Thursday, January 3, 2013

Wrestling: Inaugural NJWWA Top 20 Poll

The undefeated South Plainfield High School wrestling team, featuring state champions Anthony Ashnault and Scott DelVecchio, is the consensus No. 1 pick in the New Jersey Wrestling Writers Association’s initial Top 20 statewide poll.

The reigning Group 3 champion Tigers, off to a 5-0 start with an impressive season-opening victory over third-ranked Bergen Catholic, last season's Non-Public A champion, received first-place votes from all 17 NJWWA members.

South Plainfield looks to avenge its only 2011-12 loss to a New Jersey opponent against ninth-ranked St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City on Friday night.

The powerful Shore Conference features six Top 20 teams including an injury-riddled Brick Memorial squad that many believe will among the favorites to win the Group 4 title once its lineup is at full strength.

Non-Public schools, including three from Bergen County, account for six of the teams ranked in the Top 20.

The results from a recent quad meet between a quartet of Top 20 schools -- High Point, Warren Hills, Howell and Timber Creek -- illustrates the challenges posed to voting members each week. High Point lost 29-28 on criteria to Howell, which fell to Warren Hills, which was defeated by High Point.

For the remainder of the season, the NJWWA Top 20 poll will appear every Monday on line and every Tuesday in the newspapers of participating media outlets.

Expect significant movement to take place in the ensuing rankings with this weekend’s schedule featuring some outstanding action including Saturday’s quad meet between state-ranked Jackson Memorial, Long Branch, High Point and Don Bosco Prep.

Bound Brook, coming off an impressive ninth-place finish at The Clash Wrestling Duals in Minnesota, returns to action on Saturday at the Patriot Duals, where it could have a rematch of last year’s Group 1 semifinal with Kittatinny, a Top 20 bubble team.

The newly formed NJWWA features an All-Star lineup of scholastic wrestling experts from across the state.

Each writer casts a weekly Top 20 ballot. Points are awarded to teams in descending order with 20 points going to the No. 1 team and one point to the No. 20 team on each ballot. Teams are ranked according to that point system and based on the total number of votes they receive from the association’s 17 members.

An impressive bronze trophy, donated by Prestige Imaging of Old Bridge, will be presented at the end of the 2012-13 campaign to the state’s No. 1 high school wrestling team in the final NJWWA poll.

(Note: I voted for Kittatinny, which is a solid Top 20 team, to be in the rankings).

The current Top 20 rankings:
1. South Plainfield (5-0) (17) 340
2. Brick Memorial (5-0) 301
3. Bergen Catholic (1-1) 291
4. Bound Brook (8-1) 283
5. Phillipsburg (3-0) 280
6. Don Bosco Prep (1-0) 260
7. Southern (1-0) 244
8. Camden Catholic (1-0) 212
9. St. Peter's Prep (0-0) 203
10. Delbarton (1-1) 199
11. High Point (4-1) 163
12. Howell (3-1) 157
13. Warren Hills (6-1) 140
14. Timber Creek (1-3) 89
15. Jackson Memorial (3-0) 86
16. Long Branch (1-0) 84
17. Toms River South (4-1) 59
18. St. Joseph (Montvale) (0-1) 38
19. Watchung Hills (5-0) 32
20. Delsea (5-0) 27

Others receiving votes: Kittatinny 16, Hunterdon Central 14, North Hunterdon 12, Roxbury 5, East Brunswick 5, Hanover Park 4, Hopewell Valley 1, Paulsboro 1.

NJWWA voting members (in alphabetical order): Bob Behre (Trenton Times); Donald J. Brower (; Patrick Buganski (The Mat Pack); Frank D’Esposito (; Steve Falk (Asbury Park Press of Neptune and Hitting the Mats); Brian Fortner (Express-Times); Harry Frezza (Courier News of Bridgewater); Joe Hofmann (Daily Record of Parsippany); Screwy Louie Lazzari (New Jersey Wrestling Historian); John Lewis (Burlington County Times); Ron Mazzola (On the Mat); Tom McGuirk (Daily Journal of Vineland); John O’Kane (Atlantic City Press); Anthony Spaulding (New Jersey Herald); Greg Tufaro (Home News Tribune of East Brunswick); Mike Weilamann (Open Mike); Joe Zedalis (Trenton Times).

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