Monday, January 25, 2016

Wrestling: Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex rankings

We are heading into the home stretch as far as the dual meet season is concerned with just two more sets of power points to be released before the postseason gets underway on Monday, Feb. 8.

Kittatinny should secure the top seed in North 1, Group 1, while Phillipsburg will undoubtedly be No. 1 in North 2, Group 4. Delaware Valley and High Point still have a shot at earning the No. 1 seeds in Central Jersey, Group 2 and North 2, Group 2, respectively.

The Terriers (8-4) stood third with 26.40 points in last week's rankings behind Raritan (29.20) and Point Pleasant Boro (26.90) , and just ahead of Robbinsville and Middlesex/Dunellen (26.10).

Del Val vs. Raritan is one of the best postseason rivalries around as the teams have met 10 times in the sectional playoffs dating to 1998. The Terriers hold a 7-5 edge in the series (including a 31-27 and 31-30 road losses in regular season matches) and defeated the Rockets, 31-30, in last year's sectional final, the fifth time they've met for the championship. Having the home-gym advantage could be huge if a rematch occurs in just over two weeks.

High Point (8-3), with 27 points, was fourth in its section as of last week's rankings behind Emerson-Park Ridge (28.80), Jefferson (28.50) and Pascack Hills (27.14).

Speaking of Jefferson, 'Cats coach John Gardner joined the 300-win club with his team's 38-30 win over the Falcons on Wednesday. Only Kittatinny's John Gill (524 and counting), Hunterdon Central's Russ Riegel (469) and Steve Gibble (348), Rick Thompson (345 wins with Mountain High, Phillipsburg, Hackettstown, Voorhees and Franklin) and Voorhees' Bob Hall (332) have amassed more wins in the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex area.

This week's power points should be released on Tuesday afternoon, so check back here for an update. Now, let's check out this week's area rankings:

1. Phillipsburg (8-2) -- Stateliners gearing up for a big week after Skyland Conference Raritan Division wins over Bound Brook (36-30 on Wednesday) and North Hunterdon (35-22 on Thursday). Coach Dave Post's team can clinch the division title with road victories over Hunterdon Central (Wednesday) and Warren Hills (Friday). Getting healthy is key for the Liners, who are still without seniors Tom Kosar (120) and Brandon Paetzell (132). Junior Drew Horun (195) also missed last week's matches.

Up next: at Hunterdon Central on Wednesday; at Warren Hills on Friday; Southern at home on Saturday.

2. Hunterdon Central (9-1) -- Red Devils opened last week with a 40-20 waxing of No. 4 Warren Hills at home and closed with a spirited 33-27 win at Delaware Valley. Hunter Graf posted an 8-7 win over Kyle Wulff -- in a battle of tough sophomores -- in the win over the Blue Streaks. Freshman Vincent Romaniello (12-7) scored a key 9-6 win over Matt Kolonia, a Region 5 fourth-place finisher, in the next to last bout at 132 to help secure the victory over the Terriers. A win over Voorhees on Friday would give coach Jon Cantagallo-Rohm's team a sweep of the county.

Up next: Phillipsburg at home on Wednesday; at Voorhees on Friday; Jackson Liberty at Kingsway on Saturday.

3. Kittatinny (9-0) -- Cougars stayed unbeaten with lopsided victories over Hopatcong (78-0 on Wednesday) and Jefferson (48-15 on Friday). Senior Nick Klinger (18-1) earned win No. 95 -- a 6-4 decision over Jefferson junior Mark Bohn in a battle of Region 1 qualifiers. Senior Austin Scrivani (17-1) needs one more win to secure 10th place on the school's all-time list. He enters the week tied with former two-time state champions Roman Fleszar and Steve Dalling at 113 victories. Coach John Gill's team can officially clinch the NJAC Colonial Division title on Wednesday.

Up next: at Wallkill Valley on Wednesday; at Sparta on Friday; Teaneck and Hackensack at Garfield on Saturday.

4. Warren Hills (5-3) -- Blue Streaks still clinging to this spot, but have been hampered by injuries in recent weeks. Junior Zach Nauta (138) and sophomore Jarod Ostir (160) are out, while senior Kurt Nemeth (195) missed Wednesday's 40-20 loss to Hunterdon Central. Coach Jarrett Hosbach's team will go for that elusive 700th win for the program on Wednesday night in an always intriguing matchup against North Hunterdon, Hosbach, along with Lions coaches Tim Flynn and Jason Hawk is a former Phillipsburg wrestler. Speaking of the Liners, they come to Washington on Friday.

Up next: at North Hunterdon on Wednesday; Phillipsburg at home on Friday; Cranford and Paramus at High Point on Saturday.

5. Delaware Valley (8-4) -- Terriers still smarting from a 33-27 loss to No. 2 Hunterdon Central on Friday on Gold Rush night in Alexandria Township. Sophomore Kyle Lightner (8-1 at 182), who recently returned to the lineup, turned heads with an impressive 14-10 win over Michael Iodice, a Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex champion at 170. Coach Andy Fitz's team opened last week with a 53-27 thumping of Voorhees in a Hunterdon County rivalry match -- win No. 717 for the program.

Up next: at West Morris on Monday; at North Hunterdon on Friday.

6. High Point (8-3) -- Wildcats rolled past Hasbrouck Heights (48-23) in an independent clash last Tuesday and gave coach John Gardner his 300th career win -- 38-30 over Jefferson on Thursday. Gardner is just the sixth coach in the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex area to amass 300 victories. Sophomore Shane Kobis (15-7) and senior Jared Kobis (14-0) won by pin and technical fall, respectively, while sophomore Rob Turro's pin at 160 pounds sealed the win over Jefferson. A victory on Monday night secures the NJAC Freedom Division title.

Up next: at Hackettstown on Monday; at Mount Olive on Tuesday; at Newton on Friday; Cranford, Paramus and Warren Hills at home on Saturday.

7. Pope John (9-2) -- Lions took a major step toward claiming the program's first conference title since 1986 with a 39-21 road victory over crosstown rival Sparta in an NJAC American Divison matchup. Coach Mark Piotrowsky's team can clinch with a win at Morris Hills on Wednesday. Sophomore James Swentzel (11-8) turned the match against the Spartans with his pin at 160 after trailing, 3-0, to start the the third period. Sophomore Jake Rotunda (20-2), a Region 1 finalist, improved to 4-0 all-time vs. Garrett Gerndt, a two-time District 3 finalist, with a 6-1 win at 120.

Up next: at Morris Hills on Wednesday.

8. Lenape Valley (7-4) -- Despite five starters out for the season, the Patriots remained on track by opening last week with a 48-25 win over Hackettstown in an NJAC Freedom Division matchup on Wednesday before victories over Morris Knolls (38-15) and Mount Olive (33-30) on Friday. Senior Sam Palumbo (20-1 at 195) scored a notable 7-4 decision over Morris Knolls' Luke Drugac, who finished third in Region 1 last season, while coach Doug Vetter's team secured second place in the division with the win over Hackettstown.

Up next: at Pequannock on Tuesday; South Plainfield at home on Wednesday; Hopatcong and West Milford at Sparta on Saturday.

9. Sparta (8-5) -- Spartans were all fired up for their showdown with No. 7 Pope John, but a 39-21 loss likely cost coach Frank Battaglia's team a second straight NJAC American Division title. Senior Al Falco (19-4) won a 5-2 decision over Joe Frumolt in a good matchup at 170 and Falco got his 80th career win via a forfeit in the team's 30-28 loss to Montville on Friday. Junior Zach Herbert (13-3) scored a 2-0 win over Liridon Leka at 220.

Up next: at Vernon on Wednesday; Kittatinny at home on Friday; Hopatcong, Lenape Valley and West Milford at home on Saturday.

10. North Hunterdon (2-7) -- In their only action last week, the Lions dropped a 35-22 decision to Phillipsburg in a Skyland Conference Raritan Division clash. Senior Carmine Ricciardi (11-6) scored a notable 2-1 win over Dan Fisher, the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex runner-up at 182. Senior Derek Ciavarro (9-1 at 160) is one win shy of 70 for his career.

Up next: Warren Hills at home on Wednesday; Delaware Valley at home on Friday.

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