Friday, March 1, 2013

Wrestling: Region 1 quarters recap, tidbits

Another exciting night in Region 1 is in the books.

Not too many upsets at Wallkill Valley, as nine seeded outside the top four advanced, along with two unseeded wrestlers. Otherwise, all No. 1s advanced and only two No. 2s fell in the quarterfinals.

District 1 was the big winner again -- going 19-12 overall. District 3 was 17-11, District 2 went 14-15 and District 4 finished 6-18.

Among the D1 winners was Warren Hills sophomore Max Nauta, who earned a workmanlike 7-1 decision over Kittatinny's Christian Silva at 113 pounds. Nauta also beat Silva, 4-0, in the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex semifinals in January. This one was 3-1, until Nauta got a takedown and two backs to ice it late in the third period.

"Christian and I practice together all the time at [Sir Wrestling Club in Sussex County]," Nauta said. "We’re close friends and it’s always going to be a close match."

Nauta (29-4), a runner-up at 106 last year, is looking to become the first Blue Streak to reach the finals as a freshman and sophomore since Dave Richmond won the first of three titles as a sophomore in 2004.

Warren Hills went 3-for-3 in this round after an 0-for-5 night in Wednesday's preliminaries. Senior Joe Kratochvil (126) and sophomore Andrew Pacheco (285) had little trouble reaching joining Nauta in the semifinals.

Nauta, the No. 3 seed, will meet A.J. Vindici of Randolph, the No. 2, in the semifinals on Saturday morning. Last year, Nauta majored Vindici, 12-3, in the quarterfinals. Vindici went on to place seventh in the state tournament.

"I’m feeling great. I had a good week of practice, my weight is good," said Nauta, who sustained three of his losses in the first week of the season as he adjusted to the 113-pound weight. "I just have to keep my head in the match and make sure my opponents don’t do anything."

Jefferson's Bryan Damon (36-1) will oppose Phillipsburg's Zach Fisher (28-8) -- a 1-5 matchup -- in the other semifinal. Nauta owns three wins over Fisher this season, including a pin in the District 1 finals. As far as seeds go, Nauta, now 59-11 overall, is the underdog. But many feel he's the one to beat, including Nauta.

"That’s how I look at every match," Nauta said of being the favorite.

Here's a closer look at the other notable happenings in Region 1:

Six-pack for three HWS teams

High Point, Kittatinny and Phillipsburg all advanced a tournament-high six wrestlers through to the semifinals. Belvidere is next with four.

Along with Fisher, the other Stateliners to advance were Brandon Paetzell (106), Max Elling (138), Jimmy Schuitema (152), Jake Kocsis (160) and Broderick Bupivi (170). Paetzell (30-5) is the fourth 'Liner to reach 30 wins as a freshman -- joining Pete Poretta (31 in 1991), Rylan Watson (32 in 2008) and Schuitema (31 in 2012).

Bupivi, the D1 champion, continues to impress as he posted an impressive 16-2 major of No. 3 seed Richard DiZenzo of West Milford. Fisher and Schuitema were the only P'burg wrestlers to pin their way into the semis.

High Point, which had a tournament-high 11 in the quarters, was involved in two of the most entertaining bouts of the night, as sophomore Mike Derin outlasted Phillipsburg's Anthony Johnson, 12-8, in their 132-pound quarterfinal. 

The two combined for six reversals, as Derin got his third, locking up a cradle in the process for three backs to erase an 8-7 deficit with less than a minute to go in the bout.

At 220 pounds, seventh-seeded Bobby McDonnell let a 5-2 lead slip away in the third before prevailing, 10-8, in sudden victory over Wayne Valley's Justin Walker, the No. 2 seed.

Dom Gallo (106), Jared Kobis (120), Jason Gaccione (145) and Kyle Stoll (195) also advanced for the Wildcats. Kobis, the No. 1 seed, won a tight 1-0 decision over Mendham's Vince Pallone.

Kittatinny figured on sending seven to the semifinals, but junior Garrett Armstrong was thrown and pinned by Wayne Hills senior Robert Levine, the No. 3 seed, in their 220-pound quarterfinal.

Austin Scrivani (126), Tom Murphy (138), Nick Romyns (145), Kieran Gerrity (170), Jake Brook (182) and Dylan Wunder (195) were the Cougars to advance. Brook, the No. 1 seed, was tossed for a takedown early before storming back to deck Roxbury's Peter Sutton in 5:12.

Sibblies serves notice

No one has had to overcome more adversity than Newton senior Josh Sibblies. The No. 7 seed put on quite a show in an 8-6 win over DePaul's Nick DePalma, the No. 2 seed, in the 182-pound quarterfinals.

Sibblies (32-4), who lost most or all of the last two seasons with knee injuries, surrendered the opening takedown before getting three of his own to pull away in the second and third periods. He hit a nice double-leg attempt to go up, 4-3, in the second period and followed with a sweet single on which Sibblies turned the corner perfectly to secure a 6-3 lead through two. His third-period takedown made it 8-4 before Sibblies gave up a late reversal and almost backs off a tilt late to round out the scoring.

"It was a nice win, but I saw it as just another quarterfinal match," said Sibblies, who won the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex title at 182. "I’m happy to win. I thank God for everything he lets me do. For me, when I get taken down, it gives me more motivation. "I have to work harder and I have nothing to lose."

A tough overtime loss to Kittatinny's Jake Brook in the District 3 final was the perfect motivation coming into this tournament for Sibblies, who beat Brook, 1-0, in the HWS finals.

"It was something I needed. It was awhile since I felt that feeling," Sibblies said of the loss. "Every once in awhile you need to be reminded -- you don’t want it to be in the district final. But that’s OK."

The road gets tougher in the semifinals, as Sibblies is set to face Belvidere's Evan Bray, a returning Region 1 champ, in the semifinals. A third meeting with Brook likely awaits Sibblies if he can get through Bray, who finished third at HWS. The two were in opposite brackets in that tournament.

"I just have to go out and wrestle like any other match," said Sibblies, whose father, Ted, an assistant coach for Newton, was a region champion here and the outstanding wrestler in 1989 for the Braves.

Bray put on a takedown clinic in an 11-3 major of Lakleland's Jon Fazio. Jesse Thorsen (145), J.B. Lawson (220) and Ryan Appleby (285) are the other County Seaters in the semis.

Back points

There are five weights --- 106, 120, 132, 138 and 145 -- where the top four seeds all reached the semifinals. The 170-pound class is the most out of alignment as the No. 6 (Bupivi) and unseeded Tyler Zimmerman of Jefferson reached the Final Four. 

Wayne Hills, which had a school record four in the quarters, went 1-3 as Levine was the only one from the Passaic County school to advance. Brian Basile, the District 4 Coach of the Year, is among the finalists for Region 1 Coach of the Year, along with Warren Hills' Jarrett Hosbach (D1), Roxbury's Jim Dolan (D2) and Sparta's Frank Battaglia (D3).

Former Kittatinny state champion Roman Fleszar will be inducted into the Region 1 Hall of Fame prior to Saturday's championships. 

Fleszar, who will become the 15th member of the Hall of Fame, was the only nominee to earn the required 75 percent -- he received 80 percent -- of the votes by coaches and selected media members. Fleszar was a three-time district and region champion from 1994-96 and a three-time state finalist during those years. He won the 103-pound state title in 1994 and the 119-pound crown in '96.

Fleszar, who compiled a four-year mark of 113-8, also had a successful collegiate career at Hofstra University, where he was a two-time NCAA All-American. He is the second Kittatinny wrestler to be elected, joining Steve Dalling, who was inducted with the inaugural class in 2006.

Phillipsburg was voted the No. 1 team in the region on Friday. Kittatinny and High Point were next, followed by Warren Hills, Roxbury, West Morris, Wayne Valley, Jefferson, DePaul and Pequannock.

Phillipsburg has crowned the most champions -- 112 -- in this region since the tournament's inception in 1961. Washington/Warren Hills is next with 51, followed by Randolph with 42, High Point at 38 and Newton at 33. Kittatinny needs one to tie and two to pass Newton for fifth place. Roxbury also has 32.

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