Sunday, January 18, 2015

Wrestling: Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex rankings

Forgive me for being a little behind with the rankings this season. I've yet to master an easier way to navigate this awful Track Wrestling site to formulate the Region 1 individual rankings. Stay tuned on that front.

As we gear up for another big week of wrestling, here's a look at the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex team rankings for the first time. After P'burg and Lenape Valley at 1-2, it's anyone's guess how they'll shake out from this point on. I'd expect High Point to keep improving as we go, though injuries always seem to keep cropping up. Junior Jared Kobis (16-0 at 138) missed the Escape the Rock Tournament over the weekend, while senior Dom Gallo (11-3 at 126) sustained an elbow injury there.

Looking forward to Bound Brook invading The Pit on Wednesday in the first-ever meeting against Phillipsburg. Should be a dandy and you know the 'Liner faithful will be out in full force.

Now onto the rankings:

1. Phillipsburg (7-1) -- Stateliners capped a 3-0 week with a 30-23 win over archrival Easton (Pa.) for just the program's 16th victory -- and No. 895 overall -- in the 78-year history of the series. P'burg made it back-to-back wins in the series for the first time since winning nine in a row from 1963-71. It was just the second win at The Pit since '71, as the series shifted to Lafayette College from 1989-2003. Junior Kyle Nothnagel made his 'Liners debut and posted a key pin at 285 pounds to earn the Brad Weaver Memorial Award as the meet's OW. Big week on tap for coach Dave Post's team as the Skyland Conference Raritan Division title will likely be on the line against Bound Brook.

Up next: Bound Brook at home on Wednesday; Parkland (Pa.) at home on Friday; High Point at home on Saturday.

2. Lenape Valley (8-0) -- Patriots were impressive in finishing third at the sixth annual Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament as coach Doug Vetter's squad followed that up with wins over Hackettstown (40-33 on Tuesday), Vernon (65-12 on Thursday) and Mount Olive (60-15) and Morris Knolls (30-23) on Saturday. Sophomore Jacob Falleni (106) and senior D.J. Barrett (182) -- both HWS champions -- each enter the week at 14-1. Big showdown with Kittatinny on Tuesday as Lenape aims to break a six-match skid in the series for its first win since 2009.

Up next: Kittatinny at home on Tuesday; at Delaware Valley on Friday; Voorhees, Belvidere, Manalapan at home on Saturday.

3. High Point (3-2) -- Wildcats have had some ups and downs of late, but coach John Gardner's team kind of righted the ship with Thursday's 37-27 win over No. 4 Sparta, winning the first eight bouts to take a commanding 33-0 lead. Big match experience was the difference as the 'Cats benefit from a tough early season schedule. Sophomore Chase Babus provided a key 2-1 win in OT over District 3 champion Garrett Gerndt in the second bout of the night. Senior Jason Gaccione finished third at the rugged Escape the Rock Tournament over the weekend. Gaccione is 20-1 on the season and 124-20 for his career.

Up next: Morris Knolls at home on Tuesday; Hackettstown at home on Thursday; at Phillipsburg on Saturday.

4. Sparta (10-3) -- Spartans rebounded from a 37-27 loss to No. 3 High Point with three wins on Saturday -- 42-28 over Toms River East, 45-15 over Becton-Wallington and 46-20 over Manalapan. Senior 145-pounder Ian Burke (19-2) recently became the fifth wrestler in program history to amass 100 career wins, improving to 103-20 overall on the weekend. Coach Frank Battaglia's team, which finished seventh at HWS, will get a pair of tough tests this week against NJAC foes Parsippany and Morris Knolls.

Up next: at Parsippany Hills on Tuesday; at Pope John on Wednesday; Morris Knolls, North Warren at home on Saturday.

5. Delaware Valley (9-2) -- Terriers, who finished 11th at HWS, are a year away according to veteran coach Andy Fitz, but a win over Hunterdon Central -- 30-24 on Dec. 30 -- is looking pretty good now considering Central just knocked off North Hunterdon, 39-29, on Wednesday. Junior Kyle Schlittler (18-1) is enjoying a breakout season at 182 pounds and finished second at HWS. After a 40-15 loss to P'burg last Wednesday, Del Val, which has 703 wins overall, rebounded with three victories on Saturday against Bayonne, Perth Amboy and Somerville.

Up next: at Voorhees on Wednesday; Lenape Valley at home on Friday; Kittatinny and Westfield at West Morris on Saturday.

6. Hunterdon Central (7-4) -- Red Devils made a statement with Wednesday's 39-29 win over North Hunterdon. Coach Jon Cantagallo-Rohm's team, which finished fourth at HWS, got on a major roll early and it snowballed, including sophomore Peter Nace's pin of Paul Robinson in a key bout at 113 pounds. Nace (17-3), a runner-up at HWS, improved to 3-0 all-time vs. Robinson dating to last season. Seniors Joe Scerbo (18-3 at 160), Nick Suk (17-4 at 182) and Nestor Crespo (18-2 at 195), along with sophomore Michael Iodice (14-4 at 170), are the anchors up top.

Up next: at Warren Hills on Wednesday.

7. North Hunterdon (7-2) -- Lions stumbled big time in a 39-29 loss to No. 6 Hunterdon Central last Wednesday, but coach Tim Flynn's team rebounded with wins over West Morris (37-23) and Morris Knolls (36-34) on Saturday. Senior 126-pounder Ryan Pomrinca (19-0), who has 134 career wins, keeps rolling along, while junior Brian Smolinsky (17-0) also remained unbeaten.

Up next: at Hillsborough quad on Saturday.

8. Voorhees (7-3) -- Vikings are getting amped for a big Hunterdon County showdown against No. 5 Delaware Valley under the descending spotlight in Lebanon Township on Wednesday. Coach Eric Hall's squad rebounded from a 56-9 loss to No. 1 Phillipsburg on Friday -- falling to 0-22 all-time vs. the 'Liners -- with wins over Seton Hall Prep 41-28 and Morristown 43-23 on Saturday. Junior Kyle DiNapoli (15-3 at 126) picked up his 75th career win over the weekend.

Up next: Delaware Valley at home on Wednesday; Belvidere, Manalapan at Lenape Valley on Saturday.

9. Kittatinny (6-5) -- Cougars continue in their rebuilding phase as evidenced by losses to North Bergen (40-31) and Old Tappan (45-30) on Saturday, sandwiched around a 43-21 win over Watchung Hills. Coach John Gill's team opened the week with a 45-21 victory over Newton to take control of the NJAC Colonial Division race. Kittatinny also improved to 30-15 all-time in the series and has won the last five meetings. Junior Austin Scrivani (22-1 at 132) enters the week with 79 career wins. The Cougars will try to extend their six-match win streak over No. 2 Lenape Valley on Tuesday -- winning the last six by an average margin of 36 points.

Up next: at Lenape Valley on Tuesday; at Hopatcong on Wednesday; Delaware Valley and Westfield at West Morris on Saturday.

10. Warren Hills (4-2) -- Blue Streaks had last week off due to skin disease, but coach Jarrett Hosbach said over the weekend that his team should return to action this week, which begins on Wednesday against rival Hunterdon Central, which holds a 40-13-1 edge in the series. Streaks posted a 34-33 win last season to snap a five-match skid vs. the Devils. Senior heavyweight Andrew Pacheco (9-0), who has 85 career wins, is looking to join teammate Max Nauta (105-23) in the school's 100-win club. On Friday, two of the state's most storied programs renew a rivalry in an independent match at Newton.

Up next: Hunterdon Central at home on Wednesday; at Newton on Friday; Ramsey, Morristown at home on Saturday.

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