.
138 -- Jr. Corey Zinsmeister, P, p. Jr. Max Nauta, 1:06.
145 -- Sr. Garrett Wolfinger, P, p. So. Anthony Roessner, 2:46.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Mat notes: Group 5 will ruin great day in Toms River

It's been a few weeks, but leave it to high school wrestling to fire up a blog in the dead of summer.

The latest hot-button issue surfaced in the last few days when many coaches and Open Mike learned of a proposed Group 5 for wrestling via e-mail. The first thought is much like the second, third and so on.

In a word: dumb.

There are so many reasons why expansion of sections and groups is a bad idea that it's hard to find a starting point. First and foremost, this idea is all about money. Whatever else you hear, including how the NJSIAA and executive director Steve Timko will try to spin this latest travesty to high school athletics, is merely a facade. It's about dollars. More teams equals more entry fees and more fans at the gates.

On the latter, this proposal, which according to numerous sources, will almost assuredly pass despite plenty of opposition to it. Count Phillipsburg as one of those heavily against this move.

"Where does it end? Why stop at five groups, why not six or eight?," coach Dave Post said. "Less groups adds more legitimacy. I don't really understand it. If it's about adding more teams then why not just go from six [qualifiers in sectionals] to eight. But don't add another group. It's making a mockery of the group tournament that we have now."

This expansion will destroy one of the best, if not the greatest, ideas ever hatched by the state to house all of the group championships at one site. A tremendous and exciting day at Toms River North -- slated for Sunday, Feb. 15, 2015 -- which showcases the sport, will have to turn into a multiple day event. There's no way it can be done in one day, unless you sacrifice the integrity further by starting earlier and using two gyms, which according to sources, is one plan. Two gyms? Who wants that setup? The whole impetus for this one-day showcase was so that fans could see all of the action in one place. Now, they'll have to hop from gym to gym?

And how would they work the schedule with five groups? If sectional finals stay on Friday, how can you ask teams to wrestle Friday, Saturday and Sunday, especially with travel as an issue for some teams?

This past season's show at Toms River was perhaps the finest in tournament history. How about the excitement generated by High Point's 34-33 win over Hanover Park in last year's Group 2 final, when the Wildcats reeled off pins in the final four bouts to secure their second straight title. Or freshman Robert Melise's stunning pin to send P'burg on its way to an 18th title and an unbeaten season with a 32-21 win over Southern in the Group 4 tilt.

Everyone in attendance was glued to the action. Now, they'll potentially have to pick and choose which gym to go to?

"We've developed a great competitive [rivalry] with Brick Memorial and Southern and you would miss that," said Post, whose teams won Group 4 titles in thrilling fashion over those two opponents in 2012 and '14. "Our kids like the challenge of seeing them down there."

In my opinion, along with many others I've spoken to, high school football in this state has taken a downturn because of this same expansion. Group 5 on the gridiron has watered down the competition, so much so that a sub-.500 Warren Hills team reached the North 2, Group 4 sectional final in 2012 and did not beat one playoff team over .500 to do it. That also was the first year that sub-.500 teams were allowed to qualify, another money maker for the state.

Why do we need this in wrestling? To give other teams a chance to win a trophy? It would appear that's the focus on all sports these days, heck, they give them out on the youth level like candy. Look at conference alignments in the NJAC and Skyland for example. Multiple divisions, and in the NJAC's case, some with only four teams. Beat three teams and call yourself a champion. Really? Doesn't anyone want to earn a title anymore instead of crying how tough a section is and actually competing against the best?

"I would rather see the sectionals expand to eight teams," said Newton coach Eric Bollette, whose program could potentially benefit from the expansion by potentially shifting perennial title favorite Kittatinny to North 1, Group 2. He's also stated that he'd rather face and beat Kittatinny for a championship.

Post cited the 2009 Group 3 tournament, when a loaded High Point team was banned from competing in the North 1, Group 3 sectional tournament due to violating the 70 percent rule for too many out-of-state matches. High Point would have been a big favorite to win its section and the Group 3 title that year, having already defeated Phillipsburg for the first time in program history -- 30-22 at The Pit during the regular season.

Instead, the 'Liners -- then coached by Jason Magditch -- cruised to the title by waxing Hammonton (56-10) in the G3 semis and Montville (52-6) in the final at Toms River.

"It was odd for me to see and the look on our kids faces of, did we really accomplish something," said Post, who was an assistant coach that season. "No disrespect to Montville, which had a really good team, but High Point should have been down there. We had a great match with them, and I'm not sure if we could've beaten them or not. But that's always been in the back of my mind."

Delaware Valley coach Andy Fitz, who admittedly won't be affected by this proposal, intends to vote yes on it. Fitz cites the enthusiasm generated by his school's football program qualifying for the sectional playoffs as a positive thing.

Make no mistake, one look at the current sectional alignments in wrestling and it's clear where this proposal is coming from and that's the Shore Conference, which got the ball rolling on discussions for realigning individual districts and regions. In Central Jersey, Group 4, you have Brick Memorial, Howell and Jackson Memorial all together. Tough for sure, and I get that point.

But instead of expansion to Group 5, we ought to be banging our collective heads to figure out a way to get the best four teams to Toms River and proceed with a Tournament of Champions from that point. Going to five groups only takes a T of C further out of the equation.

The hope is that most schools' coaches will vote this down next month. That is if they even know about it. Another strange twist to this thing is that an email -- which first originated from Robbinsville -- from the region presidents to coaches and administrators went out on Tuesday. A vote is to be done at league and conference meetings on Aug. 14. The NJSIAA has stated that the 2014-15 wrestling classifications will not be released until a decision is reached on expansion.

"I had no idea this was even being talked about," Post said.

If there is a favorable response, it will be presented to the program review and finance committees for approval, and if approved by both bodies, it will then be presented to the executive committee for first reading on Sept. 10. So that leaves one month to figure all of this out before a first vote. Very strange indeed.

The again, nothing should surprise us in New Jersey wrestling circles. Stay tuned to see where this one winds up.

Newton camp rousing success


Former Braves wrestler and Princeton University coach Chris Ayres was the fifth and final guest clinician in an outstanding lineup on Friday at the annual Newton Summer Wrestling Camp.

Former state champions David Zabriskie of High Point, Will Livingston of Kittatinny and Chris Skretkowicz of Wallkill Valley, along with former state runner-up Ted Sibblies of Newton, were also featured over the week-long event at Henry Boresch Memorial Gym.

Zabriskie won a national title at Iowa State University and is an assistant coach at Lehigh University, while Skretkowicz was a two-time All-American at Hofstra and is the head coach at Virginia Military Institute. Ayres earned All-American honors and won an EIWA title at Lehigh.

"It has been a great week getting to learn from Sussex County's most successful wrestlers," Bollette said. "The campers learned wrestling in all positions, as well as how to prepare mentally and physically at both wrestling and life. It is great to see so many local legends give back to the sport and the area."

Back points


According to reliable sources, former Morris Knolls wrestler Daniel Percelay, a rising sophomore, will be joining DePaul. Former Blair Academy wrestler Brady Ford will attend Bergen Catholic this fall.

Percelay went 20-6, splitting time at 106 and 113, but he was bumped out of the Knolls lineup for the postseason.

Dave Sbriscia was recently hired as a health and physical education teacher at Warren Hills, seemingly paving the way for him to join Jarrett Hosbach's staff as an assistant for 2014-15. Sbriscia, a former standout wrestler for the Blue Streaks, had previously been an assistant at North Warren.

Nothing earth shattering came out of the recent meeting to discuss realignment for the district and region tournaments. According to sources, some changes are expected to be made in the future, but not for the 2015 tournaments. One curious thing to me is that everyone is citing Region 1 and its total of 34 teams -- the fewest in the state -- as an example for change. But keep in mind that Region 1 lost Delaware Valley (which moved to Region 5 in 2001), Passaic Tech (which moved to Group 4 in 2006) and Sussex Tech (which folded the program after the 2004-05 season) and no one said a word or voiced a proposal to replace those schools.

Construction at the new Phillipsburg High School is coming along and the project is expected to be completed in time for 2016-17 school year. With any luck, the 'Liners will get in the mix to host the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament. The school, which will feature a huge state-of-the-art gymnasium, has already expressed a desire to hold the event.

If successful, it could mean one more year at Hunterdon Central in 2016 before P'burg could potentially take over for 2018. Hopatcong, which currently rotates with Central, will host in 2015 and would be scheduled for its next turn in 2017. The Sussex County school has been a great host, but it's losing longtime athletic director Tom Vara, who has been a great leader of this tournament, and its future as a semi-annual site may be in doubt.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Vara resigns as Hopatcong AD for job in Florida

It will be extremely hard to think of Hopatcong High School without Tom Vara.

But after 22 years, the longtime athletic director and former wrestling coach at the Sussex County school is leaving for a new opportunity in Sarasota, Fla.

"My resignation was accepted by the school board [Tuesday] night and this all came about in the last couple of weeks," Vara said on Wednesday. "The high school is Sarasota Military Academy, but I'm taking a [physical education] position at a brand new middle school facility. We'll be the first people in the building on Aug. 1."

It's the second big loss for Hopatcong in a month as baseball coach Chris Buglovsky stepped down after the season to take the AD job at Belvidere.

Vara, 49, who will continue as Hopatcong's AD until the end of July and has held that post for 15 years, is a lifer in the area having grown up in Morris County and graduating from Mount Olive High School where he was a standout wrestler, placing third in the state at 122 pounds his senior season in 1983. From there, Vara, who was a two-time runner-up when it was District 16 at Phillipsburg before winning a title in District 15 as a senior, continued his education and wrestling career at East Stroudsburg (Pa.) University.

Vara said leaving Hopatcong and New Jersey was an extremely tough decision.

"Except for the four years in college, I've lived in this area my whole life," said Vara, who taught at Parsippany High School for three years before moving on to Hopatcong. "This had been in the works, but it was kind of a perfect storm. It happened that quick, within the last few weeks. Once you find a place [to live in Florida] and you start that process it kind of takes on a life of its own. New Jersey winters [are awful] and with Jersey education, I didn't like the road its going down on certain things.

"But [New Jersey] is all I know. You build many relationships. I probably know at least one person at every high school in the tri-county area."

During his tenure at Hopatcong, Vara oversaw a number of successful athletic programs, including the school's resurgence in football. The Chiefs were mired in a long losing streak before turning into a winner behind tremendous coaches such as Bill Roca, Todd Van Orden, Paul Reduzzi and now Jerry Venturino.

"I was a part of two football [sectional] championships. When I got here, football was really a doormat," Vara said. "I think they were 0-and-40-something at one point. I'm a wrestling guy, but football drives the bus. You have to have solid football coaches and I was blessed to have those guys. Also, we have a tremendous track program with Mike Juskus [former Hopatcong star and javelin competitor in the 1984 Olympic trials] who's been here since he went here."

As a coach, Vara enjoyed his own success in guiding the Chiefs' wrestling program to its only sectional title in 1997 -- beating Kittatinny in the North 1 Group 2 final. Vara's teams went 80-43 overall in seven seasons from 1992-99 and he coached some of the best wrestlers to come out of the school, including four-time district champion and region champ Anthony Bunnicant and region champions Justin Lijo and Jim Berringer, now an assistant coach at Hackettstown. Anthony Petrock, another former wrestler and district champ under Vara, is the head coach at Ramsey.

"Every year, we lost to Kittatinny or High Point [in the section], so to beat a real high-quality program for our only sectional title was special," Vara said. "We had great kids when I was there."

Sticking with his wrestling roots, Vara, along with fellow ADs Kurt Weaver of Newton and John Simonetti of North Warren, has helped oversee the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament since its inception in 2010. Vara isn't sure of the tournament's future at Hopatcong, which rotates as the host semiannually with Hunterdon Central, but he feels it's in good hands with Weaver and Simonetti.

"For this year, it will have to [stay at Hopatcong]," Vara said. "For the new guy it will be a trial by fire. He will just have to take care of the facility. The seeding and everything else will be done."

Vara is now set to pursue another challenge by getting back to his teaching roots.

"This may be a dream job," said Vara, who has a daughter and son -- ages 12 and 10, respectively -- with his wife, Vicki. "I've typically gotten along with kids and everybody at Hopatcong was good to me."

Personally, it will be sad to see Vara, who I have known since his coaching days, leave the area. I saw first hand as part of the seeding process how much he cared about wrestling and the HWS. Hopefully, the new AD has that same passion and attention to detail.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wrestling: 'Redneck' fair wrestling event cancelled

In the wake of concerns from the state's governing body for high school athletics, the Redneck Wrestling at the Fair event scheduled for Aug. 1 has been cancelled.

The high school match, which was to pit teams from High Point and Newton against each other at the New Jersey State Fair in Sussex County, came under fire on Tuesday with a published report in a local newspaper. NJSIAA executive director Steve Timko raised concerns over the dual match that was scheduled to be contested may violate rules, citing "language in a press release from fair organizers."

The press release states:

"Two local high school teams that personify power and history in Sussex County wrestling will compete ... The NJ State Champion High Point Wildcats and coach John Gardner will go head-to-head against Coach Eric Bollette's Newton Braves ... Both teams are renowned in New Jersey wrestling."

When reached on Wednesday, Timko said his intent was not to stop the event from taking place.

"I was told by the reporter, and I can't even remember his name, that they were using school singlets and names for competition and that goes against our constitution and bylaws," Timko said. "This is nothing new, it's been in place for years."

Timko added that if town names rather than high school names -- meaning if High Point was called Wantage -- were being used, and as long as no school equipment or transportation was being supplied for the event, the match could have taken place.

Event organizer Joan Smith said it was never her intention to put the schools' wrestling seasons in jeopardy and never intended to offend anyone.

"I certainly regret that it happened. We wanted to celebrate wrestling," Smith said on Wednesday afternoon. "We were looking to have a nice event and we were all looking forward to it."

Bollette confirmed that it will not take place as agreed upon by the two coaches and athletic directors.

"It's unfortunate. The kids were looking forward to wrestling," said Bollette, who stated that school-issued singlets or transportation was never to be used for the match. "But better safe than sorry. I just seems that the [newspaper] writer was out to do something. Was he trying to get this cancelled?

Offseason dual events in New Jersey have been commonplace for years, including the Hunterdon County and Hopatcong Duals in the immediate area. Also, teams from Phillipsburg and Warren Hills annually compete against each other in a Pin Cancer event that rotates between the respective high schools.

None of those events violate any NJSIAA rules.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Field hockey: Plug pulled on Voorhees-WHills rivalry (UPDATE)

It's been the best matchup bar none in the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex area for nearly two decades.

But it appears, at least in the regular season, that the Voorhees-Warren Hills field hockey rivalry is over. For the first time since 1999, the two perennial state powers will not meet during the regular season.

The new Skyland Conference alignment for 2014-15 places Voorhees and Warren Hills in the different divisions after years together in the Raritan. As stupid and unbelievable as that is, it was almost a foregone conclusion that these programs would find a way to play once, and perhaps even twice, regardless of realignment.

So why is this annual grudge match not on the schedule? Well, it appears the gamesmanship on and perhaps off the field is one reason judging by the Voorhees camp's interesting and quite response. What is clear is that one side of the rivalry is apparently moving on.

"We are filling out our schedule with competitive teams that show the same level of sportsmanship that we expect from our players," Vikings coach Taylor Webb said on Tuesday without further elaboration.

Warren Hills coach Laurie Kerr, who is 9-17-3 all-time against Voorhees in 14 seasons, opted not to comment.

Read into Webb's comment what you will, but this is without a doubt a sad day for the sport in our area. We still could see these teams match up in the HWS Tournament, but to not have them competing during the regular season and in the same division is a crying shame. The programs shared last year's Raritan Division title after splitting the regular-season meetings.

Blue Streaks athletic director Peter Lubrecht said on Thursday that he too is disappointed that there will be no regular-season game.

"They just said they don't want to play us," said Lubrecht, who just completed his first school year as AD. "I was at all of our home games and the county game [against Voorhees] and to be honest, I didn't see any poor sportsmanship. We respect Voorhees and the field hockey program. But if they feel this is best for their program, I understand that."

Voorhees holds a 30-19-6 in the all-time series, but it has dropped four of the last six matchups, including a 4-1 loss in the second regular-season contest and a 2-1 defeat at home last year in the HWS semifinals. Warren Hills, which is 2-5 in county games vs. its Hunterdon rival, has won two meetings in the same year in back-to-back seasons, something the program has only done five times since the series began in 1975. The others were in 1975, '79 and '81.

Warren Hills (22-4-1, 9-1 division in 2013) remains in the Raritan Division, which also houses Montgomery, North Hunterdon, Phillipsburg and Watchung Hills. Voorhees shifts to the Valley Division, which includes Bernards, Delaware Valley, Franklin and Somerville.

With or without the other, both Voorhees and Warren Hills have rugged schedules set up for 2014.

Warren Hills, which has played in the last two Group 3 title games, will open its season at Madison, last year's North 2, Group 1 runner-up, on Saturday, Sept.6. The Blue Streaks will open their home schedule against Hackettstown on Monday, Sept. 8 in a rematch of last year's HWS final, won by the Streaks, 1-0.

By far the Warren County school's biggest regular-season challenge will be on Saturday, Sept. 27 when it travels to Eastern for a showdown against the perennial Group 4 champion and the Garden State's top program.

Kerr's squad will be loaded again this fall is it look's to snap the program's 0-8 mark in the Group 3 finals. Seniors Sydney Muntone (Temple) and Nikki Profita (Rutgers) will anchor a potent offensive attack, along with sophomore Dani Profita, who is recovering from an ACL injury sustained earlier this year. Muntone (team-high 17 assists) and Nikki Profita (team-high 20 goals) combined for 108 points last season. Muntone also scored 19 goals, while Profita added 13 assists. Dani Profita burst onto the scene with 15 goals -- the third-highest total on the team.

Defensively, outstanding senior back Amanda Crampton, also a Division I recruit, and junior goalie Taylor Austin, who was outstanding in her first-ever season of hockey, will lead the Streaks.

Voorhees (16-5, 9-1) will open its season on Friday, Sept. 5 at home against Bernards. The following day, the Vikes will host reigning Group 2 champion West Essex at 11 a.m., and will travel to 2013 Group 1 champion Shore Regional on Saturday, Sept. 27.

West Essex holds a 6-1-1 edge, including a 3-0 mark at home after last year's 3-0 win over Voorhees, in the all-time series dating to 1996, when the schools played to a 1-1 tie. The programs have split meetings in the Group 2 semifinals -- Voorhees winning 2-1 in 2000 and West Essex prevailing 2-1 in overtime in 2002, ending Voorhees' 23-game win streak as the Vikes finished 23-1 in the final game under former coach Ann Bonavita, now Webb's assistant.

Junior forward Kathryn Roncoroni will help anchor the Voorhees offense once again. Roncoroni scored both of the Vikings' goals in a 4-2 season-ending loss to Parsippany in the North 1, Group 2 semifinals to match the school's single-season record of 33 set by Colleen Boyce in 2010. Senior goalie Lauren Pianucci will head up an always strong Voorhees defense.

Voorhees goes clubbing


Hunterdon County now has a place for year-round training in its backyard with the advent of the TaylWind Field Hockey Club, created by Webb.

"I've always been involved with clubs either playing or coaching and I found a need for one nearby," said Webb, who runs the program along with Bonavita and Donna Whiston. "I wanted one with a balance between competitive and fun."

Webb said due to travel reasons, a lot of potential players were migrating to lacrosse or not playing field hockey at all since there wasn't a facility in the area. Despite a battle for field space, the coach hopes this will help the sport grow.

"The kids had been traveling so far and there really isn't one like this in our area," Webb said. "We're trying to make it a more popular sport by offering year-round training."

The club provides year-round training for grades 1-12 and offers league play and a summer camp that will run July 28-31 at Voorhees High School.

NJAC misalignment


Looking over this year's Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference realignment and one word immediately comes to mind -- stupidity. How else can you explain the expansion to seven divisions, five of which contain five or fewer teams.

How about the four-team Freedom Division for field hockey and wrestling? Win three games, or six, and win a division title. Sussex Tech does not offer either sport.

It's utterly ridiculous and the people responsible should be ashamed of the themselves. No wonder it was so hard trying to obtain a copy of this embarrassment.

Here is how the divisions (with the exception of football) will look starting this fall:

American Division (5) -- Morris Hills; Mount Olive; Pope John; Sparta; Vernon.

National Division (5) -- Morris Knolls; Parsippany Hills; Randolph; Roxbury; West Morris.

United Division (5) -- Chatham; Delbarton; Mendham; Montville; Morristown.

Freedom Division (5) -- Hackettstown; High Point; Jefferson; Lenape Valley; Sussex Tech.

Colonial Division (5) -- Hopatcong; Kittatinny; Newton; North Warren; Wallkill Valley.

Independence Division (7) -- Butler; Boonton; Kinnelon; Morris Catholic; Pequannock; St. Elizabeth; Whippany Park.

Liberty Division (7) -- Dover; Hanover Park; Madison; Morristown-Beard; Mountain Lakes; Parsippany; Villa Walsh.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Wrestling: Parzero, Sbriscia out at North Warren

Coaching more than one sport -- much less in back-to-back seasons -- can be a taxing proposition.

After four seasons, North Warren's Matt Parzero has had enough and recently resigned from his wrestling post. Parzero will retain his position as the school's head football coach.

Scott Stoll, a former Vernon wrestler who served as an assistant on the Patriots' staff, is the new head wrestling coach -- the Blairstown school's fourth since 2009.

"It was time, but I will definitely miss it," said Parzero, who was the only head coach for both sports in the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex area until Wallkill Valley wrestling coach Adam Vazquez was recently hired to take over the Rangers' football program.

"As a head coach, you have to be there, with all of the summer stuff going on. I was asking a lot of my assistants. Scott took a lot of the brunt, running our [wrestling] practices the first week or so. I think it was two weeks when our football team reached the sectional semifinals two years ago."

Former North Warren middle school coach Dave Sbriscia, who also was a candidate for the head varsity position, will be moving on as well. The former Warren Hills standout is heading back to his alma mater to be an assistant on Jarrett Hosbach's staff. Sbriscia's hiring won't be made official until the fall when the coaching positions will be posted.

Sbriscia, a physical education teacher at North Warren, is also undergoing the interview process for a teaching position at the Warren County school.

North Warren athletic director John Simonetti said he was sorry to see both Parzero and Sbriscia leave their positions.

"Matt did a good job. He's a professional, whether it's football or wrestling," Simonetti said. "The kids give 100 percent for him and he's an all-around good guy. Dave is a huge loss for us."

Sbriscia has quickly gained a reputation as one of the top young coaches in the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex area. His biggest asset at North Warren was working with its group of upper weights, who showed great improvement under his tutelage. Dan Hauck (District 1 champion in 2012) and rising senior Will O'Connell are two of Sbriscia's successful projects. O'Connell went from being 8-11 as a freshman to a 19-match winner as a sophomore before going 25-8 this past season.

"He's going to be a great head coach some day," said Parzero, who employed Sbriscia on his football staff as special teams coordinator the past three seasons. "Our loss is definitely [Warren Hills'] gain. I'm hoping to keep him as a football coach. He came into our [practice] room and got the kids' attention, just being able to wrestle with them."

A 2006 Warren Hills graduate, Sbriscia became one of the area's best 215-pounders despite never having wrestled until his sophomore season. He logged a three-year mark of 78-22 -- ranking 21st on the school's all-time wins list -- and twice qualified for the state tournament. Sbriscia finished third in District 1 as a sophomore before winning titles in 2005 and '06, and placed third in Region 1 as a junior and second as a senior.

In '05, Sbriscia met High Point's David Zabriskie in the Region 1 semifinals and dropped a 3-2 decision to the eventual state champ and future NCAA champ at Iowa State. In the '06 Region 1 finals, Sbriscia lost 5-0 to Lenape Valley's D.J. Russo, who went on to place second in the state at 215.

Parzero said he feels good about leaving the North Warren program in good hands and in better shape than when he took over for the 2010-11 season. In four seasons, Parzero's teams compiled an overall mark of 43-42, going 8-14 overall and 1-5 in the NJAC Freedom Division this past season.

"We didn't get to the level that [former coach Chris Jones] had it at, winning two sectional titles [in 2006 and '07], but I think it's better than it was when I inherited it," Parzero said. "Scott is an exciting guy and the kids like being around him."

Boresch Duals field set


The search is over for an eighth team to compete in the 10th annual Henry Boresch Duals next January at Newton High School.

Braves coach Eric Bollette confirmed that South Jersey's Middle Township is slated to replace Raritan, which dropped out after competing in the last four events and winning the championship in 2011.

South Plainfield, which won in 2012 and '13, is returning along with 2014 champion Hanover Park. Rounding out the field are Caldwell, Howell, Morris Knolls, Northern Burlington and host Newton.

Last year's duals created quite a buzz around the state as Hanover Park rolled to the title -- knocking off Howell, 35-31, in the semifinals and Raritan, 35-29, in the final. Earlier in the semis, Raritan snapped South Plainfield's 50-match win streak (57 in a row vs. New Jersey teams) with a 29-28 victory on criteria (most bouts won, 8-6).


Sussex Fair to host Redneck wrestling


Wrestling will return to The New Jersey State Fair this summer with a high school match between host High Point and Newton set for Friday, Aug. 1. The event is being billed as "Redneck Wrestling at the Fair."

The fair was once the host site for the very popular Henry Boresch summer tournament. High Point coach John Gardner was seeking an opponent for a summer match and Bollette accepted to give his up-and-coming team an opportunity to face one of New Jersey's top programs. High Point defeated Newton, 58-10, in an NJAC crossover match on Jan. 10, 2014.

High Point captured its second Group 2 championship in three years this past season and returns several state qualifiers, including Dom Gallo, Mike Derin and Jason Gaccione. Derin (33-9) and Gaccione (37-7) were placewinners in 2013.

Newton, which finished strong in the second half of last season, returns state qualifier and Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex champion Gus Protogeropoulos (35-8) in the upper weights, along with Region 1 qualifiers Trevor Morales (31-7), Eddie Medina (28-12) and Jake DeLuca (8-9).

Wrestling runs from 5 to 8 p.m. Bollette said there will be no announcement of lineups, as the teams will match up on the day of the event, with the understanding that wrestlers will be paired up according to talent level.