Saturday, January 5, 2013

Wrestling: Cougars end their drought against 'Cats

Seven -- not eight -- was more than enough for Kittatinny's wrestling team.

Senior 195-pounder Jake Brook and the Cougars had their fill of losing to archrival High Point and ended seven years of frustration with a dominating 35-18 victory on Friday night before a packed house at Kittatinny Regional High School.

Brook's 2-1 win in overtime against fellow state qualifier Kyle Stoll helped set an early tone as Kittatinny (5-0) won 10 of 14 bouts en route to its first win in the series since a 39-18 win in 2005. The victory also ended High Point's 62-match win streak in the conference and a 52-match stretch against Sussex County opponents.

"This is phenomenal. Everybody wrestled as hard as they could," said Brook, who finished third in Region 1 last year at 170 pounds. "We had a lot of confidence going in. We didn't want to be the [seniors] who let [High Point's win streak in the series] to reach eight."

High Point (4-2), which was trying to become the first to win eight in a row in this 38-year series, was overmatched most of the night. The Wildcats struggled to get out on bottom and were dominated on their feet. In fact, it wasn't until the sixth bout that High Point finally got its first takedown from sophomore 106-pounder Dom Gallo.

"This is such a big rivalry and people put a lot into it," said veteran Kittatinny coach John Gill, now 11-21-1 against High Point in his 33 seasons. "I've always taken pride [in my teams] being good on our feet. We've been in a drought against this [High Point] team. Today we were smart and I was really proud of the way we wrestled for takedowns."

Needless to say, 'Cats coach John Gardner was less than pleased with the result and his team's lackluster performance in the county's premiere match of the season.

"Kittatinny deserves a lot of credit. They wrestled hard and did a good job -- credit those boys," said Gardner, now 7-8 all-time against Kittatinny. "They beat us in every phase tonight."

The night started off harmlessly enough as High Point held its own in decision losses at 170 and 182. Kittatinny district champion Kieran Gerrity struggled in a 2-0 win over Antonio Porraspita to open the match, while junior Dylan Wunder's 5-0 decision over Drew Bye gave the Cougars an early 6-0 lead.

The turning point came at 195, where Brook and Stoll battled for six minutes to a 1-1 tie. After a scoreless first overtime period, Stoll took bottom in the first 30-second rideout phase. And just like his teammates in the first two bouts, Stoll was unable to escape from the bottom position.

In the third OT, Brook got to his base late and Stoll was unable to get a return to the mat. Referee Gary Szucs banged Stoll for stalling -- his second warning -- with two seconds left to give Brook the winning point.

"It was the right call," Gardner said.

Down 9-0, High Point had the option of sending out Bobby McDonnell or Gunny Wassong to face Kitttatinny junior Garrett Armstrong at 220. Armstrong got a first-period takedown and held on for a 2-0 win over McDonnell.

Desperately needing a win, Wassong took a 1-0 lead into the third period against Tom Smith at 285, only to give up a takedown with 44 seconds left in a 3-2 loss that gave the Cougars a commanding 15-0 lead through five bouts.

Last year, Smith, who was 9-17, got pinned in the final bout of High Point's 32-21 win in Wantage.

"It was redemption for him," Gill said.

Gallo finally got High Point on the board with a 10-2 major of freshman Jake Van Wingerden before Christian Silva's quick pin at 113 gave Kittatinny a 21-4 lead with seven bouts to go.

The 'Cats narrowed the gap as freshman Jared Kobis' 3-0 win at 120 and senior Connor McHugh's pin at 126 made it 21-13. But the run was short-lived, as talented freshman Austin Scrivani earned a 12-5 win over High Point's Chris Auer at 132 to all but end the 'Cats' hopes of a comeback.

Tom Murphy stretched Kittatinny's lead to 29-13 -- racking up nine takedowns in a 22-7 technical fall win over District 3 runner-up Collin Grimm at 138. That left High Point needing to win the final three bouts in order to pull out the victory.

Curiously, Gardner opted to send out sophomore Jason Gaccione to face Connor Zandarski at 145, instead of bumping Gaccione up to take on Nick Romyns in a battle of district champs at 152. With Kittatinny needing to send out first at 145, the 'Cats had control of the matchups.

Gaccione worked Zandarski for a technical fall to make it 29-18, but Romyns iced the match with a 6-3 win over Tommy Hooker. Gaccione beat Romyns, 3-2, last year at the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament.

"At that point, not a lot of things were going our way," Gardner said of his decision to leave Gaccione at 145. "I wanted to give ourselves options to win some bouts."

For one night, Kittatinny got to savor the sweet taste of victory against its longtime rival.

"We wanted this so badly for so long," Romyns said. "This will give us confidence and momentum. For me, this was huge."


170 -- Jr. Kieran Gerrity (11-1), K, d. Jr. Antonio Porraspita (7-5), 2-0.
182 -- Jr. Dylan Wunder (9-3), K, d. Jr. Drew Bye (4-6), 5-0.
195 -- Sr. Jake Brook (10-2), K, d. Jr. Kyle Stoll (9-2), 2-1 OT3 (rideout).
220 -- Jr. Garrett Armstrong (10-2), K, d. Jr. Bobby McDonnell (8-4), 2-0.
285 -- Jr. Tom Smith (7-2), K, d. Jr. Gunny Wassong (6-4), 3-2.
106 -- So. Dom Gallo (13-0), HP, md. Fr. Jake Van Wingerden (8-4), 10-2.
113 -- Jr. Christian Silva (10-2), K, p. So. Leo Haines (0-6), :48.
120 -- Fr. Jared Kobis (12-0), HP, d. Fr. Nick Klinger (4-7), 3-0.
126 -- Sr. Connor McHugh (9-3), HP, p. Jr. Nick West (4-6), 1:39.
132 -- Fr. Austin Scrivani (9-3), K, d. Jr. Chris Auer (6-2), 12-5.
138 -- So. Tom Murphy (10-1), K, tf. Sr. Collin Grimm (4-8), 22-7, 5:39.
145 -- So. Jason Gaccione (13-0), HP, tf. Sr. Connor Zandarski (6-7), 19-3, 4:41.
152 -- Jr. Nick Romyns (11-2), K, d. Jr. Tommy Hooker (6-4), 6-3.
160 -- Sr. Dave Popek (7-5), K, d. Sr. Moses Yasin (4-8), 2-1.
Records -- High Point 4-2; Kittatinny 5-0.
Officials -- Gary Kessel and Gary Szucs.

1 comment:

  1. almost all underclassman...we'll do it again next year..