Sunday, December 31, 2017

Wrestling: Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex rankings

As we usher in a New Year, let's recap the past week and look ahead to what should prove to be some entertaining matches and events this week around the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex area.

On Wednesday, North Hunterdon travels to Voorhees in the renewal of their annual rivalry. The Lions, who rate as solid favorites in this Skyland Conference Raritan Division clash, got stronger through the middle of their lineup with the return of senior William Hughes (160), a returning district champion, on Saturday.

Coach Eric Hall's Vikings are strong up top with Scott Fernandes (11-1 at 195) -- who became the program's all-time pins leader by notching his 64th on Saturday, surpassing Ronnie Honickel (63 from 2009-12) -- Lewis Fernandes (12-0 at 220) and Sam Huff (11-0 at 285).

On Thursday, Phillipsburg will face a stiff test when Raritan comes calling for an independent matchup with state ranking implications. The Stateliners scored a 38-22 win against coach Rob Nucci's Rockets last season.

Raritan (6-1), which dropped a 33-23 decision to Seton Hall Prep on Dec. 23, presents some matchup problems for P'burg with some solid middle and upper weights, senior Russell Benson (8-1 at 132), a Region 5 champion, senior AJ Erven (11-0 at 138), junior Anthony Aquilano (8-2 at 170), junior George Burdick (8-1 at 182), junior Justin Acevedo (8-2 at 195) and senior Ethan Woolf (8-0 at 220).

And on Saturday, three of New Jersey's top teams will be featured at Newton in the annual Henry Boresch Duals. Paulsboro, making its first trip to Sussex County, joins Hanover Park and South Plainfield in this year's event.

Now, onto this week's rankings:

1. Phillipsburg (2-0) -- Stateliners finished third in the Bethlehem Holiday Wrestling Classic at Liberty High School in Pennsylvania. Senior Brian Meyer (second at 152), who became the 24th P'burg wrestler to reach the 100-win club, was the lone finalist, while Cullen Day (sixth at 113), Travis Jones (third at 120), Kyle Tino (eighth at 132), Cody Harrison (third at 138), Jayson Zinsmeister (sixth at 145) and Lance Wissing (third at 170) also earned medals.

Up next: at Bound Brook on Wednesday; Raritan at home on Thursday; Cranford at home on Saturday.

2. Pope John (2-1) -- Lions crowned five champions -- Eddie Ventresca (113), Jake Rotunda (132), Joe Aragona (138), Robbie Garcia (145) and Reece Muldoon (182) -- at the 61st annual Hunterdon Central Invitational on Wednesday. Kia Sement (120) was a runner-up, while Shane Percelay (106) and Mathew Garcia (126) finished third. Rotunda, who enters the week with 102 career wins, is just the sixth at his school to reach 100 -- hitting the century mark in the quarters.

Up next: at Morris Hills on Thursday.

3. Hunterdon Central (7-0) -- Red Devils had two champions -- freshman Brett Ungar (106) and senior Angelo Crespo (220) -- along with five runners-up -- Hunter Graf (132), Vincent Romaniello (145), Kevin Ciresa (160), Kyle Barrett (182) and Lukas Bakerian (195) in their annual holiday tournament on Thursday. Coach Jon Cantagallo-Rohm's team has a big week on tap, but will not wrestle Howell on Saturday since both are in the same section this season -- Central, Jersey Group 5.

Up next: Warren Hills at home on Wednesday; Kittatinny, West Deptford at Howell on Saturday.

4. High Point (6-0) -- Wildcats competed at the always tough Mustang Classic on Thursday, and had two champions in Brandon LaRue (113) and Shane Kobis (138), as both remained unbeaten. Billy Talmadge (132) was a runner-up, while Maverick Liebl (126) and Thomas Hubmaster (285) finished third. Coach John Gardner's team closed the week with a 45-16 thumping of Roxbury.

Up next: Lenape Valley at home on Thursday; Zephyr Duals at Whitehall (Pa.) on Saturday.

5. Kittatinny (4-1) -- Cougars finished third in their Linn Crawn Classic on Wednesday. Sophomore Jacob Mafaro (220) was the lone champion, while Shane Smith (160), Josh Hiler (170) and Zach Mafaro (182) finished second. Mike Nelson (120) and Mike Callahan (138) were third-place finishers. Coach John Gill's team will have nine days' rest before the big quad at Howell this weekend.

Up next: Hunterdon Central, West Deptford at Howell on Saturday.

6. Newton (2-1) -- Braves continued to impress by edging North Hunterdon for the team title at the 60th annual John Goles Invitational on Wednesday. Individual champions Wyatt McCarthy (152), voted the Outstanding Wrestler, and Jonathon Borgognoni (160) provided the winning two-point margin with pins in the finals. Nathan Fitt (106), Luke Fischer (195) and Matt Somers (285) were runners-up, while Danny Cleary (113), Matthew Rosa (126) and Joseph DeLuca (182) finished third.

Up next: at Vernon on Thursday; Boresch Duals at home on Saturday.

7. North Hunterdon (3-1) -- Lions finished second at the John Goles Invitational -- going 4-for-4 in the championship round as Connor Robinson (106), Connor Quinn (113), Andrew Gapas (138) and Michael Wilson (145) won titles. Coach Chris Hrunka's team wrapped up the week with independent wins over Sayreville (58-10) and South Brunswick (65-18).

Up next: at Voorhees on Wednesday; Ridge at home on Thursday; Raritan, West Essex at Wayne Valley on Saturday.

8. Delaware Valley (2-3) -- Terriers finished fifth in the John Goles Invitational on Wednesday as junior A.J. DeRosa (132) was the lone finalist -- winning his second straight championship. Derek Schepens (106), Gage Crater (138) and Joseph Desapio (160) finished third. Coach Andy Fitz's team posted a 53-24 win over Pingry and dropped a 56-14 decision to South Plainfield on Saturday. Interesting matchup on Wednesday as Nick LaFevre, a 2008 graduate and one of only two wrestlers to win four district titles for Del Val, returns as the head coach of Emmaus. Former district champ Lance Thatcher and head coach Paul Petro, who led the Terriers to a Group 2 title in 1999, are assistants on LaFevre's staff.

Up next: Emmaus (Pa.) at home on Wednesday; Voorhees at home on Friday.

9. Warren Hills (1-1) -- Blue Streaks finished fourth in the team standings in their John Goles Invitational as senior Jarod Ostir (182) won his second title, while senior Codey O'Rourke (126) and junior Nick Galka (220) earned their first championships. Junior Chris Ostir (145) was a runner-up, while junior Duro Ajayi (285) finished third.

Up next: at Hunterdon Central on Wednesday; at Hackettstown on Thursday; Bensalem, William Tennent and Truman in Matsplosion Duals at Lancaster, Pa., on Sunday.

10. Sparta (3-2) -- Spartans, who entered just nine wrestlers, finished sixth in the John Goles Invitational -- senior Robbie Gennat (195), who is sitting on 96 career wins, was the lone champion while Spencer Stewart (120), Garrett Stewart (138), Carter Sheridan (145) and Mason Minetti (170) finished second -- and coach Frank Battaglia's team ended the week a 40-33 victory over Voorhees on Saturday as part of a quad.

Up next: Mount Olive at home on Thursday; DePaul at Hackettstown on Saturday.

On the bubble: Voorhees (7-3).

Wrestling: HWS schedule for Jan. 3-7

Wednesday, Jan. 3

(All matches 7 p.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Hopatcong at Madison, 6 p.m.

Skyland Conference

Warren Hills at Hunterdon Central, 6:30 p.m.
Phillipsburg at Bound Brook
North Hunterdon at Voorhees
Belvidere at Rutgers Prep, 6 p.m.


Emmaus (Pa.) at Delaware Valley

Thursday, Jan. 4

(All matches 7 p.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Lenape Valley at High Point, ppd.
Newton at Vernon, ppd. to Jan. 31
Pope John at Morris Hills, ppd.
Wallkill Valley at North Warren, ppd.

Skyland Conference

Ridge at North Hunterdon, ppd.


Raritan at Phillipsburg, ppd.
Warren Hills at Hackettstown. ppd.

Friday, Jan. 5

(All matches 6 p.m., unless noted)

Skyland Conference

Voorhees at Delaware Valley, ppd. to Jan. 12

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Mount Olive at Sparta, 7 p.m.


Vernon at Ridgewood, ppd.

Saturday, Jan. 6

(All events 9 a.m., unless noted)


Cranford at Phillipsburg, 7 p.m.

Tournaments, tris and quads

Henry Boresch Duals at Newton
High Point at Zephyr Duals in Whitehall, Pa.
Hunterdon Central, Kittatinny at Howell
Bound Brook, Cresskill at North Warren
Wallkill Valley, Summit at Dover
Voorhees, Toms River North at Bridgewater-Raritan
North Hunterdon, Raritan, West Essex at Wayne Valley
Bogota, Union City at Lenape Valley
DePaul, Sparta at Hackettstown, 11 a.m.
Hopatcong at Elizabeth Tournament
Pope John, Central Regional, Donovan Catholic at Pinelands

Friday, December 29, 2017

Wrestling: Preseason power points rankings

The top 60 teams in New Jersey based on preseason power points rankings by section. Non-Public schools are separate this season. All teams begin with a preseason ranking of 23.00.

Note: Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex schools in bold:

North 1
Emerson-Park Ridge
High Point
Fair Lawn
West Morris

North 2
North Hunterdon
Hanover Park
Roselle Park
Middletown North
Warren Hills
Bound Brook
Watchung Hills

Central Jersey
South Plainfield
Hunterdon Central
Long Branch
Northern Burlington
Jackson Memorial
Delaware Valley
Old Bridge
Monroe Township

South Jersey
Egg Harbor
Toms River North
Point Pleasant Boro

Non-Public North
Bergen Catholic
St. Joseph-Montvale
Seton Hall Prep
Pope John
St. Peter's Prep

Non-Public South
St. Augustine
Camden Catholic
Christian Brothers
St. John Vianney
Donovan Catholic

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Wrestling: Braves edge Lions for John Goles title

WASHINGTON TWP. -- Newton senior Jonathon Borgognoni summed it up best when asked how he approached his draw at 160 pounds.

"This is team time, not individual yet. I just try to take it one match at a time, get the win, and try to get bonus points."

That was a winning formula for the Borgognoni, one of four repeat winners from the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex area as the Braves won their first team championship since 2008 at the 60th annual John Goles Invitational on Wednesday afternoon at Warren Hills Regional High School.
Newton celebrates its seventh Goles team title and first since 2008.

Junior Wyatt McCarthy (152), who earned the Outstanding Wrestler Award, and Borgognoni registered key pins in the finals as Newton topped North Hunterdon by two points (161.5 to 159.5). The Lions had a tournament-best four champions in Connor Robinson (106), Connor Quinn (113), Andrew Gapas (138) and Michael Wilson (145).

Warren Hills was next with three champions in Codey O'Rourke (126), Jarod Ostir (182) and Nick Galka (220) to finish third, while Delaware Valley, the team champion a year ago, was fifth in the seven-team field behind junior A.J. DeRosa (132), a two-time champ.

"We'll take it," said Newton coach Eric Bollette, whose team also had three runners-up and three third-place finishers on the day. "There were some tough teams. North Hunterdon has some good guys, Warren Hills has some good kids. We won by two points. It has to be one of the closest [team races]."

Indeed it was the slimmest margin of victory since 2002, when Delaware Valley edged Scotch Plains-Fanwood by one-half point (161.5 to 161).

McCarthy (8-0), a returning state qualifier and medal round hopeful this season, claimed his first title in a competitive 152-pound class by decking West Morris junior Justin LeMay, fourth in Region 3 last season. McCarthy, who built a 4-0 lead after one period with a takedown and two back points, pancaked LeMay for the pin in 2:58 -- one of five falls in the championship round.

"I knew I was going to wrestle LeMay in the finals and it would be one of the best matches of the day," said McCarthy, who joined Austin Alpaugh (2006) and Kevin Churchill (2009) as OWs for the Braves. "I knew the pancake was going to be there. We wrestled well as a team. It was a good day for us to build confidence and prepare us for the rest of the season."

Borgognoni (8-0) earned his second straight title by using a half-nelson to stick West Morris junior John DeVito in 3:37. Newton held a 10-point lead heading into the finals, but North Hunterdon crowned four champs before 152.

"It's nice. I would've been a three-time champion if I didn't lose to [6-0 to West Morris senior Marco] Gaita [a three-time winner] my sophomore year," Borgognoni said. "I enjoyed this tournament. We had a lot of freshmen step up. I'm happy with how we wrestled."

Finishing second for the Braves were Nathan Fitt (106), Luke Fischer (195) and Matt Somers (285).

Gapas grabs gold

The fourth time was finally the charm for Gapas, an eight-place finisher in last season's state tournament, as he won his first Goles title by pinning Sparta junior Carter Sheridan in 1:29. Gapas (7-0), who had twice finished third and was a runner-up as a sophomore, hit some pretty stiff competition in prior tournaments, losing 12-4 to eventual state placewinner Robert Cleary, then of Edison, in the 2014 quarterfinals followed by losses to three-time champ Matt Valli of Warren Hills -- 4-3 in the '15 finals and 9-3 in the '16 semis.

"It's really nice," Gapas said of his first Goles gold medal. "The competition has been really good. The competition is still good, but I'm at that next level."

Gapas will look to repeat as a champion in what figures to be a brutal 138-pound class in the upcoming Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament on Saturday, Jan. 13.

"I'm just going to go in and have fun, and try to keep my title," said Gapas, who has 79 career wins.

North Hunterdon, which has struggled with injuries and the loss of some key upperweights who decided to not wrestle, went 4-for-4 in the finals (Robinson won his second straight title, while Quinn and Wilson earned their first) and had three third-place finishers in Tucker Kirchberger (152), Nathaniel Fossett (170) and Lorenzo Becerril (220).

"We're just looking to improve and have fun," Gapas said. "We're going to make mistakes. You just have to stay positive."

Ostir keeps rolling

Warren Hills' senior ace is coming off a couple of tough offseasons, which included elbow and knee surgeries, but Ostir (7-0), a two-time state qualifier and a Region 3 runner-up last season, looked pretty good in winning his second championship -- pinning overmatched West Morris junior Luke Stefanelli in 45 seconds for his 70th career win.

"I'm feeling great," said Ostir, who along with Gapas, McCarthy and Borgognoni, shared the award for most team points scored by one individual with 22. "This is always a good tournament, and it's always good to wrestle in front of the home crowd."

Ostir, who hasn't decided if he will drop to 170 later in the season, crossed off another on his list of short goals -- the next being winning his first Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament championship after finishing second last season.

"Then it's districts, regions and states," he said.

Back points

Warren Hills, with three champions, now has a tournament-record 183 overall. The Streaks haven't gone without at least one gold medal since 2002. O'Rourke and Galka, one of seven underclassmen to win, claimed their first titles.

Gaita, one of five returning champions to win titles, became just the 38th wrestler in tournament history to win at least three. He's just the second to do so for West Morris, joining former teammate Shane Metzler (2014-16).

Delaware Valley, which is also enduring its share of inexperience and injuries coming off its first Group 2 title since 1999 last season, had just one finalist in DeRosa. The Terriers, who posted their lowest finish since placing seventh in an eight-team field in 1996, had three thirds in Derek Schepens (106), Gage Crater (138) and Joseph Desapio (160). Schepens recorded the fastest pin of the tournament -- 19 seconds in the bronze match.

Sparta, coming off the program's first sectional title since 2000 after winning the North 1, Group 3 title last season, was a bit shorthanded with only nine wrestlers in the field. Spartans coach Frank Battaglia said his team is battling some sickness as sophomore Cooper Stewart (106) and junior Chris Hwang (126), who both would have been medal contenders, did not compete.

Senior Robert Gennat (8-0), a Region 1 runner-up last season, was among 11 area champions as he cruised to a 7-2 win over Fischer, a junior, in the 195-pound final. Gennat converted three takedowns en route to his first championship after a runner-up finish in 2016.

Sparta, which finished sixth in the team race, had four runner-up in Spencer Stewart (120), Garrett Stewart (132), Sheridan (138), Mason Minetti (170). Garrett Stewart waged a tight battle against DeRosa, dropping a 3-2 decision after yielding an escape with 25 seconds left in the second tiebreaker.

Team standings

1. Newton (N) 161.5; 2. North Hunterdon (NH) 159.5; 3. West Morris (WM) 130.5; 4. Warren Hills (WH) 106; 5. Delaware Valley (DV) 91; 6. Sparta (S) 88; 7. Edison (E) 85.


106 -- Jr. Connor Robinson (5-2), NH, md. Fr. Nathan Fitt (3-5), N, 9-0.
113 -- Fr. Connor Quinn (3-0), NH, d. Fr. Brett Miller (3-2), E, 5-3.
120 -- Jr. Michael O'Brien (5-0), E, d. Fr. Spencer Stewart (6-2), S, 9-6.
126 -- Sr. Codey O'Rourke (6-1), WH, d. So. Eli Shepard (3-4), WM, 3-1.
132 -- Jr. A.J. DeRosa (8-0), DV, d. So. Garrett Stewart (6-2), S, 3-2 TB2.
138 -- Sr. Andrew Gapas (7-0), NH, p. Jr. Carter Sheridan (5-3), S, 1:29.
145 -- Jr. Michael Wilson (7-0), NH, md. Jr. Chris Ostir (6-3), WH, 8-0.
152 -- Jr. Wyatt McCarthy (8-0), N, p. Jr. Justin LeMay (3-1), WM, 2:58.
160 -- Sr. Jonathon Borgognoni (8-0), N, p. Jr. John DeVito (8-3), WM, 3:37.
170 -- Sr. Marco Gaita (7-1), WM, p. Sr. Mason Minetti (3-4), S, :45.
182 -- Sr. Jarod Ostir (7-0), WH, p. Jr. Luke Stefanelli (7-3), WM, :28.
195 -- Sr. Robert Gennat (8-0), S, d. Jr. Luke Fischer (7-1), N, 7-2.
220 -- Jr. Nick Galka (6-1), WH, d. Sr. Robert Rosen (6-2), WM, 5-2.
285 -- Sr. Keyon Goodwin (6-1), E, p. Jr. Matt Somers (2-1), N, 1:29.

Third-place consolations

106 -- So. Derek Schepens (4-4), DV, p. Jr. Jonathan Chen (2-4), E, :19.
113 -- Fr. Danny Cleary (3-4), N, p. So. Stephen Em (0-4), DV, 3:48.
120 -- So. Colin Loughney (5-4), WM, p. Fr. JoJo Lotruglio (4-4), N, 3:10.
126 -- Jr. Matthew Rosa (7-3), N, p. So. Evan Klimas (3-3), NH, 3:52.
132 -- Sr. Jonathan Vazquez (4-5), WM, p. Sr. Kyle Wulff (4-5), WH, 3:23.
138 -- So. Gage Crater (8-2), DV, d. Jr. Michael Freda (6-4), N, 3-0.
145 -- Fr. Connor Doherty (6-2), E, d. Fr. Anthony DeRosa (5-7), DV, 3-1.
152 -- Sr. Tucker Kirchberger (8-1), NH, p. So. Geir Nemeth (6-4), WH, 1:41.
160 -- Sr. Joseph Desapio (7-3), DV, d. Sr. Kevin Berlin (3-5), S, 8-2.
170 -- So. Nathaniel Fossett (5-4), NH, p. Jr. Nick Brigante (4-5), N, 1:42.
182 -- Sr. Joseph DeLuca (8-2), N, md. Sr. John Spies (5-4), NH, 9-0.
195 -- Jr. Dean Escobar (6-2), E, d. Jr. Brandon Helper (4-5), DV, 6-5.
220 -- Jr. Lorenzo Becerril (4-2), NH, p. Sr. Karl Burke (3-4), DV, 5:58.
285 -- Jr. Duro Ajayi (2-3), WH, d. Jr. Francis Vitelli (1-4), NH, 7-1.

Outstanding Wrestler Award -- Wyatt McCarthy, Newton.
Ryan M. Storm Memorial Award (Most pins in least time by a champion) -- Keyon Goodwin, Edison (two in 2:10).
Alonzo Widenor Memorial Award (Fastest pin) -- Derek Schepens, Delaware Valley (19 seconds).

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Wrestling: John Goles Invitational preview, info

What: John Goles Invitational Tournament (60th annual).

When: Wednesday.

Where: Warren Hills Regional High School, Washington Township.

Participating teams: Delaware Valley; Edison; Newton; North Hunterdon; Sparta; Warren Hills; West Morris.

Schedule (approximate): Pigtails and quarterfinals, 9 a.m.; Championships, 3 p.m.

Returning champions (this year's weights): Connor Robinson, North Hunterdon (106); Michael Caso, West Morris (113); A.J. DeRosa, Delaware Valley (132); Jonathon Borgognoni, Newton (160); Marco Gaita, West Morris (170); Jarod Ostir, Warren Hills (182).

Others to watch: Michael O'Brien, Edison (120, District 19 second, Region 5 fifth); Kyle Wulff, Warren Hills (132, District 12 second, Region 3 sixth); Andrew Gapas, North Hunterdon (138, District 15 champion, Region 4 fourth, eighth in state tournament); Wyatt McCarthy, Newton (152, District 1 champion, Region 1 third); Justin LeMay, West Morris (152, District 11 second, Region 3 fourth);  Joseph DeLuca, Newton (182, District 1 second, Region 1 sixth); Robbie Gennat, Sparta (195, District 3 second, Region 1 second); Nick Galka, Warren Hills (220, District 12 champion, Region 3 fifth).

Notes: Gaita is looking to become the 38th wrestler in tournament history to win at least three titles. The team championship race should also be interesting as Newton, West Morris and possibly North Hunterdon, should all be in the hunt. Braves, who amassed a record 254 points in winning the 2008 championship, feature three unbeaten wrestlers in McCarthy (6-0, third last year and No. 1 seed at 152), Borgognoni (6-0, No. 1 seed at 160), who is seeking his second straight championship, and Fischer (6-0, No. 2 seed at 195). ... Lions are strong in the middle of their lineup. Gapas, a state medal winner last season, seeks his first Goles title at one of the deepest weight classes. He has finished third twice and was a runner-up as a sophomore in '15. ... Warren Hills, which only has 10 wrestlers entered, has crowned a tournament-best 180 champions overall. The Blue Streaks haven't gone without at least one gold medal since getting shut out in 2002, while they've won or shared 22 championships since the tournament's inception in 1958, including its last title in 2013. Delaware Valley has claimed 11 of the last 18 team titles, including 2016. ... Newton has produced at least one champ in all but three tournaments since 2000. Speaking of which, assistant coaches Andy Iliff (1985-86) and Ted Sibblies (1987-88) were two-time winners for the Braves. Warren Hills assistant coach Dave Sbriscia was a two-time champion in 2004 and '05, while Del Val assistant Gregg Wiseburn (1999-2000) and North Hunterdon head coach Chris Hrunka (2006) were also champs for the Blue Streaks. ... Only seven teams in this year's field as Millburn pulled out a week before the season began. As a result, wrestling will take place on two mats in the main gym. Newton and North Hunterdon are the only teams with full lineups. Delaware Valley, Edison and West Morris all have 13 wrestlers entered in the tournament, while Sparta has just nine.

Championship picks: Cooper Stewart, Sparta (106); Caso, West Morris (113); JoJo Lotruglio, Newton (120); Matthew Rosa, Newton (126); A.J. DeRosa, Delaware Valley (132); Gapas, North Hunterdon (138); Michael Wilson, North Hunterdon (145); McCarthy, Newton (152); Borgognoni, Newton (160); Gaita, West Morris (170); J. Ostir, Warren Hills (182); Gennat, Sparta (195); Galka, Warren Hills (220); Matthew Somers, Newton (285).

Team champion: Newton.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Wrestling: 'Cats collect 700th win (HWS rankings)

Season's greetings wrestling fans. It's time to recap the opening week of action in the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex area. We learned quite a bit about some of our teams as we get ready to head into 2018.

High Point (5-0) reached a nice milestone on Saturday, recording the program's 700th win -- 28-25 over Southern, in the middle match of a quad.

"We've had the opportunity to compete at a high level for a long time," said John Gardner, who has logged 327 wins as a head coach, while taking part in another 69 as a wrestler for High Point from 1986-90. "It's a credit to the kids, [school] administrators, parents and coaches. It doesn't happen often. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication."

Gardner isn't one to pay attention to numbers, in fact, he couldn't even tell you how many coaching wins he's had in his fine career without reading about it. The Clemson University alum and former 189-pound state champion who held the New Jersey record for wins (131-8-1) when he graduated from High Point in '90, stays focused on making his wrestlers better than when they entered as freshmen.

High Point aims to repeat as sectional champion. (HP wrestling)
Perhaps the most impressive part of High Point's 700 wins is that coaches have never constructed a schedule to pad that total.

"We've always tried to schedule quality competition to challenge our kids," said Gardner, whose finest hour in charge came in 2011, when the program produced four state champions in Atlantic City -- Nick Francavilla, Drew Wagenhoffer, Ethan Orr and Billy Smith (now an assistant coach for the 'Cats).

"Our goal has never been to see what our record can be."

This season, High Point is working toward another North 1, Group 2 title. It's one of the deepest sections, as Sussex County rivals Kittatinny and Newton also figure to be championship contenders. The 'Cats appear to have the most balanced lineup of the three, bolstered by a strong group of lower weights, but the Cougars and Braves are pretty strong in the second half of their lineups for the most part from 145-285.

"We've shown some good things, and we have a number of things we have to work on," Gardner said. "Wrestling is a long season. Hopefully we can stay healthy and keep getting better."

Now, onto this week's rankings.

1. Phillipsburg (2-0) -- Stateliners rolled to a 64-6 win over Delaware Valley on Friday in a special one-night only appearance at The Pit and closed out a short week with a tough 38-29 win over Newton in an independent clash that went down to the final bout. Cullen Day (113) and Travis Jones (120) put coach Dave Post's team over the top with a pin and a technical fall. Senior Brian Meyer, a Lehigh recruit who is sitting on 98 career wins, looks to become the 24th to reach the century mark for the 'Liners.

Up next: Bethlehem Holiday Wrestling Classic at Liberty High School on Thursday and Friday.

2. Pope John (2-1) -- Lions took their first loss -- 41-29 to Delbarton -- as coach Mark Piotrowsky's team also scored wins over Camden Catholic (47-18) and Ocean Township (54-10) on Saturday in South Jersey Duals at Kingsway. Senior state qualifier Jake Rotunda (132) went 1-2 -- dropping decisions to Camden Catholic state placewinner Lucas Revano (6-3) and Delbarton state champion Pat Glory (12-0) while also collecting his 97th career victory. Junior Robbie Garcia (145), who placed fourth in the state last season, scored an impressive 9-5 win over returning state champ Jack Benner of Ocean Township.

Up next: at Hunterdon Central Invitational Tournament on Thursday.

3. Hunterdon Central (5-0) -- Red Devils scored an impressive 42-24 win over North Hunterdon in a key Skyland Conference Raritan Division showdown on Friday. Coach Jon Cantagallo-Rohm's team kept rolling against Hillsborough (57-13) and Bishop Ahr (59-0), along with a 37-28 victory over Middletown North, last season's North 2, Group 4 runner-up, on Saturday. Freshman Brett Ungar (7-0 at 106) aided the win over North Hunterdon with a first-period pin of junior Connor Robinson, a returning district runner-up.

Up next: 61st annual Hunterdon Central Invitational Tournament on Thursday; Collingswood at Winslow Township on Saturday.

4. High Point (5-0) -- Wildcats enjoyed a strong first week with wins over Mount Olive (44-18) on Tuesday, West Morris (42-24) on Thursday, while sweeping a quad at Southern with victories over the Rams (28-25), Atlantic City (63-9) and Woodstown (54-6). Brandon LaRue (113) and Shane Kobis (138) -- returning state qualifiers -- improved to 7-0 on the season. With the three wins at Southern, the program's all-time record sits at 701-238-7 in 52 seasons.

Up next: Mustang Classic at Brick Memorial on Thursday; Roxbury at home on Saturday.

5. North Hunterdon (1-1) -- Lions opened their dual season with a 36-23 victory over Allentown in Chris Hrunka's debut as head coach before dropping a 42-24 road decision to Hunterdon Central on Friday. Senior Andrew Gapas (5-0 at 138) anchors a solid middle of the lineup, along with junior Michael Wilson (5-0 at 145) and senior Tucker Kirchberger (5-0 at 152). The stretch will get even tougher with the return of senior William Hughes (160), a district champion, who has been sidelined due to an injury after recording 21 wins last season.

Up next: John Goles Invitational at Warren Hills on Wednesday; Marlboro, Sayreville at South Brunswick on Saturday.

6. Kittatinny (4-1) -- Cougars opened with wins over Wayne Hills (61-6), Kinnelon (64-9), Wayne Valley (42-16) and West Milford (54-15) before dropping a 40-29 decision to Group 2 title contender Hanover Park on Saturday. Former Kittatinny star Tyler Branham, a three-time district champion and a two-time region finalist from 2003-05, is in his first season as the Hornets' head coach. Junior Zach Mafaro (7-0 at 182) remained unbeaten, while freshman Jackson Crawn (7-1 at 195) is off a nice start in his rookie season.

Up next: Linn Crawn Classic at home on Wednesday.

7. Newton (2-1) -- Braves cruised to wins over Sparta (43-27 on Tuesday) and Roxbury (41-24 on Wednesday) before turning heads in a 38-29 loss to Phillipsburg on Saturday. Coach Eric Bollette's team notched the program's first win over Sparta since 2009, as the Braves own a 32-12-1 edge in the all-time series dating to 1961. The teams did not meet from 2010-13 after the Sussex County Interscholastic League folded following the 2008-09 season. Seniors Wyatt McCarthy (6-0 at 152) and Jonathon Borgognoni (6-0 at 160) kept rolling with solid wins against the Stateliners.

Up next: John Goles Invitational at Warren Hills on Wednesday.

8. Delaware Valley (1-2) -- Terriers had a tough opening week with a 46-19 loss to Hopewell Valley -- just the second time in the series' 19-match history and second in the last six meetings -- and 64-6 loss to Phillipsburg at The Pit on Friday. Coach Andy Fitz, whose team rallied for a 36-33 win over Warren Hills in between those defeats, lost another wrestler to injury as senior Eli Kalfaian (4-1 at 195) is out for at least two weeks due to a knee injury. This coming after we learned state champion Kyle Lightner will miss his senior season after offseason knee surgery. On a more positive note, junior A.J. DeRosa (6-0 at 132), who eyes his second straight John Goles title this week, is looking like a tough out come March.

Up next: John Goles Invitational at Warren Hills on Wednesday; Pingry, South Plainfield at home on Saturday.

9. Warren Hills (1-1) -- Blue Streaks rebounded from a tough 36-33 loss to Delaware Valley on Wednesday with a 50-24 win at Bound Brook on Friday. Against the Terriers, junior Duro Ajayi sent the match to the final bout with a pin at 285 pounds, while junior Nick Galka scored an 11-6 decision over district runner-up Eli Kalfaian at 220. Freshman Michael Wonski (113) and junior Chris Ostir (145) recorded pins against the Crusaders.

Up next: 60th annual John Goles Invitational at home on Wednesday.

10. Sparta (1-2) -- Spartans are coming off a challenging week with losses to Newton (43-27) on Tuesday and Group 5 champion Howell (62-9) on Saturday as coach Frank Battaglia's team closed with a 32-31 win on criteria (most first points) against Don Bosco Prep. Senior Robbie Gennat (6-0 at 195), a three-time district runner-up and a returning state qualifier, is just eight wins shy of 100 for his career.

Up next: John Goles Invitational at Warren Hills on Wednesday; Hillsborough, Newark Academy at Voorhees on Saturday.

On the bubble: Voorhees (6-2).

Wrestling: HWS schedule for Dec. 27-30

Wednesday, Dec. 27

(All events 9 a.m., unless noted)

Delaware Valley, Newton, North Hunterdon, Sparta in John Goles Invitational at Warren Hills
Belvidere, North Warren in Linn Crawn Classic at Kittatinny


Passaic at Vernon, 10 a.m.
Hopatcong, Dover at Boonton
Wallkill Valley, Wayne Hills at Manchester Regional, 10 a.m.

Thursday, Dec. 28

(All tournaments 9 a.m.)

High Point at Brick Memorial Mustang Classic
Hackettstown, Pope John at Hunterdon Central Invitational
Voorhees at Lenape Valley Tournament
Phillipsburg at Bethlehem Holiday Wrestling Classic

Friday, Dec. 29

(All events 9 a.m.)

Phillipsburg at Bethlehem Holiday Wrestling Classic
Hopatcong at Mountain Lakes Tournament


Wallkill Valley, Bound Brook, Nutley at Hackettstown

Saturday, Dec. 30

(All events 9 a.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Roxbury at High Point, 11 a.m.

Tris and quads

Sparta, Hillsborough, Newark Academy at Voorhees
Lenape Valley, Jefferson at Randolph
Pingry, South Plainfield at Delaware Valley, 9:30 a.m.
Hunterdon Central, North Hunterdon, Sayreville at South Brunswick

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Wrestling: 'Liners rally late to spoil Braves' upset bid

LOPATCONG TWP. -- It wasn't exactly how you might have drawn it up, but Phillipsburg's wrestling team was relieved to escape with a 38-29 win against a young-and-upcoming Newton squad on Saturday night at Phillipsburg High School.

Trailing 29-27 with two bouts left after Newton's surprise wins at 285 and 106 pounds, P'burg needed its light-weight hammers to come through as sate qualifiers Cullen Day (113) and Travis Jones (120) scored a pin and a technical fall, respectively, to rescue the Stateliners (2-0), who were coming off a 64-6 waxing of Delaware Valley the previous evening in a one-night only return to The Pit.

"We didn't perform at our best, but we still put up 38 points," said coach Dave Post, whose team registered four pins and one technical fall in six contested bouts as senior Brian Meyer (160) received a forfeit for his 98th career win.

"The Newton guys came to wrestle. They have a tough team, with three stud freshmen. That's a quality team."

Newton (2-1), which still holds an 8-7-1 lead in the all-time series, including a 37-21 win in the previous meeting in 2009, won six of eight bouts from 152 through 106, to get the crowd buzzing again. Braves coach Eric Bollette opted to bump his lineup by running senior Jonathon Borgognoni up to 170, where he turned the match by rallying from an early 4-0 deficit to pin Josh Ramos in 5:04. The visitors reeled off wins in five of the next six to grab their first and only lead of the night.

"We won the toss and we were able to move up top," said Bollette, who was soundly booed for the forfeit to Meyer -- a third-place finisher in last season's state tournament-- but Newton had no other eligible wrestler for that weight class. "I thought we were better [in some of those weights]."

After Lance Wissing's pin at 182 for P'burg, Joseph DeLuca (195) and Luke Fischer (220) answered with a pin and a technical fall. DeLuca slapped on a cradle to deck Shamyr Brodders in 1:52. Fischer built a 10-0 lead on Cody Cruts, but he couldn't get the fall, turning the sophomore twice after starting on top in the second period.

"We won at 195 and 220, but we can't leave points on the mat," Bollette said. "We have to get the pin there. I'm happy with the way we wrestled overall. We won seven bouts, but when you lose by nine points against the Group 4 [championship] favorite, you start wondering what you could have done to win the match."

Newton junior Matt Somers (285) and freshman Nathan Fitt (106) really made it interesting.

Somers, who is splitting time on the varsity and junior varsity levels, converted a second-period takedown en route to a 3-2 win over Patrick Sharpe, who opened the season by placing seventh in the rugged King of the Mountain Tournament. Fitt, who displayed some serious funk moves, gave up two takedowns early on before hitting a five-pointer in the third off a scramble for a 7-4 decision over Logan Maczko. In the last bout, talented freshman JoJo Lotruglio got the opening takedown before Jones pulled away behind four three-point nearfalls.

"We shot ourselves in the foot in some matches," Post said. "Josh was down against Borgognoni -- one of the best kids in the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex area -- but 285 and 106, we did it to ourselves. [Sharpe] snapped the guy into his legs. Logan had a chin and ankle, he was in really good position, but he stopped spinning with [Fitt].

"I thought we were wrestling well [until 170]. That match took a little steam out of us."

Thoughts of a Newton upset could have disappeared for good as P'burg freshman Tyler Marason set an early tone with his 2-0 decision over junior Matthew Rosa in a bout the Braves were counting on.

Marason (5-2) converted a controversial takedown with 15 seconds left in the first period that proved to be the winning margin as they took turns riding each other out in the final two periods. Bollette was irate over the call -- saying that Marason never got on Rosa's hip to earn the takedown -- and voiced his objection to referee Lou Ricciardi.

Newton junior Michael Freda picked his team up with an 8-3 win in the next bout at 132, but P'burg stretched its lead to 15-3 with pins by Kyle Tino and state placewinner Cody Harrison at 138 and 145.

"We were hoping to win the first two," said Bollette, now 1-4 all-time against P'burg.

The only letdown was Meyer weighing in at 160, instead of 152 for a matchup against Braves junior Wyatt McCarthy, a returning state qualifier. McCarthy started his team's comeback with a 9-4 win over Jayson Zinsmeister.

"I will probably see him the counties," McCarthy said of a highly-anticipated 152-pound final against Meyer in the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament here on Saturday, Jan. 13. "We knew [as a team] we had to bounce back [after the loss at 126]. We still had our studs coming and we were able to score some bonus points."

Newton will next participate in the 60th annual John Goles Invitational at Warren Hills on Wednesday, while P'burg heads to the Bethlehem Holiday Wrestling Classic at Liberty High School in Pennsylvania on Thursday and Friday.


126 -- Fr. Tyler Marason (5-2), P, d. Jr. Matthew Rosa (4-2), 2-0.
132 -- Jr. Michael Freda (4-2), N, d. Jr. Luke Hardin (0-2), 8-3.
138 -- Jr. Kyle Tino (2-0), P, p. Sr. Tim Houlihan (1-4), 4:57.
145 -- Jr. Cody Harrison (6-1), P, p. So. Trevor Aughenbaugh (0-2), 2:25.
152 -- Jr. Wyatt McCarthy (6-0), N, d. Jr. Jayson Zinsmeister (4-3), 9-4.
160 -- Sr. Brian Meyer (6-1), P, forfeit.
170 -- Sr. Jonathon Borgognoni (6-0), N, p. Sr. Josh Ramos (4-3), 5:04.
182 -- Sr. Lance Wissing (9-1), P, p. Jr. Nick Brigante (3-3), 2:18.
195 -- Sr. Joseph DeLuca (5-1), N, p. Sr. Shamyr Brodders (3-3), 1:52.
220 -- Jr. Luke Fischer (6-0), N, tf. So. Cody Cruts (2-3), 15-0, 3:40.
285 -- Jr. Matt Somers (1-0), N, d. Sr. Patrick Sharpe (6-3), 3-2.
106 -- Fr. Nathan Fitt (2-4), N, d. Fr. Logan Maczko (4-3), 7-4.
113 -- Sr. Cullen Day (6-1), P, p. Fr. Danny Cleary (2-3), 1:38.
120 -- Jr. Travis Jones (5-3), P, tf. Fr. JoJo Lotruglio (3-2), 17-2, 3:46.
Records -- Newton 2-1; Phillipsburg 2-0.
Official -- Lou Ricciardi.
JV score -- Phillipsburg, 43-24.