Monday, January 7, 2013

Wrestling: Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex rankings

Lots of action since our first set of team rankings.

Of course, the big one for bragging rights in Sussex County  was won by Kittatinny, 35-18, over High Point on Friday. The Cougars snapped a seven-year losing streak in the series -- trailing 25-12-1 all-time against the Wildcats.

Phillipsburg still sits on top this week as coach Dave Post's Stateliners got stronger with the addition of sophomore 182-pounder Joe Maso, who helped spark the team's 37-30 win over Delbarton in the first big test of the season at The Pit. Senior 132-pounder Anthony Johnson, a Region 1 runner-up, is expected back this week.

Both Voorhees and Kittatinny reached the 500-win mark this season -- both opening its doors in 1975. The Vikings reached the milestone with Friday's 31-23 win over Delaware Valley -- snapping a 14-year drought in the series. The Terriers had won 16 in a row since the Vikings' last win (48-16) in the 1998 Central Jersey Group 2 final. Del Val leads, 30-15-1, in the all-time series dating to 1975.

We have the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament on tap for this weekend -- Friday and Saturday at Hopatcong High School. Athletic director Tom Vara and his staff do a great job of hosting and there will be some loaded weight classes to entertain all of us. Check back here on Wednesday for the official pairings and seeds.

On to the rankings:

1. Phillipsburg (5-0) -- Stateliners knocked off Delbarton on Wednesday, Northampton, Pa. (45-20) on Thursday and Montgomery (54-15) on Saturday. Maso had a big pin against Delbarton and will be a nice addition in the upper weights. Johnson should be back for the HWS Tournament and will make an immediate impact at 132. Zach Fisher (113), Max Elling (138) and Jimmy Schuitema (152) will all be high seeds for counties.

Up next: Somerville at home on Wednesday; Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament on Friday and Saturday.

2. Kittatinny (8-1) -- Cougars made quite a statement with Friday's 35-18 win over High Point -- winning 10 of 14 bouts in the process. Senior Jake Brook started the ball rolling with a 2-1 win in a rideout over fellow state qualifier Kyle Stoll at 195, while junior Tom Smith all but cemented things with a 3-2 victory over Gunny Wassong at 285 to make it 15-0 through five bouts. It snapped High Point's seven-year win streak in the series. On Saturday, coach John Gill's team went 2-1 at North Warren's Patriot Duals -- beating Morristown (45-18) and West Essex (45-16) before a 49-9 loss to Bound Brook.

Up next: Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament on Friday and Saturday.

3. High Point (6-3) -- Wildcats rebounded nicely after Friday's 35-18 loss to Kittatinny with two wins on Saturday -- 41-33 over Don Bosco Prep and 36-25 against Long Branch. Coach John Gardner's squad concluded the rugged quad with a tough 30-24 loss to Jackson Memorial. Freshman Jared Kobis (15-0) stayed unbeaten and will be one to watch this weekend at HWS. Sophomores Dom Gallo (106) and Jason Gaccione (145) and junior Kyle Stoll (195) should all be in the hunt for county titles. Gallo could get a tough test on Tuesday against talented Morris Knolls freshman Garrett O'Shea at 106.

Up next: Morris Knolls at home on Tuesday; Vernon at home on Wednesday; Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament on Friday and Saturday.

4. Warren Hills (8-3) -- Blue Streaks went 2-2 against Pennsylvania foes at the Easton Invitational -- beating Pocono Mountain West (55-15) and Bangor (57-6) and dropping decisions to Nazareth (41-24) and Bethlehem Catholic (56-9). Lineup changes are coming as junior Justin Pidoto (132) is expected back this week. Pidoto, who was a Region 1 qualifier as a freshman, missed most of last season and this year with concussions. Coach Jarrett Hosbach's team is gearing up for some big local duals -- namely a showdown with No. 1 P'burg on Jan. 17.

Up next: Montgomery at home on Wednesday; Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament on Friday and Saturday.

5. Hunterdon Central (5-0) -- Red Devils scored a pair of wins on Saturday -- 45-24 against Toms River East and 35-28 over a solid Watchung Hills team. Coach Steve Gibble's team has been a bit of a surprise thus far, finishing ahead of Kittatinny at the Caldwell Tournament. Junior 138-pounder Gary Dinmore (9-0), senior 152-pounder Dylan Cote (11-1) and senior 170-pounder David Fenton (9-1) are leading the way.

Up next: Delaware Valley at home on Wednesday; Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament on Friday and Saturday.

6. North Hunterdon (3-1) -- Lions have been on hiatus since finishing third at the John Goles Invitational on Dec. 27. Coach Tim Flynn's team is expected to return to action on Thursday against rival Voorhees in a Skyland Conference Raritan Division clash. Sophomore Ryan Pomrinca (120) and senior Liam Korbul (182) will be among the top seeds seeking county tournament titles.

Up next: Voorhees at home on Thursday; Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament on Friday and Saturday.

7. Voorhees (10-2) -- Vikings have won seven in a row and recorded the program's 500th win on Friday night -- 31-23 against Hunterdon County rival Delaware Valley. Sophomore Alex Fischetti (10-2) sealed the win over the Terriers with a decision in the final bout at 285. Senior Jadaen Bernstein (15-0) will be the man to beat at 170 pounds in the HWS Tournament, while senior Nick Ruggiero (14-2) should be part of a tough 182-pound class.

Up next: at North Hunterdon on Thursday; Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament on Friday and Saturday.

8. Delaware Valley (3-3) -- Terriers scored a 53-21 independent win over Central Bucks East before a 31-23 loss to Voorhees on Friday. Senior 126-pounder Mike Pongracz (7-0) is at 120 career wins and is looking to repeat as HWS champion this weekend. Last year, he won the title at 126 and earned outstanding wrestler honors. Coach Andy Fitz's team will look to rebound against rival Hunterdon Central before the county tournament.

Up next: at Hunterdon Central on Wednesday; Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament on Friday and Saturday.

9. Belvidere (4-2) -- County Seaters capped a 3-1 week with Saturday's 52-22 win over Pompton Lakes. Coach Dan McIntyre's team also beat North Warren, 54-19, on Friday and Wayne Hills, 39-30, on Saturday before a 34-30 loss to unbeaten Jefferson. The win over North Warren came on Alumni Night as former wrestlers and coaches turned out to honor the program's 50th season. A special ceremony honoring four wrestlers who passed away in recent years preceded the match. Keep an eye on senior Jesse Thorsen (11-0) in the 145-pound class at the HWS.

Up next: Pingry at home on Wednesday; Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament on Friday and Saturday.

10. Newton (4-3) -- Braves have battled despite numerous injuries and inexperience. Coach Eric Bollette's team went 2-1 at its own Henry Boresch Duals on Saturday -- beating Waldwick/Midland Park, 63-12, and Livingston, 39-31. Senior Josh Sibblies (11-2) bears watching at the HWS Tournament in what promises to be a tough 182-pound class. Sophomore Gus Protogeropoulos (11-2) is having a nice season at 195.

Up next: Lenape Valley at home on Wednesday; Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament on Friday and Saturday.

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