Monday, January 23, 2017

Wrestling: Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex rankings

It's almost hard to believe, but the cutoff for the sectional tournaments, which begin in two weeks on Feb. 6, is this Saturday.

We'll take a closer look at who is in (who really isn't now with having eight teams qualify) later this week, but first we have some dual meets involving longtime rivals this week which should prove to entertaining.

Phillipsburg travels to North Hunterdon on Wednesday looking to clinch at least a share of the Skyland Conference Raritan Division title, while Warren Hills heads down Route 31 for a matchup against Voorhees.

P'burg (8-1, 4-0 division) holds a 51-8-1 edge in the series with North dating to 1961. The 'Liners have won the last 12 meetings, including a 35-22 victory at The Pit last season. Lions haven't won since a 36-21 decision at home on Jan. 6, 2007. Tim Flynn seeks his first win as the head coach at North and is 0-9 against his alma mater.

Warren Hills (7-7, 0-5), which has a new-look lineup which it unveiled against P'burg last week, looks to avoid going winless in the Raritan Division, while Voorhees (9-5, 0-4) also looks for its first win in the rugged seven-team division.

Vikings hold a 26-14 edge in a series dating to 1976, while the Blue Streaks have won just five of the last 12 meetings since 2005, including a 39-30 win last season on Feb. 3, 2006. Thankfully, this series returned as a single dual meet two years ago after getting buried in a quad here and down in South Jersey for a few seasons.

Now onto this week's rankings:

1. Phillipsburg (8-1) -- Stateliners went 3-0 last week, capped by a 40-27 win over Easton (Pa.) in the 80th meeting between those border rivals -- the most points scored by a P'burg team against the Red Rovers, who have dropped three of the last four matchups. Senior Drew Horun (22-4 at 195) will go for his 100th career win on Wednesday at North Hunterdon. 'Liners also topped Warren Hills (37-24 on Wednesday) and Hanover Park (34-33 on Thursday) in matchup of state-ranked teams.

Up next: at North Hunterdon on Wednesday; Parkland (Pa.) at home on Thursday; at Southern on Saturday.

2. Pope John (11-1) -- Lions went 3-0 at the Randoph quad on Saturday -- with wins over Mendham (37-18), Whippany Park (59-12) and Randolph (50-26). Earlier last week, coach Mark Piotrowsky's team lost to top-ranked Bergen Catholic (50-13) and took another step toward winning the NJAC American Division title with a 39-21 victory over Mount Olive. Junior Jake Rotunda (22-2 at 126) is closing in on 80 career wins, while sophomore Joe Aragona remained unbeaten at 19-0.

Up next: Christian Brothers Academy at home on Saturday.

3. Hunterdon Central (11-2) -- Red Devils capped a 5-0 week by sweeping a quad at Emerson-Park Ridge, last season's Group 2 champion. Senior Peter Nace (14-2 at 126), who had supposedly left the team after the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament, returned on Saturday, going 3-0 in wins over Old Tappan (49-18), Westwood (55-9) and Emerson-Park Ridge (42-25). Senior Victor Lacombe (19-1), who finished fifth in the state at 220 last season, picked up his 70th career win. Coach Jon Cantagallo-Rohm's team also rolled to a 49-8 victory over Voorhees.

Up next: Somerville at home on Wednesday; at North Hunterdon on Friday; Garfield, Kingsway and St. Peter's Prep at home on Saturday.

4. Delaware Valley (12-2) -- Terriers are gearing up for a Skyland Conference Raritan Division showdown at Bound Brook on Wednesday after going 4-0 last week, including a 35-25 win over North Hunterdon. Coach Andy Fitz's team also posted a 42-30 victory over Kittatinny on Saturday, the program's first against the Cougars since 1999 -- snapping a seven-match skid in the series and giving Del Val its fifth win in 14 career meetings. Senior Matt Kolonia (22-1 at 138) needs just three more wins to move into solo possession of sixth place on the school's all-time list.

Up next: at Bound Brook on Wednesday; Somerville at home on Friday; Egg Harbor Township at Hasbrouck Heights (first-ever meetings against both) on Saturday.

5. High Point (10-2) -- Wildcats nearly pulled off an upset on Saturday in a 33-31 loss to Delsea in a matchup of state-ranked teams at the Roxbury quad, before rebounding with wins over the Gaels (34-30) and Bridgewater-Raritan (58-20). Senior Aric Wingle (14-5 at 160) notched his 50th career win, while sophomore Devin Flannery (13-1 at 113) returned to the lineup after missing the tri-county tournament with an illness. A win over Hackettstown on Tuesday will set up a showdown against Newton next week for the NJAC Freedom Division title.

Up next: at Hackettstown on Tuesday; Cranford and Paramus at Warren Hills on Saturday.

6. North Hunterdon (13-3) -- Lions rebounded with four wins after dropping a 35-25 decision to Delaware Valley on Wednesday. Coach Tim Flynn's team beat Bridgewater-Raritan (55-11) before sweeping a quad at home on Saturday by defeating Hillsborough (68-12), Watchung Hills (33-31) and Woodstown (33-31). Senior Charlie Tordik (23-0 at 285) enters the week with a team-leading 74 career wins. North seeks its first win over Phillipsburg since 2007 in the 60th meeting of that series on Wednesday.

Up next: Phillipsburg at home on Wednesday; Hunterdon Central at home on Friday.

7. Warren Hills (7-7) -- Blue Streaks gave a good account in a 37-24 loss to Phillipsburg on Wednesday in the 70th meeting of that series. Senior Zach Nauta (18-2) dropped to 138, while sophomore Nick Galka (15-7) went down to 182, as both moves make for a stronger lineup. Senior Matt Valli (18-3 at 132) enters the week with 88 career wins. Should be an interesting Saturday in Washington with a quad that includes Cranford and High Point. Streaks match up pretty well with coach John Gardner's Wildcats.

8. Kittatinny (9-4) -- Cougars opened last week with a 53-21 win over North Warren in an NJAC Colonial Division matchup before going 2-1 in a quad at Westfield, which included a 42-30 loss to Delaware Valley. Senior Mark DiGeronimo (14-4 at 120) decked HWS runner-up Gage Crater in that one. Coach John Gill's team also picked up a nice 42-19 win over West Morris and a 48-23 victory over Westfield. Senior Josh Klimek (18-4 at 182) went over the 70-win mark.

Up next: at Newton on Tuesday; Sparta at home on Friday; Emerson-Park Ridge at Lenape Valley on Saturday.

9. Voorhees (9-5) -- Vikings went 3-1 last week after opening with a tough 49-8 loss to Hunterdon Central on Wednesday. Senior Michael Fernandes (21-0), who has 88 career wins, and junior Scott Fernandes (18-3) were the lone winners with major decisions. Coach Eric Hall's team easily swept a quad on Saturday with wins over Franklin (78-3), New Brunswick (61-12) and Ridge (70-3).

Up next: Warren Hills at home on Wednesday; Manville at home on Friday; Livingston and Mahwah at Belvidere on Saturday.

10. Sparta (8-6) -- Spartans opened last week with a 42-24 loss to Roxbury before sweeping a quad at Lenape Valley on Saturday. Coach Frank Battaglia's team reeled off wins against North Warren (63-10), Pompton Lakes (55-20) and Lenape Valley (57-18). Good news for the Sussex County school as sophomore Chris Hwang went 2-0 at 113 pounds in his first action of the season after missing the first month with a leg injury. Junior Robert Gennat picked up his 70th career win.

Up next: at Jefferson on Tuesday; at Kittatinny on Friday; Hopatcong, Vernon and New Providence at home on Saturday.

On the bubble: Newton (7-7) -- Braves opened the week with a 48-27 win over Lenape Valley and finished 2-3 in the Jack Welch Duals at Moorestown with wins over Christian Brothers (37-29), Moorestown (51-20). Sophomore Wyatt McCarthy (21-3) made the drop to 145 over the weekend for coach Eric Bollette's team which hosts Kittatinny, his alma mater, on Tuesday.

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