Saturday, February 15, 2014

Wrestling: 'Cats, 'Liners keep piling up sectional titles

High Point's wrestling team wasn't quite up to speed, but the Wildcats kept motoring on the road to Toms River with a 29-27 win over River Dell in the North 1, Group 2 final on Friday night in Wantage.

Key wins by juniors Dom Gallo (120), Mike Derin (132) and Ryan Cullen (138) helped the Wildcats (15-4), the No. 1 seed, earned their Sussex County-best 24th sectional title overall and fifth in a row. More importantly, coach John Gardner's squad found a way to beat a gritty River Dell team and advance to Sunday's Group 2 semifinals at Pine Belt Arena.

"Regardless, I think our kids did what they had to do to get to Toms River on Sunday," said Gardner, who has led his alma mater to 12 sectional championships in his 16 seasons. "That's the biggest thing. We had kids that gave some big efforts, and even in some losses, we performed very well."

River Dell (19-4), which lost 38-28 to High Point in last year's final, came to Sussex County for the second straight year looking to pull off a monumental upset. Nonetheless, the 'Cats are looking to repeat as Group 2 champs after winning Group 3 titles in 2008 and '11.

High Point will be the No. 3 seed and face South champion Delsea in a rematch of last year's semifinal -- a 37-28 win that sent the 'Cats into final where they scored a 33-30 win over Long Branch in the Group 2 final. Wall Township -- which beat Long Branch, 33-26, for the Central Jersey title -- will meet the winner of Saturday's North 2 final between Hanover Park and South Plainfield.

"Each one feels like it's a new one and this is a new year so it's great to win one," said Derin, who helped secure the championship -- his third in three seasons -- with a 13-9 win over state qualifier D.J. Tirelli.

The match boiled down to the last couple of bouts as Cullen set the stage for a title repeat with his 9-5 win over Chris Kallensee. With High Point holding a 20-15 lead through 10 bouts, Cullen gave up the first takedown before getting a reversal and a takedown with five seconds left in the first period to take a 4-3 lead. Tied at 5 heading into the third period, Cullen got a reversal and two back points in the final five seconds to get the victory, as the 'Cats led 23-15 with three bouts remaining.

"All of our tough matches throughout the year [prepare us for this moment]," said Cullen, whose cousin, Nick Francavilla, was a three-time state champ for the 'Cats. "I didn't really know [my match] was that important. I heard the coaches talking and I knew it was going to be close. I try not to get discouraged when [the opponent] scores first. I just kept my head in the match and came out on top at the end. This feels great."

That's when the match took a bizarre twist as High Point state placewinner Jason Gaccione came out looking to ice the win at 145. River Dell sent out junior Ilva Leifer (0-0) with only two wrestlers left on the bench -- Danny Lynch and Tyler Kallensee -- because 160-pounder Vincent Cariddi bumped to 170 to start the match. Lynch and Kallensee were eligible to wrestle at 152 and 160, respectively.

Problem was, Leifer was listed on the weigh-in sheet at 138, but his actual weight was 133.6, therefore he needed to weigh at least 136.1 to qualify at 138 (weight was 142 with two-pound growth allowance and an additional two pounds for snow) and compete at 145. A wrestler can not wrestle more than one weight class above that class for his actual stripped weight. With the two-pound allowance, 132 was actually 136.

Gardner immediately brought the sheet over to the head table and protested the move. After about a 20-minute delay -- apparently not only was River Dell coach Mike Tota unaware of the rules but so were the officials -- Leifer was ruled ineligible at 145 and Gaccione was awarded a forfeit win. That clinched the match for High Point, which led 29-15 with two bouts left.

"There was some issue with the weight allowance and we had to forfeit," said Tota, who was understandably still upset after the match and insisted he knew the rules when questioned about why he sent out an illegal wrestler. "Our kids wrestled tough and had a great year. High Point has a great team and had some great performances. I wish them the best of luck on Sunday."

With the match in hand, Gardner opted to save senior Chris Auer (18-11) in favor of reserve senior Brett Picher, who was decked by Danny Lynch, at 152 and forfeit the last bout at 160.

High Point's upper weights, despite being heavy favorites at 182 through 285, mustered just two bonus points as Kyle Stoll, who was sixth in the state last season at 195, worked 4-9 freshman Andreas Harilaou for a 22-7 technical fall. Antonio Porraspita (182), Bobby McDonnell (220), a Region 1 runner-up, and Gunny Wassong (285) all recorded decisions. Porraspita earned a 7-0 decision over Alex Kim -- with the benefit of four stalling points in the third period -- after scoring technical fall win over Kim in last year's sectional final. Both Stoll and Gaccione got their 95th career wins.

With the 'Cats up 14-9, Gallo gave them some breathing room with an impressive 7-1 win over Drew Nirchio, a District 8 runner-up, at 120 pounds. Gallo (25-5), a District 3 champ, racked up three takedowns in the win, including a nice duck-under in the second period.

After spotting Tirelli the opening takedown, Derin (26-6), an eighth-place finisher in the state tournament, roared back with a four-point move off a reversal to go up 4-3 after one period. In the second, Derin twice turned Tirelli with a vicious arm bar for two points off each and nearly had him flat. A late reversal made it 9-4 after two periods, as Tirelli came back with two takedowns in the third to tighten the bout.

"I thought I had him [nearly pinned] twice, but I jumped over because my arm kept slipping out," Derin said. "I didn't have much control. I gave up some points early and it kind of caught me off-guard."

170 -- Sr. Vincent Cariddi (27-3), RD, d. Sr. Colby Brands (14-16), 8-2.
182 -- Sr. Antonio Porraspita (21-11), HP, d. Sr. Alex Kim (14-14), 7-0.
195 -- Sr. Kyle Stoll (28-5), HP, tf. Fr. Andreas Harilaou (4-10), 22-7, 5:21.
220 -- Sr. Bobby McDonnell (18-14), HP, d. So. Joe Longobardi (22-9), 2-0.
285 -- Sr. Gunny Wassong (13-5), HP, d. Jr. John Buller (16-13), 8-4.
106 -- So. Mark Bonardi (23-7), RD, d. Fr. Chase Babus (13-17), 5-4 OT3.
113 -- So. Dakota Jones (25-4), RD, d. Fr. Aric Wingle (9-11), 9-3.
120 -- Jr. Dom Gallo (25-5), HP, d. Jr. Drew Nirchio (19-6), 7-1.
126 -- Jr. Dylan Mitchell (20-9), RD, p. So. Garrett Fenlon (0-14), 1:52.
132 -- Jr. Mike Derin (26-6), HP, d. Sr. D.J. Tirelli (26-5), 13-9.
138 -- Jr. Ryan Cullen (14-12), HP, d. So. Chris Kallensee (21-8), 9-5.
145 -- Jr. Jason Gaccione (28-4), HP, forfeit.
152 -- Sr. Danny Lynch (26-4), RD, p. Sr. Brett Picher (2-9), 1:30.
160 -- Sr. Tyler Kallensee (25-5), RD, forfeit.
Records -- River Dell 19-4; High Point 15-4.

P'burg pounds Central for No. 33

Buoyed by early pins from DJ Wissing and Tylor Petchonka, and punctuated with Max Elling's huge upset-win at 160 pounds, Phillipsburg rolled to a 55-9 victory over Hunterdon Central in the North 2, Group 4 sectional final at The Pit.

The Stateliners (16-0) advance to Sunday's Group 4 semifinals and will be the No. 1 seed at Pine Belt Arena. Coach Dave Post's squad, which claimed the program's 33rd sectional title in the tournament's 35-year history, will face the winner of Saturday's North 1 final between Hackensack and Clifton. Central Jersey champion Howell takes on South Jersey champ Southern in the other semifinal.

Phillipsburg, which won the Group 4 title in 2012, is bidding for the program's 18th championship overall with nine in Group 3.

Wissing decked Kyler Rodriguez to open the match at 120 and Petchonka followed suit at 126 to give P'burg a quick 12-0 lead.

After the teams split the next four bouts, Elling got the Pit jumping with a 7-6 decision over Central's two-time state runner-up Gary Dinmore at 160. Reportedly, Dinmore sustained an arm injury during the course of things and later went for X-rays. His status for next week's District 17 Tournament is unknown. That win started a run of eight straight to close it out, as senior Broderick Bupivi scored a big 7-2 win over Joe Scerbo at 170.

In another bizarre weight class miscue, Central was forced to forfeit at 220, as junior Nick Suk was deemed ineligible to wrestle. Apparently, Suk weighed 184.6, just under the required minimum of 186 to wrestle 220, since the two-pound allowance made the weight 222. Red Devils coach Steve Gibble argued the ruling to no avail.

P'burg, which beat Central, 41-18, on the road earlier this season, also avenged a 30-29 loss to the Red Devils in last year's final -- only the Warren County school's second setback in 35 sectional title matches. Warren Hills is the only other to team to beat P'burg -- 34-30 in the 1990 North 2, Group 3 final. The 'Liners had won 22 in a row since that one before last season's defeat.

120 -- So. DJ Wissing (19-10), P, p. Jr. Kyler Rodriguez (18-11), 2:17.
126 -- Sr. Tylor Petchonka (14-11), P, p. Jr. Hunter Orr (9-19), :37.
132 -- Sr. Dylan Nace (32-1), HC, d. Jr. Steve Friedman (14-13), 5-1.
138 -- Jr. Corey Zinsmeister (20-6), P, md. Jr. Nick Taylor (16-14), 12-1.
145 -- Jr. Jimmy Schuitema (21-4), P. p. So. Christian Long (3-6), :40.
152 -- Sr. Collin Boylan (31-2), HC, p. Sr. Garrett Wolfinger (11-5), 2:38.
160 -- Jr. Max Elling (27-4), P, d. Sr. Gary Dinmore (30-2), 7-6.
170 -- Sr. Broderick Bupivi (22-9), P, d. Jr. Joe Scerbo (25-8), 7-2.
182 -- Sr. Jake Kocsis (29-2), P, p. Jr. Dave Furmato (5-5), 2:30.
195 -- Jr. Joe Maso (19-6), P, d. Jr. Nestor Crespo (22-10), 5-1.
220 -- Fr. Robert Melise (2-4), P, forfeit.
285 -- Fr. Drew Horun (19-7), P, d. Sr. Dan Hausman (19-14), 3-1 SV.
106 -- So. Brandon Paetzell (28-1), P, forfeit.
113 -- So. Tyler Agans (9-13), P, d. Fr. Peter Nace (26-7), 8-4.
Records Hunterdon Central 19-6; Phillipsburg 16-0.

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