Sunday, February 16, 2014

Wrestling: 'Cats repeat with improbable come-back

How's that for going back-to-back -- and back-to-back?

High Point's wrestling team completed one of the most improbable comebacks you'll ever witness, as the Wildcats registered four straight pins in a 34-33 win over Hanover Park to repeat as Group 2 champions on Sunday at Pine Belt Arena in Toms River.

Down 33-10, the Wildcats (17-4) stormed back to become the first squad in program history to win consecutive Group championships. In addition, this bunch of seniors captured their third state title and the Sussex County school's fourth overall -- adding to a pair of Group 3 titles in 2008 and '11 -- while giving Hanover Park a fourth loss in four finals appearances (three in Group 1 in 2004, '12 and '13).

"For these [seniors] to be able to get three -- that's pretty special," said veteran coach John Gardner, who watched last year's team produce five falls en route to a thrilling 33-30 win over nemesis Long Branch for the Group 2 crown. "This is a good bunch. We're going to miss them."

Earlier in the day, High Point rolled to a 48-21 victory over Delsea in a rematch of last year' semifinal -- setting the stage for one of the most dramatic moments in this tournament's 33-year history. Coach James LaValle's Hornets also cruised in the semis with a 46-15 pasting of Wall Township.

Senior Colby Brands started the rally against Hanover Park (19-4), decking Mason Sangillo in 3:32 at 170 pounds. That one seemed the most unlikely, as Sangillo came in with 17 wins. Brands (16-16), who trailed, 2-1, used a chin whip to get the fall and bring the High Point fans to their feet.

"I knew I had to get him -- and I guess it was just adrenaline," said Brands, who entered the season with a 3-14 career record on the varsity level. "I usually look for things on bottom. [Sangillo] was a little off-balance and in my head I knew I had to put it to him."

Seniors Antonio Porraspita (182), Kyle Stoll (195) and Bobby McDonnell (220) followed suit -- but the turnaround doesn't happen without Brands' pin, and all four had no margin for error. McDonnell finally ended the suspense by decking Thomas Hunt with five seconds left in the first period -- setting off an eruption in the stands that probably echoed all the way back to Wantage.

"Colby's match was a tossup, but we knew he was very capable of doing that," said McDonnell, a district and region runner-up last season. "We got on a roll -- that's what we do. The feeling of coming out on top -- with three state titles and two in consecutive years, no other High Point team has done it. It's just awesome."

There were a few other heroes early on. In the opening bout at 285, senior Gunny Wassong surrendered just a regular decision in a 4-2 loss to Hanover Park star heavyweight Nick LaShell (23-0). 'Cats freshman Chase Babus followed with a huge 13-3 victory at 106, getting a takedown and three back points late in the third period to secure the major and what proved to be a crucial bonus point on the scoreboard.

Hanover Park, as expected, rattled off three straight wins to take an 18-4 lead. Freshman Lou Ramio (113) and former state champ Anthony Cefolo (120) got pins, while junior Austin Nash earned an important 3-1 win -- using a first-period takedown -- over Dom Gallo, the 'Cats' regular 120-pounder, at 126.

Gardner made two smart tactical lineup decisions, opting to send out freshman Derek Sarupuchiello at 113 instead of Aric Wingle, who wrestled at 120. That move likely forced Hanover Park to keep Cefolo down, rather than bumping up to face Gallo. With Cefolo at 120, Gardner had little choice but to bump Gallo and hope to steal a win at 126.

Christian Bassolino (132) and Joseph Zecca (138) followed with clutch wins for the Hornets, who led 24-4 with seven bouts to go. Bassolino used a first-period takedown for a 3-2 win over state placewinner Mike Derin, while Zecca racked up two takedowns in a 4-1 win over Ryan Cullen.

Junior Jason Gaccione stopped the bleeding and gave High Point's bench a lift by decking Gene Angelo in 3:23 at 145. But Anthony Olivieri took it right back with a 3-0 win over Chris Auer at 152. Anthony Bassolino followed with a pin at 160, and the Hornets led 33-10 with four to go.

"I always have confidence in my teammates, and I know everyone works just as hard," Brands said. "It's not just the last couple of [wrestler who pinned]. Everyone on the team contributed. You have to give them credit, too."

285 -- Sr. Nick LaShell (23-0), HPk, d. Sr. Gunny Wassong (13-6), 4-2.
106 -- Fr. Chase Babus (14-18), HPt, md. So. Leonardo Stefanelli (4-7), 13-3.
113 -- Fr. Lou Raimo (23-3), HPk, p. Fr. Derek Sarapuchiello (0-3), :36.
120 -- Jr. Anthony Cefolo (29-3), HPk, p. Fr. Aric Wingle (10-12), 1:32.
126 -- Jr. Austin Nash (28-6), HPk, d. Jr. Dom Gallo (26-6), 3-1.
132 -- Jr. Christian Bassolino (31-3), HPk, d. Jr. Mike Derin (27-7), 3-2.
138 -- Sr. Joseph Zecca (15-7), HPk, d. Jr. Ryan Cullen (15-13), 4-1.
145 -- Jr. Jason Gaccione (30-4), HPt, p. Jr. Gene Angelo (19-8), 3:23.
152 -- So. Anthony Olivieri (24-10), HPk, d. Sr. Chris Auer (19-12), 3-0.
160 -- Sr. Anthony Bassolino (26-7), HPk, p. Sr. Brett Picher (2-10), :58.
170 -- Sr. Colby Brands (16-16), HPt, p. Jr. Mason Sangillo (17-13), 3:32.
182 -- Sr. Antonio Porraspita (22-11), HPt, p. Fr. Rory DeLuca (2-8), 3:07.
195 -- Sr. Kyle Stoll (30-5), HPt, p. Jr. Eric Boccard (10-16), 1:22.
220 -- Sr. Bobby McDonnell (20-14), HPt, p. Jr. Thomas Hunt (8-16), 1:55.
Records -- High Point 17-4; Hanover Park 19-4.

(Group 2 semifinals)
220 -- Sr. Bryan Dobzanski (33-0), D, p. So. Kevin Lewis (4-2), :53.
285 -- Sr. Bobby McDonnell (19-14), HP, p. Sr. Greg Halikman (24-7), 2:56.
106 -- So. Nick Gaetano (8-25), D, d. Fr. Chase Babus (13-18), 4-1.
113 -- So. John Hassett (24-9), D, p. Fr. Derek Sarapuchiello (0-2), 1:18.
120 -- Fr. Aric Wingle (10-11), HP, Jr. Kevin Huck (8-23), 1:43.
126 -- Jr. Dom Gallo (26-5), HP, d. Jr. Tom Carney (22-7), 4-2.
132 -- Jr. Mike Derin (27-6), HP, p. Jr. Joshua Lachowicz (9-14), :25.
138 -- Jr. Ryan Cullen (15-12), HP, d. Sr. Jordan Bouillion (5-11), 2-0.
145 -- So. Jared Kobis (4-1), HP, forfeit.
152 -- Jr. Jason Gaccione (29-4), HP, forfeit.
160 -- Sr. Chris Auer (19-11), HP, d. So. Dom Demarco (28-5), 7-0.
170 -- Sr. Colby Brands (15-16), HP, d. Fr. Jacob Hallowell (9-3), 11-6.
182 -- Jr. Victor DeFrance (27-6), D, p. Jr. Ryan Olinger (3-2), :54.
195 -- Sr. Kyle Stoll (29-5), HP, p. Jr. Joe Fabrizio (24-9), 3:35.
Records -- High Point 16-4; Delsea 24-6.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for listing the box scores in match order instead of starting them at 106. Why is that so hard for everyone else to do?