Monday, February 16, 2015

Wrestling: Lenape Valley raises bar with G2 final run

TRENTON -- To think that Lenape Valley's wrestling team would be competing for a state championship on the final day of the dual meet season may have seemed a bit of a stretch in December.

A fact that was not lost on veteran coach Doug Vetter, whose Patriots (21-3) became only the second squad in program history to reach the Group 2 final -- also doing it in 1985 -- and the third overall to reach a state title match, as the Sussex County school was the runner-up in Group 3 in 1998.

"If you had told me before the season that we'd tie the school record for wins [matching the 2005-06 team] and be down here wrestling for a state title, that might have raised my eyebrow," said Vetter, a state runner-up for the Patriots in 1990, who has guided the program to two of its five sectional titles in his 14 seasons.

Lenape Valley opened Sunday's proceedings with a gritty 36-30 win over Delaware Valley in the semifinals before dropping a 48-18 decision to a very tough Hanover Park squad in the Group 2 championship match at Sun National Bank Center.

The semifinal win avenged a 32-28 loss at Del Val (15-5) on Jan. 23. This time, the flip was huge as Lenape was able to control critical matchups -- 182 and the final two bouts at 132 and 138.

At 182, senior D.J. Barrett broke a scoreless tie with a reversal and a pair of takedowns en route to a 6-2 win over Kyle Schlittler. Barrett (31-1), who later collected his 100th career victory vs. Hanover Park, also scored a 6-4 decision over Schlittler (24-4) in the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex finals. Three of Schlittler's losses are to Lenape wrestlers, as he lost to Sam Palumbo, 3-0, in the first dual.

Palumbo followed with an 8-0 major of Brock Houser at 195, while Ralph Hall (220), Rich Fritzky (285) and Jacob Falleni (106) reeled off three straight pins to give the Pats a commanding 33-9 lead through nine bouts.

In the first matchup, Lenape needed to win the final two bouts at 220 and 285, but Vetter made a tactical mistake by inserting backup Dylan Frazier at 220, where he dropped a 4-3 decision to Houser, and bumping Hall to 285, where he pinned Matt Powell. But the loss at 220 clinched it for Del Val.

"I underestimated Houser," Vetter said on Sunday.

Down by 24 and needing big bonus points, the Terriers stormed back behind a major from Jake Moore (113) and pins by Kyle Refalvy (120) and Matt Kolonia (126). Moore nearly decked Ray Smaha after trailing, 4-0, after the first period. Moore, who is very good on top, turned Smaha five times in a 21-8 win.

Still down 33-25 with two bouts left and need to win both, Ryan Erwin scored a technical fall win for Del Val at 132, but Lenape had sophomore Nick Palumbo, an HWS runner-up at 132, waiting in the wings and he delivered a match-clinching 6-2 victory over Connor Mills at 138.

Against Hanover Park, things didn't go Lenape Valley's way early as Anthony Oliveri scored a key 5-1 win over Joey LaBell, a two-time Region 1 qualifier, in the third bout at 170. After Barrett notched his 100th win, Sam Palumbo and Hall notched back-to-back pins to give the Pats an 18-8 lead that quickly evaporated in the next three bouts.

Senior Thomas Hunt, one of the four Hanover Park wrestlers to give up pins in that memorable 34-33 loss to High Point in last year's Group 2 final, righted the ship with a 6-2 win over Fritzky and the Hornets were on their way to the school's first championship after runner-up finishes in 2012, '13 in Group 1 and in Group 2 in '14. The Morris County school also was second in Group 1 in 2004.

Ironically, Hanover Park's run of four straight pins from 113-132 sealed the victory after giving up four straight falls to let last year's title slip away.

Vetter, who is 186-143-1 overall, gave his team a spirited postmatch speech in which he challenged his team to make a return appearance in 2016. The Pats lose two big pieces from this North 1, Group 2 title team -- Barrett and LaBell -- but will return 12 starters next season.

Fritzky, who has only been wrestling since his sophomore year, was among those wrestlers who listened intently and wide-eyed -- many looking like they wanted to get right back on the mat -- to their passionate coach.

"We have raised the bar," Vetter told his wrestlers. "You need to commit to summer wrestling, camps, freestyle tournaments. That's what you need to do to get back here next year. Summer wrestling makes winter champions."



145 -- Fr. Nick Zehnbauer (8-2), DV, d. Jr. Alvero DeOliveira (6-10), 14-7.
152 -- So. Khai Dickerson (13-12), LV, d. So. Rhys Zigich (9-16), 5-1.
160 -- Sr. Cory Lightner (22-6), DV, p. Jr. Nick Seck (12-16), 1:42.
170 -- Sr. Joey LaBell (27-4), LV, tf. So. Tanner McLaughlin (3-10), 25-9, 5:57.
182 -- Sr. D.J. Barrett (30-1), LV, d. Jr. Kyle Schlittler (24-4), 6-2.
195 -- Jr. Sam Palumbo (26-5), LV, md. Sr. Brock Houser (19-8), 8-0.
220 -- Jr. Ralph Hall (23-8), LV, p. Jr. Zach LaDuca (2-10), 1:42.
285 -- Jr. Rich Fritzky (15-11), LV, p. Sr. Matt Powell (7-7), 3:47.
106 -- So. Jacob Falleni (27-3), LV, p. So. Dylan Uderman (8-15), 1:35.
113 -- Jr. Jake Moore (18-6), DV, md. So. Ray Smaha (10-16), 21-8.
120 -- Jr. Kyle Refalvy (16-10), DV, p. Fr. Jake Hickey (6-7), 3:45.
126 -- So. Matt Kolonia (20-6), DV, p. Jr. Aaron Merkey (21-10), :25.
132 -- Sr. Ryan Erwin (26-3), DV, tf. Jr. Aaron Arzon (11-15), 20-5, 5:31.
138 -- So. Nick Palumbo (26-5), LV, d. So. Connor Mills (12-11), 6-2.
Records -- Lenape Valley 21-2; Delaware Valley 15-5.



152 -- Sr. Christian Bassolino (23-7), HP, tf. So Khai Dickerson (13-13), 21-6, 5:21.
160 -- Jr. Nick Seck (13-16), LV, d. Jr. Matt Santos (8-15), 5-2.
170 -- Jr. Anthony Oliveri (26-8), HP, d. Sr. Joey LaBell (27-5), 5-1.
182 -- Sr. D.J. Barrett (31-1), LV, d. Sr. Mason Sangillo (24-9), 3-0.
195 -- Jr. Sam Palumbo (27-5), LV, p. Fr. Paul Rocha (2-9), 1:43.
220 -- Jr. Ralph Hall (24-8), LV, p. Sr. Eric Boccard (13-12), 2:41.
285 -- Sr. Thomas Hunt (14-12), HP, d. Jr. Rich Fritzky (15-12), 6-2.
106 -- Fr. Gerard Angelo (27-3), HP, md. So. Jacob Falleni (27-4), 13-2.
113 -- Fr. Sean Conoly (18-6), HP, p. So. Ray Smaha (10-17), :32.
120 -- So. Lou Raimo (22-6), HP, p. Fr. Jake Hickey (6-8), 2:09.
126 -- So. Marco Zecca (5-2), HP, p. Jr. Aaron Merkey (21-11), 2:53.
132 -- Sr. Anthony Cefolo (28-1), HP, p. Jr. Aaron Arzon (11-16), 1:35.
138 -- Sr. Austin Nash (27-7), HP, d. So. Nick Palumbo (26-6), 7-3.
145 -- Sr. Gene Angelo (17-10), HP, p. Jr. Alvero DeOliveira (6-11), :46.
Records -- Lenape Valley 21-3; Hanover Park 12-5.
Note -- D.J. Barrett became the 13th Lenape Valley wrestler to reach 100 career wins.

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