WASHINGTON TWP. -- Warren Hills was hoping for another opportunity against one of the state's top-ranked teams. And the second-seeded Blue Streaks looked mighty hungry to get it, winning 11 bouts in a 46-15 trouncing of No. 3 Passaic Valley on Wednesday night in the North 2, Group 3 semifinals at Warren Hills Regional High School.
Their reward, a rematch with top-seeded Cranford on Friday night for the sectional title. The Cougars (19-0), ranked No. 4 in the New Jersey Wrestling Writers Association Top 20, cruised to a 60-10 victory over Nutley in the other semifinal.
In all, seven teams from the Hunterdon-Warrren-Sussex area advanced to the sectional finals on Friday, as High Point (North 1, Group 2), Kittatinny (North 1, Group 1), Sparta (North 1, Group 3), Phillipsburg (North 2, Group 4), Hunterdon Central (Central Jersey, Group 5) and Delaware Valley (Central Jersey, Group 2) -- all No. 1 seeds -- won their semifinals. Five of those were lopsided affairs, except for High Point, which gutted out a 36-22 victory over Westwood.
Warren Hills (16-8) still remembers its 48-21 loss at home to Cranford on Jan. 28.
"It's going to be a fun match," said senior Matt Valli, whose 18-3 technical fall win -- the 97th victory of his career-- at 132 pounds started the Streaks' eight-bout run to open the match against Passaic Valley (15-6). "I think we can do it. We have to wrestle as a team. I think we're peaking at the right time."
It certainly looked that way against Passaic Valley, which was down 36-0 before state qualifier Thomas Marretta, a third-place finisher in Region 4 last season, finally got the Hornets on the scoreboard with a hard-fought 3-1 win over a much-improved Brody Oberly at 220.
"I thought we had a drive to us, and we wrestled with emotion and heart. You saw the results," said Streaks coach Jarrett Hosbach, whose team finished with a 27-7 edge in takedowns. "We talked about being aggressive for six minutes. We're wrestling as good as we have all year."
Senior Zach Nauta (138) needed just 27 seconds to flatten Luke Geleta, while freshman Nick Hildebrant got the sparse home crowd going with a 7-4 decision at 160. Hildebrant (4-8), who was filling in for senior Ryan Beckler, broke it open with a three-point tilt in the second period and a 6-2 lead against Hunter Fortier (19-11).
"Nick is a hard worker and shows up to practice every single day," Hosbach said. "He's got a great future for Warren Hills wrestling."
After back-to-back pins from Jarod Ostir (170) and Nick Galka (182), senior Henry Garcia scored five points off a headlock in the first period en route to a 7-3 win at 195. That gave the Streaks a comfortable 36-point lead and essentially clinched the match by giving the Streaks their eighth win with six bouts to go.
"Henry is getting his opportunity with guys moving around [the lineup] and he's done a real nice job for us," Hosbach said.
Passaic Valley made it 40-15 after pins at 106 and 113, but Warren Hills junior Kyle Wulff and sophomore Chris Ostir closed it with wins at 120 and 126.
Wulff won a 9-7 thriller in sudden-victory overtime, converting a takedown with 36 seconds left against Gregory Sabbak, who was fourth in District 13 last season.
Now, Warren Hills sets its sights on the upset in seeking the program's sixth sectional title and first since 2007.
"All we wanted was a chance," Hosbach said. "Cranford is a great team, but we're going to show up."
WARREN HILLS 46, PASSAIC VALLEY 15
132 -- Sr. Matt Valli (27-4), WH, tf. So. Logan Rodriguez (5-10), 18-3, 4:35.
138 -- Sr. Zach Nauta (23-6), WH, p. Fr. Luke Geleta (11-12), :27.
145 -- Jr. Cameron Nauta (10-8), WH, d. Jr. Jeremy Galletta (19-13), 4-0.
152 -- Sr. Rashon Wade Taylor (17-13), WH, md. Sr. Gregory Fellanto (14-16), 13-5.
160 -- Fr. Nick Hildebrant (4-8), WH, d. Jr. Hunter Fortier (19-11), 7-4.
170 -- Jr. Jarod Ostir (23-8), WH, p. So. Zain Ashraf (0-1), 1:10.
182 -- So. Nick Galka (22-10), WH, p. Jr. Vincenzo Brigati (17-13), 4:58.
195 -- Sr. Henry Garcia (6-6), WH, d. Jr. Zachary Ulrich (5-13), 7-3.
220 -- Jr. Thomas Marretta (18-8), PV, d. Sr. Brody Oberly (16-9), 3-1.
285 -- Sr. Taylan Zafis (23-9), WH, md. Jr. Yousef Karmi (25-7), 9-0.
106 -- Sr. Nicholas DeNora (28-0), PV, p. Fr. Greg Slivka (9-19), :21.
113 -- Sr. Kenny Kerwin (25-5), PV, p. Fr. Logan Nauta (14-11), 2:13.
120 -- Jr. Kyle Wulff (23-8), WH, d. So. Gregory Sabbak (22-9), 9-7 SV.
126 -- So. Chris Ostir (11-9), WH, d. So. Jordan Sconciafurno (12-17), 10-4.
Records -- Passaic Valley 15-6; Warren Hills 16-8.
Referees -- Gary Kessel and Bob Doelfel.