Thursday, December 14, 2017

Wrestling: HWS schedule for Dec. 15-23

Friday, Dec. 15


Phillipsburg at King of the Mountain Tournament, 2 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 16


(All matches and tournaments 9 a.m., unless noted)

Phillipsburg at King of the Mountain Tournament
High Point in Colt Classic at Christian Brothers Academy
Hackettstown, Hunterdon Central, Kittatinny at Caldwell Tournament
Newton at Bayonne Invitational
Belvidere, Sparta at Hopatcong Tournament, 10 a.m.
Lenape Valley, North Warren at Dover Tournament
Wallkill Valley at Morris Knolls Tournament
Wendy Pandy-Leh Tournament at Delaware Valley, 9:45 a.m.
Warren Hills at Nottingham Tournament
North Hunterdon at Neptune Classic
Pope John at Beast of the East Tournament, 7:45 a.m.

Independent

Voorhees, Hillsborough, Emerson-Park Ridge at South Brunswick

Sunday, Dec. 17


Pope John at Beast of the East Tournament, 8:30 a.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 19


(All matches 7 p.m.)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Sparta at Newton
Mount Olive at High Point

Independent

Hopewell Valley at Delaware Valley
Voorhees at West Morris

Wednesday, Dec. 20


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

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Vernon at Boonton, 6 p.m.

Skyland Conference

Delaware Valley at Warren Hills
Hunterdon Central at Bound Brook
Voorhees at Manville

Independent

Newark Collegiate Academy at Belvidere
Lenape Valley at Hasbrouck Heights
Kittatinny at Wayne Hills
Passaic Valley at Hackettstown

Thursday, Dec. 21


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

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

High Point at West Morris
Newton at Roxbury
Morris Catholic at North Warren, 6 p.m.
Morris Hills at Wallkill Valley, 6 p.m.

Independent

Belvidere at Mendham
Kittatinny, Kinnelon, Wayne Valley at West Milford, 4 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 22


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

Skyland Conference

Delaware Valley vs. Phillipsburg at The Pit
North Hunterdon at Hunterdon Central, 6:30 p.m.
Warren Hills at Bound Brook

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Hopatcong at Mount Olive, 2 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 23


(All matches, tris and quads 9 a.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Kittatinny at Hanover Park, 11 a.m.

Independent

Newton at Phillipsburg, 7 p.m.
Howell at Sparta, 10 a.m.
Demarest, Mahwah at Vernon, 10 a.m.
High Point, Atlantic City, Woodstown at Southern
Lyndhurst-North Arlington, Mendham at Hackettstown
Bishop Ahr, Hillsborough, Middletown North at Hunterdon Central, 9:30 a.m.
Voorhees, Pequannock, Secaucus at Randolph, 8:30 a.m.
Pope John at Kingsway Duals, 10 a.m.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Wrestling: Hunterdon-Warren preview capsules

Belvidere County Seaters

Coach: Dan McIntyre (76-50, seventh season).

2016-17 record: 10-13, 5-0 Skyland Conference Valley Division (first).

Returning starters (7): Jr. Quinn Melofchik (35-5, D1, R3) 113; Sr. Ryan Lensi (16-16, D4) 120; So. Dylan Olsen (3-12) 120; Sr. Kristian Panetta (6-19) 132; Jr. Vasilios Nikolopoulos (3-17) 152; Sr. Ryan Kokawski (26-9, D3) 195-220; Sr. Hunter Smith (8-22, D4) 220-285.

Key losses: Nick Cassidy (25-12, D2) 138; Nick Appleby (29-5, D3) 170.

Key returnees: Jr. Dominick Lepore (5-3) 113; So. Isaac Super (0-3) 132; So. Anthony Appleby (3-10) 160; Sr. Zachary Vought (4-10) 182.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Hunter Lensi 106; Fr. Marquise Panetta 120; Fr. Justin Kane 138; Sr. Collin Leahey 145; Fr. Tye Jean 145; Jr. Hunter Webb 160; Fr. Matt Frauen 170; Fr. Shane Exley 170.

Outlook: County Seaters, who have been the class of their division, have the potential for another solid season. Melofchik is one of the area's top wrestlers, while Kokawski emerged last season to help anchor the upper weights. There are some inexperienced weights throughout this lineup, but if they can improve as the season goes on, a run at a sectional title or at least a spot in the final is certainly within reach.

Delaware Valley Terriers
                                                                                                          
Coach: Andy Fitz (180-56, 11th season).

2016-17 record: 23-3, 4-2 Skyland Conference Raritan Division (T-second), Central Jersey, Group 2 and Group 2 champion.

Returning starters (6): Jr. Tommy Schlittler (13-14, D3) 126; Jr. A.J. DeRosa (29-6, D2, R2-2016) 132-138; So. Gage Crater (24-11) 132-138; Jr. Shawne Ramsby (15-11) 170; Sr. Kyle Lightner (42-2, D1, R1, S1) 195-220; Sr. Eli Kalfaian (19-11, D2) 195-220.

Delaware Valley won its first Group 2 title since 1999 last season.
Key losses: Matt Kolonia (43-4, D1, R2, S7) 138; Connor Mills (28-16, D1, R4) 132; Rhys Zigich (33-8, D1, R6) 145; Chase Bauberger (25-11, D3) 160.

Key returnees: So. Derek Schepens 106; Sr. CJ Heaps (7-6) 113; Sr. Joey DeSapio 160; So. Matt Ruchak (2-0) 285.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Corey Crater 120; So. Shane Reynolds 126; Jr. TJ Horn 138-145; Fr. Anthony DeRosa 145; Fr. Zeke Stettler 152; So. Mason Sorge 152; Jr. Brandon Helper 182; Jr. Kyle Carney 182; So. Ryan Sutter 220.

Outlook: Terriers are coming off a banner campaign, capturing their 17th sectional title and winning a Group 2 title for the first time since 1999. But heavy graduation losses -- and Lightner on the shelf until at least January with a knee injury -- have this season shaping up to be a rebuilding year with a lot of unknowns in the lineup, especially in the middle and up top. DeRosa and Crater have been solid contributors and Fitz expects a big season for Kalfaian, who emerged as a junior and will be counted on to help in Lightner's absence. Expect this team to be improved by season's end.

Hackettstown Tigers

Coach: Frank Rodgers (221-223-4, 15th season of second stint, 21st overall).

2016-17 record: 13-14, 2-2 NJAC Freedom Division (third).

Returning starters (8): So. Michael Sullivan (2-13, D4) 106-113; Jr. Nate Bennett (9-12) 120; Sr. Erick Garcia (13-15) 132; Sr. Alex Carida (38-4, D1, R1) 145-152; So. Zeb Burke (9-20) 160; Sr. Shawn Burke (12-21) 170; Jr. Matt Castro (13-16) 182-195; Sr. Joe Andes (31-12, D2, R2) 285.

Key losses: Steven Nicotra (18-11, D4) 120; Justin Bennett (18-16, D3) 132; Anthony Gonzalez (12-9, D2) 160; Kyle Connelly (29-9, D1) 195.

Key returnees: Sr. Denny Blanco (4-10) 126; So. Zak Eberhart (0-4) 138; Jr. Tim Ervey (0-4) 145-152; So. Garrett Meyer (1-3) 160; Jr. Dan Olson (5-2) 220.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Sam Castner 106; So. Christian Bremner 138; Sr. Sammy Giraldo 145-152.

Outlook: Tigers will lean heavily on their two state qualifiers -- Carida and Andes -- as they look to remain competitive with the likes of High Point and Newton in the division, while being in the same district with Phillipsburg. As far as dual meets go, there is enough returning talent to stay in double digits, but this group will need to find another upper weight to pair with Castro. Carida, who enters the season with 96 career wins, needs 28 to eclipse the school record held by Joe Renne (123).

Hunterdon Central Red Devils

Coach: Jon Cantagallo-Rohm (60-14, fourth season).

2016-17 record: 24-3, 4-2 Skyland Conference Raritan Division (T-second), Central Jersey, Group 5 champion and Group 5 runner-up.

Returning starters (8): Jr. Jack Bauer (30-10, D1, R2) 120; So. Anthony Romaniello (21-10, D3) 126; Sr. Hunter Graf (39-4, D1, R2, S8-2016) 132; Jr. Vincent Romaniello (30-8, D1) 145; Sr. Kevin Ciresa (29-7, D2, R5) 152; Jr. Dan Furmato (18-17, D3) 160; So. Lukas Bakerian (10-17) 195; Sr. Angelo Crespo (19-15, D4) 220.

Key losses: Peter Nace (30-8, D2, R2) 126; Bryce Hall (33-12, D1, R3) 138; Julian Heiligtag (13-15, D3, exchange student) 170; Michael Iodice (38-9, D1, R2, S6) 182; Victor Lacombe (41-3, D1, R1, S3) 220.

Key returnees: So. Justin Miller 113; So. Grant Bloch (5-5) 126; Jr. Pasquale Vizzoni (9-6) 138; Sr. Lucas Polkowski (1-1) 170-182; Sr. Reese Young (0-2) 182-195; Jr. Ryan Joyce 285.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Brett Ungar 106; Fr. Colton Washleski 113; Jr. Kyle Barrett 170-182.

Outlook: Red Devils enjoyed a stellar run to the Group 5 final last season, dropping a heartbreaking 28-27 decision to Howell to thwart a bid for the school's second state championship and first since 1989. There's plenty of returning talent, but Howell is now in Central Jersey, Group 5 and is regarded as perhaps the top public school team. Central has a solid core to build around, including a pair of state qualifiers in Bauer and Graf, a medal winner two seasons ago. If the newcomers down low and up top can round into form, expect this group to be very dangerous by season's end.

North Hunterdon Lions

Coach: Chris Hrunka (first season).

2016-17 record: 17-6, 3-3 Skyland Conference Raritan Division (T-fourth).

Returning starters (8): Jr. Connor Robinson (27-11, D2, R6) 106-113; So. Evan Klimas (17-14) 120-126; Sr. Andrew Gapas (38-7, D1, R4, S8) 138-145; Jr. Michael Wilson (15-18, D2) 138-145; Sr. Tucker Kirchberger (22-10, D1) 145-152; Sr. William Hughes (21-12, D1) 152-160; Sr. Noah Quental (12-10) 182-195; Sr. Yousef Abbas (16-13, D2, R6) 195-220.

Key losses: Cole Marra (33-7, D1, R3) 152; Nick Luberto (20-14, D1) 160; Charlie Tordik (32-4, D1, R4) 285.

Key returnees: Jr. Luke Hanlon 120-126; So. Kyle Anderson (3-3) 132; So. Nate Fossett (2-7) 170; Sr. John Spies 170-182; Jr. Lorenzo Becerelli (0-4) 220; Jr. Francis Vitelli (1-2) 285.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Connor Quinn 106; Fr. Frank Diesso 106; Fr. Billy Cole 126; Fr. Connor McGeary 132; Fr. James Holder 152; Jr. Jaleel Friedman 285.

Outlook: Lions have a new head coach in Hrunka, a former district and region champion for Warren Hills and assistant under Tim Flynn, who guided the program to a mark of 118-48 the previous eight seasons and a North 2, Group 5 sectional title in 2015. North is on the upswing with a thriving middle school program and enough returning talent to make a splash this season, despite the loss of two state qualifiers. Gapas is among the area's best, but the key will be bringing some of the inexperienced upper weights along in order to round out the lineup. As always, the North 2, Group 4 section runs through Phillipsburg.

North Warren Patriots

Coach: Scott Stoll (21-38, fourth season).

2016-17 record: 6-13, 2-1 NJAC Colonial Division (second).

Returning starters (7): So. Justin Gerkhardt (10-12, D4) 120; So. Brandon Casey (10-15) 138; So. Rob Fletcher (9-15) 145; Jr. Kevin Shaffer (16-12) 152; Jr. Ryan Walsh (12-13) 160; Jr. Joseph Voitek (8-12) 170; Sr. Joey Sprague (16-15, D3) 285.

Key losses: So. Ben Lilly (17-6) 106; Shannon Grogan (24-8, D4) 138.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Alex Davila 113; Fr. Luke Scarmack 113; Fr. Devon Collett 126; Fr. Austin Collett 145; Fr. Luke Van Horn 182.

Outlook: Patriots have been battling inexperience and low numbers in previous years, but that doesn't seem to be the case this season with seven returning starters, including Region 1 qualifier Sprague, who will help lead the team up top where it's a little thin. The loss of Lilly, who opted not to compete this season, hurts a bit so this group will be counting on some of the younger wrestlers to take a step forward as the season goes on in order to improve on last season's win total. Former Kittatinny wrestler and High Point assistant Kellen Bradley is a huge addition to the coaching staff.

Phillipsburg Stateliners

Coach: Dave Post (112-18, eighth season).

2016-17 record: 16-1, 6-0 Skyland Conference Raritan Division, North 2, Group 4 and Group 4 champions.

Returning starters (9): Sr. Cullen Day (33-9, D1, R2) 113; Jr. Travis Jones (27-12, D1, R4) 120; Jr. Kyle Tino (15-17, D2) 132-138; Jr. Cody Harrison (26-8, D1, R3, S8) 138-145; Sr. Josh Ramos (7-8, D3) 145-152; Jr. Jayson Zinsmeister (14-14, D3) 145-152; Sr. Brian Meyer (39-8, D1, R1, S3) 152-160; Sr. Shamyr Brodders (6-15) 182; Jr. Austin Roth (5-16) 195.

Phillipsburg seeks its fifth straight Group 4 title in 2018.
Key losses: Tyris Manley (14-10, D2) 120; Dan Fisher (14-13, D4) 170; Drew Horun (28-4, missed postseason) 195; Robert Melise (38-4, D1, R1, S5) 220.

Key returnees: Jr. Brenden Fox (4-5) 126; Sr. Lance Wissing (3-5) 170; So. Cody Cruts (0-7) 220.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Logan Maczko 106; Fr. Jason Tino 113-120; Fr. Tyler Marason 126-132; Fr. Sean Ricker 126-132; Fr. Gage Horvath 195; Sr. Patrick Sharpe 285.

Outlook: Stateliners are coming off another banner season which culminated with the program's fourth consecutive Group 4 championship. With nine returning starters, including two state medal winners, they enter this season as heavy favorites to make it five in a row for the first time since winning six straight from 1999-2000 (the first two in Group 3). Post will have plenty of flexibility to maneuver his lineup, with Wissing a key in jumping up from 138 to 170. The town is also gearing up for a Return to The Pit on Friday, Dec. 22, when the 'Liners will face longtime rival Delaware Valley for the season's lone match in the historic venue. There are some familiar P'burg names on the roster, including Maczko, a blue-chip freshman, whose father, John (district runner-up in 1989), and uncle, Pat (fifth in the state at 135 pounds in 1990), donned the Garnet and Grey.

Voorhees Vikings

Coach: Eric Hall (136-47, eighth season).

2016-17 record: 19-7, 0-6 Skyland Conference Raritan Division (seventh).

Returning starters (7): Sr. Colby Koshinski (24-15, D1, R6) 113; Jr. Aidan Taylor (25-16, D1, R4) 120; Jr. Hunter Rinehart (29-10, D2) 126; Jr. Matt Brandner (8-20) 145; Sr. Scott Fernandes (37-9, D2, R4) 182; Jr. Lewis Fernandes (35-11, D2, R2) 220; Jr. Sam Huff (20-14, D1) 285.

Key losses: Colton Riley (19-16, D4) 132; Liam Cutri-French (26-11, D3) 138; Michael Fernandes (41-3, D1, R2) 160.

Key returnees: So. Joe Swiston (2-6) 132; So. Garrett Loescher 138; Sr. Brad Kalinchak (1-2) 170.

Promising newcomers: So. Josh Rich 106; So. Joseph DiStephano 195.

Outlook: Vikings, who are sitting on 586 wins as a program, are coming off their eighth straight winning season (seven under Hall) and look to challenge for the school's third title in six seasons in what looks like a pretty wide-open North 2, Group 3 section. There are some question marks in the lineup, particularly at 145 and 152, but this team will rely on a strong group of upper weights with state qualifiers Scott and Lewis Fernandes, along with Huff, a returning district champion. If the middle of the lineup develops, this could be a team to reckon with by season's end.

Warren Hills Blue Streaks

Coach: Jarrett Hosbach (158-122, 13th season).

2016-17 record: 16-9, 1-5 Skyland Conference Raritan Division (sixth).

Returning starters (9): So. Greg Slivka (9-21) 113; Sr. Kyle Wulff (28-12, D2, R6) 126-132; Jr. Chris Ostir (14-11, D3) 132-138; So. Logan Nauta (14-13) 138-145; Sr. Pedro Cruz (5-14) 138-145; Sr. Cameron Nauta (13-10, D3) 145-152; So. Nick Hildebrant (5-11, D4) 160-170; Sr. Jarod Ostir (30-11, D1, R2) 182-195; Jr. Nick Galka (28-12, D1, R5) 182-195.

Key losses: Matt Valli (35-8, D1, R3) 132; Zach Nauta (28-9, D1, R5) 138; Rashon Wade Taylor (23-17, D1, R4) 152; Brody Oberly (21-12, D1, R5) 220; Taylan Zafis (28-13, D2, R5) 285.

Key returnees: Sr. Codey O'Rourke (4-5) 120-126; So. Geir Nemeth 145-152.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Walker Heller 106; Jr. Duro Ajayi 285.

Outlook: Blue Streaks return nine starters, but they did lose five key wrestlers to graduation. Filling those spots will be the key to success. The strength of this lineup is through the middle, while Jarod Ostir (elbow and knee surgeries the last two offseasons) and Galka will be counted on in the upper weights. Wulff and Galka were knocking on the door to earn their first trips to Atlantic City so they should have some extra motivation. If guys can get to their ideal weights and score enough bonus points to cover some of the inexperienced spots, it may have a chance to make a postseason run, though matches against some of the better teams on the schedule will be difficult.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Wrestling: Sussex County preview capsules

High Point Wildcats

Coach: John Gardner (322-99-2, 20th season).

2016-17 record: 16-6, 4-0 NJAC Freedom Division (first), North 1, Group 2 sectional champion.

Returning starters (9): Jr. Brandon LaRue (33-5, D1, R2) 113-120; Jr. Devin Flannery (28-7, D3, R2) 113-120; Sr. Maverick Liebl (22-10, D3, R5) 126; So. Billy Talmadge (22-12, D1, R5) 132; Sr. Shane Kobis (24-12, D2, R2) 138; Sr. Trey Osborn (19-11, D3) 152-160; Jr. Grayson Sabo (8-13, D4) 182; Sr. Hunter Flores (13-6) 195; Sr. Thomas Hubmaster (16-9) 285.

Key losses: Aric Wingle (16-7, D3) 152; Cliff Rutter (13-17, D2-2015) 220.

Key returnees: So. Devon Liebl (7-1) 106; Jr. Nick Auer (2-2) 132; Sr. RJ Brevot (4-10) 138-145; Sr. Sawyer Fenlon (4-6, D2-2015) 145-152; Sr. Robbie Turro (18-12, D3-2016, injured in 2017) 170; Jr. Storm Goralczyk 195; Jr. Andrew Lewis (4-7) 220.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Nick Douma 113; Fr. Josh Gervey 113; Fr. Alex Buchwald 138; Jr. Ben Intili 132; Jr. Oviane Marsh 138; Jr. Evan Poust 138; Jr. Jacob Carter 145; So. PJ Soldano 160; Jr. Luke Ottens 160; Jr. Shawn Mathews 170; Jr. Jonathan Morris 170; Fr. Chris Hendershot 285.
High Point won its 25th sectional title in '17. (HP Wrestling)

Outlook: The 'Cats -- four wins shy of 700 as a program -- feature nine returning starters and plenty of balance in the lineup. After back-to-back tough losses in the sectional tournament, this group broke through last season with a title and a return trip to Toms River. The strength of this season's squad is the lower weights -- with five returning region placers and three state qualifiers (LaRue, Flannery and Kobis). Another bonus is the return of Turro, who had a solid sophomore campaign, but missed last season with a knee injury. With few weak spots, and what should be improved upper weights, expect the 'Cats to again be in the championship hunt.

Hopatcong Chiefs

Coach: Eric Fajerman (121-281-3, 18th season).

2016-17 record: 3-24, 0-3 NJAC Colonial Division (fourth).

Returning starters (8): So. Freddie Gonzalez (8-17) 120; Sr. Ryan Rodriguez (4-19) 120; Sr. Anthony Mastroeni (38-5, D1, R5) 132; So. Zach Chaparro (3-16) 132; So. Sean Cranmer (9-20) 138; So. Alex Feinberg (2-28) 182; Jr. Liam McGuire (9-19) 195; So. John Sanchez (2-19) 285.

Key losses: Brandon Olmstead (32-12, D3, R6) 113; Bart Yarosz (26-7, D2) 152; Jake Wilkerson (27-10, D1, R4) 170.

Key returnees: So. Jack Certo (1-12) 220.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Frank Mastroeni 113; Fr. Andrew Costa 126; Jr. Zach Bonilla 145; Sr. Kurtis Mathison 160;

Outlook: Chiefs, after going winless the previous season, enjoyed some dual-meet success last season. Hampered by low numbers, the program has struggled with just 14 wins in the past six campaigns, but there is some flexibility to cover most of the weight classes. Fajerman, who is the program's longest tenured coach, always gets the most out of his kids, while Anthony Mastroeni (105-21), who needs 38 wins to become the school's all-time leader, will be a contender for a state medal.

Kittatinny Cougars

Coach: John Gill (552-169-5, 38th season).

2016-17 record: 19-5, 3-0 NJAC Colonial Division (first), North 1, Group 1 sectional champion and Group 1 runner-up.

Returning starters (10): Jr. Mike Nelson (13-15) 120; Jr. Nile Mattar (9-19, D4) 120; Jr. Derek Molfetto (19-17, D2) 126; Sr. Mike Callahan (21-16, D4) 138; Sr. Perry Maio (19-17, D3) 145-152; Sr. Calvin Brook (25-13, D2) 145-152; Sr. Shane Smith (28-10, D3) 160; Sr. Josh Hiler (29-10, D2) 170; Jr. Zach Mafaro (35-8, D1, R3) 182-195; So. Jacob Mafaro (18-10) 220.

Key losses: Mark DiGeronimo (25-7, D2) 120; Kasey Hotz (25-12, D1, R2) 152; Josh Klimek (35-8, D2, R3) 182.
Kittatinny celebrates winning the North 1, Group 1 title in 2017.

Key returnees: Jr. Zach DiGeronimo (0-7) 120; Jr. Brian Hanna 126; Sr. Dan Doherty (2-7) 138; Sr. Billy Connors 160; Jr. Blake Dippel 170-182.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Patrick Franco 106; Fr. Christian Shotwell 132; Fr. Jackson Crawn 182-195; Jr. Mike Lacken 285.

Outlook: Cougars, despite 10 returning starters, are a bit behind to start the season with no 113-pounder and the loss of senior upperweight Chris Litterio (11-12), who has opted to not wrestle. However, there is plenty of talent in the lineup, including a strong contingent up top with Smith, Hiler and the Mafaro brothers. Maio and Brook will be solid contributors in the middle, so the lower weights will have to help out if this group expects to challenge for another sectional title -- this time in North 1, Group 2. Moving up to Group 2 also wiped out the county's most anticipated dual meet with High Point in early February since they agreed not to chance meeting twice in a week's time. Gill said he's reaching out to High Point to try and reschedule for a meeting earlier this season.

Lenape Valley Patriots

Coach: Gary Mikolay (1st season).

2016-17 record: 11-15, 1-3 NJAC Freedom Division (fourth).

Returning starters (7): So. Zach Miller (12-25, D3) 106; Jr. Dominic Falleni (23-12, D3) 120-126; So. Eric Falleni (26-12, D4) 126-132; Jr. James Haws (4-13, D3-2016) 132-138; Sr. Jake Hickey (11-14) 145; Sr. Jordan Costanza (7-25) 160-170; So. Ryan Hall (14-20) 220.

Key losses: Jacob Falleni (35-8, D1, R2) 120; Ray Smaha (31-7, D2, R3) 138; Nick Palumbo (39-8, D1, R1, S1) 145; Anthony Smaha (21-13, D3, R5) 152.

Key returnees: Jr. Jake Wronko (5-4) 138; Jr. Kalvin Green (2-8) 160-170.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Andres Villanueva-Cruz 106-113; Fr. Tristen Martinelli 106-113; Jr. Marcus Bitetto (15-10, D4-2016, transfer from Sparta) 113; So. Zach Porraro 113; Fr. Gabe Hernandez 152; Sr. Matt Cestone 152; So. Kyle Luba 160; So. Anthony Lopez 160-170; Jr. Alejandro Sanchez 182-195; So. Rob Erlemann 285; Sr. Gabe Jimenez 285.

Outlook: Patriots have a new coach in Mikolay, a three-time district champion, a region champ (OW in 1997) and a fourth-place finisher in the state ('98) for Lenape Valley under Bob Poggi. Mikolay was an assistant under Doug Vetter, who guided the program to a 211-168-1 mark the previous 16 seasons. Lots of new faces this season and some heavy graduation losses, including Palumbo, who made school history as its first state champion last season. Despite a good core group, and a nice pickup in Bitetto, this is shaping up to be a rebuilding year. Mikolay said Hickey has done a lot of work in the offseason and he will be a wrestler to watch this season.

Newton Braves

Coach: Eric Bollette (208-174-1, 17th season).

2016-17 record: 11-10, 3-1 NJAC Freedom Division (second).

Returning starters (9): Jr. Matt Rosa (7-8) 126; So. Julian Sibblies (10-17) 132; Jr. Michael Freda (18-13, D4) 138; Jr. Wyatt McCarthy (36-6, D1, R3) 152; Sr. Jonathon Borgognoni (31-6, D1, R5) 160; Jr. Nick Brigante (12-17) 170; Sr. Joey DeLuca (26-12, D2, R6) 182; Sr. Devin Mager (12-10, D2) 195-220; Jr. Luke Fischer (22-11, D2) 195-220.

Key losses: Jake DeLuca (17-12, D3) 138; Nick Giordano (28-11, D2, R5) 152.

Key returnees: So. Mason Leen 106; So. Ryan Sosa 132; So. Aidan Bartsch (6-15) 138; So. Ryan Rittie 145; Jr. Matt Somers (1-6) 220; Jr. Jimmy Harding (6-9) 220-285.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Nathan Fitt 106; Fr. Aden Sathuthiti 106; Fr. Danny Cleary 113; Fr. Nick Costa 113; Fr. Nathan Paternoster 113; Fr. JoJo Lotruglio 120; Fr. Robert Ford 120; So. Nick Chavarria 126; So. Austin Southard 126; Fr. Jordan Sliker 132; Fr. Robert Zaremski 132; Fr. Chris McConnell 138; So. Trevor Aughenbaugh 145; Fr. Jabari Oxley 145; Fr. Ryan Wallis 145; Jr. Joe Gubernard 160; Fr. Konstantinos Protogeropoulos 160; So. Kyheem Butler 195; So. Janchris Munoz 195; So. Isaiah Wilkins 220; Fr. Jake Tonking 220.

Outlook: Braves have endured some up-and-down seasons since the program won its second and last sectional title in 2010. But this could be a banner campaign with nine returning starters -- led by McCarthy and Borgognoni -- and some talented freshmen who should make an immediate impact. Another plus is a solid group of upper weights, which is key to success nowadays. If the younger wrestlers come along, this could be a pretty balanced lineup. The North 2, Group 2 section is deep, but this squad, if healthy, may challenge High Point and Kittatinny for championships.

Pope John Lions

Coach: Mark Piotrowsky (52-25, fifth season).

2016-17 record: 16-2, 4-0 NJAC American Division (first).

Returning starters (11): So. Eddie Ventresca (36-7, D1, R1, S6) 113-120; Sr. Jake Rotunda (33-5, D1, R1) 126-132; Jr. Joe Aragona (34-3, D3, R1, S2) 132-138; So. Mathew Garcia (18-7, D3) 132; Jr. Robert Garcia (35-8, D2, R1, S4) 145; Jr. Anthony Rispoli (10-10, D4) 160; Sr. James Swentzel (12-13, D4) 160-170; Sr. Reece Muldoon (24-9, D1, R1) 182-195; Jr. Chris Jhong (5-18) 182-195; Sr. Jake Brown (24-4, D1, R2) 195-220; Jr. Louis Montana (15-11) 285.

Key losses: Ryan Luchs (23-14, D3, R4) 138.

Key returnees: Sr. Patrick Hanley 132-138; Sr. Thomas Germano 138; Sr. Joseph Arbolino (6-6) 152; Jr. Chase Nugnes (0-5) 160; Sr. Jack Morelli (2-1) 285.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Shane Percelay 106; Fr. Michel Ritacco 106-113; Fr. Davis Jagiello 113-120; So. Kaya Sement 120-126; So. Jesse Germano 132-138; So. Chris Fontana 138-145; So. Cosmo Esposito 138-145; Fr. Mac Esposito 138; Sr. Quinn Muldoon 152; So. Connor Fritsch 152; Jr. Justin Perez 160-170; So. Sebastian Flamenco 285; Jr. Nick DeSenzo 285; Sr. Ryan Card 285.

Outlook: Lions, who feature three state placewinners, including runner-up Aragona, are primed for another run at conference, sectional and state championships, moving out of the rugged Non-Public North A to Non-Public North B, where it has won all of its seven sectional titles, the last in 1994. Rotunda (90), Brown (76), Aragona (74) and Garcia (67) are on target to eclipse the 100-win mark for their careers this season. With few holes, this team should be among the state's best.

Sparta Spartans

Coach: Frank Battaglia (89-54, seventh season).

2016-17 record: 19-9, 3-1 NJAC American Division (second), North 1, Group 3 sectional champion.

Returning starters (7): So. Cooper Stewart (14-3) 106; Jr. Chris Hwang (17-5, D1, R6) 126; Jr. Rocco Gignatelli (12-19) 126-132; So. Garrett Stewart (30-8, D1, R5) 138; So. Cassius Battaglia (3-14) 145; Jr. Carter Sheridan (18-15, D4) 145; Sr. Robbie Gennat (32-10, D2, R2) 195-220.

Key losses: Sean McHugh (19-15, D4) 152; Sean Finnegan (21-17, D3) 160; Paddy Finnegan (21-14, D3) 170; William Loewen (19-5, D1-2016) 220; Zach Herbert (31-6, D2, R3) 285.

Key returnees: Sr. Kevin Berlin (8-11) 160-170; Sr. Mason Minetti (1-2) 170-182.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Spencer Stewart 113; So. Devin Belasco 120; So. David Rubin 120; Fr. Troy Schmitzer 132; Jr. Sal Ardizzone 145; So. James Bates 152; Sr. Jack Dau 152; Jr. Ty Costlow 160; Sr. Russell Eberding 182; So. TJ Hurley 220.

Outlook: Spartans are coming off one of the program's most successful seasons, capturing the North 1, Group 3 title for the school's third sectional championship and first in 17 years. Though there were some heavy graduation losses, this team has the potential for another winning campaign. The lower to middle part of the lineup should be fine, but there's plenty of inexperience among the upper weights -- besides Gennat (86 career wins) -- which have been a strength in recent seasons. If the big guys can develop, there's no reason why this group can't make another run in the postseason.

Vernon Vikings

Coach: Todd Piontkowski (24-51, first season of second stint).

2016-17 record: 0-28, 0-4 NJAC Freedom Division (fifth).

Returning starters (4): Jr. Logan Folb (1-26) 126; So. Jon Alvarez (7-23) 170; Sr. Walt Talt (0-16) 170; Sr. Kyle Folb (3-11) 220.

Key losses: Roman Moss (19-11, D4) 132; Mike Alvarez (14-12) 220.

Promising newcomers: So. Jacob Ezzo 106; Sr. Sergio Germinario 113; Fr. Windber Rudi 113; Fr. Sage DiGiuseppe 132; Fr. Cooper Pleva 138; Sr. Justin Kipilla 145; Jr. Hunter Walker 152; Fr. Dylan Harris 160; Jr. Hunter Benazet 195; Jr. Jeremy Kayhart 220; Sr. Tyler Janus 285.

Outlook: Vikings have been plagued by low numbers in recent seasons and have a new coach for the third time in three seasons as Piontkowski, a former Vernon wrestler who guided the program for three seasons in 2009-11, is back for his second stint. The good news is that most of the weights should be covered to give this team a chance to win some dual meets. But there is a lot of inexperience and no returning wrestlers with a winning record.

Wallkill Valley Rangers

Coach: Jeff Churchill (13-49, third season; 159-89-3 in 15 seasons from 1989-2003 at Morris Knolls).

2016-17 record: 6-20, 1-2 NJAC Colonial Division (third).

Returning starters (9): So. Samantha Larsen (17-5) 113; So. Zac Creeden (26-5, D2) 120; So. Erik Ross (6-13) 126-132; So. Tyler Sanchez (9-11) 126-132; Jr. Shane Simon (9-22) 152-160; Sr. Zaine Sugar (4-14) 145-152; Sr. Brodie McDonald (17-17) 182; Jr. Steve Line (6-18) 195; Jr. Zach Dora (15-19, D4) 285.

Key losses: Trevor Kish (23-13, D3) 152; Connor Andrews (22-14, D4) 220.

Promising newcomers: So. Aaron Tice 113; Fr. Matt Milliken 120; Fr. Gian Accardi 132; Fr. Georgio Moskonas 132; Fr. Kyle McGinnis 138; So. Devin Watson 145; Fr. Chris Perez 145; So. Derrick Rotger 170; Jr. Cameron Lewis 220.

Outlook: Rangers, who also have been battling low numbers in recent years, have gone 29-104 over the previous six seasons. But the program seems to be on the upswing with five freshmen joining the ranks and quite a bit of experience returning to the lineup. Creeden is coming off a strong rookie season, while Dora was a win away from regions as a sophomore. It's still a work in progress, but there's no reason why this group can't improve on last season's win total.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Field hockey: Webb resigns as Voorhees coach

It will be hard to imagine the Voorhees field hockey program without Taylor Webb, who has resigned as head coach after seven seasons in charge of her alma mater.

Webb, a former midfielder and considered one of the school's greatest players, recently informed the team of her decision.

"I need to take a step back and focus on my family," said Webb, whose teams went 112-31-4 overall, including a 14-6 campaign in 2017, while capturing four Skyland Conference division titles as well as a Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament title (2012) and a sectional championship (2016).

"It was an absolutely draining season. It was an emotional decision [to resign]."

Webb, 33, surprisingly opted to step down despite the bulk of what's expected to be a very strong team returning in '18. She resides in Clinton with her husband Chris Vidak, an outstanding wrestler and two-time state placewinner (runner-up in '93) at North Hunterdon in the early 1990s, along with their two daughters, Reagan (4) and Rhemy (2).

Voorhees athletic director Brian Baumann, who has been on the job for two years, admitted that finding Webb's successor won't be an easy task.

Voorhees celebrates after winning the HWS title in 2012.
"You're not going to replace her knowledge and love for the game ... it's a huge loss," Baumann said. "I'm disappointed because she does a great job for our program. I respect her decision, but I've got some work to do."

Voorhees, which has had just three losing seasons in its 43-year history and none since 2004, has long been one of the state's most successful and respected programs. Webb played under former coach Ann Bonavita, who built the program into a powerhouse during her 11 seasons from 1992-2002. Bonavita's final season as head coach -- she also served as Webb's assistant for a few seasons -- culminated with winning the North 2, Group 2 sectional title before dropping a tough 2-1 decision in overtime to eventual Group 2 champ West Essex in the state semifinals. Webb, who still owns the Vikes' all-time assists record (58), went on to play at the University of Iowa before transferring back home to finish her career at Rider University.

Webb became Voorhees' seventh head coach in 2011, succeeding Beth Stocker, who continued the program's winning tradition in her eight seasons from 2003-10. Under Stocker, the Vikes went 130-29-9 and captured the North 2, Group 3 title in 2006, falling 1-0 to Moorestown in the Group 3 title game -- the Hunterdon County school's second and last appearance in a state final.

Voorhees went nine seasons after that postseason loss without winning a sectional title until a 1-0 win in overtime against Hackettstown secured the North 2, Group 2 championship in what would be Webb's second-to-last season.

A major bone of contention for Webb during her coaching career has been having to play home games on grass in a sport meant to be played on artificial turf. It's clearly held back the program on the state level during this age where the majority if not all of the top programs play on turf. The last school to win a state championship playing its regular-season home games on grass was Freehold Borough in 2011.

"If you're a state-caliber team, you have to play on turf," said Webb, who guided the Vikes to three sectional finals and ranks third on the program's career wins list behind Bonavita and Stocker. "We would [finish with more penalty corners] and lose. You have to be able to get consistent plays on corners. If you want to win a state championship, you can't play on grass. It was a big setback. It hindered our team."

Voorhees, which made nine sectional final and five state semifinals appearances in 11 seasons under Bonavita, has been to just eight sectional finals in the 15 seasons since her retirement. But you also have to consider the game has changed significantly since moving away from grass fields.

Another example is nemesis Warren Hills, which has made seven state finals appearances while winning back-to-back Group 3 titles in 2014 and '15 since moving from grass to turf in 2009. Voorhees is 9-11-1 vs. the Blue Streaks during that span (6-10 under Webb).

Webb, who has lobbied to get turf for several years, said she approached Baumann before this past season with a proposal to practice and play games during evening hours on North Hunterdon's turf field. However, Webb said she was flatly rejected.

"They wouldn't even entertain it," Webb said. "The overall lack of understanding for requesting it was frustrating. It was taken as a lack of pride, which is the complete opposite to anyone who knows me. I'm trying to keep these kids at the top. The biggest criticism was that all I care about is winning. My job is to open doors through the sport of hockey. I teach life lessons. Winning state championships opens doors. Playing on turf all year is creating well-rounded student-athletes."

Baumann said North Hunterdon has graciously shared its facility with sister school Voorhees, but it's the Lions' primary field. When Voorhees' football field was out of service in 2008, the Vikes played all of their home games at North's Singley Field.

"We've used it for state games and have practiced on it. It's unfortunate we don't have it," Baumann said of turf. "I'm going to try to get it eventually, but it's going to be what the community wants. We're going to need some outside help."

Webb said the workers who take care of Voorhees' grass field -- which still has divots, bare spots and other issues under the best circumstances -- did the best they could do with limited resources.

"They are dedicated people," she said. "They know the program we're trying to maintain and elevate."

Baumann said the search for a new coach begins immediately, but the process is a bit complicated by the unknown of any potential teaching positions to offer prospective candidates. Those openings tend to come later in the school year. Webb was not employed as a teacher.

"It's a great program and we have tremendous parent and booster support," Baumann said. "We have a lot of young talent and a great group of girls."

Webb, who also is stepping away from her club obligations in the offseason, is not ruling out a return to coaching in the future should the right opportunity arise.

"The passion isn't gone," she said.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Wrestling: Skyland amends new division alignment

The recently approved Skyland Conference realignment for wrestling in 2018-19 and 2019-20, which was first reported by Open Mike, removed the designated crossover matches from the original plan as expected on Wednesday.

The removal of mandatory crossovers (Delaware vs. Raritan and Valley vs. Mountain), which were to count in the division standings and force programs into nine conference dual meets, was the only change to next year's formats. The breakup of the now loaded Raritan Division will remain. The construction of the new divisions was done essentially on enrollment size, not strength of program as in previous wrestling alignments.

"There were a lot of complaints," Somerville AD and former Bound Brook coach Kyle Franey said during a phone interview on Friday. "We made a real mistake with adding the crossovers.

"Wrestling is the one sport where school size doesn't matter. But we couldn't do one sport differently. We had to reset everything by size and the private schools were placed based on strength of program from the last three years. Cross country and wrestling had issues. The [new] divisions won't change."

Delaware Valley, which won Group 2 in '17, was third in the Raritan Division.
The crossovers were a bone of contention on two major points.

One, they create a logjam in schedules, increasing the number of conference matches from six to nine in the case of the current Raritan Division, which houses Bound Brook, Delaware Valley, Hunterdon Central, North Hunterdon, Phillipsburg, Voorhees and Warren Hills.

Under the new five-team divisions, power points come into play. Unlike other sports, a school's wrestling power points are factored with its opponents' numbers (best 10 matches). Phillipsburg coach Dave Post was the most critical among area coaches of the new alignment. Assistant coach Scott Silvis calculated what would have been the Stateliners' final power points last season under the new format. What they discovered were drastically lower numbers -- going from an average of 35.37 power points in the current division to 28.26 in the new format.

Skyland power points for last season and under the new format. (Scott Silvis)
"We would have been the eighth seed in North 1, Group 4 and the fourth seed in North 2, Group 4," said Post, whose team won the latter section as the No. 1 seed. "We would go from No. 1 in power points for the state in Group 4 to No. 20 in the state."

Franey also cited the added conference dates. As it stands, there are only seven Wednesday evenings available to accommodate those matches. And really it's four or five when you eliminate those Wednesdays during holiday weeks.

See it was easy for most ADs to vote this way because it makes scheduling a whole lot easier when you only have to add one independent date to get to 10. When you try to do each sport by strength of program, a lot more work is involved in the scheduling process.

"We're not going to force people to schedule sport-killing tris and quads," Franey said. "With nine conference matches there aren't enough Wednesdays."

Post was fine with whatever proposal emerged as long as he wasn't locked into nine conference dates. He admits, it's easy to want to hold onto the current division setup when his teams have won the past three titles. But one of his concerns was not being able to keep traditional matches with Delaware Valley and Warren Hills if those schools were going to be down in a given season and hurt his team's power points total. He is confident that most of the area schools will remain on future schedules.

"I thought they made the right move when they aligned the last time," said Post, whose team figures to challenge for a fifth straight Group 4 title this season. "I understand they want to go four divisions and crown another champion. But don't handcuff my schedule and make it so we can't wrestle teams with communities that come out for matches and enjoy wrestling like us."

Del Val coach Andy Fitz agreed with Post on eliminating the crossovers and keeping tradition.

"I'm OK with splitting up [the divisions], but I don't like the crossovers," said Fitz, whose team has made back-to-back appearances in the Group 2 final (winning the title last season) but has finished third, tied for third (2015-16) and fifth (2014-15) in the current Raritan Division.

"There's never going to be a perfect setup. But there are too many quads, and marquee matchups are what fans want to see. We want to keep traditional rivalries as single duals."

Skyland Conference wrestling for 2018-19 and 2019-20

Delaware

Hunterdon Central
Bridgewater-Raritan
Bound Brook
Franklin
Watchung Hills

Raritan

North Hunterdon
Phillipsburg
Hillsborough
Montgomery
Ridge

Valley

Delaware Valley
Voorhees
Warren Hills
Bernards
Somerville

Mountain

Belvidere
Manville
North Plainfield
Pingry
Rutgers Prep

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Wrestling: Skyland opts to break up super division

All good things must end. This seems even more applicable to the high school wresting scene in New Jersey.

The Raritan Division, comprised of the top seven programs in the Skyland Conference and some of the best in the state, is finished after the 2017-18 season. The divisional realignments -- recently approved by conference officials for all sports the next two school years -- scatter these seven programs across three divisions.

Hunterdon Central and Bound Brook move to the Delaware Division, while North Hunterdon and Phillipsburg remain in the Raritan. Delaware Valley, Voorhees and Warren Hills drop down to the Valley Division. The Mountain Division stays in tact from previous seasons. There will be mandatory crossover matches (Delaware vs. Raritan or Valley vs. Mountain) that will count in the standings, locking teams into a minimum of nine conference matches.

P'burg won a Group 4 title and 21st division crown in 2017.
"To be honest, I thought the way we did it the last few years actually made sense," said Phillipsburg coach Dave Post, whose team won the Raritan title last season. In fact, the Stateliners are 146-3 overall in division matches and have won 21 titles (missing only once in 2009-10 when Hunterdon Central won the old Delaware West) since joining the Skyland Conference for the 1995-96 school year.

This is a major shakeup for wrestling, unlike field hockey, for example, where just two teams (Ridge and Watchung Hills) swap places in the Delaware and Raritan. The new two-year alignments were based largely on enrollment size, sans the non-public schools that were placed in divisions. Bound Brook shifts to the large school Delaware based on strength of program, another criteria used if the committee felt a school was grossly misplaced, though Hillsborough, which is larger than Watchung Hills, is somehow in the Raritan. The base alignment for the Skyland Conference puts Group 4 schools in the Delaware and Raritan, Groups 2 and 3 in the Valley and Group 1 in the Mountain -- all spread out over four divisions when it's 19 or more teams.

The big question is: Why mess up a good thing for a sport that needs all the positives it can get?

While it's true that most of these teams will still face each other in dual meets and in the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament -- which will be held for the first time at the palatial Phillipsburg High School gym on Jan. 13 -- but winning the Raritan Division as currently constructed is quite a big deal in this age of watered down conferences with trophies awarded to multiple division winners. And what about some of the struggling programs? At least with one strong division, the others can compete on a more level playing field.

There are other issues such as maintaining longstanding traditional rivalries as single dual meets and power point totals. Remember when Voorhees and Warren Hills once wrestled in a quad, one where in some years was held in South Jersey and no one up here could see it without committing to a two-hour-plus drive? The crossovers help to keep rivalry matches, but there's no guarantee they stay as single duals in this era of endless tri-meets and quads.

"I'm OK with splitting up [the divisions], but I don't like the crossovers," said Delaware Valley coach Andy Fitz, whose team has made back-to-back appearances in the Group 2 final (winning the title last season) but has finished third, tied for third (2015-16) and fifth (2014-15) in the current Raritan Division.

"There's never going to be a perfect setup. But there are too many quads, and marquee matchups are what fans want to see. We want to keep traditional rivalries as single duals."

Post, who is not a fan of this new setup, is very concerned about power point numbers, which he believes could be reduced enough to prevent the 'Liners from hosting in the sectional rounds.

"In order to maintain historical rivalries, Warren Hills and Delaware Valley must become independents," he said. "We will be forced to eliminate traditional state public school powers from our schedule."

Seems the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference will finally get this right for wrestling over the next two years as High Point and Kittatinny will likely be in the same division, which will look more like the old Sussex County Interscholastic League, starting in 2018-19. According to Wallkill Valley AD Daryl Jones, NJAC officials will meet in February to iron out the final details. Strength of program was factored in the construction of divisions. Newton, Jefferson and Lenape Valley will likely join High Point (four wins shy of 700 overall) and Kittatinny, while Hackettstown, Wallkill Valley, North Warren, Hopatcong and Vernon will likely form another division. Sparta and Pope John will be housed in a division that includes the bigger Morris County schools.

Skyland Conference wrestling for 2018-19 and 2019-20

Delaware

Hunterdon Central
Bridgewater-Raritan
Bound Brook
Franklin
Watchung Hills

Raritan

North Hunterdon
Phillipsburg
Hillsborough
Montgomery
Ridge

Valley

Delaware Valley
Voorhees
Warren Hills
Bernards
Somerville

Mountain

Belvidere
Manville
North Plainfield
Pingry
Rutgers Prep

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Wrestling: Section alignment KO's 'Cats vs. Cougars

High Point vs. Kittatinny. It's one of the best high school wrestling rivalries in all of New Jersey.

But thanks to sectional realignment for the 2017-18 season, there will be no regular-season dual meet. And if things don't shake out in the postseason, there will be no dual matchup at all for the first time since the series began in 1976. And what a shame that would be.

Kittatinny celebrates its 21st sectional title. (Courtesy Kittatinny wrestling)
Kittatinny, which has won back-to-back North 1, Group 1 titles, jumps up to join High Point in North 1, Group 2 this season for the second time in four years. By mutual agreement, the teams decided in '15 and beyond to not wrestle during the regular season if both are in different divisions in the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference and housed in the same section.

High Point coach John Gardner confirmed the independent dual meet, which was scheduled for Friday, Feb. 2 in Wantage, has been cancelled. The sectional tournaments will get underway three days later on Monday, Feb. 5.

"It is what it is," Gardner said as his team prepares for the start of "official" practices on Monday. "Our dual meets are always a big deal. I hope it doesn't happen [that we don't wrestle] -- teams wrestle on that Saturday [after the sectionals]. I'm not sure if Kittatinny has something scheduled for that day or not."

As of now, Saturday, Feb. 10 is an open date for both High Point and Kittatinny.

Luckily in 2015, the teams met in the North 1, Group 2 quarterfinals -- a 32-31 win for the Wildcats that continued the series. That remains the only postseason matchup in series history, one in which High Point owns a 27-14-1 edge. Kittatinny has won the past two meetings and three of the last five -- including a 36-25 victory at home last season. Unlike in '15, when the sectional pairings had already been released before the regular-season dual was scrapped, it will be a roll of the dice to see if they will match up in '18.

It's understandable that teams would not want to potentially meet twice within a week's time, but why not schedule this rivalry in early to mid-January to avoid that scenario? That way, we aren't robbed of one of the season's most anticipated dual meets. We get so few good ones in this awful age of tri-meets and quads.

"Probably going forward, that's what we're going to have to do," Gardner said of scheduling this rivalry match earlier in the season. "It's silly to not have that dual meet, regardless of what kind of season you're having. We certainly want to get that match in."

In other big news, Pope John moves out of the rugged Non-Public North A section, which contains state powers Bergen Catholic and Delbarton. The Lions are now in North B, where they will be sectional and state title favorites this season.

Phillipsburg, which has won an area-best 36 sectional titles overall, will seek its fifth in a row in North 2, Group 4. The Stateliners, who have won four consecutive Group 4 titles, will be led by senior state placewinner Brian Meyer, a Lehigh recruit who needs eight wins to become the 24th wrestler in program history to record at least 100 in a career.

Hunterdon Central, which won the Central Jersey, Group 5 title last season, is now in the same section with Howell. The Rebels, who were housed in the South Jersey section, handed the Red Devils a 28-27 loss in a classic Group 5 final in 2017.

Delaware Valley celebrates its Group 2 title win.
Delaware Valley, last season's Group 2 champion, is seeking its 18th sectional title and fourth in a row in Central Jersey, Group 2. The Terriers, who own a 9-5 edge in the all-time series vs. Raritan, beat the Rockets for a third straight year in last season's sectional final en route to capturing the program's eighth Group 2 title and first since 1999.

Here's the breakdown for sections involving teams from the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex area:

North 1

Group 3

Local team: Sparta.

Rest of the field: Bergenfield, Demarest, Dwight Morrow, Garfield, Indian Hills, Montville, Paramus, Pascack Valley, Ramapo, River Dell, Teaneck, Tenafly, West Milford.

Group 2

Local teams: High Point, Kittatinny, Newton, Vernon.

Rest of the field: Glen Rock, Hawthorne, Jefferson, Lakeland, Mahwah, Pascack Hills, Pequannock, Ramsey, Waldwick-Midland Park, Westwood.

Group 1

Local teams: Hopatcong, North Warren, Wallkill Valley.

Rest of the field: Bogota-Weehawken, Boonton, Butler, Cedar Grove, Cresskill, Emerson-Park Ridge, Hasbrouck Heights, Kinnelon, Mountain Lakes, New Milford, Pompton Lakes, Saddle Brook.

North 2

Group 4

Local teams: North Hunterdon, Phillipsburg.

Rest of the field: Barringer, Colonia, Irvington, JFK-Iselin, Kearny, Linden, Middletown North, Millburn, Montgomery, Sayreville, Scotch Plains-Fanwood, Woodbridge.

Group 3

Local teams: Voorhees, Warren Hills.

Rest of the field: Chatham, Cliffside Park, Cranford, Governor Livingston, Leonia-Palisades Park, Lyndhurst-North Arlington, Morris Hills, Nutley, Orange, Parsippany Hills, Summit, West Essex.

Group 2

Local teams: Hackettstown, Lenape Valley.

Rest of the field: Caldwell, Dover, Dumont, Elmwood Park, Fort Lee, Hanover Park, Lodi, Madison, Manchester Regional, Parsippany, Ridgefield Park, Rutherford.

Group 1

Local teams: Belvidere.

Rest of the field: Becton, Bound Brook, Glen Ridge, Manville, Metuchen, Newark Collegiate, New Providence, Roselle Park, Secaucus, Shabazz, Verona, Weequahic, Whippany Park, Wood-Ridge.

Central Jersey

Group 5

Local teams: Hunterdon Central.

Rest of the field: East Brunswick, Edison, Freehold Township, Hillsborough, Howell, Manalapan, Marlboro, Monroe Township, New Brunswick, North Brunswick, Old Bridge, South Brunswick, Trenton Central.

Group 2

Local team: Delaware Valley.

Rest of the field: Bernards, Brearley, Carteret, Holmdel, Johnson, Manasquan, Matawan, Middlesex-Dunellen, Monmouth, North Plainfield, Raritan, Robbinsville, Rumson-Fair Haven.

Non-Public

North B

Local team: Pope John.

Rest of the field: Bishop Ahr, Christ the King, DePaul, Morris Catholic, Newark Academy, Pingry.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Field hockey: Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex standings

  (Final)
Skyland Conference
Delaware Division
Overall
Division
xz-Bridgewater-Raritan
(19-6)
(12-2)
Hunterdon Central
(15-7-1)
(9-4-1)
Pingry
(12-8-1)
(8-6)
Ridge
(9-12)
(5-9)
Hillsborough
(5-13)
(4-10)
Raritan Division
Overall
Division
xyz-Warren Hills
(24-3)
(15-0)
Voorhees
(14-6)
(12-3)
Phillipsburg
(10-11-1)
(6-8-1)
Montgomery
(8-12)
(6-9)
North Hunterdon
(2-17)
(1-14)
Watchung Hills
(3-17)
(1-14)
Valley Division
Overall
Division
xy-Bernards
(19-2-1)
(10-0)
Delaware Valley
(14-4-1)
(8-2)
Somerville
(10-10)
(5-5)
Franklin
(5-12-1)
(1-8-1)
Mountain Division
Overall
Division
x-Belvidere
(14-6)
(8-2)
South Hunterdon
(6-10)
(5-5)
Mount St. Mary
(4-12-1)
(1-8-1)
North Plainfield
(1-12-3)
(0-8-2)
Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference
Freedom Division
Overall
Division
x-Hackettstown
(15-5)
(5-1)
Vernon
(10-6-3)
(2-1-3)
High Point
(7-8-3)
(1-3-2)
Lenape Valley
(6-11-2)
(1-4-1)
American Division
Overall
Division
x-Mount Olive
(12-7)
(8-0)
Jefferson
(10-8-1)
(5-2-1)
Sparta
(5-13-2)
(3-3-2)
Pope John
(4-13-3)
(2-5-1)
Morris Hills
(0-19)
(0-8)
Colonial Division
Overall
Division
xz-Wallkill Valley
(21-3)
(6-0)
Newton
(9-8)
(4-2)
North Warren
(5-14)
(2-4)
Kittatinny
(2-18)
(0-6)
x-division champion
y-county champion
z-sectional champion