Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Wrestling: Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex rankings

Whole lotta shakin' going on this week in the Open Mike rankings. It's been a crazy season, folks. Parity is the order of the day.

We'll get to see just how good some of our teams are down the road, but we could see quite a few at Toms River in a few weeks. We will start analyzing the sectional fields in the next week or so, but suffice it to say, the area should be well represented at Poland Spring Arena.

The obvious stunners from last week were Hunterdon Central's 34-30 win at The Pit and Delaware Valley's 43-18 win at home against Warren Hills. It was hard to wrap my head around both of these results. Just another example of any given day in our area. To rank the locals based solely on head-to-head would be tough. I'm looking at body of work in a lot of cases.

So on with this week's show.

1. Hunterdon Central (10-0) -- Beat Phillipsburg 34-30 on Wednesday; North Hunterdon 29-27 on Thursday; Delran, 54-15, and Paramus, 41-18, on Saturday in a 4-0 week. Return of 106-pounder Kyler Rodriguez on Saturday plugs a hole. Red Devils are cleaning up in the area with wins over P'burg, Voorhees, Delaware Valley and North Hunterdon. Coach Steve Gibble's team has No. 1 in New Jersey coming to town this week.

Up next: Bridgewater-Raritan and South Plainfield at home on Wednesday; Millville at Seneca on Saturday.

2. Phillipsburg (6-1) -- Stateliners rebounded from Wednesday's 34-30 loss to Hunterdon Central with a 46-18 win over Warren Hills on Thursday -- stretching their win streak to 27 straight in the series dating to 1991. The loss of senior 195-pounder Kyle Kinney (dislocated elbow) weakens the upper weights. Coach Dave Post is hopeful that Kinney can return in a few weeks. Senior heavyweight Jarrett Williams also was injured against Warren Hills, but it wasn't expected to anything serious.

Up next: at Voorhees on Wednesday; Easton (Pa.) at home on Thursday; at Howell on Saturday.

3. Kittatinny (14-1) -- Cougars beat Jefferson, 47-23, on Tuesday in a match that should decided the NJAC Freedom Division title and downed Hackettstown, 64-18, on Thursday. Coach John Gill's squad closed the week with three wins on Saturday against our friends from Bergen County -- Old Tappan (56-15) and North Bergen (58-15) and Somerset's own Watchung Hills (43-24). Junior Kieran Gerrity is closing in on 80 career wins (78-24) after going 4-0 last week.

Up next: Hopatcong at home on Tuesday; Westfield and Northern Highlands at Delaware Valley on Saturday.

4. High Point (11-4) -- The Hillbillies defeated Montville (48-20 on Tuesday), Morris Hills (59-12 on Thursday) and Roxbury (36-21 on Saturday), while losing to state power Bergen Catholic (43-28 on Saturday). The return of state qualifier Mike Derin is just what the Wildcats were hoping for as he certainly strengthens the lineup. Coach John Gardner's team is cruising toward a fourth straight NJAC division title. Schedule is light this week because a quad with Bound Brook, Brearley and Kingsway was canceled for this Saturday.

Up next: at Sparta on Wednesday.

5. Voorhees (14-2) -- Other than Hunterdon Central, this is the hottest team in West Jersey. The Vikings have won 11 in a row since a criteria loss to Hunterdon Central at the end of December. Only other loss was, 33-28, to Warren Hills the first Saturday of the season. This past week, coach Eric Hall's squad beat Montgomery (51-15), Franklin (42-23), Ridge (48-9) and St. Benedict's (69-0). I know they lost to Warren Hills, but the Vikes are the better team right now. Senior Jadaen Bernstein (115-18) is six away from passing Hall as the school's all-time wins leader.

Up next: Phillipsburg at home on Wednesday; Lenape Valley and Hackettstown at Belvidere on Saturday.

6. North Hunterdon (4-3) -- Lions lost to Hunterdon Central, 29-27, on Thursday and were a whisker away from a solid win. Then, coach Tim Flynn's squad rebounded to beat Delaware Valley, 33-22, on Dan Hutchins night at The Hutch. Senior Liam Korbul improved to 87-38 overall with two wins last week. A lack of mat time has hurt this squad which should be much better by season's end. The trip to Washington on Wednesday to face the Blue Streaks will surely be interesting. Flynn and assistant Jason Hawk are former P'burg wrestlers, as is Warren Hills coach Jarrett Hosbach.

Up next: at Warren Hills on Wednesday; Hillsborough and Watchung Hills at Franklin on Saturday.

7. Warren Hills (12-5) -- After back-to-back losses to Delaware Valley (43-18) and P'burg (46-18), the Blue Streaks rebounded with wins over West Morris (33-29), Hackettstown (46-7) and North Warren (62-9) on Saturday. After a flat performance at Del Val, coach Jarrett Hosbach's team gave P'burg a run early before losing the final seven bouts (five pins and a major). Senior Joe Kratochvil (20-2) beat Corey Zinsmeister of P'burg for a second time, while falling to Del Val's Matt Gilmore for a second time. He's the 40th Blue Streak to amass 60 or more career wins.

Up next: North Hunterdon at home on Wednesday; Franklin at home on Friday; Paramus, Ramsey and Roselle Park at home on Saturday.

8. Delaware Valley (7-5) -- Coach Andy Fitz's Terriers stunned everyone with the win over Warren Hills (43-18) on Wednesday before a 33-22 loss to North Hunterdon on Friday. On Saturday, they lumped up Perth Amboy (51-24), Manville (72-12) and Somerville (52-11). Prior to the match against North, Del Val held a special ceremony to dedicate the main gym in honor of former wrestler Dan Hutchins, who lost his life in a tragic auto accident his senior season in 2002. "The Hutch" is sure to hold a special place with everyone in the community and those who knew this fine young man.

Up next: at Montgomery on Wednesday; Kittatinny, Westfield and Northern Highlands at home on Saturday.

9. Belvidere (8-2) -- Pretty tame week for the County Seaters, who beat North Plainfield, 49-18, on Wednesday and JFK Iselin, 42-24, on Saturday. Senior Jesse Thorsen (18-1)  took his first loss -- a 4-0 decision against JFK Region 5 qualifier Tom Farley. Thorsen is 70-21 overall. Meanwhile, senior 220-pounder J.B. Lawson got his 80th win with a pin on Saturday. He is 81-41. The Seaters are looking to pick up some matches, so any school interested should contact them as soon as possible.

Up next: at Manville on Wednesday; Lenape Valley, Hackettstown and Voorhees at home on Saturday.

10. Lenape Valley (2-6) -- Patriots are healthy for the first time this season and should be a much improved squad down the stretch. Heavyweight Bobby Sperling, a Region 1 qualifier, returned to action last week to help anchor the upper weights. Coach Doug Vetter's team lost to West Morris, 36-24, on Thursday before heading to the very tough Escape the Rock Tournament over the weekend. Sophomore Peter Lipari went 4-2 in finishing fourth at 120 -- beating Paulsboro's John Gentile, 8-7. Lipari lost, 8-3, in the semis to champion Zach Valley of Northampton, Pa. Senior Matt Benvenuto finished seventh in going 4-2 at 138. He is three wins shy (97-36) of becoming the 12th Lenape Valley wrestler to log 100 career victories. Pats finished 26th out of 32 in the team standings.

Up next: at Wallkill Valley on Wednesday; Hackettstown and Voorhees at Belvidere on Saturday.

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