Thursday, December 18, 2014

Wrestling: Sussex preview capsules

High Point Wildcats

Coach: John Gardner (285-77-2, 17th season).

2013-14 record: 17-4, 7-0 NJAC American Division, North 1, Group 2 and Group 2 champions.

Returning starters (7): So. Chase Babus (16-20, D3) 113; Sr. Dom Gallo (32-10, D3, R2) 126-132; So. Aric Wingle (11-14, D4) 132-138; Sr. Mike Derin (33-9, D2, R1) 138;  Sr. Jason Gaccione (37-7, D1, R2) 138-145; Jr. Jared Kobis (4-1, D1-2013) 138-152; Sr. Ryan Cullen (17-15, D3) 152-160.

Key losses: Chris Auer (22-15, D2) 152; Tommy Hooker (24-13, D1) 160; Colby Brands (19-19, D3) 170; Antonio Porraspita (26-14, D3) 182; Kyle Stoll (37-7, D1, R1) 195; Bobby McDonnell (23-17, D2) 220; Gunther Wassong (13-6) 285; Chris Campbell (13-14, D2) 285.

Key returnees: Jr. Justin Liebl 106; Jr. Garrett Fenlon 120-126; Jr. Kurt Rosner 170; Sr. Ryan Olinger (3-2) 182; Jr. Kevin Lewis (4-2) 220; Sr. Henry Kuperus (1-2) 285.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Trey Osborn 113; Fr. Shane Kobis 120; So. Richard Kinkead 195.

Outlook: Wildcats are coming off back-to-back Group 2 championships, but they took a big hit with the graduation of seven starters, including a solid group of upper weights. However, there is a solid nucleus returning, led by former state placewinners Derin and Gaccione. Jared Kobis won 36 bouts as a freshman, but he's been hampered by injuries, including a broken hand that cost him most of his sophomore season. When healthy, he's a threat to place high on the podium in AC. If the upper weights can hold their own, this team has the talent to make another run at sectional and state titles. Gardner, who is closing in on 300 wins, really likes the younger wrestlers on the roster, so the future looks bright in Wantage.

Hopatcong Chiefs

Coach: Eric Fajerman (115-210-3, 15th season).

2013-14 record: 1-21, 0-7 NJAC Freedom Division (eighth).

Returning starters (6): Sr. Joe Aumann (30-8, D3, R4) 113; Jr. Alex Micevski (2-11) 120; Sr. Joey Ioffredo (9-9) 145; So. Jake Wilkerson (18-11, D4) 160; Jr. Brandon Marazzo (6-17) 195; Jr. Christian Burgos (23-8) 220.

Key losses: Troy Bongiovanni (23-15, D2) 170.

Key returnees: Jr. Giancarlo Varrone (2-12) 170.

Promising newcomers: So. Brandon Olmstead 106; Fr. Anthony Mastroeni 132; Sr. Glenn Haines (4-1, transfer from Lenape Valley, D1-2013, R2-2012) 138; Fr. Kurt Hergert 182; Jr. Charlie DeFranza 285

Outlook: It's been a question of numbers for the Chiefs in recent seasons. Forfeits have hampered the program in dual meets, but it appears that if everything shakes right this season, there may only be two weights vacant for most days. Aumann, Wilkerson and Burgos are all coming off successful seasons and the addition of Haines, who reached the Region 1 finals as a freshman, is a big bonus. He was sidelined by a shoulder issue most of last season. Fajerman usually gets the most out of the talent he has so expect to see an improvement in the win column.

Kittatinny Cougars

Coach: John Gill (504-152-5, 35th season).

2013-14 record: 18-3, 7-0 NJAC Freedom Division, North 1, Group 1 champions.

Returning starters (5): So. Kasey Hotz (18-14) 113-120; Jr. Nick Klinger (31-8, D2) 120; Jr. Taylor Molfetto (17-14, D4) 126; Jr. Austin Scrivani (31-10, D1, R3) 132; So. Josh Klimek (9-11) 170.

Key losses: Christian Silva (27-16, D1, R3) 126; Nick West (11-18) 138; Nick Romyns (27-6, D3, R1) 152; Kieran Gerrity (39-6, D1, R3) 170; Dylan Wunder (29-11, D1, R4) 170-182; Garrett Armstrong (33-10, D2, R3) 195; Andrew Simpson (22-12, D4) 220; Tom Smith (27-11, D3) 285.

Key returnees: Sr. Christian Blanton (1-1) 132; Jr. Jake Vanwingerden (4-5, D3-2013) 145-152; Sr. Trevor Schutte (0-12) 145-152; Jr. Luke DeGroat (2-1) 182; Sr, Tyler Wehrenberg (0-1) 195; Jr. Nick Simpson 195; Sr. Peter Block (1-1) 195; Sr. Kyle Cornman (0-1) 220.

Promising newcomers: So. Mark DiGeronimo (transfer from Pope John) 106; Fr. Perry Maio 113; Fr. Calvin Brook 120; So. Dylan Minter 138; So. Cody Mitchell 160; Jr. Griffin Waldron 285.

Outlook: Cougars have been one of the most successful and consistent programs in New Jersey for the better part of two decades. This is looking like one of those rare seasons where it will be a work in progress following heavy graduation losses, especially up top where there are questions for the first time in quite a while. Klinger and Scrivani are two horses that Gill can count on most matches, but the bulk of this lineup is pretty untested. Brook is a talented freshman and will make an impact. Unfortunately, two blue-chip freshmen, Carmen Ferrante (Bergen Catholic) and Jake Brown (Pope John) are wrestling elsewhere. Both would have been starters. If the upper weights can develop, expect this team to exceed expectations. It will certainly be challenge as Kittatinny celebrates its 40th season overall.

Lenape Valley Patriots

Coach: Doug Vetter (165-140-1, 14th season).

2013-14 record: 9-11, 5-2 NJAC Freedom Division (third).

Returning starters (9): Jr. Zach Merkey (15-12) 113; So. Anthony Smaha (7-13) 120; Jr. Aaron Arzon (17-12, D4) 132; So. Nick Palumbo (19-11, D2) 138; Sr. Joe LaBell (23-11, D3) 170; Sr. D.J. Barrett (31-8, D1, R3) 182; Jr. Sam Palumbo (20-14, D1) 195; Jr. Ralph Hall (19-13, D1) 220; Jr. Richie Fritzky (7-18) 285.

Key losses: Sr. Glenn Haines (4-1, D1-2013, transferred to Hopatcong) 145; Dominic LaBell (14-7, D3) 152-160.

Key returnees: So. Ray Smaha (5-7) 113; Jr. Aaron Merkey (3-7) 126; Sr. Josh Bostwick (0-2) 145; Jr. Mike Katz (5-11) 152-160; Jr. Nick Seck (1-6) 152-160; Jr. David Ottoson 170; Jr. Scott Prior (1-3) 182; Sr. Hussein Hamed 285.

Promising newcomers: So. Jake Falleni 106; Fr. Neil Kelly 106; Fr. Jake Hickey 120; Fr. Jordan Costanza 145; So. Ky Dickerson 152.

Outlook: Patriots, who reached the North 1, Group 1 final two seasons ago, are looking to bounce back off a tough campaign. This group, unlike others in the county, features a pretty strong set of upper weights, led by state qualifier Barrett, along with District 2 champs Sam Palumbo and Hall. LaBell is another solid starter up top. There are question marks down low with some inexperience at this level, but this squad has the potential to be pretty balanced and that will almost certainly produce a good number of wins in dual meets. This could be a team that no one wants to see late in the season.

Newton Braves

Coach: Eric Bollette (176-141-1, 14th season).

2013-14 record: 14-13, 4-3 NJAC Freedom Division (fourth).

Returning starters (10): Sr. Trevor Morales (31-7, D2) 120; So. Nick Giordano (16-14) 126; Sr. Eddie Medina (28-12, D2) 132; Sr. Ryan Brigante (11-20, D4) 138; So. Jake DeLuca (8-9, D3) 145; Jr. Lance Fischer (18-19, D4) 160; Sr. Benjamin Sibblies (16-18) 170-182; Sr. Gus Protogeropoulos (35-8, D1, R3) 195-220; Jr. Ethan Reczka (17-12, D4) 195-220; Jr. Tyler Pittenger (13-18) 285.

Key losses: Michael Larsen (9-8) 138; Niko Grello (24-14, D2) 138.

Key returnees: Jr. Mateo Valentine (2-1) 106-113; So. Justin Scribner (2-3) 106; Jr. Michael Valentine (1-9) 132; Sr. Sam Brothman 152; Jr. Ryan Lazar (0-9) 160; So. Skylar Hildebrant 152-160; Jr. Robert Borgognoni (1-6) 160; Jr. Brian Zakrzewski 182; Jr. Koty Wilkenson (1-8) 220; Jr. Nick Zaremski (0-1) 285.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Tim Houlihan 106; Fr. Jonathon Borgognoni 126; Fr. Devon Mager 182; So. Louis Arrazola 182; Fr. Joey DeLuca 195; Jr. Aaron Anane-Agyei 220.

Outlook: Braves snapped a string of back-to-back losing campaigns last season and seem primed for another successful campaign, if things can fall into place. Unfortunately, Medina tore his ACL during football and will miss at least the entire dual meet season. He has a chance to return for districts. His loss creates some lineup dilemmas, but there is talent, especially up top with state qualifier Protogeropoulos anchoring at either 195 or 220. Morales and DeLuca were Region 1 qualifers last season. With the sectional realignment, the Braves figure to be one of the teams to beat in North 1, Group 1, now that Kittatinny is in North 1, Group 2.

Pope John Lions

Coach: Mark Piotrowsky (8-14, second season).

2013-14 record: 8-14, 1-6 NJAC American Division (seventh).

Returning starters (10): So. Ryan Luchs (17-7, D2) 113-120; Sr. Dominic Koert (14-2) 120-126; Jr. Caleb Lewie-Cepero (12-16, D4) 132-138; Sr. Nick Esposito (10-19) 145; Jr. Billy Koenig (7-18) 145-152; Sr. Anthony Azzaritti (17-13, D3) 152-160; Sr. Deriam Guridy (11-10, D3-2012) 182-195; Jr. Michael Anderson (5-18) 182; Jr. Joe Frumolt (7-6) 195; Sr. Marino Priori (1-19) 220.

Key losses: Austin Sisco (35-6, D1, R3) 113; Zeke Lewie-Cepero (14-15, D4) 126; Noa Merritt (30-4, D1, R2) 285.

Key returnees: So. Christian Deehan 106; So. Travis Healy 126-132; Sr. Rich Peterson 170; Jr. Conner Lenehan 285; Sr. Scott Black (1-2) 285.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Jake Rotunda 106-113; Fr. Jake Brown 170.

Outlook: Lions struggled some in dual meets last season, but they managed two representatives in Atlantic City. Luchs and Azzaritti both advanced to Region 1, while Koert enjoyed a successful campaign until an injury sidelined him late. The addition of Brown, a blue-chip freshman out of the Kittatinny system, is a big bonus. He's legit. Expect this group to produce a few more wins and enjoy some individual postseason success.

Sparta Spartans

Coach: Frank Battaglia (36-32, fourth season).

2013-14 record: 13-6, 4-3 NJAC American Division (fourth).

Returning starters (13): Jr. Garrett Gerndt (24-5, D1) 113-120; Sr. Sierra Blasone (5-11) 113; Jr. Andrew Legge (9-13) 120-126; So. Sean McHugh (11-13) 132-138; So. Paddy Finnegan (5-14) 138-145; Sr. Ian Burke (29-4, D1) 145-152; Sr. Walker Schmitzer (27-5, D2) 152-160; Sr. Nathan Sowers (12-10, D2) 160-170; Jr. Al Falco (22-11, D2) 160-170; Sr. Connor Lore (16-12, D4) 182-195; Jr. Zach Herbert (8-13, D4) 182-195; Sr. Gavin Lally (25-8, D3) 195-220; Sr. Jake Vogel (8-15) 285.

Key returnees: Jr. Grant Gerndt (6-4) 120.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Mason Veron 106-113; Fr. Nick Casasenta 126-132; Fr. Anthony Casasenta 126-132; Fr. Kevin Berlin 132; Fr. Josh Fenners 145; Fr. Robbie Gannat 220.

Outlook: Spartans are coming off seasons with 15 and 13 victories after the program pretty had much hit rock bottom. Now, the bar is set higher, as coach Battaglia's group is expected to be one of the better squads in Sussex County. With 12 starters back, including three-time Region 1 qualifier Burke, this could be a banner campaign. Gerndt also won a District 3 title, while three others reached the finals. There are a few suspect weights, but this lineup is pretty balanced. It will be fun to see how this squad does this winter with expectations for the first time.

Vernon Vikings

Coach: Bill Panfile (5-17, second season).

2013-14 record: 5-17, 0-7 NJAC American Division (eighth).

Returning starters (5): So. Roman Moss (7-18) 120; Sr. Sultan Destani (9-13) 132; Jr. Cole Nagle (14-11) 145; So. Mike Roccasanta (1-24) 152; So. Mike Alvarez (8-11) 220.

Key losses: Jerrian Arroyo (9-13) 152; Jr. Tim VanLenten (17-3, D3-2013) 160; Pat Thompson (14-12) 182; Jesse Cornwell (15-6, D4) 195; Bobby Chavez (14-11, D4) 285.

Key returnees: So. Storm DiGuiseppe (2-6) 160.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Sergio Germinario 106; Fr. Charles Emanuel 113; Jr. Brandi Braico 138; Sr. Austin Rappold 170; Jr. Zach Jano 182; Jr. Connor Fitzsimmons 285; Sr, Logan Jones 285.

Outlook: Vikings, once a Group 4 school and now a Group 2, are struggling with low numbers. Making matters worse, VanLenten, a District 3 placewinner as a freshman, did not come out for his junior season. That means that no one in the lineup has earned a district medal. Nagel and Alvarez will be counted on for their leadership, as a young group goes throw growing pains. The goal will be to improve each week and possibly approach last season's win total.

Wallkill Valley Rangers

Coach: Jeff Churchill (first season, 159-89-3 from 1989-2003 at Morris Knolls).

2012-13 record: 4-16, 1-5 NJAC Freedom Division (T-sixth).

Returning starters (7): So. Dillion Whitley (5-21) 126; Sr. Sean Siek (20-10, D4) 138; So. Trevor Kish (11-14) 145; Sr. Joe Tizzano (14-10, D4) 152; Sr. Alex Shucai (5-13) 170; Sr. Patrick Endrikat (16-9) 182; Sr. Ian McDonald (7-9) 195.

Key losses: Andrew Reed 152; Tylar Creeden (11-15) 182.

Key returnees: So. Mark Teevan (4-6) 106; Sr. Brandon Barnet (did not wrestle last season) 132; Sr. Brad Lodema (did not wrestle last season) 160.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Sean DeCoursey 113; Fr. Justin Lindquist 120; Fr. Brodie McDonald 220; So. John McCarthy 285.

Outlook: After going 16-55 over the previous three seasons, the Rangers look to start anew under Churchill, who enjoyed a lot of success during his tenure at Morris Knolls. His two sons, Kevin and Steven, were standout wrestlers at Newton. This will be a challenge for the veteran coach, who inherits a program that's fallen on hard times. Siek and Endrikat are two of the squad's most seasoned wrestlers, while Tizzano finished top four in District 3. Churchill has been working the halls as he brought Barnet and Lodema back into the fold after both sat out in 2013-14.

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