Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Wrestling: Hunterdon Central at Phillipsburg preview

What: Hunterdon Central Red Devils vs. Phillipsburg Stateliners.

Where: Phillipsburg High School, Lopatcong Township.

When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.

Conference: Skyland Raritan Division.

Records: Hunterdon Central 6-1, 1-1 division; Phillipsburg 3-1, 2-0.

Coaches: Jon Cantagallo-Rohm (41-13, third season, 0-2 vs. P'burg); Dave Post (99-18, seventh season, 7-2 vs. HC).

State rankings (New Jersey Writers Association): Hunterdon Central No. 7; Phillipsburg No. 5.

Series history: Phillipsburg has won four straight and owns a 38-7-1 edge dating to 1962, a series that includes seven postseason meetings, and posted a 42-16 victory in the last matchup on Jan. 27, 2016. Hunterdon Central had won four of seven until a pair of losses in 2014 -- 41-18 in the regular season and 55-9 in the North 2, Group 4 final. Red Devils' last wins came in 2013 -- 34-30 in a regular-season matchup at The Pit and 30-29 at home in the North 2, Group 4 final. The 'Liners are 19-3 all-time at Central and 18-3-1 in meetings at The Pit. Two matches were held at neutral sites -- P'burg's 25-23 victory in 1981 at Princeton's Jadwin Gym and Hunterdon Central's 39-11 win in the 2010 Group 4 semifinals at Toms River North.

Note: Hunterdon Central wrestlers listed first with season records in parentheses.

106 -- Fr. Anthony Romaniello (8-2) vs. Jr. Cullen Day (10-5).

113 -- So. Jack Bauer (8-1) vs. So. Travis Jones (8-5).

120 -- Jr. Hunter Graf (9-0) vs. Jr. Tyris Manley (4-3).

126 -- Sr. Peter Nace (8-1) vs. So. Cody Harrison (6-2).

132 -- So. Vincent Romaniello (9-1) or So. Pasquale Vizzoni (2-3) vs. So. Kyle Tino (4-6) or So. Colin Emery (0-4) or Jr. Josh Ramos (1-2).

138 -- Sr. Bryce Hall (8-3) vs. Jr. Lance Wissing (0-3) or Tino.

145 -- Sr. Mark Dellavalle (3-3) vs. Jr. Brian Meyer (12-5).

152 -- Jr. Kevin Ciresa (8-3) or Sr. Chris Taylor (0-7) vs. So. Jayson Zinsmeister (2-7).

160 -- So. Dan Furmato (5-5) vs. Jr. Shamyr Brodders (1-5).

170 -- Jr. Rich Frohman (1-4) or Fr. Julian Heiligtag (1-2) vs. Sr. Dan Fisher (5-3).

182 -- Sr. Michael Iodice (8-2) vs. So. Austin Roth (1-8).

195 -- Fr. Lukas Bakerian (4-6) vs. Sr. Drew Horun (14-3).

220 -- Sr. Victor Lacombe (10-0) vs. Sr. Robert Melise (10-2).

285 -- Jr. Angelo Crespo (4-5) vs. Sr. Justen Caraballo (4-7).

Breakdown: Phillipsburg is certainly breaking in its new palatial gymnasium in style -- welcoming a second state-ranked opponent in as many matches after scoring a 39-30 win over No. 6 Bound Brook in the home debut a week ago -- the same score in Central's loss to the Crusaders on Dec. 21. The 'Liners are coming off a 36-32 loss at No. 3 Cranford on Saturday -- giving up five pins -- so you know they will be hungry to get back on track in this one. The Red Devils are coming off a big 30-29 win over No. 8 Howell on Saturday and need a win to keep their hopes for at least a share of the division title in play. Straight up, the visitors are favored at 113, 120, 126 (slight), 132, 138, 152 and 182. P'burg gets the nod at 106, 145, 170, 195, 220. Call 160 and 285 tossups. The toss will be key for both as Central would like to get V. Romaniello against Tino at 132 and move Ciresa away from Meyer, and you have to figure Ciresa weighs in up at 152. P'burg wants that matchup for a shot to sweep 145 through 170, with a chance to win at 138 with Tino up a weight -- he lost 3-2 to Hall last season. Despite the records, it isn't a stretch to think the 'Liners can win both tossups, and the matchup of state qualifiers at 126 should be entertaining, unless the Red Devils bump Nace up to 132 (Vizzoni could go at 126) for a better shot to win two of the three from 126 to 138. Central likely needs both tossups (or a win at 220 between state medalists) and is looking for bonus points at 120, 132 or 138 (wherever V. Romaniello is) and 182. The 220-pound bout could be pivotal -- Melise, a state finalist, decked Lacombe in OT last season. P'burg feels good against most teams with a 7-7 split -- having Fisher down from 182 is key here -- but the 'Liners have a solid chance to win at least eight bouts (maybe a big one at 126?) and should rack up more bonus points in the process.

Prediction: Phillipsburg, 34-27.

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