Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Wrestling: Sussex County preview capsules

High Point Wildcats

Coach: John Gardner (306-93-2, 19th season).

2015-16 record: 14-7, 3-0 NJAC Freedom Division (first).

Returning starters (9): So. Devin Flannery (27-9, D2) 113; Jr. Maverick Liebl (12-10, D3) 120; Jr. Shane Kobis (23-13, D3) 138; Jr. Trey Osborn (16-14) 145; Jr. Sawyer Fenlon (4-8, D2-2015) 152; Sr. Aric Wingle (16-7, D3) 152; Jr. Robbie Turro (18-12, D3) 170; Sr. Cliff Rutter (13-17, D2-2015) 220; Jr. Thomas Hubmaster (4-13) 285.

Key losses: Jared Kobis (22-0, D1) 145; Kevin Lewis (30-10, D1, R1) 285; Justin Liebl (19-15, D4) 120.

Key returnees: So. Brandon LaRue (4-3) 106; Jr. Marlee Smith 120; Sr. Trevor Kocher (6-7) 145; Sr. Derek Sarapuchiello (2-4) 132; So. Oviane Marsh 138; Sr. Matthew McDonnell (3-6) 182.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Billy Talmadge 126; So. Grayson Sabo 170; Jr. Hunter Flores (14-13, transfer from Clifton) 195.

Outlook: Wildcats, with nine returning starters, are usually in the mix for division and sectional titles, and this season should be no different. Consider the past two seasons when they lost to the eventual Group 2 runner-up (Lenape Valley in 2015) and champion (Emerson-Park Ridge in '16). Shane Kobis, a Region 1 qualifier, will be the next budding star for this group, while Talmadge should be an impact freshman. From 106 through 170, this is a very solid lineup with everyone at their respective weights. The upper weights is where this team struggled last season, but Rutter is a one-time district finalist and Flores, a transfer, should also fill a hole. If everything comes together, expect to see a return to the Group 2 championships at Toms River.

Hopatcong Chiefs

Coach: Eric Fajerman (118-257-3, 17th season).

2015-16 record: 0-26, 0-4 NJAC Colonial Division (fourth).

Returning starters (3): Jr. Anthony Mastroeni (35-7, D1, R2) 132; Sr. Bart Yarosz (13-4) 145; So. Liam McGuire 182.

Key returnees: Sr. Brandon Olmstead (20-11 in 2014-15, injured last season) 120; Sr. Jake Wilkerson (25-11, D3 in 2014-15, injured last season) 170.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Freddie Gonzalez 113; Fr. Zach Chaparro 126; Jr. Ryan Rodriguez 126; Fr. Sean Cranmer 138; Fr. Alex Feinberg 152; Jr. Coty Lessig 160; Fr. John Sanchez 195; Jr. Joe Sisco 220.

Outlook: Chiefs hit rock-bottom last season with no dual meet wins and fewer than 10 wrestlers on the roster. However, things are looking brighter this winter as numbers have increased, along with the return of Olmstead and Wilkerson from season-ending knee injuries following promising sophomore campaigns. Fajerman always gets the most out of his kids, so expect dramatic improvement with the additional numbers. Mastroeni is a bona fide star and a contender for a state medal this season.

Kittatinny Cougars

Coach: John Gill (533-164-5, 37th season).

2015-16 record: 18-2, 4-0 NJAC Colonial Division (first).

Returning starters (6): So. Derek Molfetto (11-18) 113; Sr. Mark DiGeronimo (25-8, D1) 120; Jr. Perry Maio (19-11, D3-2015) 132; Jr. Calvin Brook (19-12, D4) 145; Sr. Josh Klimek (28-8, D2) 182; So. Zach Mafaro (25-9, D2) 195.

Key losses: Nick Klinger (32-4, D1) 132; Austin Scrivani (37-3, D1, R1, S4) 138; Jake Vanwingerden (23-11, D2, R4) 145; Taylor Molfetto (23-9, D2) 160; Luke DeGroat (16-18, D2) 195; Griffin Waldron (9-11, D3) 285.
Kittatinny celebrates its 20th sectional championship in 2016.

Key returnees: Sr. Kasey Hotz 152; Jr. Brian Rast 145; Jr. Shane Smith 160; Jr. Josh Hiler 170.

Promising newcomers: So. Mike Nelson 113; So. Nile Mattar 120; Jr. Dan Doherty 126; Jr. Mike Callahan 138; Fr. Gian Knippenberg 138; Fr. Jake Mafaro 182-220; Sr. Gavin Apgar 220-285; Sr. Graham Harpell 285; Jr. Chris Litterio 285.

Outlook: Cougars are coming off another fine dual-meet season that ended with a tough one-point loss to Paulsboro in an entertaining Group 1 final. With six returning starters, this group certainly has the pieces to make another run at the North 1, Group 1 sectional championship. But the loss of senior Dylan Minter (19-11), a district runner-up and two-year starter who opted not to wrestle this season, hurts. DiGeronimo, Klimek and Zach Mafaro will contend for their first trips to Atlantic City. Hotz was a starter as a freshman and should help fill the middle weights, which are lacking experience. This team will need some of the upper weights to hold their own and improve to make another deep run.

Lenape Valley Patriots

Coach: Doug Vetter (200-153-1, 16th season).

2015-16 record: 14-10, 2-1 NJAC Freedom Division (second).

Returning starters (4): So. James Haws (15-20, D3) 120-126; Sr. Jacob Falleni (24-12, D1, R3) 120-126; Sr. Ray Smaha (17-14, D2) 138-145; Sr. Nick Palumbo (39-8, D2, R3, S3) 145-152.

Key losses: Zach Merkey (15-16, D4) 120; Aaron Merkey (3-2, D3-2015) 132; Aaron Arzon (14-18) 138; Sam Palumbo (33-8, D2) 182; Scott Prior (12-18, D3) 195; Ralph Hall (26-13, D3) 220; Rich Fritzky (23-13, D3) 285.

Key returnees: So. Dominic Falleni (3-4) 113; Jr. Neil Kelly (2-12) 126-132; So. Anthony Esposito 132-138; Jr. Jake Hickey (7-7) 138; Sr. Andrew Abiskaroon 132-138; Sr. Jack Lipkin 138-145; Sr. Anthony Smaha (3-2) 152; So. Lukas Liloia 152-160; Jr. Jordan Costanza 170; Sr. Kai Dickerson 170-182; Sr. Mike Bonavolonta 182-195; Sr. Scott McMillan 220-285.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Zach Miller 106; Fr. Eric Falleni 120-126; So. Jake Wronko (transfer from Bergen Catholic) 126-132; So. Kalvin Green 152-160; Fr. Dominic Ruffino 182-195; Fr. Ryan Hall 195-220; Fr. Sage Liberatore 220-285.

Outlook: Patriots lost 10 starters to graduation, including their stout upper weights, so expect this to be a bit of a rebuilding season. Jacob Falleni and Palumbo are the stars and both should make runs at medals in Atlantic City. There is a solid group of returning wrestlers who will likely contribute, but the inexperience in the upper weights is a major concern. Instead of getting up to 24 points in most meets up top as in past seasons, the Pats may be giving up quite a bit. The coaching staff is excellent so expect this team to show major improvement by season's end.

Newton Braves

Coach: Eric Bollette (197-163-1, 16th season).

2015-16 record: 9-10, 3-1 NJAC Colonial Division (second).

Returning starters (8): So. Matt Rosa (13-11) 120; So. Michael Freda (10-14) 132; Sr. Jake DeLuca (10-13, D4-2015) 138; Sr. Nick Giordano (19-14, D3) 145; So. Wyatt McCarthy (24-10, D2) 152; Jr. Jonathon Borgognoni (14-9) 160-170; Jr. Joey DeLuca (12-12, D4) 182; So. Luke Fischer (10-15, D4) 220.

Key losses: Lance Fischer (16-6, D1, R4) 160; Adam Schlereth (13-6, D1, R4) 220; Tyler Pittenger (20-9) 285.

Key returnees: So. Nick Brigante (3-6) 160-170; Jr. Devin Mager (3-6) 195; Sr. Luis Arrazola 285.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Aidan Bartsch 106; Fr. Mason Leen 106; Fr. Chris Megna 106; Fr. Julian Sibblies 113; Fr. Ryan Sosa 126-132; Sr. Erion Mahmudi 132; Fr, Janchris Munoz 182; Fr. John Kreusch 182; Fr. Isaiah Wilkins 195; So. Matt Somers 220; So. Jimmy Harding 220-285.

Outlook: Braves have been battling injuries and being short-handed the past few seasons, but this season should be different in terms of filling out 14 weight classes. This team is solid through the middle with Jake DeLuca, Giordano, McCarthy and Borgognoni. McCarthy is a contender for a Region 1 medal, while Borgognoni should be one of the most improved wrestlers in the tri-county area. Up top, Joey DeLuca and Fischer will be counted on to come up big in dual meets. This team could me a major surprise -- shifting back to a very competitive Freedom Division -- with the guidance of a highly-regarded coaching staff.

Pope John Lions

Coach: Mark Piotrowsky (36-23, fourth season).

2015-16 record: 18-4, 4-0 NJAC American Division (first).

Returning starters (9): Sr. Christian Deehan (29-9, D2) 106-113; So. Joe Aragona (40-1, D1, R1, S3) 120; Jr. Jake Rotunda (33-6, D1, R2) 126-132; So. Robert Garcia (32-7, D1, R3) 132-138; Sr. Ryan Luchs (21-10, D4) 138-145; So. Anthony Rispoli (13-15) 160-170; Jr. James Swentzel (14-14) 170-182; Jr. Jake Brown (34-9, D1, R3) 195-220; Jr. Jack Morelli (9-13) 285.

Key losses: Billy Koenig (16-17, D4) 152; Joseph Frumolt (25-11, D3) 170; Colin Myles (15-19, D3) 195; Andrew Nieves (22-8, D3) 220.

Key returnees: Jr. Mike Damico 126; Jr. Patrick Hanley 126-132; Jr. Thomas Germano 132-138; Jr. Trevor Craig 132; So. Chris Fontana 138; Jr. Joseph Arbolino 145-152; Sr. Travis Healy (2-5) 145-152; Jr. Tyler Craig 160; So. Louis "Max" Montana 220.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Mathew Garcia 106; Fr. Eddie Vrencesca 113; Fr. Jesse Germano 132; Fr. Cosmo Esposito 138; Fr. Connor Fritsch 138; So. Chase Nugnes 145; Jr. Reece Mulduun 152-160; So. Chris Jhong 182; Fr. Cole Zydel 195; So. Nicholas DeSenzo 285.

Outlook: Lions took a big leap last season with 18 victories and winning a division title, while also qualifying in the rugged Non-Public North A section. This group enters this season as unquestionably the team to beat in Sussex County and a likely preseason Top 25 team in the New Jersey Wrestling Writers Poll. Aragona, Rotunda, Garcia and Brown are all returning state qualifiers with designs on winning medals in Atlantic City. Aragona was a state semifinalist at 106 as a freshman. Vrencesca, who came up through the Roxbury system, is a blue-chipper. This is a balanced lineup with few if any holes.

Sparta Spartans

Coach: Frank Battaglia (70-45, sixth season).

2015-16 record: 15-8, 3-1 NJAC American Division (second).

Returning starters (9): So. Marcus Bitetto (17-14, D4) 106-113; So. Chris Hwang (26-9, D4) 113-120; So. Carter Sheridan (11-20) 138; Sr. Sean McHugh (18-15, D3) 152-160; Sr. Sean Finnegan (17-10, D4-2015) 160-170; Sr. Paddy Finnegan (10-19, D4) 170; Jr. Robbie Gennat (28-11, D2) 195-220; Sr. William Loewen (20-4, D1) 220; Sr. Zach Herbert (26-7, D2) 220.

Key losses: Garrett Gerndt (23-7, D2) 120; Grant Gerndt (25-9, D2) 126; Al Falco (32-9, D1, R4) 170.

Key returnees: So. Rocco Gignatelli 120-126; Sr. Mike Freeman (5-13) 182.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Cooper Stewart 106; Fr. Garrett Stewart 126-132; Fr. Cassius Battaglia 126-132; Fr. Paul Shumlas 138.

Outlook: Spartans have steadily improved over the past five seasons and should once again be a factor in the division and sectional races. The strength of this team is up top with three district finalists in Loewen, Gennat and Herbert. Loewen was a champion at 195 last season. Gennat and Herbert alternated at 220, but Gennat will eventually be at 195 to allow all three to get in the lineup. Bitetto and Hwang just missed trips to regions and will anchor the lower weights, which have some new faces. This team is pretty balanced and should be solid if the newcomers can contribute.

Vernon Vikings

Coach: Kevin Gocklin (first season).

2015-16 record: 8-13, 0-4 NJAC American Division (fifth).

Returning starters (5): So. Logan Folb (6-10) 120-126; Sr. Roman Moss (12-11) 132; Sr. Mike Roccasanta (2-8) 152-160; Sr. Storm DiGuiseppe (11-13) 160; Sr. Mike Alvarez (17-11, D4-2015) 220.

Key losses: Cole Nagle (29-5, D2) 138; Zack Jano (17-10) 182.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Jon Alvarez 138-145; Jr. Walt Talt 170; Sr. Casimiro Jimenez 285.

Outlook: Vikings have a new coach in Gocklin, a former district runner-up who graduated in 2012 and compiled 74 career wins for the Sussex County school. He inherits a program that has been battling low numbers, with 10 wrestlers on the roster for this season. Moss and Mike Alvarez, who finished fourth in the district as a sophomore, will be counted on for leadership. Vernon also has a new home in the five-team Freedom Division this season.

Wallkill Valley Rangers

Coach: Jeff Churchill (7-29, third season; 159-89-3 in 15 seasons from 1989-2003 at Morris Knolls).

2015-16 record: 2-12, 1-3 NJAC Colonial Division (fourth).

Returning starters (7): Sr. Michael Dietrich (5-15) 132; Jr. Justin Lindquist (5-16) 138; So. Shane Simon (4-15) 145; Sr. Trevor Kish (14-9, D4) 152; Jr. Brodie McDonald (4-15) 182; Sr. Connor Andrews (12-8, D4) 220; So. Zach Dora (5-14) 285.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Erik Ross 106-113; Fr. Samantha Larsen 106-113; Fr. Zac Creeden 113; Fr. Tommy Bock 120; Fr. Tyler Sanchez 126; So. Steve Line 170; So. Jamie Flores 195.

Outlook: Rangers, who have been battling low numbers, have gone 23-84 over the previous five seasons. But the good news is that the program should be able to fill most of the weight classes in order to be competitive in dual meets. The coaching staff has a new addition as Steven Churchill joins his father and older brother, Kevin. The sons were both standout wrestlers for Newton. Wins will again be tough to come by, but look for this group to make strides as the season wears on.

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