Wrestling: Wall’s Historic Run Comes to an End in Group II Semifinals
TOMS RIVER - While a 46-15 loss to Hanover Park in Sunday's NJSIAA Group II semifinals at Pine Belt Arena brought Wall's breakthrough season to an end, it may only be the beginning for the Crimson Knights.
After winning the first sectional title in program history this season, Wall returns the bulk of its lineup next season and may be on the cusp of an impressive run behind a talented group of underclassmen.
"We look forward to coming back here next year,'' said head coach Brian Fischer. "That will be our goal, and then obviously taking it one more step further. I am so proud of these boys. We went further than I think anybody thought we would, and it was going to have to stop at some point anyway."
While Wall's 33-26 win over Long Branch in the Central Jersey Group II final was historic, it also proved costly. Starting 106-pounder Ryan Valante suffered a broken arm, and starting 145-pounder Jack Wishart (20-9) suffered bruised ribs, which meant three forfeits on Sunday by the Crimson Knights once a strategic forfeit at heavyweight was included. That's a lot to overcome against a team as talented as Hanover Park.
"We ran into a buzzsaw,'' Fischer said. "That's a good team. They're No. 8 in the state for a reason, and we're not even in the top 20."
Wall weighed in usual heavyweight Aldo Guisse at 220, which is where the match began. Fischer wanted to try to minimize the damage early in the match considering Hanover Park's heavyweight, Nick LaShell, is undefeated.
"That's what we had to do,'' Fischer said. "Their heavyweight is undefeated, and we were looking to hopefully trade some points there as opposed to risking not getting any. The benefit was definitely in keeping Aldo at 220."
Guisse came away with a 1-0 decision over Tommy Hunt at 220 thanks to a third-period escape to give Wall a 3-0 lead, but that would be the extent of any drama. Wall forfeited at heavyweight and 106, and then Hanover Park's vaunted lower weights blew open the match as the Hornets rattled off seven straight wins to score 46 unanswered points and put the match away. Hanover Park went on to lose 34-33 to High Point in the Group II final when High Point pinned in the last four bouts to win a thriller.
Lou Ramio started the run when he pinned Wall's Denzel Tovar in 1:23 at 113. Tovar was winning 4-2 before Ramio caught him in a cradle and stuck him for an 18-3 advantage. Wishart being out of the lineup meant have to bump everyone up, which meant forfeiting at 120 to 2012 state champion Anthony Cefalo to give Hanover Park a 24-3 edge. Christian Bassolino, Joe Zecca, Gene Angelo and Anthony Oliveri all followed with wins, including an 8-0 major decision by Oliveri at 152 that officially clinched the match.
Wall sophomore Brett Donner (29-1) picked up a solid 5-2 win at 160 over Anthony Bassolino thanks to a first-period takedown and a second-period reversal. Teammate Tommy Wishart won 7-5 on a takedown with 11 seconds left in overtime at 170 over Rory DeLuca, and Wall freshman Matt McKenzie (27-2) followed with a 1-0 decision over Mason Sangillo at 182. Senior Tyler Romanelli (26-3) ended the match for Wall with a 7-0 decision over Eric Boccard at 195.
While Wall will have to replace its starters from 182 to heavyweight, the rest of the lineup returns on a talented young team that certainly could make another run next season.
"They got experience, and I don't think they got caught up in the lights and big stage,'' Fischer said. "That team was just better than we were today. I feel we're battle-tested. I feel we've got the nerves down for any pressure situations. I'm looking forward to the districts, regions and states, and I know my boys are, too."
Hanover Park 46, Wall 15
220: Aldo Guisse (W) d. Tom Hunt 1-0
285: Nick LaShell (HP) by forfeit
106: Leonardo Stefanelli (HP) by forfeit
113: Lou Ramio (HP) p. Denzel Tovar 1:43
120: Anthony Cefolo (HP) by forfeit
126: Austin Nash (HP) tf. Joe Demuner 16-1
132: Christian Bassolino (HP) p. Connor Albrecht 1:40
138: Joe Zecca (HP) md. Chad McClelland 10-2
145: Gene Angelo (HP) d. Josh Glantzman 4-1
152: Anthony Oliveri (HP) md. Dylan Bale 8-0
160: Brett Donner (W) d. Anthony Bassolino 5-2
170: Tommy Wishart (W) d. Rory DeLuca 7-5 (SV)
182: Matt McKenzie (W) d. Mason Sangillo 1-0
195: Tyler Romanelli (W) d. Eric Boccard 7-0