Thursday, January 31, 2013

Wrestling: Streaks celebrate turning 76 against HC

It's not too often that a high school sports program can celebrate 76 years of existence. 

And the long and proud wrestling tradition at Washington/Warren Hills, which started in 1937, is cause for a party almost year round. On Friday night, former and current wrestlers and coaches will be lauded for their service prior to the Blue Streaks' Skyland Conference match against longtime rival Hunterdon Central.

The 75th season ceremony -- expected to announce the honorees by decade -- is slated to begin around 6:40 p.m. The varsity match will begin at approximately 7:15. A 75-year celebration was scheduled for last year, but snow wiped out the proceedings and a scheduled match against North Hunterdon.

Friday's event is under the sole direction of the Warren Hills Wrestling Club. It is unknown exactly how many will alumni will attend, as a registration period to take place around 6 p.m.

Among those expected to be in attendance are the Marinelli brothers -- Art, Ron and Enzo.

Art Marinelli won the 168-pound title for Washington in 1955, while Ron Marinelli won consecutive titles in 1951-52. Enzo Marinelli was the first in his family to capture state gold at heavyweight in '49.  

They are among just three sets of three brothers to win state titles in the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex area. The other trios are from Newton.

Joseph (1945), Harry (1946-48) and Edward Lanzi (1950) were the first trio to win in New Jersey history, while William (1945-46), Dan (1953) and George Gray (1955), who won the same year as Art Marinelli at the Elizabeth Armory, made it two sets for the Sussex County school.

The only other set of three brothers to win state titles in New Jersey history are the Skoves from Long Branch -- Luke (1979-81), Jude (1980) and Andrew (1983).

According to the Washington/Warren Hills Alumni Night page on Facebook, others planning to attend include heavyweight state champ Dan Slack (1977), along with two-time champ and three-time state placewinner Ben Oberly (1985-86), now an assistant coach for the Streaks.

Former heavyweight Bob Ziadie, a district champion and region third-place finisher in 1978, also will make the trip down from the Mountain Top, Pa., area. Ed Read, a heavyweight for the Streaks and two-time district runner-up in the early 1970s, is coming all the way from Maine.

Washington/Warren Hills has produced 46 individual state champions -- second-most behind Newton's record of 82. Washington High School became Warren Hills for the 1967-68 school year. The program enters Friday's match with a season mark of 17-6 and an overall record of 672-457-11 since the school's first season in 1937-38.

No word on whether former legendary Hunterdon Central coach Russ Riegel, a standout wrestler for Washington, was contacted or will attend the event. Riegel was a four-time state finalist from 1943-46 and champion in '44 (120 pounds) and '46 (138) under late Blue Streaks coach John Goles, who put the Warren County school on the wrestling map. Riegel, who resides in Kentucky, started Central's program and retired as one of the state's all-time winningest coaches -- once breaking Goles' state wins record -- with a mark of 469-84-6 in 35 seasons from 1956 to 1991. Goles was 268-154-8 in 36 seasons from 1943-79.

At the time of his high school wrestling career, Riegel was only the second to participate in four state finals -- the first was Roselle Park's Herb Farrell (1936-39) -- and is among only 11 Jersey wrestlers to do so. Riegel was the second state champ for Washington, behind Harry Pambianchi (1940). Ben Tedesco and Vince Fucci were the Streaks' first state finalists in 1939. The first state tournament was held in 1934 at Union High School.

The Warren County school has produced 88 state finalists, along with 163 district and 51 region champions.

Hunterdon Central leads the all-time series, 39-12-1, dating to 1960, and has won four straight against Warren Hills, including a 33-27 win in the last meeting on Jan. 25, 2012 in Flemington. The match in 2011 was snowed out -- the first time in series history that these rivals did not meet. Warren Hills' last wins came back-to-back in 2006 and '07. Riegel was 16-3-1 against Goles (losing in 1966, '71 and '75 while tying in '74) and 24-7-1 overall against his alma mater. Seven of the Streaks' wins have come since 1990.

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