Friday, January 16, 2015

Wrestling: 'Cats on Point in win over Spartans

Seems rumors regarding the demise of High Point's wrestling team were greatly exaggerated, if they indeed ever existed.

Facing an up-and-coming Sparta team that was seeking its first win in the series in over a decade to prove it belonged atop the Sussex County ranks, the Wildcats reeled off eight straight wins to open the match en route to an impressive 37-27 victory in a Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference crossover contest on Thursday night at Sparta High School.

"People just automatically were thinking we would just go away," said veteran coach John Gardner, whose High Point team was reeling a bit after a 37-36 win over Jefferson on Tuesday that was decided on criteria (most first points scored). "I'm happy with tonight. We saw some good things."

High Point (3-2), coming off back-to-back Group 2 titles, is in unfamiliar territory this season as it rebuilds from the loss of eight starters from last season. Some of the team's young guns stepped up with clutch wins early against Sparta (7-3), including three freshmen -- Malcolm Sinclair (106), Trey Osborn (120) and Shane Kobis (126).

Sophomore Chase Babus, a Region 1 qualifier last season, provided a match-turning 2-1 win in overtime -- locked hands call in the first rideout was the difference -- against District 3 champion Garrett Gerndt at 113. In last season's dual, Gerndt earned a 12-10 win over Babus in sudden victory.

Osborn and Kobis followed that up with a decision and a pin, while state qualifier Dom Gallo stretched the lead to 21-0 by decking Sean Finnegan at 132. Sophomore Aric Wingle kept things rolling with a 5-1 win at 138 before talented junior Jared Kobis racked up three takedowns in a 6-4 win over Ian Burke, the Spartans' top wrestler and a 100-match winner at 145.

Gardner wisely weighed Kobis and senior Jason Gaccione -- normally the starters at 138 and 145 -- up one class to lock in Burke at 145. Gaccione's pin of District 3 finalist Nathan Sowers gave High Point a commanding 33-0 lead through eight bouts to all but seal it. Needing to essentially pin out to win, Sparta finally got on the board in the ninth bout with Walker Schmitzer posting a 4-0 win over Ryan Cullen at 160.

Al Falco (170), Connor Lore (182) and Zach Herbert (195) followed with three straight pins to make it 33-21 with two bouts left, but junior Kevin Lewis recorded High Point's final win with an 11-1 major at 220.

"Our young guys did a nice job," said Gardner, who matched Jeff Hull as the program's winningest coaches with his 288th victory. "I was hoping [to run the table from 106 to 152]. I thought we could, I really did. I'm proud of these guys."

Things certainly won't get any easier for the 'Cats from this point on. After competing in the rugged Escape the Rock Tournament this weekend, High Point will face Morris Knolls (Tuesday) before heading to The Pit to take on state-ranked Phillipsburg (Saturday, Jan. 24).

Sparta (7-3) will look to bounce back after falling in its first major test of the season. Coach Frank Battaglia's squad will compete in a quad against Manalapan, Toms River East and Becton-Wallington on Saturday.


106 -- Fr. Malcolm Sinclair (5-4), HP, d. Sr. Sierra Blasone (4-4), 9-2.
113 -- So. Chase Babus (2-3), HP, d. Jr. Garrett Gerndt (13-6), 2-1 OT3.
120 -- Fr. Trey Osborn (4-5), HP, d. Jr. Grant Gerndt (4-6), 6-4.
126 -- Fr. Shane Kobis (3-4), HP, p. Jr. Andrew Legge (6-9), 1:15.
132 -- Sr. Dom Gallo (10-2), HP, p. So. Sean Finnegan (2-11), 1:40.
138 -- So. Aric Wingle (7-2), HP, d. So, Sean McHugh (7-11), 5-1.
145 -- Jr. Jared Kobis (16-0), HP, d. Sr. Ian Burke (17-2), 6-4.
152 -- Sr. Jason Gaccione (14-0), HP, p. Sr. Nathan Sowers (9-2), 3:08.
160 -- Sr. Walker Schmitzer (8-3), S, d. Sr. Ryan Cullen (6-8), 4-0.
170 -- Jr. Al Falco (12-6), S, p. Fr. Brett Tiger (0-3), :53.
182 -- Sr. Connor Lore (14-4), S, p. Jr. Kurt Rosner (1-8), 1:02.
195 -- So. Zach Herbert (12-6), S, p. So. Richard Kinkead (0-1), 2:34.
220 -- Jr. Kevin Lewis (9-5), HP, md. Fr. Robbie Gennat (10-2), 11-1.
285 -- Jr. Alex Buszczij (1-0), S, forfeit.
Records -- High Point 3-2; Sparta 7-3.

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