Kittatinny's wrestling team is a handful to wrestle on the mat.
That's only fitting, since the offensive position is a big reason why the Cougars came out on top Tuesday night in a 48-15 waxing of Delaware Valley in an independent clash between state ranked teams in Hampton.
Kittatinny (19-2), ranked No. 11 by the New Jersey Wrestling Writers, registered five pins and was devastating with half-nelsons and arm bars. In addition, coach John Gill's team decisively won the takedown battle -- 16-6.
"Some days we look dominant on our feet ... today we couldn't get off the bottom," said Gill, now 8-4 all-time against Delaware Valley and 484-148-5 overall in 32 seasons. "We looked real good on top [total of 14 awarded back points]. We wrestled well. [Del Val] is a quality team and we've got a lot of history [between the programs]. We've had some great matches in the past. They're not the team they were two months ago."
No. 20 Delaware Valley (12-7), which last won in the series in 1999, has dropped the last six meetings between the schools and is 1-4 all-time in postseason matchups -- including four Group 2 finals. But that's the past, and in the present, coach Andy Fitz's team is desperately trying to get healthy for a run in the upcoming Central Jersey, Group 2 sectional tournament.
Junior Michael Adam (120) and senior Alex Niemann (152) were absent again for this one, but Fitz is hopeful they can return to the lineup at home on Saturday against Belvidere and Northern Highlands. Del Val faced an uphill battle against the Sussex County powerhouse even with their missing starters.
"They are one of the premiere programs in the state," Fitz said. "Yes, we need to get better in certain areas and we need to get better for next week. We won four bouts, and maybe with Adam and Niemann, we win six. We let a couple [of losses] slip away late. Kittatinny is a better team. They wrestle like a college team on top."
Junior Christian Silva (113) and freshman Nick Klinger (120) got Kittatinny off to a quick start with back-to-back pins to open the match. Del Val came right back with wins from seniors Mike Pongracz (126) and Matt Gilmore (132) to close the gap to 12-9.
Pongracz (23-0) decked former district runner-up Nick West in 1:20, while Gilmore hung on for a 5-4 win over freshman Austin Scrivani. Gilmore, fourth in Region 5 last season, got the only two takedowns in the bout, but played into Scrivani's hands by staying on the mat too long. Scrivani got a pair of reversals, the second with seven seconds left in the third period.
Sophomore Tom Murphy hit a pair of dumps -- the second one planted Holden Baker for a pin in 5:11 at 138. District 3 champion Nick Romyns won a 9-4 decision over reserve Cory Lightner at 145, and senior Connor Zandarski followed with a 2-1 win at 152 to stretch Kittatinny's lead to 24-9 after seven bouts.
Kody Eichlin's 5-2 win over Dave Popek at 160 was Del Val's next-to-last win until Marek Tomanek outlasted Tom Smith for a 2-1 win in a rideout at 285. In between, Kieran Gerrity and Dylan Wunder posted pins at 170 and 182, respectively, while state qualifier Jake Brook, up from 195, needed a late takedown to pull out a 12-11 win over Brian Baehr at 220.
Gerrity (26-3), a state qualifier, used a very tight half to stick Region 5 qualifier Luke Zehnbauer in 1:22 -- in what was expected to be a featured bout. Zehnbauer came off the mat and appeared to be favoring his right side. Wunder also used a half to pin Ryan Metz in 1:56.
Fitz said his team was probably lagging after competing in five matches over a four-day span.
"They looked a little tired and it was a long bus ride," he said. "They will have [Wednesday] off and then we'll look to sharpen up. Having this match was better than practicing again."
Kittatinny will likely have the rest of the week off unless it picks up an opponent in advance of next week's North 1, Group 1 tournament. The top-seeded Cougars will be gunning for their third straight sectional title and 18th overall.
Del Val drew the No. 2 seed in its section as it bids for the program's first title since 2006.
KITTATINNY 48, DELAWARE VALLEY 15
113 -- Jr. Christian Silva (22-7), K, p. Fr. Kyle Refalvy (3-7), 2:24.
120 -- Fr. Nick Klinger (12-16), K, p. So. Ryan Erwin (11-11), 1:20.
126 -- Sr. Mike Pongracz (23-0), DV, p. Jr. Nick West (9-18), 1:20.
132 -- Sr. Matt Gilmore (14-7), DV, d. Fr. Austin Scrivani (20-9), 5-4 .
138 -- So. Tom Murphy (26-3), K, p. Jr. Holden Baker (15-9), 5:11.
145 -- Jr. Nick Romyns (21-5), K, d. So. Cory Lightner (5-4), 9-4
152 -- Sr. Connor Zandarski (12-12), K, d. Fr. Kyle Schlittler (4-6), 2-1
160 -- Jr. Kody Eichlin (21-2), DV, d. Sr. Dave Popek (10-11), 5-2.
170 -- Jr. Kieran Gerrity (26-3), K, p. Jr. Luke Zehnbauer (18-9), 1:22.
182 -- Jr. Dylan Wunder (22-7), K, p. Sr. Ryan Metz (9-10), 1:56.
195 -- Jr. Garrett Armstrong (26-3), K, forfeit.
220 -- Sr. Jake Brook (26-3), K, d. Jr. Brian Baehr (18-9), 12-11.
285 -- Jr. Marek Tomanek (8-1), DV, d. Jr. Tom Smith (15-12), 2-1 OT (rideout).
106 -- Fr. Jake Van Wingerden (18-11), K, d. Fr. Vito Intili (11-6), 4-3.
Records -- Delaware Valley 12-7; Kittatinny 19-2.
Official -- Frank Leitner.