Saturday, July 26, 2014

Wrestling: P'burg rallies to win Pin Cancer clash

WASHINGTON TWP. -- There aren't many summertime wrestling rivalries to speak of, but Phillipsburg and Washington have a pretty good thing going -- and for a worthy cause.

The third installment of the annual Pin Cancer match did not disappoint the 600 or so fans in the stands as P'burg won the final six bouts to post a 34-19 victory at Warren Hills School District Stadium.

P'burg seniors Steve Friedman and Max Elling -- two Pin Cancer veterans -- were among the winners down the stretch. Friedman's 8-2 win over talented freshman Jarod Ostir at 154 pounds started the run, while Elling needed just 18 seconds to deck Brendan Stewart to tie the match at 19.

"It's been pretty good [to wrestle in this three times] and it's fun to be outside," said Elling, who has amassed 85 wins on the high school level in three seasons. "This is fun. This is a rivalry, but nothing like Easton-P'burg. We were pretty confident."

Pins by Yann Ondele at 185 and Joe Maso in the final bout at 220 sandwiched Tim Hinkle's thrilling 8-5 win over Kurt Nemeth at 197 to close it out. Ondele's stunning pin in a 5-2 bout at the time gave P'burg its second lead at 25-19. John Kaluzny added an impressive 13-3 decision over Anthony Roessner at 162.

P'burg coach Dave Post was pleased with the effort by his team, which was without two of its top wrestlers in Corey Zinsmeister and Jimmy Schuitema. Last-minute fill-in Chris Ruiz did a nice job in a 9-1 loss to Austin Pidoto, while DJ Wissing gave three-time state qualifier Max Nauta all he could handle before dropping a 4-2 decision in sudden victory.

Wissing got the first takedown and led 2-0 after the first period (bouts were three periods of 1 1/2 minutes). Despite Nauta's superior mat prowess, Wissing took bottom to start the second period and was ridden out. Nauta was down to start the third and got a reversal to force overtime before converting the winning takedown with nine seconds left in OT.

"We gave DJ the option [to start the second period] and he wanted to challenge himself -- he started pointing down right away [after Nauta deferred the choice]," Post said. "Chris Ruiz was a quarter-turn with his hips from possibly winning that match [with Pidoto]."

Coach Jarrett Hosbach's team started strong by winning six of the first seven bouts, including five in a row after P'burg state runner-up Brandon Paetzell's pin at 115. Freshman Kyle Wulff scored an impressive 7-3 win over Kyle Markus in the opening bout at 107, while John Fluck got a third-period reversal for a 2-1 win over Tyler Agans to start Washington's run of five straight.

In another tight one, sophomore Zach Nauta got an escape and a takedown in the third period for a 4-2 win over Donald Agans at 135. Brother Max's win stretched Washington's lead to 15-6 before Pidoto's major made it a 13-point margin. Pidoto trailed 1-0 after two periods, but he caught Ruiz for five points in the third and added a three-point nearfall late to secure the major, his team's lone bonus-point win.

"I thought both of our freshmen [Wulff and Ostir] wrestled well," said Hosbach, whose team was without star heavyweight Andrew Pacheco, who is on vacation. "We're at everything [P'burg] is at from the first dual tournament in April through the summer. We'll see them again next week at the [Warren County] Farmer's Fair."

About the only downside to the evening was the condensation problem on the mat that surfaced about halfway through the match. It prompted some slippery conditions and breaks between bouts to dry the mat. It was a first-time occurrence and it has both coaches considering some options for next year, such as moving the date up in July.

"It was tough. I had to go down to a knee," Elling said.

Both coaches are proud to take part in an annual event that seems to be growing in popularity each year. And they are always looking to tweaks things to make it even better.

"This is a great event and it's so much fun to be a part of, and it's fun for the kids," Hosbach said. "And it's for a great cause."

"This is a learning process. We learn something new each time," said Post, whose team enjoyed a 14-9 advantage in takedowns. "You want to put on a good show for the fans or you can't bring the people back."

107 -- Kyle Wulff, W, d. Kyle Markus, 7-3.
115 -- Brandon Paetzell, P, p. Tommy Vega, 2:18.
123 -- John Fluck, W, d. Tyler Agans, 2-1.
130 -- Matt Valli, W, d. Shane Saydek, 7-1.
135 -- Zach Nauta, W, d. Donald Agans, 4-2.
140 -- Max Nauta, W, d. DJ Wissing, 4-2 OT.
145 -- Austin Pidoto, W, md. Chris Ruiz, 9-1.
154 -- Steve Friedman, P, d. Jarod Ostir, 8-2.
162 -- John Kaluzny, P, md. Anthony Roessner, 13-3.
173 -- Max Elling, P, p. Brendan Stewart, :18.
185 -- Yann Ondele, P, p. Anthony Casiano, 3:49.
197 -- Tim Hinkle, P, d. Kurt Nemeth, 8-5.
220 -- Joe Maso, P, p. Taylan Zafis, :42.
Officials -- Chip Castner and Frank Leitner.

Monday, July 21, 2014

'Liners-Blue Streaks lineups for Pin Cancer match

The third annual Pin Cancer match between Phillipsburg and Washington will be held on Friday on the turf at Warren Hills School District Stadium. Match time is 7 p.m.

Phillipsburg defeated Warren Hills, 65-9, when the teams met during the 2013-14 high school season in Washington.

Ticket price is $5. All proceeds go to cancer research and development. Check out for more information on this tremendous organization.

Both teams will be missing state qualifiers as Phillpsburg's Jimmy Schuitema and Warren Hills' Andrew Pacheco will not compete. The Streaks will forfeit 285.

Tentative matchups are listed below with Phillipsburg listed first.

107 -- Kyle Markus vs. Kyle Wulff
115 -- Brandon Paetzell vs. Tommy Vega/Ryan Mosher
123 -- Tyler Agans vs. John Fluck
130 -- Shane Saydek vs. Matt Valli
135 -- Donald Agans vs. Zach Nauta
140 -- DJ Wissing vs. Max Nauta
145 -- Corey Zinsmeister vs. Austin Pidoto
154 -- Steve Friedman vs. Jarod Ostir
162 -- Jack Kaluzny vs. Anthony Roessner
173 -- Max Elling vs. Bryce Butka
185 -- Yann Ondele vs. Anthony Casiano
197 -- Tim Hinkle vs. Kurt Nemeth
220 -- Joe Maso vs. Taylin Zafis
285 -- Robert Melise vs. Open

(Box from this past season's high school dual)

152 -- Jr. Jimmy Schuitema, P, p. Sr. Esco Blaylock, 1:10.
160 -- Jr. Max Elling, P, p. Sr. Ryan Ostir, 4:55.
170 -- Sr. Broderick Bupivi, P, p. So. Kurt Nemeth, 2:28.
182 -- Sr. Jake Kocsis, P, d. Sr. Steve Cleaver, 6-1.
195 -- Jr. Joe Maso, P, p. Sr. Nigel Taylor, 3:10.
220 -- Fr. Drew Horun, P, d. Sr. Ryan Witner, 3-2.
285 -- Jr. Andrew Pacheco, WH, forfeit.
106 -- So. Kyle Markus, P, p. So. Ryan Mosher, 2:53.
113 -- So. Brandon Paetzell, P, tf. Fr. Matt Valli, 20-5, 4:18.
120 -- Fr. Zach Nauta, WH, d. So. DJ Wissing, 10-6.
126 -- Sr. Tylor Petchonka, P, p. Jr. Austin Pidoto, 2:37.
132 -- Jr. Steve Friedman, P, p. Jr. Carsen Johnson, 3:18.
138 -- Jr. Corey Zinsmeister, P, p. Jr. Max Nauta, 1:06.
145 -- Sr. Garrett Wolfinger, P, p. So. Anthony Roessner, 2:46.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Mat notes: Group 5 will ruin great day in Toms River

It's been a few weeks, but leave it to high school wrestling to fire up a blog in the dead of summer.

The latest hot-button issue surfaced in the last few days when many coaches and Open Mike learned of a proposed Group 5 for wrestling via e-mail. The first thought is much like the second, third and so on.

In a word: dumb.

There are so many reasons why expansion of sections and groups is a bad idea that it's hard to find a starting point. First and foremost, this idea is all about money. Whatever else you hear, including how the NJSIAA and executive director Steve Timko will try to spin this latest travesty to high school athletics, is merely a facade. It's about dollars. More teams equals more entry fees and more fans at the gates.

On the latter, this proposal, which according to numerous sources, will almost assuredly pass despite plenty of opposition to it. Count Phillipsburg as one of those heavily against this move.

"Where does it end? Why stop at five groups, why not six or eight?," coach Dave Post said. "Less groups adds more legitimacy. I don't really understand it. If it's about adding more teams then why not just go from six [qualifiers in sectionals] to eight. But don't add another group. It's making a mockery of the group tournament that we have now."

This expansion will destroy one of the best, if not the greatest, ideas ever hatched by the state to house all of the group championships at one site. A tremendous and exciting day at Toms River North -- slated for Sunday, Feb. 15, 2015 -- which showcases the sport, will have to turn into a multiple day event. There's no way it can be done in one day, unless you sacrifice the integrity further by starting earlier and using two gyms, which according to sources, is one plan. Two gyms? Who wants that setup? The whole impetus for this one-day showcase was so that fans could see all of the action in one place. Now, they'll have to hop from gym to gym?

And how would they work the schedule with five groups? If sectional finals stay on Friday, how can you ask teams to wrestle Friday, Saturday and Sunday, especially with travel as an issue for some teams?

This past season's show at Toms River was perhaps the finest in tournament history. How about the excitement generated by High Point's 34-33 win over Hanover Park in last year's Group 2 final, when the Wildcats reeled off pins in the final four bouts to secure their second straight title. Or freshman Robert Melise's stunning pin to send P'burg on its way to an 18th title and an unbeaten season with a 32-21 win over Southern in the Group 4 tilt.

Everyone in attendance was glued to the action. Now, they'll potentially have to pick and choose which gym to go to?

"We've developed a great competitive [rivalry] with Brick Memorial and Southern and you would miss that," said Post, whose teams won Group 4 titles in thrilling fashion over those two opponents in 2012 and '14. "Our kids like the challenge of seeing them down there."

In my opinion, along with many others I've spoken to, high school football in this state has taken a downturn because of this same expansion. Group 5 on the gridiron has watered down the competition, so much so that a sub-.500 Warren Hills team reached the North 2, Group 4 sectional final in 2012 and did not beat one playoff team over .500 to do it. That also was the first year that sub-.500 teams were allowed to qualify, another money maker for the state.

Why do we need this in wrestling? To give other teams a chance to win a trophy? It would appear that's the focus on all sports these days, heck, they give them out on the youth level like candy. Look at conference alignments in the NJAC and Skyland for example. Multiple divisions, and in the NJAC's case, some with only four teams. Beat three teams and call yourself a champion. Really? Doesn't anyone want to earn a title anymore instead of crying how tough a section is and actually competing against the best?

"I would rather see the sectionals expand to eight teams," said Newton coach Eric Bollette, whose program could potentially benefit from the expansion by potentially shifting perennial title favorite Kittatinny to North 1, Group 2. He's also stated that he'd rather face and beat Kittatinny for a championship.

Post cited the 2009 Group 3 tournament, when a loaded High Point team was banned from competing in the North 1, Group 3 sectional tournament due to violating the 70 percent rule for too many out-of-state matches. High Point would have been a big favorite to win its section and the Group 3 title that year, having already defeated Phillipsburg for the first time in program history -- 30-22 at The Pit during the regular season.

Instead, the 'Liners -- then coached by Jason Magditch -- cruised to the title by waxing Hammonton (56-10) in the G3 semis and Montville (52-6) in the final at Toms River.

"It was odd for me to see and the look on our kids faces of, did we really accomplish something," said Post, who was an assistant coach that season. "No disrespect to Montville, which had a really good team, but High Point should have been down there. We had a great match with them, and I'm not sure if we could've beaten them or not. But that's always been in the back of my mind."

Delaware Valley coach Andy Fitz, who admittedly won't be affected by this proposal, intends to vote yes on it. Fitz cites the enthusiasm generated by his school's football program qualifying for the sectional playoffs as a positive thing.

Make no mistake, one look at the current sectional alignments in wrestling and it's clear where this proposal is coming from and that's the Shore Conference, which got the ball rolling on discussions for realigning individual districts and regions. In Central Jersey, Group 4, you have Brick Memorial, Howell and Jackson Memorial all together. Tough for sure, and I get that point.

But instead of expansion to Group 5, we ought to be banging our collective heads to figure out a way to get the best four teams to Toms River and proceed with a Tournament of Champions from that point. Going to five groups only takes a T of C further out of the equation.

The hope is that most schools' coaches will vote this down next month. That is if they even know about it. Another strange twist to this thing is that an email -- which first originated from Robbinsville -- from the region presidents to coaches and administrators went out on Tuesday. A vote is to be done at league and conference meetings on Aug. 14. The NJSIAA has stated that the 2014-15 wrestling classifications will not be released until a decision is reached on expansion.

"I had no idea this was even being talked about," Post said.

If there is a favorable response, it will be presented to the program review and finance committees for approval, and if approved by both bodies, it will then be presented to the executive committee for first reading on Sept. 10. So that leaves one month to figure all of this out before a first vote. Very strange indeed.

The again, nothing should surprise us in New Jersey wrestling circles. Stay tuned to see where this one winds up.

Newton camp rousing success

Former Braves wrestler and Princeton University coach Chris Ayres was the fifth and final guest clinician in an outstanding lineup on Friday at the annual Newton Summer Wrestling Camp.

Former state champions David Zabriskie of High Point, Will Livingston of Kittatinny and Chris Skretkowicz of Wallkill Valley, along with former state runner-up Ted Sibblies of Newton, were also featured over the week-long event at Henry Boresch Memorial Gym.

Zabriskie won a national title at Iowa State University and is an assistant coach at Lehigh University, while Skretkowicz was a two-time All-American at Hofstra and is the head coach at Virginia Military Institute. Ayres earned All-American honors and won an EIWA title at Lehigh.

"It has been a great week getting to learn from Sussex County's most successful wrestlers," Bollette said. "The campers learned wrestling in all positions, as well as how to prepare mentally and physically at both wrestling and life. It is great to see so many local legends give back to the sport and the area."

Back points

According to reliable sources, former Morris Knolls wrestler Daniel Percelay, a rising sophomore, will be joining DePaul. Former Blair Academy wrestler Brady Ford will attend Bergen Catholic this fall.

Percelay went 20-6, splitting time at 106 and 113, but he was bumped out of the Knolls lineup for the postseason.

Dave Sbriscia was recently hired as a health and physical education teacher at Warren Hills, seemingly paving the way for him to join Jarrett Hosbach's staff as an assistant for 2014-15. Sbriscia, a former standout wrestler for the Blue Streaks, had previously been an assistant at North Warren.

Nothing earth shattering came out of the recent meeting to discuss realignment for the district and region tournaments. According to sources, some changes are expected to be made in the future, but not for the 2015 tournaments. One curious thing to me is that everyone is citing Region 1 and its total of 34 teams -- the fewest in the state -- as an example for change. But keep in mind that Region 1 lost Delaware Valley (which moved to Region 5 in 2001), Passaic Tech (which moved to Group 4 in 2006) and Sussex Tech (which folded the program after the 2004-05 season) and no one said a word or voiced a proposal to replace those schools.

Construction at the new Phillipsburg High School is coming along and the project is expected to be completed in time for 2016-17 school year. With any luck, the 'Liners will get in the mix to host the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament. The school, which will feature a huge state-of-the-art gymnasium, has already expressed a desire to hold the event.

If successful, it could mean one more year at Hunterdon Central in 2016 before P'burg could potentially take over for 2018. Hopatcong, which currently rotates with Central, will host in 2015 and would be scheduled for its next turn in 2017. The Sussex County school has been a great host, but it's losing longtime athletic director Tom Vara, who has been a great leader of this tournament, and its future as a semi-annual site may be in doubt.