Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Wrestling: Streaks laud 75 seasons (HWS rankings)

Tradition and history were not lost on the visiting team, when Hunterdon Central came calling on Warren Hills last Friday. It was Alumni Night, celebrating 76 years (75 seasons) of wrestling at the Warren County school.

"It was pretty nice," said Hunterdon Central coach Steve Gibble, now 16-5 against Warren Hills after his team's 35-24 win in a Skyland Conference tilt. "We gave our kids a little of the history -- looking up at the banners [one listing the names and years for all 46 of the state champs at Washington/Warren Hills]. I think our kids took a little from it as well."

Hopefully, the event organizers took something from it as well, and it will be better planned and conducted for the next anniversary. The wrestlers were lumped together by decade -- holding cheesy signs with the years sloppily scribbled on them -- and not all of them had their tremendous list of accomplishments read for the crowd, which I am certain was not familiar with all of these men. Some names were butchered by the fill-in announcer, and it was a real shame for this proud program that began in 1937.

What's more, there was no function after where all of these great wrestlers could have had a chance to catch up on all of the years gone by. Was Russ Riegel even invited? After all, Riegel is the only four-time state finalist (for Washington High School from 1943-46). The two-time champion also started and coached the Hunterdon Central program from 1956-91. How perfect would that have been to see him in the gym as a surprise guest of honor? Many I spoke to weren't even aware of it until days prior to the ceremony.

Ron, Art and Enzo Marinelli. (Facebook)
It was great to see former champions like the Marinelli brothers -- Enzo, Ron and Art -- one of just four sets of three brothers to win state titles in New Jersey history. Two-time champions Arnie Thompson, Ben Oberly and Justin Colaluce were in the house, along with Dan Slack and Marty White.

Former stars like Jim Miller, Dave Detrick, Bob Leh, John Rhinehart, Rob Rhinehart and Jeff Mayberry were among some others who made appearances to commemorate a special evening. Yes it, is Jeff, not Scott Mayberry as he was introduced to a surprisingly sparse crowd.

In fact, three of the four generations of district champions in the Detrick family were on hand -- Bob (1942), Dave (1965-67) and Daryl (1989).

"Events like these are special," said Gibble, who wrestled for Riegel and was a region champion, along with his brother, Tom, in 1980. "It doesn't happen that often. It's a testament to the program being 75 years."

Hopefully, there will be more of an effort to make events even more special in future years.

On to this week's rankings:

1. Hunterdon Central (16-1) -- Red Devils beat Franklin (45-21), Warren Hills (35-24), Old Bridge (43-15), Demarest (58-15) and Perth Amboy (42-27) last week. The win over Warren Hills was tight, as the Blue Streaks were right in it until the last few bouts, rallying back from a 21-0 deficit. Junior 138-pounder Gary Dinmore iced the win with a technical fall and enters the week 80-11 for his career. By the way, how does Demarest (Region 2) end up in the Region 5 Duals? Anyway, Central will be the top seed in the North 2, Group 4 sectional tournament that begins on Monday, Feb. 11.

Up next: Nutley at Parsippany triangular on Saturday.

2. Phillipsburg (12-2) -- Stateliners beat Delaware Valley (51-18), Kittatinny (34-22) and Paulsboro (44-22) last week. Win over Paulsboro included P'burg forfeiting 285. In Monday's 59-6 over Somerville, there was no bout at 285. Senior Jarrett Williams should be good to for the big showdown with Kevin McCann's South Plainfield Tigers, ranked No. 1 in New Jersey, at The Pit. Coach Dave Post's 'Liners will be the No. 2 seed in North 2, Group 4 -- seeking the program's 33rd sectional championship. Injured starters Corey Zinsmeister (shoulder) and Kyle Kinney (195) are still day to day. P'burg wrapped up the Skyland Conference Raritan Division title on Monday -- its 17th championship since joining the conference for the 1995-96 season. The 'Liners, who had won or shared 14 titles in a row until Hunterdon Central wrestled the Delaware West title away in the 2009-10 season, are 123-3 overall in divisional matches over the 18-year span.

Up next: South Plainfield at home on Wednesday.

3. Kittatinny (18-2) -- Cougars beat crosstown rival Newton (69-6) and Voorhees (37-25), but lost to Phillipsburg (34-22) at The Pit. Coach John Gill's team made back-to-back long road trips to P'burg and Voorhees and gave a good account. The win over Newton secured a third straight NJAC Freedom Division title in the four-year history of the conference. Cougars will be the No. 1 seed for the North 1, Group 1 sectional tournament -- seeking their third straight title and 18th overall.

Up next: Delaware Valley at home on Tuesday.

4. High Point (14-4) -- Wildcats had a short week with wins over Mount Olive (67-6) and Bloomfield (54-21). Win over Mount Olive wrapped up a fourth straight division title in the NJAC, where the Sussex County school is unbeaten in divisional matches. Including the last four SCIL titles, that's eight conference championships in a row. Coach John Gardner's troops will have the No. 1 seed in North 1, Group 2 as they bid for the program's fourth straight sectional crown and its Sussex County-leading 23rd overall. 'Cats will try to make it 10 straight against Newton this week since a 31-27 loss in 2003. Prior to that, Hillbillies won 18 in a row in the series from 1986 to 2002.

Up next: at Newton on Wednesday; West Morris at home on Friday.

5. Voorhees (21-4) -- Vikings beat Bridgewater-Raritan (42-28), East Brunswick (45-18), Old Bridge (49-15) and Perth Amboy (57-15), but lost to Kittatinny (37-25). Coach Eric Hall's squad should be a heavy favorite in North 2, Group 2 as the Hunterdon County school seeks its 15th title and first since 2004. Senior 170-pounder Jadaen Bernstein passed Hall to become the school's all-time wins leader at home against Kittatinny. Bernstein enters the week at 123-18.

Up next: North 2, Group 2 semifinals at home on Wednesday, Feb. 13.

6. North Hunterdon (14-3) -- Lions are on a major roll having won 11 in a row since their 29-27 loss to Skyland Conference rival Hunterdon Central on Jan. 17. Coach Tim Flynn's squad went 5-0 last week in independent action -- beating Lawrence (59-15), Montgomery (50-13), Demarest (55-18), East Brunswick (49-19) and Perth Amboy (50-24). North drew the No. 3 seed for the rugged North 2, Group 4 section and will likely get a rematch with Phillipsburg in the semifinals. The 'Liners won, 51-16, when the two met early in the season on Dec. 19. Senior 182-pounder Liam Korbul enters the week with 96 career wins.

Up next: North 2, Group 4 quarterfinals at home on Monday, Feb. 11.

7. Delaware Valley (12-6) -- Terriers opened last week with a 51-18 loss to Phillipsburg at home in a Skyland Conference Raritan Division showdown, followed by wins over Demarest (50-12), Old Bridge (45-24) and East Brunswick (34-22). Del Val, now 6-31 all-time vs. P'burg, snuck past Franklin, 37-31, at home on Monday for coach Andy Fitz's 100th win. Senior Mike Pongracz enters Tuesday's match at 135-14, eight wins shy of eclipsing Dan Kelly's school record of 142. Del Val will be the No. 2 seed in Central Jersey, Group 2 and should have a good shot at capturing the program's 15th sectional title overall and first since 2006.

Up next: at Kittatinny on Tuesday; Belvidere, Northern Highlands at home on Saturday.

8. Warren Hills (17-7) -- Blue Streaks opened last week with a 51-13 pasting of Somerville in a Skyland Conference Raritan Division clash and closed with a 35-24 loss to archrival Hunterdon Central on Friday. Coach Jarrett Hosbach's team will have the week off before the North 2, Group 3 sectional tournament. Streaks, who have four sectional titles and none since 2007, will be the No. 2 seed behind No. 1 juggernaut South Plainfield, which handed Warren Hills a 64-9 loss in last year's final.

Up next: North 2, Group 3 semifinals at home on Wednesday, Feb. 13.

9. Belvidere (13-4) -- County Seaters dropped a 43-24 decision to West Morris, but rebounded with victories over Hopatcong (63-13) and Mount Olive (39-28) on Saturday. On Monday night, a loss to Bound Brook officially gave the Crusaders the Skyland Conference Valley Division title.

Up next: Newton at home on Friday; Northern Highlands at Delaware Valley triangular on Saturday.

10. Lenape Valley (6-10) -- Patriots had another up-and-down week -- going 1-4 with its lone win a 54-18 pasting of Secaucus. Coach Doug Vetter's squad closed the week with losses to Jefferson, Delbarton (44-24) and Paramus (44-17). If healthy, and that's a big if this season, Lenape could reach the final in the North 1, Group 1 draw as the No. 3 seed. Pats will host No. 6 Wallkill Valley, which they beat 45-30 on Jan. 23, in Monday's opening round.

Up next: Morris Knolls at home on Tuesday; Randolph at home on Friday.

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