By Andy Loigu
Cody Harrison and Jarod Ostir of Warren Hills, Alex Carida of Hackettstown, and Anthony Duardo of North Warren, advanced to the state championship competition at Atlantic City with third place finishes at the Region I Tournament on Saturday at Wallkill Valley High School in Sussex County.
Joe Renne of Hackettstown lost his third place bout at 126 pounds to Robert Garcia of Pope John, 8-2, ending his wonderful career. During the tournament Renne gained career victory number 123 to become the Tigers’ all-time wins leader. His final record for the 2015-16 season is 30-7. During his career Renne won the Region I championship in 2015 and District I titles in 2014 and 2016.
The state championships at Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall will take place on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, March 4, 5, and 6.
With an inspired performance, knocking off an undefeated wrestler in the championship final, Renne earned the Outstanding Wrestler trophy, voted on by the coaches, at this year’s District I Tournament on Feb. 20 at Warren Hills. He defeated Nick Cassidy of Belvidere 14-5 in the Region I quarterfinal, but lost in the semifinal to Troy Stanich of Roxbury 12-6.
Phillipsburg sent 10 wrestlers to the Region I competition. Brandon Paetzell (132), Brian Meyer (145) and Robert Melise (220) won Region I championships. Kyle Markus was the runner-up at 113 pounds, as were Daniel Wissing at 152 and top seeded Kyle Nothnagel (34-5) at heavyweight.
Warren Hills sent eight and Hackettstown qualified six for the regional brackets.
The top three finishers in each weight class advanced and the champion of each division earned a first round bye for the super regional competition on opening night at Atlantic City. You always beat ‘bye.’
Harrison (106) and Ostir (170) are District I champions from Warren Hills, earning byes which allowed them to skip the Region I preliminaries. Ostir won the 170-pound district championship with an impressive pin in a mere 37 seconds.
At the regional, Harrison (a freshman) lost by fall in 3:57 to Mason Godfrey of Jefferson Township, sending him to the dreaded wrestlebacks to try and salvage a third place finish. He did just that, by defeating Quinn Melofchik of Belvidere 6-5.
Ostir (a sophomore) was in control in winning a 5-2 decision over Al Falco of Sparta in earning his Atlantic City ticket.
“It’s a tough road through the regional wrestlebacks,” said Warren Hills head coach Jarret Hosbach.
“They did not do it the easy way. Give them credit for resilience and mental toughness,” he continued regarding the Blue Streaks’ two place winners. “It would be easy to hang your head over a loss to someone you feel you should have beaten, but if you don’t get over it and get back at it, your season is over. They did not let that happen and now they are going to Atlantic City.”
Hackettstown sophomore Alex Carida (at 132 pounds) qualified for the regionals with a second place district finish, as did Anthony Carida with a second place district finish at 145.
Alex, a sophomore, defeated Wyatt McCarthy of Newton 4-0 in the preliminary, but lost to Paetzell 11-3 in the quarters. With his season on the line, Alex won an 11-7 decision over Connor Meytrott of Montville in the battle for third place.
Anthony defeated Cameron Nauta of Warren Hills 6-4 in his preliminary bout, but also lost to an eventual champion, Meyer, in the semifinal. He then lost a wrestleback bout, ending his season.
Duardo won his preliminary bout quickly, by fall in 18 seconds, over Trevor Warner of Pequannock, but lost to Marco Gaita of West Morris in the quarters. He worked his way through the labyrinth known as the wrestlebacks to reach the 152-pound third place bout, which he won by fall in 3:23 over Joey Schicle of Morris Hills.
Blue Streaks honor veterans
The Warren Hills boys’ basketball team hosted its second annual Support Our Troops Night on Feb. 24.
Past and current members of the armed forces were recognized and proceeds from a 50/50 were donated to help local vets in need.
The Blue Streaks wore camouflage uniforms and finished strong to get a 69-56 win over the visiting North Hunterdon Lions. Warren Hills fell behind 9-0 and trailed 24-21 at the half. However, Warren Hills was on fire in period four, going on a 14-2 run and scoring 30 points in the final period to win going away.
At game’s end, Anthony Veneziano of Warren Hills was 69 points away from reaching the 1,000 point career milestone, a mark which his teammate Johnny Bamford reached on Feb. 20.
Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building.