Monday, January 27, 2020

Wrestling: P'burg enjoys good Day vs. High Point

PHILLIPSBURG -- Nothing seems sweeter for a Phillipsburg wrestler than getting a big victory at The Pit.

And sophomore James Day was beaming about keeping his record perfect at the fabled gym following his key decision at 113 pounds that helped the Stateliners secure a 34-24 victory over High Point on Monday night in an independent clash between state-ranked teams at Phillipsburg Middle School.

The Stateliners (8-2), ranked No. 10 by the New Jersey Wrestling Writers Association, held a 28-21 lead through 11 bouts before Day converted a pair of takedowns en route to scoring a thrilling 5-3 decision over returning state qualifier Clayton Utter, who got in deep twice on double-leg attempts in the final 11 seconds, in what many figured was a pivotal bout heading into the contest.

P'burg is 19-1 all-time against High Point dating to 1989.
"I had taken him down last year," said Day, who avenged a 10-3 loss to Utter in last season's dual meet at High Point and improved to 2-0 lifetime at The Pit, including an 8-3 win over Kittatinny's Shane Nelson here as a freshman. "I just wanted to get good attacks to the left side, because I knew that was the side where I could finish. I knew if I could scratch through -- it would be big for me and even bigger to lock down the dual meet. To do it in this environment in front of the fans and the big crowd is special."

P'burg is now 3-0 in these "Return to The Pit" matches, which began early in the 2017-18 season when the new high school opened across town. Coach Dave Post, who wrestled for the 'Liners and went unbeaten here while also recording his 100th career win at The Pit, was happy for Day and his team to come out on top.

"This is an opportunity to wrestle, to me, in the most special place," said Post, who improved to 4-0 all-time against High Point and 155-25 overall in his 10 seasons. "The [crowd] capacity is 1,200 or 1,250, and every person here knows how special this place is. James knows how important our team is and he wasn't going to be denied tonight."

No. 12 High Point (6-3), which won just five bouts and lost as many by two points or fewer, couldn't find a way to pull out the close ones. Junior Josh Gervey (132) and state placewinner Billy Talmadge (138) got the 'Cats off to a strong start in the first two bouts, but coach John Gardner, who was looking for his second win against P'burg and first since winning here in 2009, couldn't get the matchups that he wanted at 160 and 170. P'burg was able to avoid state qualifier Brian Soldano, who decked James Palitto in 30 seconds, and get a pin from Nate Zastowny to win seven of the next eight to control the match.

"We felt it was a better option for us to go out and get the win at 160," said Gardner, who opted not to chase after Zastowny despite winning the flip while also choosing to sit junior Alex Buchwald (170) as he continues to work back from some early-season injuries. "It's easy to look back after a match at what you should have done. We make the best decisions at the time. We just came up a little short."

This match was decided in the upper weights as P'burg ran the table from 170 through 285. Sophomore David Pierson (182) and senior Jacob Wicks (195) both delivered crucial decisions by scoring decisive points late in the third period. Pierson got a reversal with 31 seconds to go for a 2-1 win over PJ Soldano, while Wicks converted a takedown and two backs for a 6-4 victory over Sean Van Wingerden, a returning district finalist. Junior Gage Horvath (220) followed with a major and senior Cody Cruts got a short-time takedown for a 4-2 win at 285.

Post said he had debated earlier in the day with assistant coach Scott Silvis about whether to flip Pierson and Wicks, who both weigh-in at 182.

"It's stylistics with Jacob and David," Post said. "David is a leg rider and Soldano is so good with legs. Wicks is very strong and he does well against taller guys. Wrestling in close matches, our kids know how important every point is."

Good thing for P'burg that the big guys came through because High Point, which finished with a 21-19 edge in takedowns, won two of the last four bouts and nearly pulled off an upset at 120, where Charles Antcliff gave returning state qualifier Logan Maczko all he could handle in a 7-5 loss. Maczko needed four points off a merkle in the final 10 seconds to pull it out, as he got the takedown and two flags from official Bill Dickson, which Gardner argued were never signaled at the time.

But it was that kind of night for the visitors, now 1-19 overall as a program in this series dating to 1989.

"I think in four or five matches, we were winning as time ran out, and we didn't win any of them," said Gardner, who is 1-6 against P'burg in his 22 seasons. "We have to do a little better in those situations, and I have to do a better job of coaching and getting them ready."

132 -- Jr. Josh Gervey (18-3), HP, md. Jr. Jason Tino (13-12), 14-6.
138 -- Sr. Billy Talmadge (24-0), HP, tf. Fr. Hunter Cleaver (2-5), 21-6, 5:21.
145 -- Sr. Jared Kukor (12-9), P, tf. Jr. Clay Sytsema (2-5), 15-0, 4:30.
152 -- So. Matt D'Onofrio (12-11), P, md. So. Noah Ripley (7-15), 14-5.
160 -- So. Brian Soldano (18-1), HP, p. So. James Palitto (1-2), :30.
170 -- So. Nate Zastowny (20-5), P, p. So. Troy Tiger (2-10), :27.
182 -- So. David Pierson (14-10), P, d. Sr. PJ Soldano (15-8), 2-1.
195 -- Sr. Jacob Wicks (18-8), P, d. Jr. Sean Van Wingerden (8-11), 4-2.
220 -- Jr. Gage Horvath (15-9), P, md. Jr. Justin Klass (10-11), 12-4.
285 -- Sr. Cody Cruts (16-7), P, d. Jr. Troy Van Orden (3-5), 4-2.
106 -- Fr. Roman Citro (10-5), HP, p. So. Sean Stasiulaitis (7-12), 4:33.
113 -- So. James Day (20-6), P, d. So. Clayton Utter (13-4), 7-5.
120 -- Jr. Logan Maczko (13-6), P, d. So. Charles Antcliff (13-9), 7-5.
126 -- Sr. Devon Liebl (21-3), HP, d. So. Joey Innamorato (16-6), 7-2.
Records -- High Point 6-3; Phillipsburg 8-2.
Officials -- Bill Dickson and Chris Rebels.

No comments:

Post a Comment