Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Wrestling: Region 1 preview, predictions

Where: Wallkill Valley Regional High School, Hardyston.

Wednesday schedulePreliminaries, 5 p.m. (Doors open at 3 p.m.).

Friday schedule: Quarterfinals, 4 p.m. (Doors open at 2:40 p.m.)

Saturday schedule: (Doors open at 7 a.m.): Semifinals, 9 a.m., immediately followed by two rounds of wrestlebacks; third-place consolations approximately 30 minutes after wrestlebacks; championships following consolations.

The top three finishers at each weight class advance to the State Wrestling Championships held March 7-9 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

Returning champions (8): Brandon Paetzell, Phillipsburg (106); Tyler Hrycak, Wayne Valley (126); Max Nauta, Warren Hills (132); Mike Derin, High Point (132); Jason Gaccione, High Point (145); David McFadden, DePaul (145); Dillon Artigliere, Roxbury (170); Kyle Stoll, High Point (195).

Qualifiers by school

High Point 12; DePaul 10; Wayne Valley 10; Roxbury 9; Kittatinny 8; Morris Knolls 8; Warren Hills 8; Jefferson 7; Morris Hills 7; Phillipsburg 7; West Morris 7; Belvidere 6; Lenape Valley 6; Pequannock 6; Sparta 6; Montville 5; Mount Olive 5; Newton 5; Mendham 4; North Warren 4; Pompton Lakes 4; Pope John 4; Randolph 4; Wayne Hills 4; West Milford 3; Butler 2; Hopatcong 2; Kinnelon 2; Hackettstown 1; Lakeland 1; Morris Catholic 1; Dover 0; Vernon 0; Wallkill Valley 0.

106 -- 1. Brandon Paetzell, Phillipsburg; 2. Garrett O'Shea, Morris Knolls; 3. Troy Stanich, Roxbury.

Notes: Paetzell earned a 4-3 decision over O'Shea en route to winning the title last year. Since December, the Stateliner has steamrolled the competition. Of his 33 wins, Paetzell has 15 pins, six technical falls and five majors. He's looking to join Rick Thompson (1970-71) as the only P'burg wrestlers to win region titles in their freshman and sophomore seasons. O'Shea, who lost his first wrestleback to finish 5/6, has a pair of wins over Stanich this season -- 4-1 and 3-1. Stanich has wins over Hopatcong's Joe Aumann and Pequannock's Steve Pocze. P'burg has produced the most champs in this region with 114.

113 -- 1. Matt Valli, Warren Hills; 2. Trevor Morales, Newton; 3. Austin Sisco, Pope John.

Notes: Valli has been rolling of late and is really solid on his feet. That wins matches at this time of the year. Sisco is a huge 113-pounder and won his first District 3 title on Saturday, beating Morales, 4-2, in the final. Valli did not meet either at Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex, but did beat Roxbury's Richard Reimers, 9-1, in the North 2, Group 3 sectional final. Reimers beat Morales, 7-2, om Jan. 18. Look for Morales to turn that around this time as both semifinals should be outstanding.

120 -- 1. A.J. Vindici, Randolph; 2. Bryan Damon, Jefferson; 3. William Kui, DePaul.

Notes: Vindici, looking to become Randolph's first champ since 2008, has been the one to beat here all season until Damon made the drop from 126. They finished 2-3 at 113 last year, with Damon losing to Warren Hills' Max Nauta in the final, and 3-5 in the state, as Vindici took the bronze in AC. The rest of a loaded field features Kui (third at 106 last year), High Point's Dom Gallo (fourth at 106) and talented sophomores Nick Klinger of Kittatinny and Joe Renne of Hackettstown. Gallo and Klinger have split this season.

126 -- 1. Matt Noble, DePaul; 2. Tyler Hrycak, Wayne Valley; 3. Matt Ritchie, North Warren

Notes: Noble, who finished third in Region 5 last year for Bridgewater-Raritan, has beaten Hrycak three times this season -- 3-1, 5-3 and 9-4 in the District 4 final. Hrycak has victories over Ritchie and Kittatinny's Christian Silva, the D3 champ. Tough draw for Silva with Hrycak in the same quarter, while Ritchie should get through to the semis to face Hrycak, last year's champ at 120. North Warren has only two region champs in its history -- Joe Casella in 2001 and Kevin Brown in 2009.

132 -- 1. Max Nauta, Warren Hills; 2. Mike Derin, High Point; 3. Devon LaFranco, Roxbury.

Notes: Stacked weight class with two returning champs in the top-seeded Derin -- last year's 132-pound winner -- and No. 2 Nauta -- the champ at 113. That would be a great final between awesomely talented mat wrestlers. LaFranco dropped a 6-2 decision to Nauta on Feb. 15 and owns a 5-2 win over Kittatinny's Austin Scrivani, the No. 4 seed here, who avenged a 13-6 loss to Derin with a 3-0 victory in the District 3 finals.

138 -- 1. Eric Friedman, Mendham; 2. Brandon Kui, DePaul; 3. Jake Legotte, Roxbury.

Notes: Friedman was impressive in winning the District 1 title and is the top seed here. Legotte, who lost to Friedman, 3-2 in UTB, earlier this season has a tough road in the bottom half. Kui, the No. 2 seed, has beaten Legotte, a runner-up at 132 last year, twice this season -- 5-2 and 9-1. Friedman beat Kui, 5-0, on Dec. 27. Sparta's Ian Burke and West Milford's David Zeppetelli, who pinned Kui in 5:59 in the D4 finals, also lurk in the bottom half.

145 -- 1. David McFadden, DePaul; 2. Jason Gaccione, High Point; 3. Craig Roumes, Roxbury.

Notes: McFadden, seeking a third straight title, has won at 113 and 126. He makes another major move up in weight class, where he should meet up with last year's 145-pound champ Gaccione. That final is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. McFadden (35-1) is the more technically sound wrestler, but Gaccione, a junior who got his 100th win in the District 3 finals, excels under the spotlight. The race for third place is somewhat open.

152 -- 1. Max Elling, Phillipsburg; 2. Luke Bohn, Jefferson; 3. Nick Romyns, Kittatinny.

Notes: Tough weight to handicap. Elling was the runner-up at 138 last year, while Romyns finished second at 145. Bohn (27-3), who won the District 3 title, finished third at 152 here in 2013. Also in the upper half with Elling and Romyns is High Point's Chris Auer, who stunned Romyns, 3-2 in triple-OT, in the D3 semifinals. Elling is the most dangerous wrestler in this field and is really hot of late. Wayne Valley's Anthony Duncan, the No. 3 seed, beat Auer 2-1 on Feb. 1.

160 -- 1. Dean Drugac, Morris Knolls; 2. Nick Carey, DePaul; 3. Tommy Hooker, High Point.

Notes: Drugac (30-2) has one loss to an NJSIAA opponent this season -- 11-4 to Hooker on Jan. 14. That win gave Hooker the top seed here, but that's before sustaining a fractured ankle. Give him credit, Hooker gave a gutsy effort in winning the District 3 title. But this tournament is a real grinder, so we'll see how he holds up. Carey is in the upper half with Hooker and that will be a very good semifinal, provided Carey gets past a likely quarterfinal meeting with No. 5 Daniel Kilroy of Wayne Hills.

170 -- 1. Dillon Artigliere, Roxbury; 2. Jake Kocsis, Phillipsburg; 3. Kieran Gerrity, Kittatinny.

Notes: Clearly the best wrestler in the tournament, Artigliere (36-0) seeks a third Region 1 title and is one of just two unbeaten wrestlers in the field. Only two Roxbury wrestlers -- Bill Henderson (1963-65) and Tom Sloand (1975-77) -- have won three region titles. Artigliere, last year's 160-pound state champ, who is 150-8 overall. also is riding an 80-match unbeaten streak dating to a 6-0 loss to Kittatinny's Clarke Moynihan in the 2012 state consolation semis. Kocsis, third at 160 last year, is a tough customer and is having an excellent season. He should meet up with Gerrity in the semifinals -- a rematch of the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex final won by Kocsis, 5-3.

182 -- 1. Sam Button, Mendham; 2. Nick DePalma, DePaul; 3. D.J. Barrett, Lenape Valley.

Notes: Button (34-1), last year's runner-up at 160, was outstanding in winning the District 1 title and has a 5-1 win over DePalma this season on Dec. 27. He's bidding to become Mendham's 10th region champion. DePalma, who was third at this weight last year, has a pair of wins over Kittatinny's Dylan Wunder, the No. 4 seed. Lenape Valley's D.J. Barrett, a 5/6 at 170 last year, is having a fine season and beat Wunder, 3-1, on Jan. 8.

195 -- 1. Kyle Stoll, High Point; 2. Anthony Landberg, Wayne Valley; 3. Garrett Armstrong, Kittatinny

Notes: Stoll owns wins over just about all the contenders here, including a 9-6 decision over Landberg on Feb. 1 -- a rematch of last year's region final won by Stoll, 3-2. Armstrong, who lost 5-3 to Stoll in the District 3 finals, is looking to erase the memory of a disappointing tournament a year ago, when he did not place at 220. Phillipsburg's Joe Maso, Mendham's Aaron Flitcroft and Sparta's Gavin Lally are also in the mix here.

220 -- 1. Jesse Windt, West Morris; 2. Gus Protogeropoulos, Newton; 3. Bobby McDonnell, High Point.

Notes: Windt (33-1), who is looking to become his school's first champ since Dillon Landi in 2006, has won 27 in a row since an 8-3 loss to Montgomery's Anthony Cassar on Jan. 4. He rolled to the District 1 title on Saturday. Protogeropoulos scored his second win over McDonnell this season -- 5-2 in the District 3 finals. McDonnell, the runner-up here last year who lost 3-0 to Windt on Feb. 7, will get a third meeting with the Newton wrestler provided he gets past Pequannock's Spencer Ochner in the opening round. Wayne Valley's Justin Walker pinned McDonnell on Feb. 1.

285 -- 1. Andrew Pacheco, Warren Hills; 2. Noa Merritt, Pope John; 3. Will O'Connell, North Warren

Notes: Pacheco, the returning runner-up here, is the No. 2 seed thanks to a 5-2 loss to Merritt in the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex finals. Merritt (25-0), who was decked by Pacheco in the 2013 region semifinals, is looking to become Pope John's 18th champion and first since Brandon Perez won at 215 pounds in 2004. The race for the bronze is really up in the air. Interesting first-round matchup Wednesday between No. 5 seed Christian Campbell of High Point and Phillipsburg's Robert Melise, a freshman who captured hearts of the 'Liner faithful with his big pin the Group 4 final. 

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