Thursday, March 7, 2013

Wrestling: State picks, weight by weight breakdown

Here are Open Mike's championship selections and analysis for all 14 weight classes this weekend at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

106 pounds

Favorite: Nick Suriano, Bergen Catholic.

HWS entrants: Brandon Paetzell, Phillipsburg.

In the hunt: Kyle Bierdumpfel, Don Bosco; Zack Firestone, Clearview; Mike Russo, Jackson Liberty; Yasel Corporan, Perth Amboy; Ty Agaisse, Delbarton; Patrick D'Arcy, Holy Spirit.

Sleeper: Paetzell.

Notes: Suriano (35-0) is one of the few heavy favorites at any weight class this year. He owns three wins -- 2-1 TB, 4-1 and 5-2 -- over Bierdumpfel (30-5), whose other two losses are out of state. Firestone has an impressive win over Warren Hills' Max Nauta earlier this season up at 113. Agaisse beat Paetzell, 1-0, in a dual. Paetzell, who is very good on his feet, drew the toughest first-round opponent as he will meet Suriano in the pre-quarterfinals on Friday. He is looking to become the first P'burg freshman to medal since Mike Fania finished sixth at 130 pounds in 2000. Russo (35-0) beat Corporan, 7-5, in last year's preliminaries, and was a round away from a medal.

Winner: Suriano.

113 pounds

Favorite: Luis Gonzalez, Don Bosco.

HWS entrants: Max Nauta, Warren Hills.

In the hunt: Nauta; Jean DuBois, Clifton; Kevin Corrigan, Toms River South; Bryan Damon, Jefferson; John Amato, Timber Creek; A.J. Vindici, Randolph.

Sleeper: Bobby Jordan, Woodbridge.

Notes: Gonzalez is the clear choice here -- finishing second and fourth while at North Bergen the past two seasons. He could meet up with Nauta in the semifinals, provided Nauta can get past DuBois in the quarters. Nauta, who was a round away from placing last year at 106, was impressive in winning the Region 1 title -- beating Vindici, 3-2, and decking Damon in the finals. Vindici was seventh at 106 last year. Amato is another one to keep an eye on as he beat Nauta earlier this season, 4-2, in sudden victory. Damon defeated Corrigan, 2-0, during the regular season. Jordan opened some eyes in Region 5 over the weekend.

Winner: Gonzalez.

120 pounds

Favorite: Brenden Calas, Seton Hall Prep.

HWS entrants: Ryan Pomrinca, North Hunterdon; Peter Lipari, Lenape Valley; Matt Ritchie, North Warren.

In the hunt: Craig De La Cruz, Bound Brook; Pomrinca; Sal Profaci, Monroe; Marc Mastropietro, Hasbrouck Heights/Wood-Ridge; Robert Trombetta, Nutley; Joe Trovato, Paramus; Joe Ghione, Brick Memorial; Christian Innarella, Delbarton.

Sleeper: Tyler Hrycak, Wayne Valley.

Notes: Calas is a two-time champion, but always seems to be lurking in the shadows at this time of year, if that's even possible. There are a total of nine placewinners at this weight, so there are plenty of contenders and it's so tough that a two-time champ in Calas rates as a slight favorite. De La Cruz prevailed in a brutal class at Region 5, where Pomrinca was third. Two other state placers didn't even make it out there. Hrycak looked strong in winning his first Region 1 title. Innarella is a two-time medal winner and made it through a tough Region 3 field that left behind 2012 state champ Anthony Cefolo of Hanover Park, who Innarella beat for third place.

Winner: Calas.

126 pounds

Favorite: Corey Stasenko, South Plainfield.

HWS entrants: Mike Pongracz, Delaware Valley; Dylan Nace, Hunterdon Central; Joe Kratochvil, Warren Hills.

In the hunt: Mike Magaldo, Watchung Hills; Pongracz; David McFadden, DePaul; Anthony Giraldo, North Bergen; Billy Ward, Buena.

Sleeper: Joseph Oliva, Ridgewood.

Notes: Quite possibly the toughest, and certainly one of the deepest weight classes in AC. Just about all of the aforementioned wrestlers could win the gold. Stasenko rates a slight favorite by virtue of his wins over Magaldo, one of eight returning champions in the tournament, in the district and region finals. Pongracz, who is 144-14 overall and the Terriers' lone qualifier, is a two-time medal winner and one of the best mat wrestlers around. He should see Stasenko in the quarterfinals, which will be an unbelievable round overall here. McFadden (37-1), the 113-pound runner-up a year ago, is the top seed in the upper bracket. Giraldo is a two-time placewinner and this could be his year. He lost, 6-2, to McFadden earlier this year and 1-0 to Ryan Diehl of Trinity, who is among the favorites to win a Class AA title in Pennsylvania. Giraldo also beat Wyoming Seminary's Judson Preskitt, 10-4, who split with McFadden this season.

Winner: Giraldo.

132 pounds

Favorite: Scott DelVecchio, South Plainfield.

HWS entrants: Mike Derin, High Point; Collin Boylan, Hunterdon Central; Anthony Johnson, Phillipsburg.

In the hunt: Jason Estevez, Livingston; Nick Anderson, Delbarton; Ron Gentile, Paulsboro; Sean Glasgow, East Brunswick; Zach Hertling, Ocean Township.

Sleeper: Ben Esposito, Howell.

Notes: DelVecchio (40-0) won it all at 132 last year, but watch out for Estevez (36-0), who was third at this weight in 2012. Gentile never made it here last year due to an injury, but will be a tough out as well. Hertling was third at 120 last year, but stumbled in the Region 6 final against Esposito. Derin was one round away from a medal as a freshman and ran roughshod through Region 1 last weekend. Johnson, who lost, 12-8, to Derin, stormed back to finish third in Region 1. Tough matchup on Friday as Johnson and Region 5 runner-up Gordon Wolf of Lawrence go at it in the preliminaries.

Winner: DelVecchio.

138 pounds

Favorite: Anthony Ashnault, South Plainfield.

HWS entrants: Gary Dinmore, Hunterdon Central; Max Elling, Phillipsburg; Matt Benvenuto, Lenape Valley.

In the hunt: Dinmore; Brandon Keller, Timber Creek; Richard Lewis, Toms River East; Brian Hamann, Jackson Memorial.

Sleeper: Brian McCrystal, Bishop Ahr.

Notes: Ashnault is looking to become New Jersey's third four-time state champ -- joining Delbarton's Mike Grey and Bound Brook's Andrew Campolattano -- and the first to go unbeaten for his career as he enters this year at 166-0. Dinmore was victim No. 3 in the finals a year ago, losing, 5-2, to Ashnault at 126. The two did not meet in a dual meet earlier this season which was a source of controversy as the Rutgers-bound Ashnault missed the match while nursing an ankle injury. Keller is a three-time placewinner and second last year at 132. He's in the bottom bracket with Dinmore. Lewis and Hamann are also former medal winners.

Winner: Ashnault.

145 pounds

Favorite: B.J. Clagon, Toms River South.

HWS entrants: Tim Higginson, Hunterdon Central; Jason Gaccione, High Point; Nick Romyns, Kittatinny.

In the hunt: T.J. Miller, Camden Catholic; Troy Heilmann, South Plainfield; Maaziah Bethea, Trenton Central; John Van Brill, Clearview.

Sleeper: Rhys Weinberger, Hillsborough.

Notes: Two returning champs -- Clagon, last year's 138-pound winner and Miller, who won in 2011 -- and a two-time runner-up in Heilmann. A Clagon-Miller final would be dynamite, but first we should see a Heilmann-Miller semifinal on Saturday evening. Gaccione and Higginson are certainly capable of being on the podium come Sunday, while Bethea placed seventh at 132 last year. His brother, Raamiah, became the second Mercer County state champ last year in winning at 152. Bethea family is top-notch and will have plenty of representatives at Boardwalk Hall. Just look for the sea of red T-shirts cheering in the lower levels.

Winner: Clagon.

152 pounds

Favorite: Chad Walsh, Camden Catholic.

HWS entrants: Jimmy Schuitema, Phillipsburg.

In the hunt: Schuitema; Nick Gravina, Northern Highlands; Dylan Painton, South Plainfield; Wayne Stinson, Northern Burlington; Jordan Pagano, South Brunswick; Dom Ruggierrio, Timber Creek.

Sleeper: Joe Grello, Bergen Catholic.

Notes: Walsh, who finished fifth at 138 last year, is a slight favorite at a pretty open class. Schuitema has a real shot here, though not too many outside of this area are hyping him for state gold. He's a terror on the mat and a tough leg rider. He and Walsh were in the same weight class, but did not meet, at the Bethlehem Holiday Classic in December. Walsh finished first, while Schuitema took fifth. The interesting thing to note is that Walsh beat Saucon Valley (Pa.) state qualifier Tyler Buddock, 4-2, while Schuitema beat Buddock, 13-6. You can't read a whole lot into scores and to be fair, Schuitema lost, 6-4 in sudden victory, to Wyoming Seminary's Tyrel White, who lost, 7-1 in OT, to Walsh in the semifinals. Pagano beat Painton, 3-1, early in the season. Schuitema and Painton did not meet in a February dual meet at The Pit.

Winner: Walsh.

160 pounds

Favorite: Jonathan Schleifer, East Brunswick.

HWS entrants: Jake Kocsis, Phillipsburg; Tyler Cote, Hunterdon Central.

In the hunt: Dillon Artigliere, Roxbury; John Balboni, Brearley/Dayton; Josef Johnson, Delbarton; Connor Donahue, Clearview; Bryce Shade, Timber Creek.

Sleeper: Sonnieboy Blanco, Burlington City.

Notes: Schleifer and Artigliere, both semifinalists a year ago, finished 3-5 at 152. They're really co-favorites for the title here. Schleifer (37-1) gets props for bumping up to take on Voorhees senior Jadaen Bernstein at 170 -- a 3-1 loss on Feb. 2. He's looking to become the Middlesex County school's seventh champ and first since heavyweight Scott Kammerer in 1991. Artigliere (39-0) steamrolled his way to the Region 1 title at Wallkill Valley. Roxbury's last champ was 103-pounder Ryan Fikslin in 2005. Donahue's only loss is up a weight to Shawnee's Austin Wetterau -- 3-2. Shade was up a lot at 170 and 182 this season, so he could be a factor here.

Winner: Artigliere.

170 pounds

Favorite: Jadaen Bernstein, Voorhees.

HWS entrants: Bernstein; Kieran Gerrity, Kittatinny; David Fenton, Hunterdon Central.

In the hunt: Ethan Ramos, Hawthorne; Dylan Dobzanski, Delsea; Austin Wetterau, Shawnee; Joey Balboni, Brearley/Dayton; Jeff Farina, St. Joseph-Montvale; Mike Carroccia, Watchung Hills.

Sleeper: Parker Meytrott, Montville.

Notes: Bernstein stunned everyone with a second-place finish in 2011 and is seeking to become the Vikings' fifth state champion and first since John Brienza (1998). Bernstein beat Balboni, 7-2, for seventh place a year ago. Ramos was fourth, while Farina placed seventh at 170 in 2012. Dobzanski (37-0) is lurking in a tough top half of the draw along with Region 1 champ Meytrott, who could see Bernstein in the quarters. Meytrott is strong and dominated in winning a Region 1 title. He qualified for AC in 2011.

Winner: Bernstein.

182 pounds

Favorite: Johnny Sebastian, Bergen Catholic.

HWS entrants: Josh Sibblies, Newton.

In the hunt: Ali Yildiz, South Brunswick; Nick Zak, Jackson Liberty; Sibblies; Nick DePalma, DePaul; Brian Bulger, Westfield; David Williams, Hammonton.

Sleeper: Phillip Azzari, Haddon Heights.

Notes: Sebastian (36-1), last year's 160-pound champion, is head-and-shoulders above the field here. Yildiz finished first and Sibblies was third at the John Goles Invitational in December, though the two did not meet. Sibblies looked real good in winning the Region 1 title -- dominating his opponents in the neutral position. If he's on like that in AC, watch out. His draw is favorable, as he'll likely see Bulger in the quarters. Zak is the top seed in the bottom bracket. He finished sixth last year at 170.

Winner: Sebastian.

195 pounds

Favorite: Razohnn Gross, Don Bosco.

HWS entrants: Kyle Stoll, High Point.

In the hunt: Anthony Messner, Franklin; Rory Bonner, West Deptford; Shane Haddad, Governor Livingston; Evan Ramos, Hawthorne; Matt Moore, Brick Memorial; Dominic Carfagno, St. Joseph-Montvale.

Sleeper: Michael Oxley, Christian Brothers Academy.

Notes: Gross (25-2) is the defending champion here and got off to a slow start this season with a foot injury. He defeated Messner (37-1), 3-2, early in the season. Gross also has decisions over Carfagno and Ramos this season. Messner has 21 pins, 6 technical falls and four majors this season. One of those majors is a 9-1 win over Warren Hills heavyweight Andrew Pacheco, a darkhorse at 285. Bonner (32-0) owns a 6-0 win over Kittatinny's Jake Brook, who beat Stoll in a dual meet. Oxley upset Moore, who finished seventh at 195 last year, in the Region 6 finals. Carfagno was sixth at this weight in 2012.

Winner: Messner.

220 pounds

Favorite: Bryan Dobzanski, Delsea.

HWS entrants: J.B. Lawson, Belvidere; Bobby McDonnell, High Point.

In the hunt: Zack Chakonis, Don Bosco; Mauro Correnti, Holy Cross; Ralph Normandia, Franklin; Lawson; Vin Cordasco, Cedar Grove; Christian Jenco, Bergen Catholic; Robbie Maggiulli, Emerson-Park Ridge.

Sleeper: John Seidle, Neptune.

Notes: Dobzanski (38-0) finished third at 195 last year, while Correnti and Chakonis went 5-6 at this weight class. Chakonis, a sophomore, nearly pulled off a stunner in the quarters with a 3-2 loss in UTB to P'burg's Brandon Hull, the 2012 state champion. Correnti lost, 3-2, to Hull in the semifinals, and beat Chakonis, 8-7, for fifth place. Lawson has a loss to Cordasco, but looked strong in winning the Region 1 title. Normandia beat Correnti, 7-4, on Feb. 16. The top half of the bracket changed dramatically with subtractions and additions the last two days. As a result, Lawson was thrown into the same quarter of the draw with Dobzanski. Lawson will now get the winner of the prelim between Jenco and Hopewell Valley's Mike Markulec.

Winner: Dobzanski.

285 pounds

Favorite: Roy Lucas, St. Joseph's-Hammonton.

HWS entrants: Andrew Pacheco, Warren Hills; Ryan Appleby, Belvidere; Noa Merritt, Pope John.

In the hunt: Alex Thompson, Haddon Heights; Anthony Tufaro, Scotch Plains-Fanwood; John Appice, Manalapan; Kevin Wilkins, St. Joseph-Montvale; Appleby, Pacheco; Jeff Miller, Camden Catholic.

Sleeper: Stephen Johnson, Bound Brook.

Notes: Wide open weight class. Lucas was third last year at 220, while Appice placed seventh and Tufaro eighth. Tufaro (32-1) beat Pacheco, 4-1, on Dec. 27. Pacheco and Appleby have wrestled five times over the past two seasons with Appleby winning three, including two of three this season. Pacheco (31-6), a 15-year-old sophomore who checks in at 280 pounds, is a home run hitter who loves to swing for the fences. He could be a real threat in AC because of his style. Thompson is a massive human being and has an array of moves for a heavyweight. He was one-and-done last year with a 3-2 loss to Morris Knolls' Jermaine Eluemunor, the surprise state runner-up.

Winner: Thompson.

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