Saturday, February 21, 2015

Wrestling: Spartans win D3 title; 'Cats crown four

HAMPTON -- Gavin Lally knows where Sparta's wrestling program once was and can feel proud to be a part of the revitalization. And the senior 220-pounder gets to celebrate two championships to boot.

Lally was one of three champions that helped lead Sparta to the District 3 team title on Saturday at Kittatinny Regional High School. It's the first team crown for the Spartans since 1983, and its their fourth overall (also winning in 1979 and '82). The three champs are also the school's most district winners in a year since producing five in '83.

"We were at rock bottom [in 2010 and '11 when the Spartans won a total of one district bout in those two seasons]," said an elated Frank Battaglia, who also took home Coach of the Year honors. "That was tough. But what a great ride it's been with this senior class. I can't thank them enough. This isn't the end, but it's a start."

In addition to Lally, seniors Walker Schmitzer (160) and Connor Lore (182) also won their first district titles. Garrett Gerndt (113), Ian Burke (145), Zach Herbert (195) and Robbie Gennat (280) all finished second.

Lally started off the proceedings under a bit of pressure after Battaglia informed his wrestler that he needed to win by a fall in order to clinch the team title. In fact, Sparta entered the finals with a pretty insurmountable 19-point lead over second-place High Point. Nonetheless, Lally needed just 38 seconds to flatten Cliff Rutter.

"Coach said I needed to get six and I did what he asked me to do," said Lally, who also won his first Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex title in January. "This feels awesome. We can't get enough of this. I'm so happy for coach Battaglia. Hopefully this program keeps building and growing."

High Point, which had won seven of the previous nine team titles while combining with Kittatinny to earn the last 16 since Jefferson won the team race in 1998, produced a tournament-best four champions, including senior Jason Gaccione, who won a wild 14-11 decision over Burke, a 2014 champ, at 145 pounds.

Gaccione (33-2) was seemingly in control with a 9-3 lead in the second period, when Burke countered a duck-under attempt and threw Gaccione to his back with a headlock. Burke nearly had a pin, but Gaccione signaled for injury time and referee Dave Marotta halted the bout.

Burke was awarded a four-point nearfall to tie it at 9, but Gaccione escaped to take a 10-9 lead after two periods and iced the win with two takedowns in the third. Unfortunately, the bout ended with a chorus of boos from fans who felt the bout should not have been stopped with Gaccione on his back.

"[Burke] has been on a high and feeling pretty good," said Battaglia of the NYU-bound senior who has been the face of the program the last four years with four district medals and three finals appearances. "Maybe this is a good loss. He's a great kid academically and a great leader."

Gaccione, a four-time finalist, is the 12th High Point wrestler to win at least three district titles, joining older brother Joe (2008-09, '11) and uncle John Gardner (1988-90), who is the program's head coach. The trio has combined for 400 wins, nine district titles, eight region titles and five state medals.

Senior Dom Gallo (126), who recorded his 100th win in the semifinals, and unbeaten junior Jared Kobis (138) both won their second titles, while junior Kevin Lewis (285) picked up his first. The Wildcats also had two unlikely finalists in freshman Sawyer Fenlon (132) and sophomore Cliff Rutter (220), the No. 7 seed who entered the tournament at 1-2 -- the win being a forfeit. Although Fenlon was the No. 2 seed, he came in at 2-6.

Kittatinny, which matched High Point with seven Region 1 qualifiers, finished third overall in the team standings behind champions Mark DiGeronimo (106), Nick Klinger (120) and Austin Scrivani (132).

Scrivani (33-1) became just the 11th at his school to win three titles as he decked Fenlon in 3:28, while the other two won their first titles for the Cougars, who extended their streak of having at least one champion since being shut out in 1993.

Newton senior Gus Protogeropoulos collected his second straight title and his 100th career win in style by pinning Herbert in 1:16 at 195. Protogeropoulos (31-2), who is the Braves' first repeat winner since Ed Mattice in 2008-09, will be the favorite in Region 1 next week after finishing third last year.

"I don't really look at rankings. I just want to make it [to states in Atlantic City] again," said Protogeropoulos, who dropped from 220 after HWS and is now 100-35 overall. "I just want to open up and keep moving forward. Anyone can win."

Pope John's Jake Rotunda also made a little school history with a hard-fought 4-2 win in the ultimate tiebreaker against Gerndt. Rotunda, who escaped with 25 seconds left in the third period to force OT, got a reversal with 22 seconds left in UTB to win and become the first freshman champion for the Lions since former state champ Brian Unkert won the first of his four district titles in 1987.

Jefferson's Luke Bohn, who also won a third district title, was named the Outstanding Wrestler after scoring a technical fall over Pope John freshman Jake Brown in the 170-pound final.

Team standings

1. Sparta (S) 186; 2. High Point (HP) 171.5; 3. Kittatinny (K) 149.5; 4. Pope John (PJ) 114; 5. Newton (N) 112; 6. Jefferson (J) 110.5; 7. Wallkill Valley (WV) 61; 8. Vernon (V) 10.

Region 1 qualifiers by school

Sparta 3+4+2=9; High Point 4+3+0=7; Kittatinny 3+1+3=7; Newton 1+2+3=6; Pope John 1+2+3=6; Jefferson 2+1+2=5; Wallkill Valley 0+1+1=2; Vernon 0+0+0=0.


220 -- 1-Sr. Gavin Lally (33-1), S, p. 7-So. Cliff Rutter (3-3), HP, :38.
285 -- 1-Jr. Kevin Lewis (25-10), HP, p. 2-Fr. Robbie Gennat (26-5), S, 2:37.
106 -- 1-So. Mark DiGeronimo (26-6), K, md. Jr. 2-Christian Deehan (19-8), PJ, 14-2.
113 -- 1-Fr. Jake Rotunda (21-4), PJ, d. 3-Jr. Garrett Gerndt (23-12), S, 4-2 UTB.
120 -- 1-Jr. Nick Klinger (30-4), K, d. 2-Sr. Trevor Morales (27-5), N, 4-1.
126 -- 1-Sr. Dom Gallo (19-3), HP, d. 2-So. Mark Bohn (26-9), J, 7-0.
132 -- 1-Jr. Austin Scrivani (34-1), K, p. 2-Fr. Sawyer Fenlon (4-7), HP, 3:28.
138 -- 1-Jr. Jared Kobis (27-0), HP, tf. 2-So. Dylan Minter (15-7), K, 21-6, 4:32.
145 -- 1-Sr. Jason Gaccione (33-2), HP, d. 2-Sr. Ian Burke (33-3), S, 14-11.
152 -- 3-Sr. Patrick Harsanyi (22-9), J, d. 5-Sr. Ryan Cullen (15-12), HP, 6-5.
160 -- 1-Sr. Walker Schmitzer (24-6), S, d. 2-Jr. Lance Fischer (26-8), N, 7-5.
170 -- 1-Sr. Luke Bohn (32-1), J, tf. 3-Fr. Jake Brown (17-4), PJ, 16-0, 4:34.
182 -- 1-Sr. Connor Lore (28-6), S, md. 2-Sr. Patrick Endrikat (25-6), WV, 17-3.
195 -- 1-Sr. Gus Protogeropoulos (31-2), N, p. 2-So. Zach Herbert (23-12), S, 1:16.
Outstanding Wrestler -- Luke Bohn, Jefferson.
Coach of the Year -- Frank Battaglia, Sparta.
Assistant Coach of the Year -- Mickey Thomas, High Point.

Third-place consolations

106 -- 5-Fr. Rob Ortense (15-13), J, d. 3-Fr. Malcolm Sinclair (11-15), HP, 4-3.
113 -- 4-Fr. Perry Maio (13-17), K, d. 2-So. Chase Babus (7-10), HP, 6-1.
120 -- 3-So. Ryan Luchs (17-7), PJ, d. 4-Jr. Chris Shrieks (20-9), J, 9-4.
126 -- 5-Sr. Dominic Koert (22-5), PJ, md. 3-Jr. Taylor Molfetto (16-17), K, 10-0.
132 -- 3-Sr. Ryan Brigante (15-17), N, p. 5-So. Sean Finnegan (8-23), S, 2:44.
138 -- 3-Sr. Sean Siek (26-9), WV, p. 4-So. Jake DeLuca (11-14), N, 3:20.
145 -- 3-Jr. Jake Vanwingerden (23-10), K, d. 4-So. Trevor Kish (14-15), WV, 6-0.
152 -- 2-Sr. Nathan Sowers (17-11), S, d. 1-Sr. Anthony Azzariti (16-8), PJ, 4-2 SV.
160 -- 4-So. Josh Klimek (18-16), K, d. 3-So. Jakob Jakova (23-11), J, 11-5.
170 -- 2-Jr. Al Falco (23-10), S, p. 4-Sr. Alex Shucai (11-20), WV, 1:15.
182 -- 4-Sr. Benjamin Sibblies (19-16), N, md. 3-Sr. Michael Anderson (12-12), PJ, 14-5.
195 -- 3-Jr. Joe Frumolt (16-9), PJ, d. 4-Sr. Ian McDonald (13-17), WV, 5-1.
220 -- 4-Jr. Avery Sheruda (11-11), J, d. 3-So. Mike Alvarez (16-14), V, 5-2.
285 -- 3-Jr. Tyler Pittenger (15-18), N, p. 4-Jr. Griffin Waldron (14-19), K, :56.

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