Andrew Kaluzny took the right approach heading into Thursday night's match against Kittatinny.
Coming off a tough individual loss the night before, the Phillipsburg senior flushed away the memory and turned in one of the biggest performances to help the short-handed Stateliners post a 34-22 victory over the Cougars in an independent matchup at The Pit.
Kaluzny's 3-1 win over District 3 champion Nick Romyns at 145 pounds sent P'burg (10-2), ranked No. 7 in the New Jersey Wrestling Writers Top 20, on its way to a third straight win in the series. The 10th-ranked Cougars (17-2) were feeling pretty good after Tom Murphy's 7-4 win over Max Elling in the previous bout at 138, but Kaluzny all but squashed the visitors' hopes of an upset by converting the winning takedown with just one second left on the clock.
"Coach [Dave Post] said we needed to get at least one from 132 to 145," said Kaluzny, who was headlocked and pinned by Delaware Valley's Austin McLaughlin on Wednesday. "We got [two] and this was a big win. [Kittatinny] is a tough team and we knew we had to wrestle a nice, crisp match [against Delaware Valley, a 51-18 win] to be ready for this one. I knew if I kept in good position I'd get a big takedown."
That loss coupled with Phillipsburg's pin at 160 -- where Jake Kocsis ran right through Kittatinny senior Dave Popek for a pin in 5:58 -- all but sealed the victory. Kittatinny still had life after Kieran Gerrity's pin at 170, but a 6-3 win by Dylan Wunder (182), who was nearly decked by P'burg sophomore Yann Ondele, and a major by Jake Brook (195), left the Cougars needing two pins in the final bouts just to tie it.
Sophomore Tim Hinkle clinched it for P'burg with a 6-1 win over Tom Smith at 220 -- nearly getting a pin in the final seconds of the bout.
P'burg beat Kittatinny from the neutral position -- a 21-13 edge in takedowns -- and won several matches in the late statges to run its series ledger to 12-6 all-time dating to 1994. P'burg is now 8-2 at home against the Sussex County school.
"We couldn't get any momentum and my hat's off to the Stateliners," said veteran Kittatinny coach John Gill. "The better team won and we were not the better team based on what I saw tonight. We didn't step up and compete head-to-head with a championship-type team. I will say we weren't prepared. We choked."
Phillipsburg (10-2) started strong out of the chute as Brandon Paetzell earned a 16-7 major at 106, followed by senior Zach Fisher's 9-3 workmanlike decision over Christian Silva at 113. Fisher, a District 1 champion, nearly decked Silva in the first period after surrendering the opening takedown.
Sophomore Steve Friedman held on, literally, for a 3-2 win over Kittatinny freshman Nick Klinger at 120. Klinger nearly converted what would have been the go-ahead takedown in the final seconds of the bout. Instead, the 'Liners held a 10-0 lead early on.
Freshman Austin Scrivani got the Cougars on the board with a thrilling 13-9 win over junior Tylor Petchonka at 126, as Scrivani got a reversal and three back points in the final six seconds to pull out the victory. But P'burg stormed right back with Anthony Johnson's 20-second pin of Nick West at 132.
"Every guy in our lineup [came up big," said P'burg coach Dave Post, now 3-0 against Kittatinny. "It's exactly how we wrestled against Howell [a 33-18 win on Saturday]. We kept matches close late and the kids knew we were going to win matches."
Kocsis' pin at 160 was particularly big and really helped P'burg put Kittatinny's backs to the wall -- a 31-6 lead through nine bouts.
"[Kocsis] just wears you down and our conditioning is so good," Post said.
Kittatinny must regroup in a hurry as it travels to Hunterdon County on Friday for a date with Voorhees. P'burg heads to South Jersey for its annual match with Paulsboro on Saturday.
"We need to learn to step up," Gill said. "[Our younger guys] did things our seniors couldn't do today. This was a winnable match. We didn't need a bunch of miracles to win."
PHILLIPSBURG 34, KITTATINNY 22
106 -- Fr. Brandon Paetzell (21-5), P, md. Fr. Jake Van Wingerden (17-10), 16-7.
113 -- Sr. Zach Fisher (19-7), P, d. Jr. Christian Silva (20-7), 9-3.
120 -- So. Steve Friedman (17-10), P, d. Fr. Nick Klinger (11-15), 3-2.
126 -- Fr. Austin Scrivani (20-7), K, d. Jr. Tylor Petchonka (5-7), 13-9.
132 -- Sr. Anthony Johnson (7-4), P, p. Jr. Nick West (9-17), :20.
138 -- So. Tom Murphy (24-3), K, d. So. Max Elling (16-9), 7-4.
145 -- Sr. Andrew Kaluzny (17-10), P, d. Jr. Nick Romyns (19-5), 3-1.
152 -- So. Jimmy Schuitema (21-3), P, p. So. Brandon Olsen (7-6), 2:42.
160 -- Jr. Jake Kocsis (19-6), P, p. Sr. Dave Popek (10-9), 5:58.
170 -- Jr. Kieran Gerrity (24-3), K, p. Jr. Broderick Bupivi (16-10), 1:19.
182 -- Jr. Dylan Wunder (21-6), K, d. So. Yann Ondele (1-6), 6-3.
195 -- Sr. Jake Brook (24-3), K, md. So. Joe Maso (6-7), 13-4.
220 -- So. Tim Hinkle (12-12), P, d. Jr. Tom Smith (14-11), 6-1.
285 -- Jr. Garrett Armstrong (24-3), K, d. Sr. Jarrett Williams (21-6), 5-3.
Records -- Kittatinny 17-2; Phillipsburg 10-2.