Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Wrestling: Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex rankings

We've had numerous discussions here the last few seasons about the state of New Jersey wrestling and its future.

The new weight classes and endless triangular and quadrangular meets are doing great harm to the sport, in my opinion. I was talking to a fellow scribe late Monday night and he raised an interesting point:

What ever happened to the marquee Saturday night matches in this area? I don't believe we've had one for quite some time. It's amazing to think, when you consider that Saturday evening matches were once a big tradition. Even Phillipsburg has gotten away from this the last few years, sans a night affair with Montgomery this season. Not exactly the premier event I was talking about -- no disrespect intended to the Cougars.

It's an interesting topic to be sure. These are the kinds of things that keep wrestling at the forefront with the fans and keep younger wrestlers interested in the high school programs. They once dreamed of wrestling in front of a packed gym on a Saturday night. Sadly, it appears those matches have gone the way of riding time.

How truly sad for all of us diehards. Hey, there's always that six-hour quad starting bright and early at 9 a.m. on a Saturday. Doesn't that make you want to hop right out of bed and run to the gym? I'm guessing that's a no for many fans, including myself. Coaches worried about getting out of gyms as soon as possible and their athletic directors better get on the stick and start promoting big matches in their buildings to draw fans before there are no crowds period.

Noticed that Don Bosco and Bound Brook -- two Top 20 teams -- are wrestling at 10 a.m. on Saturday. What a shame.

On to this week's rankings:

1. Hunterdon Central (11-1) -- Red Devils beat Bridgewater-Raritan, 40-26, and lost to South Plainfield, 43-18, on Wednesday. Much-anticipated bout between unbeaten three-time state champion Anthony Ashnault and Central junior Gary Dinmore -- last year's 126-pound state finalists -- never materialized and was the hot topic of discussion on the forums. Ashnault apparently had an ankle injury and was held out of action after competing earlier against Bridgewater. Dinmore (19-0) enters the week with a 78-11 career mark. A triangular match with Seneca and Millville was wiped out on Saturday due to skin issues not affecting Central. Word has it that the Red Devils attempted to get match with Kittatinny, which had a quad at Delaware Valley cancelled on Saturday, but were unsuccessful. 

Up next: at Franklin on Wednesday; at Warren Hills on Friday; Region 5 Duals at home on Saturday.

2. Phillipsburg (8-2) -- Coach Dave Post's Stateliners beat Voorhees, 46-13, on Wednesday in a Skyland Raritan Division tilt before losing to archrival Easton (Pa.) 33-25, which is ranked top three in Pennsylvania, on Thursday. P'burg capped the week with a 33-18 road win over Howell, and minus two starters to boot. Sophomore Jimmy Schuitema picked up his 50th victory in two seasons, while sophomore Yann Ondele got his first varsity win on Saturday. 'Liners making the long drive to Paulsboro on Saturday. Man, has this rivalry lost its juice or what? Red Raiders (12-2) haven't sniffed the New Jersey Wrestling Writers Association Top 20 this season. Times sure have changed in South Jersey.

Up next: at Delaware Valley on Wednesday; Kittatinny at home on Thursday; at Paulsboro on Saturday.

3. Kittatinny (16-1) – Cougars opened the week with a 62-9 win over Hopatcong on Wednesday and defeated Northern Highlands, 43-21, on Saturday. The match with Delaware Valley will now be at the Sussex County school on Tuesday, Feb. 5. Coach John Gill's team, which has a big showdown with P’burg on Thursday at The Pit, can wrap up the NJAC Freedom Division title on Tuesday against crosstown rival Newton. Junior Kieran Gerrity (78-24) is closing in 80 career wins. The win over Hopatcong was No. 480 for Gill.

Up next: Newton at home on Tuesday; at Phillipsburg on Thursday; at Voorhees on Friday.

4. High Point (12-4) -- Wildcats had a short week with only a 54-15 win over Sparta. A quad involving Bound Brook slated for Saturday was KO’d due to SATs, apparently, so that was all for the Hillbillies. A win over Mount Olive Tuesday night will give coach John Gardner's program a fourth straight division title in the NJAC -- three in a row in the American Division. The 'Cats, who own a 26-match division win streak, won the last four SCIL titles (36 league wins in a row) from 2006-09. Sophomores Dom Gallo (21-3), Jason Gaccione (24-2) and Kyle Stoll (21-3) are all over the 20-win mark this season, along with freshman Jared Kobis (25-1).

Up next: Mount Olive at home on Tuesday; Bloomfield at home on Thursday.

5. Voorhees (17-3) -- Vikings saw their 11-match win streak snapped with Wednesday’s 46-13 loss to Phillipburg, as coach Eric Hall's team raced out to a 13-0 lead. The Hunterdon County school rebounded with lopsided victories over Hackettstown (66-13), Belvidere (44-18) and Lenape Valley (45-19) on
Saturday. Senior Jadaen Bernstein (26-0, 119-18) is two wins shy of surpassing Hall (120-19) as the school's all-time wins leader. It would be fitting for him to set the mark on Senior Night against Kittatinny on Friday.

Up next: Bridgewater-Raritan at home on Tuesday; Kittatinny at home on Friday; Region 5 Duals at Hunterdon Central on Saturday.

6. North Hunterdon (8-3) -- Lions dominated Warren Hills, 34-15, on Wednesday before wins over Watchung Hills (37-28), Hillsborough (48-17) and Franklin (47-22) on Saturday. Coach Tim Flynn's squad vaulted to No. 19 in the NJWWA Top 20. Senior 182-pounder Liam Korbul (91-38) moved closer to the 100-win mark with a 4-0 week. Sophomore Ryan Pomrinca (21-2) improved to 60-7 overall and is on pace to shatter Ricky Frondorf's school wins mark of 124.

Up next: Lawrence at home on Tuesday; at Montgomery on Wednesday; Region 5 Duals at Hunterdon Central on Saturday.

7. Delaware Valley (8-5) -- Terriers had a shortened week due to the tragic death of a student on Friday, as all Saturday events at the Hunterdon County school were cancelled. Del Val beat Montgomery, 49-19, on Wednesday in its lone match. Coach Andy Fitz's squad, which is hoping to earn the No. 1 seed for the Central Jersey, Group 2 sectional tournament, will host P'burg in an annual showdown on Wednesday night and you can expect a Sea of Gold in the stands. Senior 126-pounder Mike Pongracz (130-14) is still pursuing the school wins mark of 142 held by former state champ Dan Kelly.

Up next: Phillipsburg at home on Wednesday; Old Bridge, East Brunswick in Region 5 Duals at Hunterdon Central.

8. Warren Hills (16-6) -- Blue Streaks lost to North Hunterdon, 34-15, on Wednesday in a Skyland Conference Raritan Division showdown. Coach Jarrett Hosbach's Blue Streaks rebounded with independent wins over Paramus (33-30), Roselle Park (32-15) and Ramsey (50-13) at home on Saturday. Sophomore 113-pounder Max Nauta (22-4) improved to 52-11 overall with a 5-0 week. Good news for the Streaks as junior Justin Pidoto (4-4), who has battled injuries the last two seasons, returned to the lineup with four wins at 132 pounds.

Up next: at Somerville on Wednesday; Hunterdon Central at home (Alumni Night) on Friday.

9. Belvidere (11-3) -- County Seaters opened the week with a 38-31 win over Pius X (Pa.) before a 54-22 victory over Manville in a Skyland Conference Valley Division clash on Wednesday. Coach Dan McIntyre's squad closed with wins over Hackettstown (58-18) and Lenape Valley (34-31) and a loss to Voorhees (44-18) in a quad at home on Saturday. Senior 182-pounder Evan Bray (19-4), a Region 1 champion, improved to 90-35 overall in a 5-0 week. Battle for the division title on Wednesday.

Up next: Bound Brook at home on Wednesday; Hopatcong at West Morris triangular on Saturday.

10. Lenape Valley (4-8) -- Patriots are still having lineup issues as they were missing several starters for Saturday's quad at Belvidere. Coach Doug Vetter's squad beat Hackettstown (48-23), but lost to Voorhees (45-19) and Belvidere (34-31). The week started with a 45-30 win over Wallkill Valley in a NJAC Freedom Division showdown. Sophomores Peter Lipari (46-9) and Glenn Haines (47-15) are nearing the 50-win mark for their careers.

Up next: at Parsippany on Tuesday; Secaucus at home on Thursday; at Delbarton on Friday; Jefferson, Paramus at home on Saturday.

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