Sunday, March 1, 2015

Wrestling: Regions 1 and 5 by the numbers

We're down to the final week and everyone is eager to see who will grab medals next weekend at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

But before we start to focus on the 82nd State Championships, let's once again take a look at some of the highlights from a great weekend at the region tournaments that house teams from the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex area.

8 -- DePaul made quite a statement by advancing eight wrestlers to AC, including five of eight winners in the finals. Senior state champ David McFadden made history by becoming just the fourth wrestler to win four tiles in this always rugged region -- joining Pope John's Mike Frick (1969-72), along with High Point's John Gardner (1987-90) and Nick Francavilla (2008-11). It's also remarkable given that the Spartans sent a combined total of 12 wrestlers to AC in the previous seven years. Since the region moved to Wallkill Valley in 1983, DePaul has produced a total of 23 state qualifiers and was shut out from 1998 to 2007. From '83 to '97, the total was six.

5 -- Phillipsburg endured one of its most disappointing weekends at Region 1 and still managed to get five wrestlers through to AC. The Stateliners went 6-5 in Friday's quarterfinal round and 15-12 on Saturday, including 2-4 in the semifinals. Steve Friedman (145) and Robert Melise (220) were the lone finalists, both finishing second, while Kyle Markus (106), Max Elling (160) and Kyle Nothnagel (285) all placed third.

151 -- North Hunterdon ace Ryan Pomrinca sits atop the all-time wins list for Hunterdon and Warren counties with a 151-12 mark heading to AC after picking up his second Region 5 title. Pomrinca (36-0), a two-time placewinner who finished third last season, is bidding to become the Lions' 13th state champion and first since Ricky Frondorf went back-to-back in 2002 and '03.

1 -- Hopatcong's Joe Aumann (113), Pope John's Jake Rotunda (113), Hackettstown's Joe Renne (120), Delaware Valley's Ryan Erwin (132), Kittatinny's Austin Scrivani (132), Voorhees' Kyle DiNapoli (120), Lenape Valley's D.J. Barrett (182), Newton's Gus Protogeropoulos (195) and Sparta's Gavin Lally (220) are the lone representatives for their schools in AC.

9 -- DePaul's total of eight, while impressive, is one shy of the most qualifiers by one school in Region 1 since 1983. Kittatinny advanced a whopping nine, including six finalists, in 2005. High Point also had eight qualifiers in 2010 and '11, including seven in the finals in both seasons. Of course, the 'Cats rocked everyone's world with four state champions -- Nick Francavilla, Drew Wagenhoffer, Ethan Orr and Billy Smith -- in that magical postseason run in '11. P'burg had eight qualifiers in 1996 and '98.

4 -- Hunterdon Central did not have a champion in Region 5 for the first time since being blanked in 2008, but the Red Devils will have four wrestlers at Boardwalk Hall as Hunter Graf (106), Peter Nace (113) and Nestor Crespo (195) all finished second in the region, while Nick Suk (182) took third.

70 -- Pomrinca became North Hunterdon's 70th region champion on Saturday, and he's the school's first repeat winner since Jack Delia went back-to-back at heavyweight in 2010 and '11. The Lions have produced six champs since 2004, after having at least one each year from 1977 to 2003. Also advancing to AC this weekend are juniors Derek Ciavarro (145) and Brian Smolinsky (152), along with senior Michael Sicola (160).

29 -- High Point junior Jared Kobis (138) and senior Jason Gaccione (145) won Region 1 titles to raise the program's total to 45. Fred Swanson won the first for the 'Cats at 178 pounds in 1971. The Wantage school has enjoyed great success in recent years, producing 29 champions from 2005-15, which is by far the most of any Region 1 school during that span. And speaking of former High Point champions, former North Warren coach Chris Jones was in attendance at Wallkill on Wednesday. Jones won a region title at 135 pounds in 1986.

33 -- Wallkill Valley Regional High School once again did an exceptional job of hosting the Region 1 Tournament for the 33rd time. Mount Olive, which hosts District 1 every third year, is still trying to wrestle the region away from Sussex County, while Phillipsburg will likely put in a bid once its new high school is completed in 2016. But no school can duplicate that atmosphere at Wallkill, where the fans are right on top of the action. The place was absolutely rocking during the 170-pound bout for third place between Morris Knolls' Luke Drugac and Phillipsburg's Jimmy Schuitema.

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