Friday, January 9, 2015

Wrestling: Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex predictions

What: Sixth annual Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament.

Where: Hopatcong High School.

Friday's schedule: Preliminaries and pre-quarterfinals (four mats), 4 p.m.

Saturday's schedule: Quarterfinals, 10 a.m. (four mats); semifinals and wrestlebacks, 12:30 p.m. (four mats); third- and fifth-place consolations, 3 p.m. (two mats); championships, 5 p.m. (one mat).

Teams: Belvidere, Delaware Valley, Hackettstown, High Point, Hopatcong, Hunterdon Central, Kittatinny, Lenape Valley, Newton, North Hunterdon, North Warren, Phillipsburg, Pope John, Sparta, Vernon, Voorhees, Wallkill Valley, Warren Hills.

Returning champions (this year's weights): Nick Klinger, Kittatinny (120); Ryan Pomrinca, North Hunterdon (126); Kyle DiNapoli, Voorhees (126); Max Nauta, Warren Hills (138); Jimmy Schuitema, Phillipsburg (160); Gus Protogeropoulos, Newton (220); Andrew Pacheco, Warren Hills (285 in 2013).

Note: Pomrinca and Nauta are looking to join Voorhees' Jadaen Bernstein as the only three-time champions.

Open Mike's picks for the top four in each weight class (seeds may change before Friday's action):

106 -- 1. Jacob Falleni, Lenape Valley 2. Kyle Markus, Phillipsburg; 3. Mark DiGeronimo, Kittatinny; 4. Brandon Olmstead, Hopatcong.

Notes -- Really wide open weight class. Falleni is really aggressive, while Markus decked DiGeronimo on Wednesday. Hunterdon Central's Hunter Graf is also capable of reaching the semis. 

113 -- 1. Joe Aumann, Hopatcong; 2. Peter Nace, Hunterdon Central; 3. Paul Robinson, North Hunterdon; 4. Garrett Gerndt, Sparta.

Notes -- Aumann finished fourth in Region 1 last year and gained the No. 1 seed here due to the thumb injury sustained by Phillipsburg state runner-up Brandon Paetzell, who would have been the clear choice to win his third title. Nace hammered Robinson, 7-1, in their only meeting last season. Gerndt is a District 3 champion.

120 -- 1. Nick Klinger, Kittatinny; 2. Matt Valli, Warren Hills; 3. Trevor Morales, Newton; 4. Harley Sacks, Voorhees.

Notes -- Klinger is a returning champion at this weight class and is as solid as they come. Valli was a District 1 champion last season, while Morales also qualified for Region 1. Keep an eye on North Hunterdon's Luke Approvato, who is lurking in the top quarter with Morales. Approvato beat Sacks, 10-5, on Wednesday, but you have to reach the semis to place top four.

126 -- 1. Ryan Pomrinca, North Hunterdon; 2. Dom Gallo, High Point; 3. Kyle DiNapoli, Voorhees; 4. Joe Renne, Hackettstown.

Notes -- Pomrinca, a two-time champ and three-time finalist, is the class of a pretty strong field. Gallo is a returning state qualifier and Region 1 runner-up. He will earn his trip to the finals with Delaware Valley's Matt Kolonia and DiNapoli also in the bottom half of the draw. DiNapoli, also a returning champ, dropped a 16-3 decision to Pomrinca on Wednesday. Renne also was a finalist last year.

132 -- 1. Austin Scrivani, Kittatinny; 2. Nick Palumbo, Lenape Valley; 3. Ryan Erwin, Delaware Valley; 4. Matt Mohan, North Hunterdon.

Notes -- Was really looking forward to a potential final between High Point's Mike Derin and Scrivani. Derin, who was the No. 1 seed here, is out indefinitely with a knee injury. That should clear a path for Scrivani, who beat Derin in last year's District 3 finals, to win his first HWS title. The bottom is a real tough call. The No. 2 seed Palumbo will likely tangle with Warren Hills' Zach Nauta in the quarters. That should be a good one. Nauta gave Erwin all he could handle on Wednesday and owns two career wins over Mohan, who is the No. 4 seed.

138 -- 1. Jared Kobis, High Point; 2. Max Nauta, Warren Hills; 3. DJ Wissing, Phillipsburg; 4. Kevin Ciresa, Hunterdon Central.

Notes -- Kobis was a runner-up two years ago -- sitting out 2014 with a hand injury -- and nearly knocked off Pomrinca in a classic that went to UTB. One of the best pure talents around, Kobis is healthy and is 49-4 in his career. Nauta, a three-time finalist, is looking for his third title. It would be shocking if these two don't meet in the finals. Wissing is having a nice season and is a solid pick for third. 

145 -- 1. Jason Gaccione, High Point; 2. Ian Burke, Sparta; 3. Steve Friedman, Phillipsburg; 4. Derek Ciavarro, North Hunterdon.

Notes -- Gaccione, a fourth-place finisher in the state tournament as a sophomore, have never won a county title. That will change this weekend. Burke, who enters the weekend with 97 career wins, will be a solid opponent and is looking to become Sparta's first county champ after becoming the school's first finalist in 2014. Friedman is certainly capable of reaching the finals and that should be a great semifinal with Burke.

152 -- 1. Brian Smolinsky, North Hunterdon; 2. Jarod Ostir, Warren Hills; 3. Chase Bauberger, Delaware Valley; 4. Anthony Carida, Hackettstown.

Notes -- Smolinsky is seeking his first major tournament title and is extremely talented. He just needs to get over the hump. Calling the upset here with the No. 7 seed Ostir, who is one tough freshman. The bottom half is wide open and he's been getting more confident each match. The No. 2 seed is Voorhees' Michael Fernandes, who is off to a great start. Bauberger is the No. 6 seed so this weight could be a real bracket buster.

160 -- 1. Jimmy Schuitema, Phillipsburg; 2. Mike Sicola, North Hunterdon; 3. Joe Scerbo, Hunterdon Central; 4. Walker Schmitzer, Sparta.

Notes -- Schuitema is looking to repeat at this weight. He recorded his 100th win on Wednesday with the always loud and proud P'burg student section counting to 100 before his bout. Great stuff. Sicola-Scerbo would be an interesting semifinal.

170 -- 1. Max Elling, Phillipsburg; 2. Joey LaBell, Lenape Valley; 3. Kevin Merle, Belvidere; 4. Al Falco, Sparta.

Notes -- Pretty solid top four picks here. Elling is still looking to claim his first title, which gives you an idea of how tough this tournament is to win. He's sitting on 98 career wins. LaBell is a solid No. 2 seed. Merle decked Falco in the Hopatcong Tournament.

182 -- 1. D.J. Barrett, Lenape Valley; 2. Kyle Schlittler, Delaware Valley; 3. Nick Suk, Hunterdon Central; 4. Connor Lore, Sparta.

Notes -- Barrett, a Region 1 third-place finisher last season, is a heavy favorite to win this weight. Schlittler posted a 4-2 win over Suk in a dual meet and they'll battle in the bottom half for a trip to the finals. Lore, a two-time District 3 fourth-place finisher, looks hungry this season.

195 -- 1. Nestor Crespo, Hunterdon Central; 2. Sam Palumbo, Lenape Valley; 3. Zach Herbert, Sparta; 4. Kurt Nemeth, Warren Hills.

Notes -- Another pretty open weight class. Crespo is the top seed and gets the nod, while Region 1 qualifier Palumbo is the No. 2. Nemeth was third in District 1 last season, while Herbert also advanced to Region 1.

220 -- 1. Gus Protogeropoulos, Newton; 2. Gavin Lally, Sparta; 3. Derek Howarth, Voorhees; 4. Ralph Hall, Lenape Valley.

Notes -- Protogeropoulos made everyone a believer by winning this weight class last season as a 195-pounder. He's a light 220, but he has the quickest feet of any upper weight around. He gave Lally his first loss on Thursday -- 5-2. High Point's Kevin Lewis is in the same quarter of the draw with Lally and that could be quite entertaining. Lewis was beating Hall, 8-3, in the third period on Tuesday before getting decked with a headlock. 

285 -- 1. Andrew Pacheco, Warren Hills; 2. Alex Fischetti, Voorhees; 3. Robert Melise, Phillipsburg; 4. Robbie Gennat, Sparta.

Notes -- Pacheco, who was sixth in the state last season, is going for his second title, winning his first in 2013 and finishing second last year. He's quite the showman and a final with Fischetti could be worth the price of admission. Fischetti, a District 17 champ as a sophomore, blew his knee out in a match with Pacheco last year. Melise, a Stateliner faithful favorite, is capable of spoiling someone's weekend.

Team champion: Phillipsburg.

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