Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Wrestling: Region 1 preview, predictions

Where: Wallkill Valley Regional High School, Hardyston.

Wednesday schedulePreliminaries, 5 p.m. (Doors open at 3 p.m.).

Friday schedule: Quarterfinals, 4 p.m. (Doors open at 2:40 p.m.)

Saturday schedule: (Doors open at 7 a.m.): Semifinals, 9 a.m., immediately followed by two rounds of wrestlebacks; third-place consolations approximately 30 minutes after wrestlebacks; championships following consolations.

Returning champions (5): David McFadden, DePaul; Sam Tareky, Wayne Valley; Tyler Kozimor, Hackettstown; Evan Bray, Belvidere; Dillon Artigliere, Roxbury (2011).

Qualifiers by school

High Point 12; Kittatinny 12; Phillipsburg 10; Roxbury 10; Wayne Valley 10; DePaul 9; Lenape Valley 9; West Morris 9; Warren Hills 8; Montville 7; Morris Knolls 6; West Milford 6; Jefferson 5; Wayne Hills 5; Belvidere 4; Lakeland 4; Mendham 4; Morris Hills 4; Mount Olive 3; Pompton Lakes 4; Pope John 4; Hopatcong 3; Pequannock 3; Randolph 3; Wallkill Valley 3; Hackettstown 2; Newton 2; North Warren 2; Sparta 2; Vernon 2; Butler 1; Dover 0; Kinnelon 0; Morris Catholic 0.

106 -- 1. Brandon Paetzell, Phillipsburg; 2. Dom Gallo, High Point; 3. Stephen Caserta, Roxbury.

Note: Really good weight class. Paetzell (29-5), who needs one win to become the fourth P'burg freshman to hit 30 and four to eclipse Rylan Watson's school record (32 in 2007-08), is so dominating on his feet. It was a takedown that gave him a 3-1 win in sudden victory over Gallo in the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex semifinals. Gallo (32-3) owns a win over Caserta, 2-1, while slick Morris Knolls freshman Garrett O'Shea (33-3) is 1-2 against Caserta this season. DePaul's William Kui is another good one. Kui-Caserta in the quarterfinals on Friday should have the place jumping.

113 -- 1. Max Nauta, Warren Hills; 2. Bryan Damon, Jefferson; 3. A.J. Vindici, Randolph.

Note: Really looking forward to seeing how this weight class shakes out. For all of the talk about how Region 1 might be a little down this year, and I agree to an extent, this grouping gets you awfully excited about this week. Nauta, a runner-up at 106 last year, is the No. 3 seed, giving you a good idea of how tough this field is. The sophomore is looking real sharp -- decking tough P'burg senior Zach Fisher in the District 1 finals and beating the Stateliner for a third time. Damon (35-1), the two-time D3 champion, has been outstanding all season. He owns a 4-3 win over D2 champ Vindici, who was seventh in the state last year but third in R1. Nauta hammered Vindici in last year's R1 quarters and was knocked off a round before their rematch in AC.

120 -- 1. Jared Kobis, High Point; 2. Cory Fleming, West Morris; 3. Peter Lipari, Lenape Valley.

Note: Kobis (35-1), who is four wins shy of matching Nick Francavilla's freshman victories record (39) at the Sussex County school, has looked like the champion here all season to me, so I'm certainly not backing off now. It's impressive how High Point keeps cranking out these stud ninth-graders. His only loss is in OT to North Hunterdon state placewinner Ryan Pomrinca in the HWS finals. Fleming looked solid in winning the D1 title, though he had his hands full with North Warren's Matt Ritchie. Fleming is dangerous -- rallying from a 7-0 deficit against Kobis in the dual meet in a 10-9 loss. Lipari, who won his first D2 title, is in a tough quarter as the No. 4 seed. Wayne Valley's Tyler Hrycak also is a threat as the No. 3 seed.

126 -- 1. David McFadden, DePaul; 2. Joe Kratochvil, Warren Hills; 3. Ian Burke, Sparta.

Note: One of the clear-cut choices in this tournament as McFadden (34-1), the state runner-up last year at 113, rates as a heavy favorite for his second title in as many appearances. Kratochvil (29-5) is a returning finalist and looked real good in winning his second D1 title on Saturday. It gets a little dicey after those two. Burke (30-5) entered D3 as a favorite and was thumped in the final by Kittatinny freshman Austin Scrivani, one of a school-record six champs for the Cougars, who also had as many in 1996, 2000, '01, '02, '04 and '05. We will likely see Burke-Scrivani II in Friday's quarterfinals as they are the Nos. 5 and 4 seeds, respectively.

132 -- 1. Mike Derin, High Point; 2. Glenn Haines, Lenape Valley; 3. Sam Tareky, Wayne Valley.

Note: These weights aren't getting any easier as this one gives you a major migraine while dissecting this bracket. Tareky (34-3), a returning champion and his school's third overall, is real good. His attempt at repeating got a whole lot tougher when Derin (13-3), a third-place finisher last year, got thrown into the top half of the draw, along with returning finalist Anthony Johnson of P'burg. That's just the upper half and we'll see Derin and Johnson go at it in the quarters. Lurking down below is returning runner-up Glenn Haines of Lenape Valley, who is the No. 2 seed. Derin, who missed time earlier this season, is really rounding into form, though Tareky is super tough. I won't even use the word "upset," because all are capable of grabbing the gold.

138 -- 1. Matt Benvenuto, Lenape Valley; 2. Tom Murphy, Kittatinny; 3. Nick Matthews, West Morris.

Note: This might be the toughest of all 14 weights here, though I wouldn't argue anyone who fancies 132 or 145. Matthews (34-3) was ranked No. 1 all season by Open Mike, but slipped in the D1 final on Saturday -- blowing a 4-1 lead in the second period before getting chin-whipped and pinned by Phillipsburg's Max Elling. Benvenuto, who became the fourth at his school to win three district titles, has been solid all year though he was pinned by Murphy in their last encounter after a 6-5 win over the Kittatinny wrestler in the HWS semis. D3 champ Murphy (32-3) has two not-so-close wins over Elling this season. Matthews beat Benvenuto, 3-1, in a dual on Jan. 17.

145 -- 1. Jason Gaccione, High Point; 2. Tyler Kozimor, Hackettstown; 3. Jesse Thorsen, Belvidere.

Note: Trying to forecast this loaded weight is like playing the lottery, which I rarely do because of the impossible odds. Same feeling here. Thorsen is the top seed and won his first D1 title and OW honors at a class so stacked that returning champ and region fourth Andrew Kaluzny of P'burg failed to make the trip because of a fourth-place district finish. Kozimor is a returning region champ and lost to Thorsen, 7-6, in the D1 finals as he was looking to join his brother, Corey, a four-timer, and four other Tigers to win three or more district titles. Gaccione (33-4) was stunned by Kittatinny's Nick Romyns, 11-6, in the D3 finals -- getting tossed for five points after holding a 4-2 lead through two periods. That might have lit a huge fire under Romyns, who was fourth at 138 last year.

152 -- 1. Jimmy Schuitema, Phillipsburg; 2. Patrick VanDuyne, West Milford; 3. Dean Drugac, Morris Knolls.

Note: One of three weights where the pick is pretty much a consensus. Schuitema (29-3) is on a mission after finishing third here a year ago. The bottom half of the draw is extremely interesting. VanDuyne (29-4) dropped down for the postseason after appearing in only two bouts at 152 prior to districts. It's been eight years since West Milford had a champion (Rob Ragona in 2005). Drugac (33-3) was unbeaten in the region until a loss to Randolph's Sean Rodgers in the D2 finals. Drugac won their first meeting, 4-3, on Jan. 26. Jefferson's Luke Bohn (31-5) has been among the top five here all season, but was put to the test by Vernon's Ryan Ward in the D3 finals.

160 -- 1. Dillon Artigliere, Roxbury; 2. Sam Button, Mendham; 3. Jake Kocsis, Phillipsburg.

Artigliere (36-0), a two-time finalist and champ in 2011, may be the biggest favorite in recent R1 history. The junior, who enters the tournament with an overall mark of 107-8, has 19 pins, seven majors and three technical falls. Roxbury has 32 region champs in its history, tied with Kittatinny for sixth-most in this region. Button, who has lost twice to Artigliere by major decisions, really opened eyes by decking Kocsis in the first period in their D1 final. DePaul's Nick Carey (29-6) is the No. 4 seed.

170 -- 1. Parker Meytrott, Montville; 2. Kieran Gerrity, Kittatinny; 3. Broderick Bupivi, P'burg.

Note: Tough call here. Meytrott (36-1), who lost to Watchung Hills' Mike Carroccia, 3-1, early in the season, dropped a tough 2-0 decision to champion Clarke Moynihan of Kittatinny last year after a third-place finish in 2011. Gerrity (32-3), the top seed, was third last year at 160. The No. 3 seed is West Milford's Richard DiZenzo (26-6), who lost to Meytrott by technical fall and was pinned by Gerrity in the first period. Keep an eye on Phillipsburg's Broderick Bupivi (22-12), the six seed who won his first D1 title. He will match up with DiZenzo in the quarterfinals.

182 -- 1. Nick DePalma, DePaul; 2. Jake Brook, Kittatinny; 3. Evan Bray, Belvidere.

Note: Pretty deep class here with five wrestlers all capable of winning the title. DePalma (30-5), the No. 2 seed, had everyone talking early this season after his win by major decision over Bray (26-5), the No. 3 seed and a returning champion. Brook's D3 final with Newton's Josh Sibblies was a good one and earned the Kittatinny wrestler the No. 1 seed here. Brook (32-3) was third at 170 last year. Sibblies, who beat Brook in the HWS finals where Bray was third, has a a lot of talent and certainly is one of the stronger 182-pounders. He is the No. 7 seed and will have to navigate through DePalma and Bray just to get to the final. Morris Knolls' Michael Burns (35-1), the No. 3 seed, beat Sibblies, 3-2, earlier this season.

195 -- 1. Kyle Stoll, High Point; 2. Anthony Landberg, Wayne Valley; 3. Jesse Windt, West Morris.

Note: Brook dropping to 182 really opened up this weight class for Stoll, who finished third at 182 last year. Now it's up to him to take advantage of it. The third-seeded Stoll (30-5) has been a little hot-and-cold this season but he's super talented and a heavy favorite if he's on this week. Landberg (29-6), the top seed, was second at this weight a year ago -- losing to Newton's Jake Connelly, 3-2. Windt (30-7),  the No. 3 seed, steamrolled his way through a not-so-deep D1 field for his first title. He lost, 8-4, to Stoll on Feb. 9.

220 -- 1. J.B. Lawson, Belvidere; 2. Garrett Armstrong, Kittatinny; 3. Bobby McDonnell, High Point.

Note: We could be heading toward a third meeting between Lawson and Armstrong, who have split this season. Lawson (26-4), who won his first D1 title, prevailed, 3-2, in ultimate tiebreaker last time they met in the HWS finals. Armstrong (32-3), the D3 champion who has really come on this season, beat Lawson, 2-0, in December. He also owns three wins over McDonnell (28-7), the No. 7 seed and who is one to watch in the bottom quarter of the draw. Mount Olive senior Pete Andrich (32-4) is the D1 runner-up and has lost twice to Lawson, 5-2 and 7-3. He also lost, 5-4, in UTB to Wayne Valley's Justin Walker (28-5), the No. 2 seed. No. 3 Robert Levine of Wayne Hills, who lost, 4-2, to Lawson this year, was fourth at this weight in 2012.

285 -- 1. Andrew Pacheco, Warren Hills; 2. Ryan Appleby, Belvidere; 3. Jarrett Williams, P'burg.

Note: It's been a long time -- if ever -- that a group of heavyweights has entertained and drawn so much attention as the ones assembled here. Pacheco (29-5), a sophomore beast apply nicknamed "Bear," brought the D1 fans to their feet as he launched and decked Appleby in the finals on Saturday. They are 2-2 against each other the last two seasons. Pacheco is so talented that former Blue Streaks great Dan Slack, a Region 1 Hall of Famer and heavyweight state champ in 1977, slyly remarked that people are already saying "Dan who?" after that D1 performance in which Pacheco went a total of 1 minute, 58 seconds in three bouts. There's no chance that Slack, a three-time region champ and 75-3 in a three-year career, will be forgotten anytime soon. Appleby (26-4) prevailed, 13-7, when they met in December. Williams (26-7), the No. 5 seed, will have a lot of Garnet and Grey clad supporters this week at Wallkill's fan-friendly venue. He has a tough one out of the chute against West Milford's Will Wenzel (26-3) in the prelims. Williams is 1-1 in a pair of OT bouts with Appleby.


  1. On Sat sched, what are the "two rounds of wrestlebacks?"

  2. Quarterfinal losers meet in the first round and the winners face the semifinal losers in the second. The survivors meet for third place.