Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Wrestling: Streaks, Vikes miss boat in rivalry match

The high school wrestling season kicks off in earnest this weekend with a myriad of tournaments -- most of which are well out of the tri-county area.

One can only wonder -- with quite a bit of amazement -- why Warren Hills and Voorhees are traveling all the way to South Jersey to wrestle what would have been a highly attractive dual meet in these parts. Saturday's match is part of what's become an annual quad with Clearview and Egg Harbor.

This event was held at Voorhees last season, so one can sort of overlook the fact that last year's match involving two storied local programs was buried in a quad. At least the local fans had an easy ride to go and watch it. And what a barnburner -- a 31-31 tie on the scoreboard, won by the Vikes on the eighth criteria (most first points scored).

This one will be missed by a large contingent that otherwise could have packed one of the local gyms. It's sad, and quite absurd, that this match -- which figures to be highly competitive -- will be contested some 140 miles and over 2 hours away and on one of only two Saturdays left before Christmas. It's the first time in 37 meetings that neither Voorhees or Warren Hills will host it.

Warren Hills coach Jarrett Hosbach contends that the South Jersey teams came up here last year and will travel to Washington next year. He also wants to wrestle a pair of Group 4 schools that would land his squad a ton of power points. I have zero problem with that aspect of it.

What I, and quite a few other fans and coaches I've talked to, do have a BIG problem with is the fact that this match is not a featured solo event on the schedule. Holding this one so far away -- on an opening day with really not much on the local side -- is a travesty for a sport that needs these kinds of matches to keep fans' interest. Schedule this one for a later date, if need be.

It really would have been great to see this wrestled on Saturday night, where almost all of the locals are competing out of town. We are losing too much of the traditional rivalries in sports -- football in the Hunterdon, Warren and Sussex areas has become a joke with schools playing far away teams and no one in the stands to watch. Instead of Warren Hills vs. Hunterdon Central or High Point vs. Lenape Valley, we are getting Warren Hills vs. Linden and High Point vs. Montville. Makes ZERO sense.

I mean, is anyone even paying attention to all of this?

Hopefully, this won't ever happen again in wrestling. It's just another reason why I detest all of these triangular and quad meets, which are absolutely killing wrestling. I've accepted these are now part of the sport, for travel reasons mainly, but I certainly can't buy it when two longtime rivals wrestle way out of town.

I like my local matches to be just that -- local.

Note: Voorhees leads the all-time series, 24-12, dating to 1976. Vikings have won three of the last four and five of seven. Warren Hills' last win was, 37-27, in 2010.

Here's this weekend's schedule (area teams only):


North Hunterdon and Phillipsburg at King of the Mountain Tournament


North Hunterdon and Phillipsburg at King of the Mountain Tournament
Hackettstown, Kittatinny and Hunterdon Central at Caldwell Tournament
Belvidere and Sparta at Hopatcong Tournament
Newton at Mount Olive Tournament
Delaware Valley at Princeton's Garden State Classic
High Point at Christian Brothers Academy's Colt Classic
Lenape Valley and North Warren at Dover Tournament
Voorhees, Warren Hills and Clearview at Egg Harbor quad
Pope John and Vernon at Wallkill Valley tri-meet

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