The Washington-Warren Hills wrestling program has achieved numerous milestones during its rich history. And the Blue Streaks are closing in on another as they enter the week one shy of 700 victories.
Now in their 78th season, the Streaks will go for history on the road Wednesday night when they take on longtime rival Hunterdon Central at the Field House. Match time is 6:30 p.m. Coach Jarrett Hosbach's team will also host Ridge and Ramsey in a tri-meet at home on Saturday.
"We talked a little bit about [getting 700 wins before going 2-1 in a tri-meet this past Saturday], but we want the guys to worry about the match in front of us," Hosbach said following a 45-25 win over Hackettstown, which was No. 699 for the Streaks.
Only Phillipsburg (913), Hunterdon Central (841), Newton (758) and Delaware Valley (716) have more dual-meet wins than the Blue Streaks among the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex schools. North Hunterdon (693) and High Point (672) are also closing in on 700.
Getting No. 700 against Central would be especially sweet given the history in that series. The Red Devils hold a 41-13-1 edge dating to 1960, including a 38-34 win last season in Washington, and former legendary coach Russ Riegel was a four-time state finalist and two-time champion for the Streaks (1943-46). Riegel's Hunterdon Central teams went 16-3-1 against his former coach John Goles and Riegel was 24-7-1 overall against his alma mater.
But Warren Hills (5-2) is expected to be at less than full strength -- perhaps for several weeks. Junior Zach Nauta (10-4 at 138 pounds) didn't weigh-in for Saturday's tri-meet against West Morris, North Warren and Hackettstown. In addition, sophomore Jarod Ostir (4-4 at 160) is still hampered by an ankle injury.
"We're a little banged up right now," Hosbach said.
After opening up the dual-meet season with wins over Mount Olive and Montville, Warren Hills rolled to a 40-18 win over rival Delaware Valley on Jan. 6. But injuries have taken a toll and the Streaks have gone 2-2 in their last four matches -- falling to Bound Brook (37-27) in a key Skyland Conference Raritan Division clash on Wednesday and dropping a 37-24 decision to West Morris in the opener of Saturday's quad, which spoiled a chance at getting 700 at home.
"We lost some close bouts [vs. West Morris] -- three where we got the first two takedowns and lost all three," Hosbach said. "That's no way to do business."
Now onto this week's rankings:
1. Phillipsburg (6-2) -- After slipping past No. 5 Delaware Valley (37-31) Wednesday, Stateliners, who are ranked No. 7 in the state by the New Jersey Wrestling Writers Association, rolled to a 40-24 victory over No. 13 Howell the following night at The Pit. Senior Kyle Markus (15-6) scored a big 4-2 win over Kyle Slendorn at 113 pounds in a battle of state qualifiers to highlight that one. Coach Dave Post's team took its second loss of the season -- 32-18 to Easton (Pa.) on Saturday -- as the 'Liners dropped to 16-63 all-time in the series. On a brighter note, sophomore Cullen Day (106) returned to the lineup.
Up next: at Bound Brook on Wednesday; North Hunterdon at home on Thursday; High Point at home on Saturday.
2. Hunterdon Central (7-1) -- Red Devils opened last week with a 34-24 win over No. 10 North Hunterdon, winning nine bouts, including senior Gavin Hoff's 7-3 decision over Yousef Abbas at 182. Coach Jon Cantagallo-Rohm's team also scored a 39-23 victory over Ocean Township at home on Saturday. Junior Peter Nace (12-4) pinned in the final bout to earn his 80th career win. Junior Victor Lacombe (13-1 at 220) and sophomore Hunter Graf (14-3 at 113) also won by fall. Big week on tap with rivalry showdowns against Warren Hills and Delaware Valley. The latter could come down to bonus points.
Up next: Warren Hills at home on Wednesday; at Delaware Valley on Friday; Hackettstown and Roxbury at Emerson-Park Ridge on Saturday.
3. Kittatinny (7-0) -- Cougars remained unbeaten with a 3-0 week, opening with a 57-6 waxing of crosstown-rival Newton in a key NJAC Colonial Division matchup before closing the week with wins over Old Tappan (35-30) and Lenape Valley (48-21) on Saturday. The lopsided win over the Patriots was highlighted by Perry Maio's 4-2 win over Zach Merkey at 120 pounds. Coach John Gill's team dropped the first three bouts to trail, 13-0, before reeling off five straight wins. Senior Nick Klinger (16-1 at 132) enters the week seven wins shy of 100 for his career.
Up next: at Hopatcong on Wednesday; at Jefferson on Friday; Delaware Valley and Westfield at West Morris on Saturday.
4. Warren Hills (5-2) -- Blue Streaks stumbled twice last week, falling 37-27 to Bound Brook and 37-24 to West Morris in the opener of Saturday's quad. Coach Jarrett Hosbach's team rebounded for wins over North Warren and Hackettstown. The 45-25 win over the Tigers improved the Streaks to 51-9 all-time in a series dating to 1957. Some fans booed when Hackettstown sent out a backup to face junior Matt Valli (16-0) at 126, rather than Region 1 champion Joe Renne (16-2). But Renne weighed in at 132 pounds. "It's a shame, that would have been a great bout, but we weren't going to chase [by bumping Valli up a weight]. We need to try and win dual meets," Hosbach said.
Up next: at Hunterdon Central on Wednesday; Ridge and Ramsey at home on Saturday.
5. Delaware Valley (7-3) -- Terriers are coming off a 3-1 week, dropping a 37-31 decision to No. 1 Phillipsburg on Wednesday before sweeping three matches in a quad at Somerville on Saturday. Coach Andy Fitz's team rolled to victories over the host squad (57-9), Perth Amboy (66-12) and Newark Collegiate (83-0). Senior Kyle Schlittler (15-3 at 195) went over the 70-win mark for his career, while junior Matt Kolonia (17-3 at 132) is three wins shy of 70 for his career.
Up next: Voorhees at home on Wednesday; Hunterdon Central at home on Friday; Kittatinny and Westfield at West Morris on Saturday.
6. High Point (6-3) -- Wildcats went 3-1 last week with victories over Morris Knolls (51-21 on Tuesday), Sparta (31-27 on Friday) and Brick Memorial (48-21 on Saturday). The latter was during a tri-meet at Roxbury, as coach John Gardner's team dropped a 36-28 decision to the state-ranked Gaels. The victory over Sparta was a nail-biter as junior Aric Wingle (9-2) sealed it with a 3-2 decision over Sean McHugh in the final bout at 152. Sophomore Shane Kobis (14-7) scored a big 1-0 win over Richard Reimers, a Region 1 qualifier, in the loss to Roxbury.
Up next: Hasbrouck Heights at home on Tuesday; at Jefferson on Wednesday; at Phillipsburg on Saturday.
7. Pope John (7-1) -- Lions jump up a spot after a 5-0 week, including wins over Vernon (68-12), Hopatcong (78-0) and Belvidere (73-6). Junior Ryan Luchs scored a 4-2 win over District 1 champ Nick Cassidy at 132 in the win over the County Seaters. Big week for coach Mark Piotrowsky's team as it takes on top-ranked Bergen Catholic on Monday before a mid-week showdown against crosstown-rival Sparta in a match that will likely decide the NJAC American Division title.
Up next: Paramus Catholic at Bergen Catholic on Monday; at Sparta on Wednesday; at Montville on Friday; Mendham and Whippany Park at Randolph on Saturday.
8. Lenape Valley (4-4) -- Patriots are a little banged up, still missing senior Aaron Merkey (3-2 at 138), but coach Doug Vetter's team had enough to roll past Voorhees (41-28) on Wednesday before taking a 49-24 loss to state-ranked Delsea on Thursday. On Saturday, the Pats fell to Old Tappan (52-17) and to No. 3 Kittatinny (48-21). Junior Nick Palumbo (13-4 at 145) posted a 14-3 major of Jake Vanwingerden, a two-time Region 1 qualifier, in the loss to Kittatinny, while Sam Palumbo (17-1 at 195) scored a major decision in the final bout of that one.
Up next: Hackettstown at home on Wednesday; Morris Knolls and Mount Olive at home on Saturday.
9. Sparta (8-3) -- Spartans nearly pulled off a stunner over No. 6 High Point on Friday, dropping a 31-27 decision in a match that came down to the final bout. Sophomore Robbie Gennat (16-4) earned a thrilling 4-2 win in sudden victory over Cliff Rutter, a District 3 runner-up, at 220 pounds, while freshman Marcus Bittetto (8-7) dropped from 113 to score a 16-11 win over Devin Flannery in a barnburner at 106. Coach Frank Battaglia's team swept a quad at Manalapan on Saturday with wins over Becton-Wallington (48-18), Toms River East (42-18) and the host (39-22).
Up next: Pope John at home on Wednesday; Parsippany Hills at home on Friday; North Warren and Montville at home on Saturday.
10. North Hunterdon (2-6) -- Lions had a short week with just a 34-24 loss to Hunterdon Central on Wednesday in a Skyland Conference Raritan Division showdown on Wednesday. Senior Derek Ciavarro (8-1 at 160), who is closing in on 70 career wins, scored a 12-3 major in the loss, as did junior heavyweight Charlie Tordik (15-4).
Up next: at Phillipsburg on Thursday; Hillsborough and Watchung Hills at home on Saturday.