Saturday, March 8, 2014

Wrestling: Dinmore, Paetzell toting finals flag for HWS

ATLANTIC CITY -- Brandon Paetzell and Gary Dinmore will be the first wrestlers to say they're not paying attention to all the hype and hoopla surrounding their runs in the 81st State Wrestling Championships.

But make no mistake, both are where they and most wrestling fans expected them to be at Boardwalk Hall and facing their predicted opponents.  Paetzell and Dinmore, at 106 and 152 pounds, respectively, are the lone representatives from Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex to reach Sunday's state finals.

The tournament concludes on Sunday with the consolation semifinals at 10 a.m., followed by the medal rounds for third, fifth and seventh places at 11 a.m. The 14 championship bouts are slated to commence at 3 p.m.

"We got the predicted final," said Paetzell, who will face Delbarton's Ty Agaisse for the state title after an impressive in a 7-1 victory over Steinert's Brandon Cray. "I don't really pay too much attention to seedings and rankings. You've got to beat everyone anyway to be the best in the tournament and accomplish my goal of winning a state title."

Dinmore made county and school history by reaching his third state final -- posting a 5-3 win over Delbarton's Joseph Tavoso. He joins Central's Tom Gibble (1979-81) and North Hunterdon's Dave Gaunt (1969-71) -- both two-time champions -- as the only Hunterdon County wrestlers to make three finals appearances.

“Hopefully, I can be the first champ since Alex Shaffer [2010],” said Dinmore, who is attempting to become the Red Devils’ 13th state champion.

Dinmore (39-2) built a 5-2 lead against Tavoso, who escaped in the third period to cap the scoring. For the second straight year, Dinmore will be involved in one of the most anticipated title bouts when he faces St. Augustine Prep’s Jack Clark, who advanced with a 15-5 major over Bethea.

“Not to sound overconfident, but I was already anticipating being in the finals,” said Dinmore, who was beaten by four-time unbeaten champ Anthony Ashnault of South Plainfield in the finals of the two previous tournaments.  “I’m not looking ahead, but this is where I wanted to be. I was mentally preparing for it all the time.”

Pride of the 'Liners

Paetzell (39-1), a sophomore, opened things up more on offense in the quarterfinals and semifinals after a tight 3-1 win in his first match on Friday night. Paetzell, who finished fifth at 106 last year, worked Emerson-Park Ridge's Paco Robles for a 9-1 major to reach the semifinals. Against Cray, the Stateliner converted a nice single-leg takedown off a great scramble with 41 seconds left in the third period to ice it. In the second period, Paetzell got a reversal and slapped on a cradle off a turk ride for three huge back points with eight seconds left on the clock for a 5-0 lead through four minutes.

"[Cray] definitely wrestled me a lot different than the other kids," said Paetzell, now 76-8 in his career. "He came out more aggressive. I was surprised, but I still had to be a little defensive to make sure I'm safe. I was going for the turk and saw the opportunity for a cradle opening up -- and I took it."

P'burg coach Dave Post now his second state finalist in four seasons at the helm -- guiding Brandon Hull, who at the time was the school's first finalist since 1999, to the 220-pound title in 2012. Paetzell now gives P'burg 57 finalists overall and is bidding to become the Stateliners' 34th champion.

"I remember coming back after the parade for Brandon Hull [the school's first champ since 1996] and it took us all those years to get a state champion," said Post, who finished fifth in 2002 and third in '03 for the Stateliners. "We don't want to wait that long for one again. We want to put guys in the finals -- and multiple guys -- every year. [Paetzell] was never satisfied. Some guys don't do a lot against him and maybe that's the best way if they try not to wrestle him at all. As good as he is on his feet, he would have won that [semifinal] without getting a takedown if he hadn't gotten one at the end."

Paetzell also is looking to avenge a 1-0 loss to Agaisse, seventh last year, in a dual meet at The Pit in 2013.

"I was really small last year and now I'm a full size 106-pounder," said Paetzell, who admitted that a definitive size difference was a factor in that loss.

Both of Phillipsburg's representatives in AC will leave with state medals as senior Jake Kocsis is guaranteed at least sixth place. Kocsis (40-4) needs two wins on Sunday to claim third place, while a loss in his first match will drop him into the fifth-place bout.

That gives P'burg two medals in the same tournament for the first time since 2006, when Jon Gregory finished fourth at 112 and Chris Norrell placed fifth at 152.

Streaks feeling Blue

Warren Hills junior Andrew Pacheco and North Hunterdon's Ryan Pomrinca weren't as fortunate in the semifinal round on Saturday.

Pacheco watched a 2-1 lead through two periods slip away when he was reversed and pinned by Robbinsville's Tyler Gildner in 4:32 at 285. Pomrinca never came close on his feet, surrendering four takedowns in a 9-5 loss to Don Bosco Prep's Kyle Bierdumpfel at 126.

Gildner is the first Robbinsville wrestler to reach the state finals. Gildner’s brother and coach, Rich, won a state title for Southern in 1998. Pacheco was looking to end Warren Hills' drought without a champion -- as Justin Colaluce won back-to-back titles in 1997-98.

"He’s been an inspiration for me the whole time," said Tyler, who fought off a headlock at the edge early on and trailed, 2-1, against Pacheco after four minutes. "[Rich] told me just to wrestle the way I’ve been all year. It’s gotten me to this point … it might as well get me to the finals."

Gildner and teammate Christopher Tan are the first Robbinsville wrestlers to advance past the pre-quarterfinals. Brandon DiDonato was the only other to reach the second round for the Mercer County school in 2009 and ’10. Tan (41-3), a Region 7 champion, dropped a 3-2 decision to Holy Spirit’s Patrick D’Arcy in the 113-pound semifinals.

Gildner (36-2) will get a rematch with Camden’s Andrew Stevens, a 3-1 winner in sudden victory overtime against St. Joseph-Montvale’s Kevin Wilkins in the other semifinal at 285. Stevens (36-0), who is his school’s first finalist, scored a 3-1 win over Gildner in last weekend’s Region 7 finals. The Camden wrestler arrived to the mat at Boardwalk Hall just in the nick of time, as tournament officials gave him a three-minute warning to report. Stevens came sprinting into the arena as Gildner’s match was already in progress.

Gildner never panicked after being launched by Pacheco, known for this throws ability, near the edge.
"I was OK with giving up two and no backs – that would have been a pretty bad situation," Gildner said. “To be down, 2-1, after the first period was very good. He tried to throw me and roll me and it didn’t work out for him. I wasn’t expecting to get the fall."

Back points

Regions 3 and 5 led the way with 10 semifinalists, while Regions 2, 7 and 8 had seven, followed by Regions 1, 4 and 6 with five. 

Region 5 produced the most finalists with six, followed by Regions 2 and 3 with five. Region 8 has four and Regions 1 and 4 have three. Region 7 has two and Region 6 was shut out with zero in the finals.

Gildner and Stevens are one of three finals pitting wrestlers from the same region -- along with two in Region 5 at 160 and 195. At 160, East Brunswick's Jonathan Schleifer will face Bound Brook's Josh Ugalde, while Franklin's Ralph Normandia will square off against Montgomery's Anthony Cassar. Schleifer is looking to become his school's first winner since 1991, while Cassar is looking to make history by becoming his school's first champ.

In addition to Kocsis, Pomrinca and Pacheco, there are four other wrestlers from the HWS area still going in the consolations. Pope John's Noa Merritt will wrestle for seventh place at 285, while Hunterdon Central's Dylan Nace (132) and Collin Boylan (145), along with North Hunterdon's Mike Ciavarro (152) are still attempting to finish as high as third place.

Merritt is the Lions' first placewinner since Devin Perez finished second at heavyweight in 2003.

At 134-14, Dinmore matched Brian Bistis for second place on Hunterdon Central's all-time wins list with his semifinal win. Pat Strizki is the overall leader (137-18 from 2003-07).

High Point's Jason Gaccione (145) and Kyle Stoll lost a pair of heartbreakers in the wrestlebacks. Gaccione dropped a 3-1 decision in triple overtime to Boylan, while Stoll got absolutely hosed in a 6-4 loss in sudden victory to Millville's Ed Shockley, who was awarded a tying stall point with six seconds left on the clock to force OT. Gaccione was fourth last year, while Stoll placed sixth.

Pope John's Austin Sisco became the fifth at his school to reach 100 career wins by decking Wayne Hills' Mojahed Hamdeh of Wayne Hills in the 113-pound wrestlebacks. Sisco was eliminated in the next round with a 9-2 loss to Paramus' Ryan Freeman and finishes his career at 100-45.

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