Mendham’s Eric Friedman placed eighth at the NJSIAA wrestling tournament in Atlantic City last year and hopes to climb even higher up the podium at Boardwalk Hall in March.
That journey to Atlantic City begins for Friedman at District 1, which starts at 9 a.m. Saturday at Mount Olive. Friedman is the Daily Record’s pick to win the 138-pound weight class. He looks to be joined as a District 1 champion by 220-pound teammate Tim Byrne, who is the pick to win his weight.
West Morris is predicted to have four weight class winners, including three in a row in the lower weights in Shane Metzler (106), Kade Loughney (113) and Dylan Luciano (120). Kevin Sears (195) is the selection at 195.
Here is a look at District 1.
Last year: Phillipsburg had by far the best team in the district all season, but most of the best wrestlers were suspended for the postseason. Warren Hills turned out to be the clear winner for the team title, outdistancing the Stateliners, 183-142½.
Returning champions (last year’s weight in parenthesis): Joe Renne, Hackettstown (120), Max Nauta, Warren Hills (132), Eric Friedman, Mendham (138), Max Elling, Phillipsburg (152), Aaron Flitcroft, Mendham (195), Andrew Pacheco, Warren Hills (285).
Here and there: Phillipsburg’s Brandon Paetzel, who lost in the state finals to Delbarton’s Ty Agaisse at 106 last year, is out for the season after injuring his hand. Warren Hills’ Matt Valli, last year’s 113-pound winner, is out for the season with a knee injury.
Best weight class: There are several particularly loaded weight classes. At 138, Mendham’s Friedman, Phillipsburg’s D.J. Wissing and Warren Hills’ Max Nauta are not only the best in the district but are among the three best at Region 1.
The 132-pound weight has quality depth in North Warren’s Gino Fluri, Phillipsburg Donald Agans, West Morris’ Matt Liberato, and Warren Hills’ Zach Nauta. The 195-pound weight is very deep with West Morris’ Kevin Sears, Belvidere’s Ryan Stephen, Mendham’s Aaron Flitcroft, and Warren Hills’ Kurt Nemeth.
Heavyweight just might have two of the best in the state in Phillipsburg Kyle Nothnagle, a Pennsylvania transfer, and Warren Hills’ Andrew Pacheco. Mendham’s Alec Skaltsis is another good one.
Predicted champions at each weight
106: 1. Shane Metzler (West Morris); 2. Kyle Markus (Phillipsburg); 3. Alex Schlegel (Mendham).
113: 1. Kade Loughney (West Morris); 2. Tom Kosar (Phillipsburg); 3. Nick Cassidy (Bevidere).
120: 1. Dylan Luciano (West Morris); 2. Tyler Agans (Phillipsburg); 3. Jimmy Smith (Belvidere).
126: 1. Joe Renne (Hackettstown); 2. Brian Meyer (Phillipsburg); John Fluck (Warren Hills).
132: 1. Gino Fluri (North Warren); 2. Donald Agans (Phillipsburg); 3. Matt Liberato (West Morris).
138: 1. Eric Friedman (Mendham); 2. D.J. Wissing (Phillipsburg); 3. Max Nauta (Warren Hills).
145: 1. Stephen Friedman (Phillipsburg); 2. David Migliaccio (West Morris); 3. Kenny Kane (Belvidere).
152: 1. John Kaluzny (Phillipsburg); 2. Troy Navarino (Mendham); 3. Rene Sousa (Belvidere).
160: 1. Max Elling (Phillipsburg); 2. Caleb Isemann (West Morris); 3. David Harris (Belvidere).
170: 1. Jimmy Schuitema (Phillipsburg); 2. Kevin Merle (Belvidere); 3. Dan Maresca (Mendham).
182: 1. Drew Horun (Phillipsburg); 2. Stephen Merle (Belvidere); 3. Jack Butrymowic (North Warren).
195: 1. Kevin Sears (West Morris); 2. Aaron Flitcroft (Mendham); 3. Ryan Stephen (Belvidere).
220: 1. Tim Byrne (Mendham); 2. Robert Melise (Phillipsburg); 3. Danny Colabella (Mount Olive).
285: 1. Kyle Nothnagle (Phillipsburg); 2. Andrew Pacheco (Warren Hills); 3. Alec Skaltsis (Mendham).
Team title—Phillipsburg was stung by the suspensions last year and will leave no doubt as to who the best team is this time. Look for the Stateliners to send 13 wrestlers to Region 1 at Wallkill Valley.