Friday, January 11, 2013

Wrestling: HWS observations, stats from Day 1

The fourth annual Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament offered a few surprises and some dominating team efforts Friday night at Hopatcong High School.

Phillipsburg advanced all 14 wrestlers to Saturday's quarterfinals, as the Stateliners were among only five schools to enter a man in every weight class. North Hunterdon, Warren Hills, Voorhees and Belvidere -- yes the tiny Group 1 school -- were the others.

High Point entered 13 wrestlers and advanced 10 to the quarters -- as Chris Auer (132), Collin Grimm (138) and Antonio Porraspita (170) all pinned in their one-and-done consolation bouts to help the Wildcats earn a 43-40 lead over P'burg in the team standings.

Dom Gallo (106), Jared Kobis (120), Connor McHugh (126), Jason Gaccione (145), Tom Hooker (152), Moses Yasin (160), Drew Bye (182), Kyle Stoll (195), Bobby McDonnell (220) and Gunny Wassong (285) are the quarterfinalists for the Sussex County school.

Here are some thoughts from opening night:

1. P'burg looked especially sharp as it tends to do when the spotlight is on. Senior Anthony Johnson (132) returned to the lineup in a big way with his pin of Region 1 qualifier Joe Hocking of Wallkill Valley. Johnson, the No. 13 seed, was competing in his first bout of the season after serving a disciplinary suspension. The Region 1 runner-up at 138 last year. Talk about a tough way to open the season as he battled the No. 4 seed. Kyle Kinney, the No. 11 seed, also impressed in a 6-2 win over No. 6 Kristian Barrett of Lenape Valley. The 'Liners had six pins, two majors and one disqualification win as sophomore 220-pounder Tim Hinkle was a bite victim in his bout with Hunterdon Central's Gabe Barba.

2. Pins were plentiful in the opening round -- a total of 55 in the 93 bouts wrestled (there were 19 byes). There were nine majors and two technical falls, plus the one DQ. That leaves 26 regular decisions. High Point led the pin parade with eight in the quarterfinal round and a total of 11 with three in the consolation round.

3. Sparta is a real feel-good story in this tournament. Prior to last year, the Spartans were a no-show on Friday nights after going two years without a single win in the District 3 Tournament. This season, coach Frank Battaglia's squad is 8-1 in dual meets -- after totaling 15 wins the previous three seasons -- and advanced five to the quarterfinals. Garret Gerndt (106), Jack Velella (120), Ian Burke (126), Al Falco (160) and Connor Lore (170) all won their first-rounders. Burke is one talented sophomore, while the 13th-seeded Lore upset fourth-seeded Tylar Creeden on Wallkill Valley.

4. This tournament is very unforgiving to struggling teams, as Wallkill Valley, Vernon and North Warren combined to send three wrestlers into the quarterfinals. Wallkill was shut out after its two best wrestlers -- Hocking and Jim Lodema (scratch at 138) bowed out. Mason Ryzoff (145), the No. 3 seed, is the only Patriot still standing, while Ryan Ward (bye at 160) and Anthony Torres (220) are still going for the Vikings.
Former North Warren district champion Matt Ritchie missed weight at 113. He was the No. 3 seed.

5. Delaware Valley enjoyed a fine opening night with nine wrestlers moving into the quarterfinals. Mike Adam (120), Ryan Erwin (126), Mike Pongracz (132), Matt Gilmore (138), Holden Baker (145), Alex Niemann (152), Kody Eichlin (160), Luke Zehnbauer (170) and Brian Baehr (220) are still going for the Terriers. Erwin, a No. 11 seed, beat No. 6 Sean Siek of Wallkill Valley, 6-2. Coach Andy Fitz's team will face some tough matchups on Saturday -- at least according to seeds. Pongracz (1), Gilmore (4), Niemann (4), Eichlin (3) and Baehr (3) are higher seeds than their opponents. Adam and Baker are No. 8s, while Zehnbauer is a No. 5.

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