BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Gov. Livingston reclaimed the bragging rights to the ongoing crosstown rivalry by defeating New Providence, 46-19, at their home opener wrestling match Friday night.
The 2014-15 edition of the Highlander-Pioneer wrestling rivalry ended with the Pioneers claiming a four point victory -- a match that GL shouldn't have lost according to GL Head Coach Richard Ortega. "We lost to them last year -- it was the first loss to them in awhile," said senior Jack Blasch, recognizing the tough competition in this year's matchup.
Although Ortega was pleased with the match results, he knows there is room for improvement and mistakes that need to be fixed. "We are a good team -- we work hard," said Ortega, and credits his team for their hard work ethic -- but, "we are still a little out of shape -- we have a little bit to work on," he said.
The Highlanders were fueled by the energy of the large home crowd as they stepped onto the mat for the home opener.
The match started with a forfeit by New Providence giving freshman Ryan Sergio a win in the 106 weight class. Senior Jake Pecorelli, wrestling at 113, added three to the board, not allowing freshman John Palmer any points in the 7-0 decision.
Next up, senior Nic Mele (120), [who made a fourth place finish in the state regional tournament], dropped a one point decision to sophomore Owen Smith. With seconds left on the clock, the ref called an illegal move, ultimately deciding the 1-0 win for Smith.
This is a new rule and allows the ref to interpret if a move had intent to hurt and be ruled illegal, explained Ortega.
GL freshman James Snyder grappled a tight match winning a 3-2 decision over sophomore Tommy Jankowski in the 126 weight class.
New Providence senior Zander Fellazolla pinned sophomore Andre Moriak in the 132 pound weight class to narrow GL's lead to three points.
New Providence's glimmer of a repeat victory faded as GL won seven of the remaining 9 matches that included a forfeit in the 285 weight class, giving junior Dan Tomlinson the win, and GL won decisions by senior Andrew Gallitelli (138) and sophomore Quinn Haddad (160), and junior Chris Bottone picked up a 9-1 major decision over Dante Tripicchio at 182.
Three Highlander varsity veterans showed their mettle with pinfall wins -- senior Austin Senkarik (145) against sophomore Matt Byrnes in 1:28, junior Turner Haddad (170) against junior Joseph Delia in 2:36; and senior Jack Blasch (195) against Andrew Joachim at 4:59.
For the Pioneers, senior Tyler Gazaway (152), powered his way to a first period pinfall win over senior Nick DeLuca and senior Klaudio Bardhkou (220) wrestled to a 13-4 major decision over junior Ben Collins.
"It was a great first match for us. We had a lot of fans. It was a great night to start off the season," said Blasch.
The Highlanders traveled to Old Bridge on Saturday for a tournament between Matawan, Old Bridge and GL.