The Hanover Park wrestling team reached the Group I finals Sunday, but lost to Bound Brook, 49-12.
That is only part of the story.
In the state semifinals, the Hornets pulled off the shocker of a wild, wrestling-filled day at Toms River North by stunning Kittatinny, 31-30.
So, while coach James LaValle’s team made the trip up the Garden State Parkway after having paced second in the state in Group I, they arrived home knowing that they opened quite a few eyes. along the way.
“It was an outstanding accomplishment,” Hanover’s 285-pound Nick LaShell said. “In the beginning of the season, we were not in sync as a team. We didn’t wrestle well together as a team.”
But the Hornets pulled themselves together in time to make it to the state final, where they were humbled by Bound Brook.
“They’re obviously outstanding,” LaShell said. “You just cannot say anything bad about them. They’re tough in every single weight class. They get it done when they need to.”
The Somerset County school took it to the Hornets early and Hanover, unlike in their first match against Kittatinny, couldn’t mount any sort of comeback.
Bound Brook began the match with three straight pins. The Hornets battled, but never threatened.
“They’re tough right straight through,” Hanover’s Joe Zecca said. “Every match for us was tough. We came here to wrestle and a lot of guys did that, but Bound Brook was tough in every single weight class. We gave a great team effort but we just came up a little bit short.”
Hanover Park did manage to come away with four wins, including three straight at one point.
After the three pins to begin the match, 285-pound Nick LaShell stopped the bleeding when he beat Steven Johnson in overtime, 3-2. LaShell escaped with six seconds left in the fourth OT to pull out the win.
Bound Brook would win two more weights to make it 25-3 before the Hornets came alive in the lower weights, which helped key their dramatic victory over Kittatinny in the first round.
At 120, Hanover’s returning state champion Anthony Cefolo, who emerged as a state contender at the groups last year, showed that he is ready for another run at a state crown when he outlasted tough Craig De La Cruz in three overtimes, 3-2. Cefolo reversed De La Cruz in the second OT and then rode the Bound Brook wrestler for much of the remainder of the third OT to post the win.
Last year, Cefolo beat De La Cruz and Paulsboro’s John Gentile in the same day at the Groups, which propelled his status in the state picture. This year, it is Gennaro Cuccolo who seems to be upping his wrestling just in time for districts, which begin Friday night at Morristown. Cuccolo beat Bound Brook’s Zach Vatalare, 7-3, for his second win of the day.
Zecca scored his second win of the day in the next weight when he beat Tyler Awtry, 5-2.
“We need to get a little more well-rounded,” LaValle said. “We need to spend some more time on the mat in the summer and wrestle all year.”
Bound Brook 49, Hanover Park 12
106–Pete Limenza (B) maj. Dec. Leo Stefanelli, 12-0.
113–Robert Murray (B) dec. Austin Nash, 3-2.
120–Anthony Cefolo (H) dec. Craig De La Cruz, 3-2.
126–Gennaro Cuccolo (H) dec. Zach Vatalare,7-3.
132–Joe Zecca (H) dec. Tyler Awtry, 5-2.
138–Nicholas Accetta (B) dec. Christian Bassolino, 4-3 (3 OT).
145–Emmannual Soto (B) pin. Anthony Oliveri, 1:04.
152–Ryan Doerr (B) pin. Ryan Paff, 1:45.
160–Josh Ugalde (B) dec. Anthony Bassolino, 1-0.
170–Andrew Gombas (B) pin. Anthony Lee, 2:35.
182–Isaiah Soto (B) pin. Eric Boccard, 2:35.
195–Aaron Saavadra (B) pin. Tom Hunt, :38.
220–Ronald Picado (B) pin. Will Julich, 1:12.
285–Nick LaShell (H) dec. Steven Johnson, 3-2 (4 OT).
Hanover Park 31, Kittatinny 30
106–Jake Vanwingerden (K) dec. Leo Stefanelli, 5-0.
113–Austin Nash (H) dec. Christian Silva, 7-2.
120–Anthony Cefolo (H) pin. Nick Klinger, 3:29.
126–Gennaro Cuccolo (H) pin. Nick West, 3:30.
132–Joe Zecca (H) dec. Austin Scrivani, 5-3.
138–Thomas Murphy (K) dec. Christian Bassolino, 5-1.
145–Nick Romyns (K) dec. Anthony Oliveri, 6-2.
152–Ryan Paff (H) dec. Richard Zandarski, 7-5.
160–Anthony Bassolino (H) maj. Dec. Dave Popek, 12-4.
170–Kieran Gerrity (K) pin. Anthony Lee, 1:46.
182–Dylan Wunder (K) pin. Eric Boccard, 2:26.
195–Jake Brook (K) pin. Thomas Hunt, 3:40.
220–Garrett Armstrong (K) dec. Will Julich, 6-0.
285–Nick LaShell (H) pin. Tom Smith, 3:36.