The Smoke Signal

Indians prepared to compete in state sectional tournament

PV seeks first-ever sectional title, opens with Paramus

Pascack+Valley+coaches+and+wrestlers+cheer+after+Robbie+Natelli+wins+his+match+against+Matthew+Murawski+of+Old+Tappan+last+Friday+night.+They+are+wrestling+Paramus+today+in+the+first+round+of+the+North+1%2C+Group+3+tournament.
Pascack Valley coaches and wrestlers cheer after Robbie Natelli wins his match against Matthew Murawski of Old Tappan last Friday night. They are wrestling Paramus today in the first round of the North 1, Group 3 tournament.

Pascack Valley coaches and wrestlers cheer after Robbie Natelli wins his match against Matthew Murawski of Old Tappan last Friday night. They are wrestling Paramus today in the first round of the North 1, Group 3 tournament.

Curstine Guevarra

Curstine Guevarra

Pascack Valley coaches and wrestlers cheer after Robbie Natelli wins his match against Matthew Murawski of Old Tappan last Friday night. They are wrestling Paramus today in the first round of the North 1, Group 3 tournament.

Jeremy Lesserson, Sports Writer

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What: North 1, Group 3 State Sectional Tournament Quarterfinals

When: Monday, Feb. 5, 7 p.m.

Where: Pascack Valley High School

Pascack Valley will wrestle in its second consecutive state team tournament as the No. 2 seed. after an 11-year absence As a result, the Indians will face off against seventh-seeded Paramus in the first round. The top three seeds — No. 1 Sparta, PV, and No. 3 Montville — appear to be evenly matched, and the level of competition drops off after them. A win over Paramus would mean a second-round matchup against Montville on Wednesday, with the winner likely traveling to face Sparta on Friday.

The section winners advance to the all-day Group Championships at Pine Belt Arena in Toms River on Sunday.

Here is how the Indians would stack up against their potential opponents:

Paramus: Paramus has been good in the past, but they dropped to a lower seed in Group 3 this year. The Spartans had six wrestlers place in the county tournament with Kyle Kaiser and Thomas Casey being their only finalists at 113 and 120, respectively. Both placed second for their weight class and Kaiser was a state qualifier. While Kaiser and Casey have been dominant for Paramus this season, this shouldn’t prevent PV from a first round victory, but making sure to not give up more than five points to their top wrestlers is key for PV’s win here.

Bottom Line: Not likely to have too many problems in this match.

Prediction: 55-9 PV over Paramus

SEMIFINALS

Montville: The Mustangs have a trio of dynamite wrestlers. At 138, Connor Meytrott was a finalist in the Morris County Tournament. His loss in the finals was only his second loss of the season. The Indians could choose to move Matt Beyer up a weight, since Meytrott is in the weight class that Beyer normally wrestles in. Joe Daddario, 170, placed third in the County Tournament. This looks to be a matchup of Daddario against PV senior Jake Prusha. Montville’s lone county champion was Liridon Leka at 220, who could see George Dvoynos or Zach Olson. Earlier in the season, Montville defeated Hackettstown 36-33. In PV’s match against Hackettstown, without Casey Lewis, the Indians won by a larger margin of 41-23. However, another common opponent that the Indians and Mustangs have faced is Piscataway. Montville beat Piscataway 31-30, while PV lost 36-30.  

Bottom Line: A win for PV here means minimizing the damage against Meytrott, Daddario, and Leka. Montville also has a number of other wrestlers that placed in its county tournament, and it’s important that the middleweight wrestlers hang tough against them.

Prediction: 35-33 PV over Montville

Sparta: The defending champions have the Indians breathing down their back. Sparta is looking to win back-to-back state section titles for the first in program history after breaking a 17-year title drought a year ago. In the Hunterdon/Warren/Sussex tourney, Sparta’s Cooper Stewart placed third at 106, Spencer Stewart placed fifth at 120 and Garrett Stewart placed fifth at 132. The trio of Stewarts were accompanied by Carter Sheridan placing fifth at 132 and Robert Gennat, the champion at 195. Gennat won by tech fall in championship, an impressive feat as it’s a rarity for a county finals match, and has only two losses on the season. He was his team’s only starter to compete last Wednesday in the Spartans’ 73-0 loss to Pope John (Sparta either forfeited or used backups in every weight class) and dropped a 3-1 decision to Jake Brown. Both are currently ranked among nj.com’s Top 8 in the state at 195.

Bottom Line: The Indians need to secure the upper weight victories other than against Gennat. Other than Gennat, Sparta appears thin at the upper weights. The lower weights are stacked with Cooper, Spencer, and Garrett Stewart, and those will be tough matches for the Indians. However, with Beyer, Tommy Chiellini, and Lewis leading the charge, it is highly conceivable that they walk away victorious in this match.

Prediction: 37-35 PV over Sparta

Coach’s Comment: “We’re in a good spot. If we wrestle to our capability, we can make a deep run. That’s the biggest thing. It doesn’t matter who we’re wrestling, the situation, their mindset just has to be wrestle the way they’ve been wrestling all year. Don’t change anything. Keep the preparation the same, attitude the same, don’t put more pressure on yourself because it’s the states. It sounds basic because it is basic, there’s not a whole lot to it.  These guys have all trained, they’re all in good shape. They all know what they need to do. It’s been working so far, it worked last year, so why change it? If they do that, we can have a nice run in the state sectional.” – PV coach Tom Gallione

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Indians prepared to compete in state sectional tournament