Monday, July 12, 2021

Wrestling: Ball and Sprawl set to break new ground

Summer wrestling dual matches in these parts have proven to be popular draws. 

Warren Hills coach Dave Sbriscia and Delaware Valley counterpart Andy Fitz have come up with a unique event in which all of the proceeds will go toward the fight against pediatric cancer. The first "Ball and Sprawl" is set to take place on Wednesday night at Warren Hills School District Stadium. 

The event will feature a 7-on-7 football game on one side of the turf field and a wrestling match (17 individual bouts) on the other end pitting athletes from Franklin and Alexandria, as the teams are not allowed to use high school names or uniforms due to NJSIAA rules.

The JV will start it off at 6 p.m., followed by the varsity at 7. Ticket price is $5.

"We had an idea of running a charity match before COVID and everything [last year]," Sbriscia said. "Andy had the idea to incorporate football and how we could get more people at this event. The whole idea was raising money for charity."

The Blue Streaks were initially involved in the Pin Cancer charity series against Phillipsburg before the Terriers jumped in and competed against the Stateliners in the last and perhaps final one at Maloney Stadium on July 25, 2019. There was no summer match in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Fitz said earlier this spring that he is eager to start a new annual event.

"I'm pretty enthusiastic about it," said Fitz, who said wrestlers will wear T-shirts and shorts rather than singlets and that each town in the school's sending districts may be represented at some point in the match bill like: Franklin vs. Alexandria instead of just Washington vs. Frenchtown. 

"We're going to rotate it and have a little bit of fun with it," Fitz added. "Having fun is what it's supposed to be about." 

Sbriscia hopes that both sports can benefit from each other.

"Football and wrestling have always shared a common bond," Sbriscia said. "A lot of football players have never been to a wrestling match. It's a good idea to get kids at matches watching."

Warren Hills, which missed out on the chance to compete for the school's sixth sectional championship and first since 2007 last season since no tournaments were held due to the pandemic, will be a heavy favorite in North 2, Group 3 and a strong contender for a Group 3 state title. The Blue Streaks had no senior starters in 2021 and had two state medal winners in sophomore Jarett Pantuso (eighth at 220 pounds) and junior Tyler McCatharn (sixth at 285).

Sbriscia is also counting on former state qualifier and rising senior Stephen Malia and said that Kevin Riedlinger and Michael Drazek are two other to keep an eye on in 2021-22. Interestingly, Anthony Ferroni, who is set to compete at 220 on Wednesday, has serious wrestling ties. His father, Mike, is Union's 40th and last state champion -- winning at heavyweight in 1988. Only Newton (82) and Washington/Warren Hills (46) have crowned more state champs in New Jersey history.

Two-time girls state runner-up Katrina Kling will also compete for Franklin.

Delaware Valley, which has won 19 sectional titles in its history, was denied the chance to go for a third straight North 2, Group 1 championship last season. The other 17 came in Central Jersey, Group 2 from 1983-2017.

The Terriers were extremely young last season, but several promising freshmen, like Anderson Olcott, have Fitz excited about the next few years.

Tentative wrestling matchups (Alexandria listed first)

106 -- Owen Kucharski vs. Charlie Piccione
113 -- Jacob Taylor vs. Tyler Redfield
120 -- Jackson Bush vs. Kevin Riedlinger
120 -- Declan Snyder vs. Katrina Kling
132 -- Robert Groogan vs. Thomas Brattole
138 -- Sam Kirkpatrick vs. Shawn Redfield
145 -- Ben Levy vs. Cody Miller
160 -- Chris Colasurdo vs. Michael Drazek
170 -- Sam Thomas vs. Stephen Malia
170 -- Brayden Schneider vs. Chris Whitehead
175 -- Noah Sheeley vs. Owen Frizzell
182 -- Anderson Olcott vs. Ryan Galka
195 -- Chris Roche vs. Michael Galka
220 -- Matt Schneider vs. Jarett Pantuso
220 -- Chris Roche vs. Anthony Ferroni
220 -- Kyle Cooke vs. Paul Hamas
285 -- Kyle Cooke vs. Tyler McCatharn

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