Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Wrestling: Kittatinny aiming to reload, not rebuild

If anyone was sleeping on Kittatinny's wrestling team this season it may be time to stop tapping the snooze button.

Although it's extremely early, the Cougars are showing signs that they might not be in for the major rebuilding project as forecast by many this season. In what figured to be a much closer match, Kittatinny steamrolled Jefferson in a 51-21 victory on Tuesday in a Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference clash in Hampton.

"On paper, we did it five different ways and I didn't like any way it came out," said veteran coach John Gill, whose team won 10 of 14 bouts, including six pins. "I thought it would be a 7-7 split. I'm so proud of these kids."

Kittatinny really has Jefferson's number, improving to 29-13 all-time in the series. The Cougars have won the last six meetings by an average margin of 26 points, while totaling no fewer than 45 points in those matches.

A big swing nearly occurred early in this match when talented Kittatinny junior Nick Klinger fought off his back and converted a late takedown to pull out a 10-8 win over dangerous sophomore Mark Bohn in the opening bout at 126 pounds.

Leading 7-3 in the third period, Klinger, who bumped from 120, walked right into a cement job and was nearly decked. Bohn's five-point move gave him an 8-7 lead before giving up the tying escape with 1:20 to go. But Klinger secured his fourth takedown with five seconds left to avoid overtime.

That triggered a run of five straight wins to open the match as Kittatinny raced to a 24-0 lead. After Jefferson forfeited 132, with oddly no backup weighed in at either 126 or 132 that locked Bohn in against Klinger, District 3 champ Austin Scrivani and Jake Vanwingerden notched back-to-back pins at 138 and 145 to bust it open as the Cougars never looked back.

Conditioning also was a big factor in Kittatinny's favor.

"I'm happy with where we are," Gill said in taking the high road.

Gill has amassed over 500 wins in his Hall of Fame career and there's no doubt that this could turn out to be of his best works. It certainly promises to be major challenge for a program that lost eight starters, who combined for 611 career wins.

If a raw group of upper weights can mature as we go, and there's already evidence as such, this team could have a chance to surprise some teams on the schedule and challenge for a Colonial Division title.

Senior 195-pounder Tyler Wehrenberg, who has paid his dues in the practice room for four years, sitting behind the likes of the graduated Nick Romyns, Kieran Gerrity, Dylan Wunder and Garrett Armstrong. In his first varsity season, Wehrenberg is off to a 7-3 start.

"I'm really impressed," Gill said.

Then there's heavyweight Griffin Waldron, a junior, who has never wrestled in high school despite several seasons on the youth level. With no 285-pounder on the squad the first day of practice, getting Waldron out for the team may have been Gill's best move to date. All Waldron has done is gone 7-5 after Tuesday's match-sealing pin of Tom Urban.

The middle part of the lineup also was a question mark, but junior Vanwingerden and senior Trevor Schutte are showing signs of progress. Vanwingerden (6-4) was third in District 3 at 106 pounds two years ago, while Schutte (5-5) may be the biggest surprise after going 0-12 last season.

In addition, sophomore 106-pounder Mark DiGeronimo is looking like he can do some damage in the postseason. After riding the bench behind Dominic Koert and Ryan Luchs (second in District 3 at 106) at Pope John last season, DiGeronimo (8-2) is off to a strong start. Without him, Kittatinny would be forfeiting 106.

Freshman Perry Maio also scored a 1-0 upset-win over Anthony Antoneck, who won 18 matches last season, at 113.

"We're not there yet," said Gill, who has not had a losing season since going 6-9 in 1988-89. "This is not a sectional championship team. I'm hoping this will be a confidence builder. If the kids aren't believing what we're doing in the practice room, they never will. They did a fantastic job."


126 -- Jr. Nick Klinger (8-2), K, d. So, Mark Bohn (9-3), 10-8.
132 -- Jr. Taylor Molfetto (6-4), K, forfeit.
138 -- Jr. Austin Scrivani (11-1), K, p. Jr. Jason Luker (0-2), :15.
145 -- Jr. Jake Vanwingerden (6-4), K, p. Jr. Daun White (2-4), :48.
152 -- Sr. Trevor Schutte (5-5), K, d. Sr. Giuseppe Santillo (1-7), 9-3.
160 -- Sr. Patrick Harsanyi (8-3), J, d. So. Cody Mitchell (1-5), 10-7.
170 -- Sr. Luke Bohn (9-0), J, p. So. Josh Klimek (7-4), :57.
182 -- Jr. Luke DeGroat (3-6), K, p. So. Jakob Jakova (5-3), 5:31.
195 -- Sr. Tyler Wehrenberg (7-3), K, p. So. Cole Benfatti (5-5), 4;31.
220 -- Jr. Avery Sheruda (5-5), J, p. Jr. Nick Simpson (1-7), 3:26.
285 -- Jr. Griffin Waldron (7-5), K, p. Jr. Tom Urban (2-5), 1:44.
106 -- So. Mark DiGeronimo (8-2), K, p. Fr. Rob Ortense (2-4), 4:33.
113 -- Fr. Perry Maio (3-6), K, d. Jr. Anthony Antoneck (8-3), 1-0.
120 -- Jr. Chris Shrieks (6-4), J, p. So. Kasey Hotz (4-3), 1:12.
Records -- Jefferson 2-1; Kittatinny 3-1.
Official -- Bob Melillo.

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