The 120-pound match on mat No. 4 at the Hunterdon Central Fieldhouse was where all eyes were glued Friday night. The eyes saw a classic.
Bound Brook sophomore Craig De La Cruz beat North Hunterdon sophomore Ryan Pomrinca 3-2 in an ultimate tiebreaker, an 81/2-minute memorable bout between returning state tournament and region place winners. With returning region champions Kyle Brady and Sal Profaci and state and region runner-up Carl Buttitta also in the bracket, De La Cruz’s victory carried extra importance. One of the returning state place winners isn’t returning to Atlantic City, but that’s been known for awhile.
De La Cruz, beaten by Buttitta in last year’s region final, was one of 10 Bound Brook wrestlers to advance into this morning’s semifinals that begin at 10 a.m. at the Central Fieldhouse. Consolation finals are at 1 p.m. and finals are at about 3 p.m.|
The top three in each weight class will advance to next week’s NJSIAA Tournament, which begins Friday night at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
Last year, Buttitta was a state runner-up at 106, Brady was third at 113, De La Cruz fourth and Pomrinca seventh. The only one who didn’t place was Profaci, slowed by a knee injury.
De La Cruz (31-2) rode out Pomrinca (32-3) in the final 30 seconds of the tiebreaker to send him into semifinals against the top-seeded Brady, who placed third in the state last year after beating Pomrinca for the region title. Pomrinca scored first in regulation and in overtime, answered by De La Cruz.
“Ryan’s a really good kid and I knew it was tough one, but I know I now have the opportunity to show people I can wrestle at 120,” said De La Cruz, a two-time District 18 champ. “Kyle Brady is a very good kid, he took third. I have to score first, wrestle my technique and control the match.”
Brady and Profaci won by major decision and Buttitta by fall.
Defending champs Gary Dinmore (Hunterdon Central, 138) and Jadaen Bernstein (Voorhees, 170) won by major decision and Franklin’s Anthony Messner (195) by technical fall. Dinmore won at 112 two years ago and Bernstein at 160 on his way to a state runner-up finish.
Montgomery junior Anthony Cassar, the District 18 champion at 170, has won 19 straight since losing Jan. 16 by fall to Bernstein. He pinned for the ninth straight time to advance to a rematch with Bernstein in a morning semifinal. Montgomery senior Lou Colonna pinned Woodbridge’s Nick Carbonaro in overtime to gain a District 18 final rematch and 145-pound semifinal with Hillsborough’s top-seeded Rhys Weinberger. Weinberger was a runner-up last year at 138 to Somerville graduated standout Paul Kirchner. There will also be District 18 final rematches at 106 – Hillsborough senior Adam LaBracio and Bridgewater-Raritan junior Gianni Calo – Calo won last week 5-1 – and 160 between Hillsborough senior Tyler Workman and Franklin’s Mike Fagg-Daves. Daves, a region champ at 130 as a freshman and the region’s Outstanding Wrestler, beat Workman 6-5 in last week’s district final.
Delaware Valley junior 220-pounder Brian Baehr pinned in the District 17 final last week by Hopewell Valley’s second-seeded Mike Markulec, avenged that loss with a 49-second fall. District 18 champ Ralph Normandia of Franklin will be Baehr’s semifinal opponent. Baehr’s teammate, Mike Pongracz, who won at 119 in 2011, won at 119 two years ago and will meet Hunterdon Central’s Dylan Nace in the semifinals. Pongracz beat Nace 3-0 for the District 17 title.