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PV wrestling falls to Emerson/Park Ridge, turns focus towards County Tournament

Jeremy Lesserson, Sports Writer

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Tommy Chiellini (160) wrestles Connor Hughes.

Pascack Valley’s wrestling team came into Emerson High School on Friday afternoon riding high after a win in Hackettstown two days earlier, but it fell by a score of 49-18 to Emerson-Park Ridge.

Even with a slightly revamped roster and improved wrestlers from a season ago, when they went 17-8 and qualified for the team sectional playoffs for the first time in 11 years, the Indians were still no match for legendary coach Stan Woods’ Cavaliers, although it was closer than the 58-10 score from a year ago.

“This was a great environment for these kids to wrestle in,” PV coach Tom Gallione said. “We have high expectations this year — states, counties, leagues. This is a good early season match against a good team. They’re probably one of the best teams in the county outside of Bergen Catholic. I thought we battled, I thought we competed real well — each and every guy”

The first bout of the night was at 160, and Pascack Valley’s Tommy Chiellini started the night strong for the Indians. Going into the third period, Chiellini was ahead 12-2 over Emerson-Park Ridge’s Connor Hughes. During the third period, Hughes was bleeding out of his nose so profusely that it seemed like he was going to use up all of his blood time and therefore forfeit the match. With an ace bandage layered and wrapped around his nose and mouth, Hughes finished off the match, but only to get pinned by Chiellini with four seconds left in the final period.

The next victory came at 182, where Will Morris shined after getting extra rest due to a win by forfeit against Hackettstown. Morris entered the third period with a 2-1 lead over Evan Kinsey. To put the match in the books, Morris epically flipped Kinsey over him to rile up the crowd and record an escape for an extra point with 35 seconds remaining.

The 9-3 lead was the last lead that the Indians would have all night.

Zach Olson and Robbie Natelli picked up the other PV wins. Olson squared off at 285 and pinned his opponent to tie the score up at 15 while Natelli faced off at 126 and won by decision. Natelli was the last Indian wrestler to put up points on the scoreboard.

Notes: Promising freshman Tyler Pizzi wrestled at 120 and lost a tough bout to standout Cavalier wrestler Logan Mazzeo. Mazzeo allowed Pizzi to escape six times, while being able to take him down five times. This strategy led to Mazzeo’s win by an 11-6 decision.

At 132, senior Nolan Shields seemed to wrestle hard. Although, he never seemed to be in control of his bout. His opponent, Matt Daub, recorded six takedowns to Shields’ one.

Mazzeo’s older brother, Luke, got his second career bout against sophomore James Allmers. Allmers was pinned in 30 seconds, a similar outcome to last year’s bout between the two.

Olson wrestled at 285 after competing at 220 in Hackettstown, a match that he also won by pin. It’s worth seeing where Gallione will place him in the future.

2017 District 1 champions Matt Beyer and Casey Lewis did not wrestle. Allmers filled for Beyer in at 138 while Jack Tsokanos filled in for Lewis at 195. Gallione said that they are resting in order to preserve their health for the rest of the season and especially the Bergen County Tournament coming up this Thursday and Friday.

Lewis also missed the Hackettstown dual.

“(Casey) has been battling a few injuries,” Gallione said. “It’s early in the year so when you look at it, we have 26 matches, three tournaments, it’s like risk and reward. Even if he wins tonight and we win as a team, but he hurts himself more, then what do we gain out of that? It’s a long season, it’s a grind, the best thing is to keep everybody healthy. And if it means that we miss out on some points here, it’s worth it to have him ready for the counties and have him ready for January, where we have a bunch of dual meets.”

Gallione said that Beyer also had some precautionary issues that they want to keep under a microscope in order to have him ready for counties and January. Beyer, the Indians’ lone individual state qualifier last season, dropped a 4-2 decision to another returning state qualifier, Hackettstown’s Alex Carida, on Wednesday.

Following the BCT, the Indians’ next dual match is home against Bergenfield on Jan. 3 at 7 p.m.

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PV wrestling falls to Emerson/Park Ridge, turns focus towards County Tournament