Monday, February 18, 2013

Wrestling: Voorhees, Kittatinny fall short in semifinals

Kittatinny's wrestling team has seen better days than its last two trips to Toms River.

On Sunday, the Cougars were on the short end of the most shocking result of the day as they dropped a 31-30 decision to Hanover Park in the NJSIAA Group 1 semifinals at Pine Belt Arena.

Kittatinny (21-3), which came in as a decided favorite and off two lopsided wins to capture the program's 18th sectional title, squandered a 24-6 lead after six bouts. Kieran Gerrity (170), Dylan Wunder (182) and Jake Brook (195) opened the match with pins, while the first sign of trouble came when Garrett Armstrong managed just a 6-0 win at 220.

"Hanover Park has been in the [Group 1] finals the last two years and they're certainly battling for something," said veteran Kittatinny coach John Gill, whose team was trying to get back to its first final since falling to Paulsboro in 2011. "Everybody wants to beat Kittatinny and they did. They're a very good team but I'd rather lose [to champion] Bound Brook. This hurts. If you are going to lose you want to lose to the best."

Hanover Park (13-6), which lost to Bound Brook in the final, got on the board with a pin at 285 before Jake Van Wingerden posted a 5-0 decision at 106 to give the Cougars an 18-point lead. But losses at 113 and 132, sandwiched around Hanover Park pins, put Kittatinny in a tough spot with the match tied at 24 and four bouts to go.

Tom Murphy (138) and Nick Romyns (145) gave Kittatinny a 30-24 lead with decision wins, but that left the match in the hands of Connor Zandarski (152) and Dave Popek (160) -- both underdogs in the final two bouts. Ryan Paff beat Zandarski, 7-5, in a wild one, while Anthony Bassolino secured the win with a 12-4 major that occurred when Popek was banged for a stall point in the final seconds.

Had Bassolino won a by regular decision, the match would have been awarded to Hanover Park on criteria -- most first points scored (15-13). Gill also lamented the fact that he didn't have Zandarski weighed in at 145 which would have given him the option of putting Romyns at 152 and Zandarski in a more favorable matchup against a freshman needing wins in two of the last three bouts.

"This was a great match -- a 7-7 split -- and the difference was a four-point decision on match No. 14," said Gill, now 19-14 in Group matches since the program's first appearance in 1991. "What a great high school match. We just came out on the losing end. We had a great season. We wanted to be in the final so we fell short of our goal."

With 11 starters returning next season, Kittatinny will be a good bet to return to Toms River for a fourth straight year in a quest for the program's ninth championship and first since 2008. Hanover Park returns 12 starters in 2013-14.

Vikings fall short in Group 2 semis

Voorhees, making its first appearance in Toms River after claiming its first sectional title since 2004, dropped a tough 26-22 decision to Long Branch in the Group 2 semifinals.

The Vikings trailed, 20-14, with five bouts left but were favored in three. Cody Ihling's 10-4 loss at 113 spelled trouble and Thomas Bieshke's 4-3 loss on a takedown at the buzzer all but sealed the Hunterdon County school's fate.

Tyler Yarnell (126) and Christian Okulicz only managed major decisions, leaving 138 as the deciding bout. Long Branch's Nick Menkin built an early lead but had to hang on in a 5-4 win over Mike Muscatello to help the Green Wave advance.

Voorhees also lost two overtime bouts at 195 and 220.

"You've got to win the tight ones at this level," said Voorhees coach Eric Hall, whose team finished with a mark of 23-5. "I'm proud of our kids and coaches. This is a step in the right direction. We have nothing to hang our heads about. We had a fantastic season and now we take the next step to districts."

Hall's father, Bob, built Voorhees into a state power after starting the program when the school opened in 1975. The Vikings won 13 of their 15 sectional titles and all four Group titles in his 23 seasons in charge. His teams went 332-99-5 overall from 1975-98.

(Group 1 semifinal)


170 -- Jr. Kieran Gerrity (29-3), K, p. Sr. Anthony Lee (1-5), 1:46.
182 -- Jr. Dylan Wunder (25-7), K, p. So. Eric Boccard (7-14), 2:26.
195 -- Sr. Jake Brook (29-3), K, p. So. Thomas Hunt (0-19), 3:40.
220 -- Jr. Garrett Armstrong (29-3), K, d. Sr. Will Julich (11-11), 6-0.
285 -- Jr. Nicholas LaShell (23-4), HP, p. Jr. Tom Smith (17-13), 3:36.
106 -- Fr. Jake Van Wingerden (21-11), K, d. Fr. Leonardo Stefanelli (12-16), 5-0.
113 -- So. Austin Nash (23-8), HP, d. Jr. Christian Silva (24-8), 7-2.
120 -- So. Anthony Cefolo (15-0), HP, p. Fr. Nick Klinger (13-18), 3:29.
126 -- Sr. Genaro Cuccolo (25-4), HP, p. Jr. Nick West (9-20), 3:30.
132 -- Jr. Joseph Zecca (14-4), HP, d. Fr. Austin Scrivani (22-10), 5-3.
138 -- So. Tom Murphy (29-3), K, d. So. Christian Bassolino (19-10), 5-1.
145 -- Jr. Nick Romyns (24-5), K, d. Fr. Anthony Olivieri (16-13), 6-2.
152 -- Jr. Ryan Paff (18-9), HP, d. Sr. Connor Zandarski (14-13), 7-5.
160 -- Jr. Anthony Bassolino (25-5), HP, md. Sr. Dave Popek (12-12), 12-4.
Records -- Kittatinny 21-3; Hanover Park 13-5.

(Group 2 semifinal)

145 -- Sr. Nick George (29-3), LB, d. Jr. William Gonsiewski (11-15), 6-0.
152 -- Sr. Luke Balina (19-5), LB, tf. Sr. Josh Hausler (2-5), 16-1, 4:36.
160 -- Sr. Jake George (27-4), LB, d. Jr. Jordan Juliano (19-13), 9-2.
170 -- Sr. Jadaen Bernstein (33-0), V, tf. Jr. Connor Mullan (5-3), 19-4, 5:00.
182 -- Sr. Nick Ruggiero (26-7), V, d. Sr. Nick Pappayliou (27-6), 7-6.
195 -- Sr. Chris Pappayliou (27-4), LB, d. Sr. Kyle Levy (24-9), 3-2 OT (rideout).
220 -- Sr. Joey Guidetti (17-8), LB, d. Sr. Emilio Guevara (15-18), 2-1 OT (rideout).
285 -- So. Alex Fischetti (24-8), V, d. Sr. Gianni Augustin (24-8), 1-0.
106 -- Fr. Kyle DiNapoli (22-9), V, d. So. Mike Jones (23-7), 9-4.
113 -- So. Tommy Flannigan (16-6), LB, d. Jr. Cody Ihling (21-12), 10-4.
120 -- So. Andy Hernandez (17-11), LB, d. Jr. Thomas Bieshke (20-11), 4-3.
126 -- Sr. Tyler Yarnell (24-9), V, md. Fr. Danny Mullan (7-16), 13-4.
132 -- Jr. Christian Okulicz (23-10), V, md. Jr. Aaron Torres (7-18), 8-0.
138 -- Jr. Nick Menkin (22-10), LB, d. Jr. Mike Muscatello (16-12), 5-4.
Records -- Long Branch 15-5; Voorhees 23-5.

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