Wrestling District Preview: District 1

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Curstine Guevarra

Nolan Shields (126). Shields is ranked third in District 1 at 126 and advanced to Regions last year after finishing third at 120. He’ll look to move on again this year.

New Jersey wrestling got turned on its head this season, with sweeping changes being implemented, most notably in the area of team state sectional playoffs and the district tournament.

It’s the latter that has a greater effect on Pascack Valley.

A long-time fixture in District 8, the Indians, are now in District 1 following a statewide realignment implemented by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association.

Joining PV in the new District 1 are newcomers in western New Jersey and Sussex County powerhouses Newton and High Point, North Warren from Blairstown in Warren County, and Bergen County schools Ramapo, Ridgewood and Dumont. Three Bergen County schools, Old Tappan, Pascack Valley, and Westwood, were all in District 8 together last year and are in the new District 1 together this year.

“The realignment is new for everybody,” PV coach Tom Gallione said. “We have some familiarity with Westwood and Old Tappan but we’re lucky enough that we have Ramapo, we have Dumont, we have Ridgewood — all schools we’ve wrestled throughout the year or schools that we’ve seen at the county tournament.” 

This particular realigned district illustrates a sharp east/west divide, with a drive of nearly an hour separating the six Bergen schools and the three Sussex/Warren schools, with no school in between.

“There’s only two teams that carried over from the old district,” Gallione said, “but we have familiarity with a lot of the teams. We have North Warren, Newton, and High Point, new teams all schools from out west. We were fortunate enough to wrestle Newton this year, which is good, since it gives us somewhat of an idea of their lineup.

“High Point and North Warren, you look at their records online and try to find common opponents. I watched them wrestle Westwood last week. But you don’t really truly know quite yet, like a kid from High Point might be 14-14, but maybe he had a tough schedule, so you try and get an idea. It does make this first year a little tricky, especially with how everything happened so late, but we have a general idea of who we’re facing and what to expect.”

The Indians finished last in team scoring at last year’s District 8 Tournament, despite having two wrestlers, Nolan Shields (120) and Matt Beyer (132), take third and advance to regions.

“The district tournament last year wasn’t bad; we had two guys move on,” coach Tom Gallione said. “It was the toughest district in our region by far, and it always has been.”

Gallione decided to play it fairly straight with his lineup heading into the tournament.

“We’ve kept pretty much everyone at the weight they’ve wrestled all year. We’re not really jumbling the lineup,” he said. “Us as a lineup, we’re pretty much staying the same. We’re not really making changes. Where we’re at, we still have a chance for a decent amount of guys to move on if they wrestle well.”

Gallione said the hope is that at least five wrestlers advance to regions, and he’s already looking forward to what could potentially be a bright future. 

“I think there are certain guys that if they wrestle to their capability, they’re going to be tough and can make the regions and possibly Atlantic City,” Gallione said.

However, one big name for PV won’t be advancing to regions, or Atlantic City is 11-0 sophomore Tommy Chiellini, who is out for the season after sustaining an injury on Feb. 3.

Here is the full list of seeds for the tourney.

(This chart outlines the realignment and the nine schools currently in District 1, what school the district was in last year, and how the school fared last year.)

(The map below shows all nine teams in the new District 1. If pins are the same color, that means those teams were in the same district as another school last year. Note the gap between the three west schools and the six east schools.)


What: District 1 Wrestling Tournament

Where: Ramapo High School

When: First Round to start at 9:30 a.m., semifinals to start at approx. 1 p.m., finals to start at approx. 4 p.m.

Who: Pascack Valley, Westwood, Old Tappan, Ridgewood, High Point, Newton, North Warren, Dumont, Ramapo.


Team outlook

Pascack Valley wrestling enjoyed a Renaissance this year that should be reflected in the team standings. The Indians finished dead last at District 8 a year ago, but look for them to work their way up to the middle of the pack here, and no seniors in the lineup means PV should climb even higher in the team standings next year when it hosts this tournament. High Point may not have the super studs it’s had in recent years, but with a balanced lineup that just captured the North 1, Group 2 title (the program’s 25th sectional title). The Wildcats send out a tough customer in nearly every weight class. Their biggest pushes in the team race will likely come from North 1, Group 3 runner-up Old Tappan and Westwood, which lost 36-22 to High Point in the North 1, Group 2 semifinals.


Pascack Valley’s first round matchups

Weight, Seed, Name, School (Class-Record)

PV=Pascack Valley

OT=Old Tappan

D=Dumont

N=Newton

NW=North Warren

RI=Ridgewood

R=Ramapo

HP=High Point

W=Westwood

106: No. 6 Brad Zirlin PV (So. 15-4) v. No. 3 Antonio Abate OT (Fr. 21-11)

113: No. 7 Jake Averna PV (So. 13-14) v. No. 2 Devin Flannery HP (So. 21-3)

120: No. 3 Robbie Natelli PV (Jr. 30-4) v. No. 6 Matt Rosa N (So. 7-7)

126: No. 3 Nolan Shields PV (Jr. 17-14) v. No. 6 Ryan Brackenbury OT (Jr. 17-9)

132: No. 1 Matt Beyer PV (So. 30-1) v. No. 8 RJ Brevot HP (Jr. 4-7)

138: No. 6 James Allmers PV (Fr. 8-8) v. No. 3 Shannon Grogan NW (Sr. 23-6)

145: No. 7 Steve Soravilla PV (So. 16-11) v. No. 2 Mike Vietri D (Sr. 29-5)

152: No. 5 Jake Prusha PV (Jr. 16-12) v. No. 4 Aric Wingle HP (Sr. 22-7)

160: No. 4 Will Morris PV (Jr. 25-6) v. No. 5 Sean McKay W (Sr. 14-15)

170: No. 3 George Dvoynos PV (Jr. 11-3) v. No. 6 Nick Brigante N (So. 12-16)

182: No. 1 Casey Lewis PV (Jr. 26-4) v. w/o No. 4 John O’Connor R (Sr. 23-13) v. No. 5 Brandon Brown W (Sr. 11-8)

195: No. 6 Zach Olson PV (So. 7-6) v. No. 3 Doug Lampone RI (Sr. 12-11)

220: No. 7 Mitch Sorreta PV (So. 1-15) v. No. 2 Luke Fischer N (So. 20-9)

285: No. 7 Matt Kalil PV (So. 4-12) v. No. 2 Joey Sprague NW (Jr. 14-14)


Weight Class Breakdown

106

Top Seed: Kyle Buccheister, D (Sr. 17-7)

PV’s Seed: No. 6 Bradley Zirlin, (So. 15-14)

Outlook: Despite not cracking Dumont’s lineup last season, Buccheister finished runner-up in District 7 in 2015. Watch out for High Point’s Brandon LaRue (27-2), last year’s District 3 runner-up, who has wrestled tough competition all year and rates as the favorite here. Zirlin would have to get past Abate, to whom he lost by 11-2 major decision earlier this season, in order to meet LaRue in the semis.


113

Top Seed: Joe Manginelli, D (So. 31-3)
PV’s Seed: No. 7 Jake Averna, (So. 13-14)

Outlook: An interesting weight class. Manginelli, who wrestled at 120 for the majority of this season, was the District 7 champ at that weight a year ago. The No. 4 seed, Westwood’s Julian Robles (21-7), beat Averna by 7-4 decision in a dual match between the two schools earlier this season. No. 2 seed, High Point’s Devin Flannery (21-3), beat both Robles and No. 6 seed Julian Sibblies (10-16) of Newton, earlier this season, and it could be a fun final between him and Manginelli.


120

Top Seed: Trent Furman, W (So. 30-3)

PV’s Seed: No. 3 Robbie Natelli, (Jr. 30-4)

Outlook: Natelli, who was fourth last year at District 8, has a rugged weight class to deal with for the second straight year. He lost this season to both Furman (last year’s District 8 runner-up) and the No. 2 seed, Dumont’s Gianni Manginelli (30-4, District 7 runner-up in 2016). If the seeds hold and Natelli can’t get past Manginelli again in the semis, moving on to the Region tourney could mean a do-or-die clash against Ramapo’s Joe Perna, who Natelli nipped in overtime in a dual match in January. And don’t count out No. 5 Maverick Liebl (17-7), either. The High Point junior, a possible opponent for Natelli in the semis, was third at District 3 a year ago and lost by just a 2-0 score to Furman earlier this year.


126
Top Seed: Zach Harris, W (Jr. 22-11)
PV Seed: No. 3 Nolan Shields, (Jr. 17-14)
Outlook: A tough weight class to handicap, since there aren’t a lot of head to heads from this year to go by. Shields, last year’s third-place District 8 finisher at 120, fell to Harris who beat this year’s No. 6 seed Ryan Brackenbury (17-9) of Old Tappan by 5-3 decision. There’s been a buzz this year surrounding promising High Point freshman Billy Talmadge (17-10), the No. 4 seed here.


132

Top Seed: Matt Beyer, PV (30-1)

PV’s Seed: Beyer

Outlook: Beyer, one of two top seeds for PV in this year’s district tournament, has won 11 of his 30 bouts by fall, and took third at last year’s District 8 tournament. He shouldn’t have an especially difficult time here. No. 2 seed John Pabst (19-6) of Old Tappan finished fourth in District 8 last year. Beyer was out of the lineup when the Golden Knights topped PV 38-30 two weeks ago (Pabst edged Shields 10-7 in that match).  No. 3 seed Michael Freda (17-11) of Newton, took on No. 8 seed RJ Brevot of High Point (4-9) and won by 12-10 sudden victory earlier this season. Freda also defeated No. 4 seed Justin Hirstius (14-15) of Westwood 13-6 this year.


138

Top Seed: Peter Andresen, OT (28-1)

PV’s Seed: No. 6 James Allmers (8-8)
Outlook: Andresen took fourth at last year’s District 8 tournament and won nine matches this year by fall. His only loss this season was to returning state placewinner John Burger of New Milford in the Bergen County final, and this is be his District title to lose. Look out for former District 3 third place finisher and current No. 2 seed Shane Kobis (18-8) of High Point, Andresen’s likely opponent in the final. Allmers, a freshman who will face North Warren’s Shannon Grogan (23-6) in the quarters, improved as the year progressed while wrestling mostly at 120. He is inserted here for PV in place of sophomore Tommy Chiellini (11-0), who would have made noise here but was lost to the season due to injury sustained Feb. 3.


145
Top Seed: Wyatt McCarthy, N (28-3)
PV’s Seed: No. 7 Steve Soravilla (16-11)
Outlook: McCarthy took on No. 2 seed Michael Vietri of Dumont earlier this season and won by 3-1 decision and a rematch, this time for District gold, is likely between the two. Vietri was mostly at 152 and 160 during the season, and Soravilla draws him in the first round. No. 6 seed Chris Dugan of Westwood (20-11), who lost to eventual District 8 champion Ben Brisman of Pascack Hills (now District 3) last year, may have an easier chance of taking at least third and advancing to Regions.


152

Top Seed: Declan Ward, OT (29-4)
PV’s Seed: No. 5 Jake Prusha (16-12)
Outlook: Ward, the reigning District 8 champion at 145, will look to repeat this year, but could have to get past High Point’s dangerous Aric Wingle (22-7), the No. 4 seed who placed third in District 3 last season, in the semis. Wingle is also Prusha’s quarterfinal opponent.


160

Top Seed: Gavin Connolly, OT (24-10)

PV’s Seed: No. 4 Will Morris (25-6)
Outlook: Connolly, the third of three No. 1 seeds for Old Tappan, is looking to rebound from a first-round exit in last year’s District 8 tournament. Morris, a steady presence in the Indians’ lineup this year, faces No. 5 seed Sean McKay (14-15) of Westwood, in a rematch from this year’s dual match between the two schools, and Morris will again look to emerge victorious after winning a close 1-0 decision. Old Tappan moved Ward up to face Morris in this year’s dual, so Morris hasn’t seen Connolly this year. The two could meet in the semis.


170

Top Seed: Aidan Fernandez, W (26-6)
PV’s Seed: No. 3 George Dvoynos (11-3)

Outlook: Fernandez is looking to rebound from a first-round loss in last year’s District 8 tournament at 160. Fernandez beat both Dvoynos and No. 6 seed Nick Brigante (12-16) of Newton, earlier this year. Dvoynos edged Brigante 6-5 in a dual on Jan. 28. Fernandez has a first-round bye as this weight class is not particularly deep in skill or numbers (it only has seven wrestlers seeded). Dvoynos has a legitimate chance to move on. It would likely take a victory over No. 4 Luke Conenello (9-14) of Ridgewood or No. 5 Jeff Foster (11-9) of Ramapo in the third-place bout.


182
Top Seed: Casey Lewis (26-4), PV

PV’s Seed: Lewis

Outlook: Lewis, the second of two No. 1 seeds for PV, suffered an injury last year in the third-place bout and failed to advance out of the District 8 tournament. It’s hard to imagine the PV junior not getting through this time around. He beat No. 2 Joe DeLuca (22-8) of Newton and No. 5 Brandon Brown (11-8) of Westwood by 1-0 and 5-0 decisions, respectively. DeLuca was fourth at last year’s District 3 tournament.


195

Top Seed: John Guerriero, R (28-8)

PV’s Seed: No. 6 Zach Olsen (7-6)

Outlook: Guerriero took third last year in District 5 and fifth in this year’s Bergen County tournament, but don’t be surprised to him be pushed by No. 4 Hunter Flores (13-5) of High Point in the semis. Sophomore Jackson Downey (21-10) of Old Tappan, the No. 2 seed, probably awaits the winner in the final. Olson, a sophomore, is an inexperienced wrestler, but he has greatly improved from the beginning of the year.


220

Top Seed: Cliff Rutter, HP (16-6)

PV’s Seed: No. 7 Mitch Soretta (1-15)

Outlook: Rutter, a District 3 silver medalist at this weight in 2015, could be on a collision course with No. 2 Luke Fischer (20-9), a talented sophomore from Newton. The High Point senior slipped past Fischer, a District 3 fourth-place finisher at 170 a year ago, 6-4 in overtime when they met on Feb. 1. Senior Gary Siok (17-5) of Westwood will try to spoil the party. Soretta, a first-year wrestler, is yet another PV grappler who showed vast improvement over the course of the season.


285

Top Seed: Austin Scher, R (24-12)

PV’s Seed: No. 7 Matt Kalil (4-12)

Outlook: Scher lost to eventual District 5 winner Eric Chakonis before ultimately placing fourth last year in the district. Scher will likely have to go through North Warren’s second seeded Joey Sprague (14-14) if he wants to take home the gold. Scher won the last meeting between the two, by fall in 1:25. High Point’s No. 4 seed Thomas Hubmaster (16-8) could also contend for the title.


Jeremy Lesserson also contributed with this report.