Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Wrestling: P'burg tops Voorhees despite injuries

Phillipsburg's wrestling team is trying to make the most of what may be its final season competing in The Pit -- the most unique of New Jersey high school venues.

But going 2-0 at home to open the season came with a hefty price as seniors Brandon Paetzell and DJ Wissing sustained what may be serious injuries during in a 49-21 victory over Voorhees in a Skyland Conference Raritan Division match on Wednesday night.

"We're just going to keep our fingers crossed for the guys who were banged up tonight," coach Dave Post told's Mike Moore following the match.

Phillipsburg (2-0, 1-0), which cruised to a 60-8 win over West Morris in the season opener on Tuesday, won 10 bouts while improving to 23-0 all-time against Voorhees (3-1, 1-0). But the Stateliners' evening began on a sour note, when Wissing, a District 1 runner-up, injured an ankle and had to default to District 17 runner-up Michael Fernandes early into the first period at 160 pounds.

From there, Voorhees jumped out to a 15-0 lead -- Lewis Fernandes and Scott Fernandes followed with wins at 170 and 182 -- before Drew Horun's pin in 31 seconds at 195 started a run of seven straight wins for P'burg. Robert Melise, who finished fifth in the state last season, scored a 5-2 win over Drew Howarth at 220, and a forfeit to Justen Caraballo at 285 evened the score at 15.

With P'burg ahead 34-15, Paetzell took the mat for the marquee matchup of the night between state placewinners at 132. But early in the first period against Voorhees senior Kyle DiNapoli, Paetzell, a state runner-up as a sophomore, suffered what appeared to be another left hand injury. Paetzell, a Rutgers recruit, missed most of last season with a broken left thumb and has had issues with both hands during his fine career.

Paetzell continued to wrestle, but eventually had to default with 33 seconds left in the third period. For DiNapoli, who finished eighth in the state last season, it was his 100th career win.

"[Paetzell] went to the hospital. We wanted to get him off the mat a little sooner and get it taken care of right away to prevent any further injury, but he kept waving us off," said Post, now 81-14 overall in six seasons at his alma mater, "DJ is going to see a doctor and have [the ankle] looked at."

Paetzell posted the following on his Twitter feed after the match:

"Thanks so much everyone. The support has been overwhelming and it's the only thing keeping me going, Love you all."

Overall, Post was just pleased to escape with a victory.

"It's tough to give up two injury defaults, how many times does that happen?" Post said. "I thought we were a little flat like the Howell match last year [a 27-24 win on Dec. 23, 2014]. I think we really looked good in the first and second periods."

Senior Tom Kosar (120) and sophomore Brian Meyer (145) also had pins for the Stateliners. Kosar, who stepped into the starting lineup and qualified for Region 1 when Paetzell went down last season, recently received his congressional nomination for the Naval Academy.

"[Kosar] waited for his turn in the varsity lineup and now he's basking in this opportunity," Post said. 

P'burg will have a few days off before returning to action on Monday at the rugged Bethlehem Holiday Classic, but any realistic hope of competing for a team championship at Liberty (Pa.) High School may have been dashed with injuries to a pair of the 'Liners' top wrestlers.

"If guys are banged up, we'll give them a little rest. We're not going to risk it," Post said.


160 -- Jr. Michael Fernandes (4-0), V, injury default over Sr. DJ Wissing (4-3), 2:22.
170 -- Fr. Lewis Fernandes (3-1), V, d. Fr. Austin Roth (2-3), 4-0.
182 -- So. Scott Fernandes (4-0), V, p. Jr. Dan Fisher (1-3), 7:38 OT.
195 -- Jr. Drew Horun (5-2), P, p. Fr. Sam Huff (0-1), :31.
220 -- Jr. Robert Melise (6-2), P, d. Sr. Derek Howarth (3-1), 5-2.
285 -- Jr. Justen Caraballo (1-0), P, forfeit.
106 -- So. Cullen Day (5-2), P, p. So. Colby Koshinski (3-1), :58.
113 -- Sr. Kyle Markus (4-2), P, md. Fr. Hunter Rinehart (0-4), 14-3.
120 -- Sr. Tom Kosar (2-3), P, p. Jr. TJ Leonessa (1-3), 5:12.
126 -- Fr. Kyle Tino (3-2), P, d. Jr. Colton Riley (0-4), 5-4.
132 -- Sr. Kyle DiNapoli (4-0), V, injury default over Sr. Brandon Paetzell (6-3), 5:27.
138 -- Sr. Tyler Agans (2-2), P, d. Jr. Liam Cutri-French (3-1), 8-2.
145 -- So. Brian Meyer (3-2), P, p. Jr. Ben Brandner (2-2), 1:37.
152 -- Sr. Chris Ruiz (2-3), P, forfeit.
Records -- Voorhees 3-1, 0-1; Phillipsburg 2-0, 1-0.
Referee -- Frank Leitner.

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