Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wrestling: Region 1 prelims recap, tidbits

Opening night at Region 1 held very little suspense, sans a few entertaining bouts.

The biggest uprising of the night occurred at 160 pounds, where referee Frank Leitner hit Lenape Valley's Joe Labell for stalling at the buzzer to force overtime with Kittatinny's David Popek. LaBell was leading, 1-0 at the time, and wouldn't you know it, Popek got the takedown in sudden victory to advance. The two had split in two previous meetings this season.

Lenape Valley coach Doug Vetter, who tried in vain to get Leitner over to the scorer's table for an explanation at the end of regulation, was absolutely incensed after the bout. A heated exchange with Leitner spilled outside as they exited through one of the gymnasium's side doors. Fans were still buzzing about it well into the next few bouts.

In my opinion, and many others, it was a bad call. I think Leitner is one of the top officials in the area and a heckuva good guy. But I didn't agree with the decision, and we move on.

Here's a look at what else went down on Wednesday at Wallkill Valley:

1. District 1 was the big winner as it advanced 17 of 28 into Friday's semifinal round. Pretty impressive when you consider the rough evenings for both Phillipsburg and Warren Hills -- which went a combined 2-8 on the evening. The Blue Streaks went 0-for-5 -- as Austin Pidoto (106), Kevin Bundschuh (138), Evan Butka (152), Steve Cleaver (182) and Ryan Witner (195) saw their seasons end. All were either decided or slight underdogs in their respective matchups.

Zach Fisher (113) and Jake Kocsis (160) were the lone Stateliners to advance, as Tylor Petchonka (126), Joe Maso (182) and Jarrett Williams (285) all lost first-round matches. Biggest surprise to me was Williams losing to West Milford's Will Wenzel, 9-7, in sudden victory. Williams gave up a five-pointer in the first period, but rallied back as he converted a takedown to tie it with about 1:20 left in the third period. But for some reason, Williams, who scores just about all of his points from the neutral position, never let Wenzel up to try for another takedown.

West Morris carried the D1 flag by advancing all seven of its wrestlers in the prelims -- giving coach Ken Rossi a total of nine in Friday's quarterfinals. John Schade (106), Dylan Luciano (113), David Migliaccio (126), Nick Matthews (138), Brandon Carcuffe (145), John Sickles (160) and Adam Kratch (170) all won their first-round matchups.

District 2 was next with 15 winners, followed by District 3 with 14 and District 4 with 10.

2. High Point had a great first night -- going 6-for-7 -- as Connor McHugh (126), Chris Auer (138), Jason Gaccione (145), Antonio Porraspita (170), Bobby McDonnell (220) and Gunny Wassong (285) all were victorious for the Wildcats, who have a tournament-high 11 quarterfinalists. High Point junior Tommy Hooker dropped a 7-3 decision to Vernon's Ryan Ward at 152.

Auer was deadlocked in a scoreless tie with Wallkill's Jim Lodema through three regulation and three overtime periods, before escaping with 13 seconds left in the ultimate tiebreaker. Lodema won the flip since there were no points in regulation and chose top after riding Auer out in the second 30-second period.

Sussex County rival Kittatinny, which also qualified a tournament-best 12 wrestlers along with High Point, went 3-3 in the first round. Christian Silva (113), Popek and Dylan Wunder (195) all posted victories. Jake VanWingerden (106), Nick Klinger (120) and Tom Smith (285) were the Cougars eliminated from the tournament. Klinger gave a good account in an 8-5 loss to Roxbury state qualifier Devon LaFranco.

3. The seeding process is always a topic of discussion prior to the tournament and here are the numbers from opening night. In all, eight seeded wrestlers fell in the prelims, including No. 4 Zach D'Apolito of Wayne Valley at 170. There were four No. 5s that lost, along with a No. 6, 7 and an 8.

Jefferson's Tyler Zimmerman decked D'Apolito in 2:15, while Williams and Smith were the No. 5 and 7 seeds, respectively, to fall at 285. Newton's Gus Protogeropoulos was the six seed at 195. Sparta's Ian Burke (126) and Lodema were No. 5s that lost.

4. Hackettstown's Tyler Kozimor was the lone returning champion -- there are four others in the tournament -- to compete on Wednesday. Kozimor scored an easy 11-4 win over Pope John's Anthony Gignatelli.

Senior Brandon Rothman also won for the Tigers -- 6-2 over Wayne Hills' Ryan Inglett at 132.

The 145-pound class is among the toughest here, as Gaccione and West Morris Brandon Carcuffe were also involved in preliminary matchups. Gaccione is the No. 4 seed and Carcuffe is No. 5, while Kozimor drew the No. 2 seed.

5. There's actually excitement brewing at heavyweight, as Williams-Wenzel got the crowd going on opening night. I'm anxious to see top seed Andrew Pacheco, a sophomore sensation for Warren Hills, in his Wallkill Valley debut. The "Bear" wrestled a total of 1:58 in three bouts to win his first District 1 title over the weekend.

Belvidere's Ryan Appleby, who is 2-2 all-time against Pacheco, decked Montville's Ethan Fox in 1:34 to advance to the quarters. He was the only County Seater to wrestle on Wednesday, a long wait and drive for the coaching staff for a bout that didn't even go a full period. But, hey, they aren't complaining one bit.

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