Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wrestling: Region 1 preliminary round recap, tidbits

HARDYSTON TWP. -- With one round of the Region 1 Tournament in the books, let's take a look at some of the highlights from Wednesday night's action:

1. District 1 flexed its muscles by advancing 20 out of 28 to Friday's quarterfinals. Leading the charge was Phillipsburg, which went 5-1 in the preliminary round. Kyle Markus (106), Tyler Agans (120), DJ Wissing (138), Drew Horun (195) and Kyle Nothnagel (285) all reached the quarters, while Tom Kosar (113) bowed out of the tournament after being pinned by Sparta's Garrett Gerndt in 2:39.

Markus earned a hard-fought 5-3 win over Montville's Ronald Rumsby, while Wissing and Nothnagel moved on with first-period pins. Agans posted a 4-1 win over Pope John's Ryan Luchs, while Horun earned a 5-3 decision over Sparta's Zach Herbert.

The Stateliners lead the field with 12 wrestlers in the quarterfinals, followed by DePaul (10). Lenape Valley, Morris Knolls and West Morris all have seven wrestlers in the Round of 8.

District 4 went 14-14 in the prelims, while District was 12-16. District 3, which amazingly didn't have a wrestler from either High Point or Kittatinny win in the opening round, finished 10-18.

2. Sparta continued its resurgence by sending six wrestlers into the quarterfinals, including senior Ian Burke, who scored 13-3 major decision over Montville's Sam Rosensweig at 145 pounds. Burke, the District 3 runner-up, matched two-time Region 1 champion Matt Stoppay (118-25 from 1999-2003) for the all-time wins record at the Sussex County school.

Burke (34-3), who improved to 118-21 overall, can own the top spot with a win over Wayne Hills' Joseph Stambouly on Friday. The Spartans are looking for their first champion since Phil Takacs-Senske won the 189-pound title in 2006.

Gerndt and Nathan Sowers (152) also join District 3 champs Walker Schmitzer (160), Connor Lore (182) and Gavin Lally (220) in the quarters for Sparta, which had five reach the quarters last year.

Keep in mind, this is a program that won one bout in the district tournament from 2010-11.

Crosstown rival Pope John, which hasn't had a champ since 2004, has six in the quarters. Freshman Jake Brown (170) was one of three winners for the Lions in the opening round, along with Christian Deehan (106) and Dominic Koert (126).

Brown recorded a 7-4 decision over Sparta's Al Falco -- his second win over Falco in four days after winning 6-4 in sudden victory in the District 3 semifinals. Falco beat Brown, 3-1, in sudden victory in their first meeting in December.

3. Let's take a look at how the top eight seeds fared in the opening round. It was tough night for the No. 7s, as five lost in the prelims, including Kosar, Kittatinny's Jake Vanwingerden (145) and Belvidere's David Harris (160).

Three No. 6 and No. 8 seeds went by the wayside, while a pair of No. 5 seeds fell.

A No. 2 and a No. 3 from Morris Knolls saw action on Wednesday. Garrett O'Shea, the second seed at 113, advanced by decking Randolph's Nick Rampone, while Dean Drugac, a returning champ, pinned Newton's Benjamin Sibblies in 1:15 at 170.

Mendham's Tim Byrne, also a No. 3 seed, beat High Point's Cliff Rutter, 11-5, at 220 pounds. Rutter was an unlikely qualifier after finishing second in District 3, where he entered the tournament with one victory on the season -- a forfeit.

Nothnagel, along with Kinnelon's Scott Smith (106) and West Morris' David Migliaccio (145), were the other No. 3 seeds to participate in the first round.

4. Lenape Valley enjoyed a strong opening round by going 4-2, led by upper weights Joey LaBell (170), Sam Palumbo (195), Ralph Hall (220) and Rich Fritzky (285).

In all, the Patriots will have seven in action on Friday, as District 2 champs Jacob Falleni (106), Nick Palumbo (132) and D.J. Barrett (182) received byes into the quarters.

Fritzky won a thriller in the last bout to be completed on Wednesday, converting a takedown with five seconds left on the clock for a 3-1 win in sudden victory over Sparta freshman Robbie Gennat. Coach Doug Vetter's squad has as many wrestlers left as High Point (4) and Kittatinny (3) combined.

5. Wallkill Valley gave the home fans something to cheer about as senior 138-pounder Sean Siek advanced to the quarters by turning the tables on Kittatinny's Dylan Minter with a 6-1 victory. On Saturday, Siek dropped a 7-3 decision in their District 3 semifinal matchup.

First-year coach Jeff Churchill, who previously spent many seasons in charge of Morris Knolls' program, said they worked on a game plan all week and Siek executed it to perfection. Senior Patrick Endrikat nearly made it 2-for-2 for the Rangers, but he lost a 4-3 heartbreaker to North Warren's Jack Butrymowicz at 182.

Wallkill did not have a qualifier a year ago, and the school has not produced a champion since former state champion Ryan Callahan won his second in 2010.

Back points

District 1 saw both of its seconds and thirds win in six weight classes on Wednesday -- 120, 132, 138, 182, 195 and 285. Belvidere put four into the quarters as both Merle brothers -- Kevin (170) and Steven (195) -- won in the opening round, as well as Ryan Stephen (182).

There were a total of 17 pins in the first round, which was six fewer than last year. Unlike 2014, most of the falls came early on, as eight occurred in the last eight weights, while there were none from 145 through 160. Stephen had the fastest in 36 seconds over Wayne Valley's P.J. Chak, while Mount Olive's Daniel Colabella was next with one in 45 seconds at 285.

It seemed weird not seeing one Warren Hills wrestler in action in the opening round, as District 1 champions Max Nauta (132) and Andrew Pacheco (285) had the night off. The Blue Streaks have just two qualifiers for the first time since 1993, when Nik and Jason DeBenedetto placed third in the district to earn a trip to Wallkill Valley. Nauta, a three-time finalist, and Pacheco are seeking their second Region 1 titles.

The last time that neither High Point or Kittatinny produced a Region 1 champ was 1999. The 'Cats have three legit title contenders in Dom Gallo (126), Jared Kobis (138) and Jason Gaccione (145), while the Cougars have Nick Klinger (120) and Austin Scrivani (132) among the favorites at their weight classes. The two rivals made history on Wednesday, as neither had a first-round winner for the first time since district thirds started advancing to regions in 1983.

Phillipsburg is the runaway leader with 115 champs on the all-time list. Washington/Warren Hills is next with 53, followed by High Point (43), Randolph (42) and Newton (34).

Speaking of Newton, senior Gus Protogeropoulos is the No. 1 seed at 195 after finishing third at 220 last season. The Braves have produced five champs since 2008, snapping an 18-year drought when Austin Alpaugh and Ed Mattice won in '08. Current assistant coach Ted Sibblies was the school's previous champ in 1989, when he won the Outstanding Wrestler Award en route to finishing second in the state at 130 pounds.

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