Thursday, January 10, 2013

Wrestling: Hunterdon-Warren Sussex predictions

What: Fourth annual Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament.

Where: Hopatcong High School.

When: Friday and Saturday.

Fridays schedule: Premliminaries and pre-quarterfinals (four mats), 4 p.m.

Saturday's schedule: Quarterfinals, 10 a.m. (four mats); semifinals and wrestlebacks, 12:30 p.m. (four mats); third- and fifth-place consolations, 3 p.m. (two mats); championships, 5 p.m. (one mat).

Teams: Belvidere, Delaware Valley, Hackettstown, High Point, Hopatcong, Hunterdon Central, Kittatinny, Lenape Valley, Newton, North Hunterdon, North Warren, Phillipsburg, Pope John, Sparta, Vernon, Voorhees, Wallkill Valley, Warren Hills.

Returning champions (this year's weights): Peter Lipari, Lenape Valley (120), Dylan Nace, Hunterdon Central (126), Mike Pongracz, Delaware Valley (132), Matt Benvenuto, Lenape Valley (2011 winner, 138), Jadaen Bernstein, Voorhees (170); Liam Korbul, North Hunterdon (182).

Open Mike's picks for the top four in each weight class (seeds may change before Friday's action):

106 -- 1. Dom Gallo, High Point; 2. Austin Sisco, Pope John; 3. Brandon Paetzell, Phillipsburg; 4. Paul Robinson, North Hunterdon.

Notes -- Potential Gallo-Paetzell semifinal could be a possible preview of the Region 1 final. Gallo owns a 7-4 win over Sisco -- a two-time region qualifier -- this season. Paetzell, a No. 5 seed, decked Robinson in a dual meet. Keep an eye on No. 7 seed Austin Pidoto of Warren Hills this weekend.
113 -- 1. Max Nauta, Warren Hills; 2. Zach Fisher, Phillipsburg; 3. Matt Ritchie, North Warren; 4. Christian Silva, Kittatinny.

Notes -- Nauta was a Region 1 finalist at 106 last year, while Fisher was a district champ at 113. Ritchie was a district champ two years ago and finished fourth last year -- losing, 8-3, to Fisher in the D1 semifinals. Tough final to call as both Nauta and Fisher have tremendous hips. Nauta did beat him over the summer -- but that's not worth much in the regular season. Silva, fourth in D3 last year, is much improved and won't be an easy out. He's heading for 5-4 matchup in the quarters with Voorhees' Cody Ihling.

120 -- 1. Ryan Pomrinca, North Hunterdon; 2. Jared Kobis, High Point; 3. Peter Lipari, Lenape Valley; 4. Steve Friedman, Phillipsburg.

Notes -- Pomrinca placed seventh in the state last year at 113 and is a solid choice here. But watch out for the freshman Kobis, the No. 3 seed who turned heads by winning the Mustang Classic last month. He's one talented ninth grader. Lenape Valley sophomore Peter Lipari, a returning champ, is lurking as the No. 5 seed. Lipari was 6, but Warren Hills' Tai Adetula is out, so the Patriot moves up one spot. Friedman, a D1 champ, was fourth at 106 last year. Hopatcong's Joe Spaziani, a D2 runner-up, looms as the No. 4 seed.

126 -- 1. Corey Zinsmeister, Phillipsburg; 2. Ian Burke, Sparta; 3. Joe Kratochvil, Warren Hills; 4. Dylan Nace, Hunterdon Central.

Notes -- Another loaded weight class here. Kratochvil was a D1 champ and a R1 runner-up last year -- and he's the No. 3 seed! Burke's only loss this year is to JFK state finalist Carl Buttitta. Nace is a two-time finalist, winning the 113-pound title last year. Zinsmeister has looked real good this year against some stiff competition. Potential upset alert with No. 8 seed Austin Scrivani of Kittatinny vs. Nace in the prequarters. Scrivani was winning their match at the Caldwell Tournament, when Nace decked the talented freshman.

132 -- 1. Mike Pongracz, Delaware Valley; 2. Glenn Haines, Lenape Valley; 3. Anthony Johnson, Phillipsburg; 4. Justin Pidoto, Warren Hills.

Notes -- Pongracz, a two-time state placewinner, is looking for his second HWS title after winning at 126 last year -- his only appearance in the finals. Haines, a Region 1 runner-up as a freshman, is now at 132 and looks good. Good tournament for Hocking to show what he can do. As a sophomore, he enjoyed a nice run to the regions. Speaking of regions, P'burg senior Anthony Johnson -- a Region 1 runner-up who has not wrestled -- is the No. 13 seed  after originally being 17, but moved up after some changes. He will meet No. 4 Joe Hocking of Wallkill Valley in the quarters. Keep an eye on North Hunterdon freshman Brian Smolinsky, the No. 7 seed. He's going to be a good one. Pidoto, a R1 qualifier as a freshman, is just back in the lineup and could surprise as the No. 11 seed.

138 -- 1. Gary Dinmore, Hunterdon Central; 2. Tom Murphy, Kittatinny; 3. Matt Benvenuto, Lenape Valley; 4. Max Elling, Phillipsburg.

Notes -- Dinmore, a state runner-up, was third last year and second as a freshman in the HWS. Murphy was a county runner-up as a freshman and looks solid this season. Benvenuto beat Dinmore, 3-2, in last year's semifinals and lost, 6-5, to Pongracz in the finals. Benvenuto, a HWS champion in 2011, lost to Elling, 13-4, for third in Region 1. Tough call here. 

145 -- 1. Jason Gaccione, High Point; 2. Tyler Kozimor, Hackettstown; 3. Jesse Thorsen, Belvidere; 4. Andrew Kaluzny, Phillipsburg.

Notes -- Another deep weight -- even with No. 3 seed Nick Romyns of Kittatinny withdrawing due to illness. Kozimor is a Region 1 champ, but lost to Hunterdon Central's Tim Higginson, the No. 7 seed, in the Caldwell Tournament finals. Gaccione is a D3 champ and could meet the unbeaten Thorsen in the semis. The Belvidere senior moves up to the No. 6 seed after Romyns pulled out. Kaluzny, now the No. 5 seed, was fourth in R1 last year.

152 -- 1. Jimmy Schuitema, Phillipsburg; 2. Mike Ciavarro, North Hunterdon; 3. Dylan Cote, Hunterdon Central; 4. Dominic LaBell, Lenape Valley.

Notes -- Schuitema, the No. 2 seed, is among the best wrestlers in this tournament. He finished third in the district and region, so he's looking for his first trip to the finals. Ciavarro, normally a 145-pounder, is up a weight for this one. Cote is having a solid season, while LaBell bears watching this weekend. Delaware Valley's Alex Niemann (10-2) is the No. 4 seed.

160 -- 1. Jake Kocsis, Phillipsburg; 2. Kody Eichlin, Delaware Valley; 3. Ryan Ward, Vernon; 4. Tyler Cote, Hunterdon Central.

Notes -- Very competitive weight. Ward (12-0) is the top seed, but will take a step up in competition this weekend. Kocsis, who has wrestled a rugged slate, originally the No. 6 seed, is now the No. 4 and is on a collision course with Ward. Eichlin, who has bounced between 160 and 170, is the No. 3 seed and Cote is the No. 2 seed. 

170 -- 1. Jadaen Bernstein, Voorhees; 2. David Fenton, Hunterdon Central; 3. Kieran Gerrity, Kittatinny; 4. Luke Zehnbauer, Delaware Valley.

Notes -- Bernstein, a state runner-up two years ago, won back-to-back titles at 160 the previous two HWS tournaments. He's as solid a choice as there is in this tournament. Fenton majored Gerrity in the Caldwell Tournament finals. Be interesting to see how that rematch turns out. Zehnbauer has bounced around at 170 and 182.

182 -- 1. Jake Brook, Kittatinny; 2. Josh Sibblies, Newton; 3. Liam Korbul, North Hunterdon; 4. Evan Bray, Belvidere.

Notes -- Brook, a state qualifier, has been up at 195 all season, so we'll see how he does down a class. This is one of the best weights to watch this weekend. Sibblies is the No. 5 seed and should meet up with No. 4 Nick Ruggiero of Voorhees in the quarters. That will be a good one. Sibblies gave Korbul, a state placewinner, all he could handle in the John Goles semifinals in a close loss. And, by the way, Bray is the No. 2 seed and an R1 champ. Probably the toughest weight to handicap.

195 -- 1. Kyle Stoll, High Point; 2. Kyle Levy, Voorhees; 3. Kristian Barrett, Lenape Valley; 4. Dan Pepe, North Hunterdon.

Notes -- Stoll was likely hankering for a rematch with Brook, who beat the High Point junior, 2-1, in a rideout last Friday. Pepe is the top seed but has losses to No. 5 seed Gus Protogeropoulos of Newton and No. 11 seed Kyle Kinney of P'burg. Kittatinny's Dylan Wunder, the No. 3 seed who weighs about 175, was second at 195 last year. Barrett was impressive in a 9-8 loss to Brook in a dual meet. Keep an eye on Levy, the No. 4 seed who will battle Protogeropoulos in the quarters. 

220 -- 1. J.B. Lawson, Belvidere; 2. Garrett Armstrong, Kittatinny; 3. Bobby McDonnell, High Point; 4. Brian Baehr, Delaware Valley.

Notes -- Armstrong beat Lawson, 2-0, at the Cougar Classic last month and they are the 1-2 here. McDonnell is very athletic and could be a factor here. He lost, 2-0, to Armstrong last Friday. I think those three are head-and-shoudlers above the rest of the field. Delaware Valley's Brian Baehr is the No. 3 seed.

285 -- 1. Ryan Appleby, Belvidere; 2. Andrew Pacheco, Warren Hills; 3. Jarrett Williams, Phillipsburg; 4. Victor Burgos, Hopatcong.

Notes -- Really excited to see what Appelby can do this season. He's off to a great start with wins over Pacheco, 13-7, and Kittatinny's Tom Smith, 9-4. Also excited to see Williams in action this weekend. It's been awhile since I was anxious to see heavyweights go at it. Pacheco, who is the No. 7 seed, has a lot of talent. Fischetti, the No. 3 seed, is only a sophomore. No. 2 seed Noa Merritt of Pope John was a R1 qualifier last year.

Team champion: Phillipsburg.

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