Monthly Archives: February 2013

Colonia’s Melendez wins Region 3 quarterfinal bout

UNION — In what was easily the most hotly contested bout of the evening, Colonia High School senior Pete Melendez narrowly edged Justin Contreras of Morristown 9-8 at 152 pounds in the 1st round of the Region 3 Tournament at Union High School.

Melendez and Contreras, the six and 11 seeds respectively, energized the crowd that was mostly quiet throughout the first seven weight classes, going toe-to-toe for the full three rounds. Their bout came down to the final seconds, and when he had been declared the winner, Melendez fell flat on his back and sprawled out like a star, one he definitely is.

“I knew in the first 30 seconds of the first period that I was getting myself into a dog fight,” Melendez said. “I really just had to keep my head in it and that’s what got me through the match. I had a drive to win and I just wanted it so much more than he did.”

But he knows that he still has work to do in Friday’s Quarterfinals, where Melendez will meet 3rd-seeded Anthony Bassolino of Highland Park.

“I need to train hard to come out as the Regional Champion,” Melendez said.

Just moments after Melendez’s epic bout, fourth-seeded Justin Becker of Rahway took care of his business, besting 13th-seeded Diego Rivera of Plainfield by a 13-6 decision.

“My technique was the difference; I’ve been wrestling a long time and I just know a lot of things that nobody else knows,” Becker said.

He’ll move on to battle fifth-seeded Inan Sikel of South Plainfield in Friday’s Quarterfinals, and Becker is going to draw on his experiences of being in the Regional Tournament all four years of his high school career.

“I have been here all four years and I’m used to it all,” he said. “I know how to perform on this stage. You can’t let it scare you being out here, so I just go out there and show him what I’m made of.”

Maybe the surprise of the night came at 170 pounds, where Jordan Handwerger of South Plainfield was pinned in 3:38 by Vincent Mattia of Whippany Park. South Plainfield, which advanced all 14 of their wrestlers to the Regional Tournament, is one of the top teams in the entire state.

But when the quarterfinals begin on Friday evening, they’ll only have 13 of their wrestlers still alive. Even though they’re now down a teammate, the Tigers will remain focused and determined, according to Tory Russell.

“Seeing a teammate lose picks us up even more and makes us stronger,” Russell said after winning his 220-pound bout against David Tobe of Elizabeth. “We have to fight hard and we just need to stay strong and focused.”

Russell dominated Tobe, winning 12-2, but said the final score wasn’t indicative of how tough of a bout it really was.

“It was a tough match, and I had to really fight through it,” Russell said.

He’ll take on 5th-seeded Steven Hill of Parsippany Hills on Friday, with just two more victories standing between he and a Regional title.


Area wrestlers hungry for more

UNION — For Watchung Hills High School junior wrestler Mike Magaldo, Wednesday’s Region 3 first-round matchup against Andrew Tompkins of Cranford was just a way to get himself loose for the quarterfinals on Friday.

“I didn’t want to come out and pin him, I wanted to come out and dominate the whole bout,” Magaldo said. “I got the tech, but I want to build up momentum going forward and get better every bout.”

Magaldo, who won the state tournament a year ago, but qualified second for the Region 3 Tournament after losing to Corey Stasenko of South Plainfield in last weekend’s sectional tournament, dominated Tompkins at 126 pounds and won by technical fall at the 3:45 mark.

He outgained Tompkins 21-4, but knows that a matchup with Stasenko potentially looms large in Saturday’s final.

“I just stopped wrestling in the third period against Corey last week; it’s not a technical thing against him, it’s a mental thing,” Magaldo said. “I just need to build the confidence. He’s the goal in the final, I won’t settle for anything less than that.”

Teammate Matt Coppola also took care of business as a two-seed, easily besting Kyle Bota of Parsippany Hills 20-8 at 138 pounds.

“I felt pretty good. I was really confident coming out here tonight,” Coppola said. “I was just trying to come out and get used to wrestling here and get as many takedowns as possible. I just need to stay focused, if I wrestle like I know I can, I know nobody can stop me.”

Seventh-seeded Derrick Washington of Plainfield, who dominated his bout against Jonniel Bazan at 152 pounds, pinning the 10th-seed in just 52 seconds, shares that mentality that he can’t be beaten. Washington said he came into Wednesday’s bout on a mission.

“I’m hungry,” he said. “I want to come out as a Regional Champion. I just need to knock people down that are in my way, regardless of who they are.”

One of the many upsets in the 1st round came when Tom Cunningham of Scotch Plains-Fanwood took down David Mupo with a pin at the 3:43 mark of their 120-pound bout. Cunningham, the 9th-seed, was emotionally drained following his bout, but knows how quickly he needs to turn around and get ready for top-seeded Jon Mele of Governor Livingston.

“I just need to go out and wrestle my best and if I can beat the 1-seed, that’d be amazing,” Cunningham said.

Maybe the surprise of the night came at 170 pounds, where Jordan Handwerger of South Plainfield was pinned in 3:38 by Vincent Mattia of Whippany Park. South Plainfield, which advanced all 14 of their wrestlers to the Region 3 Tournament, is one of the top teams in the entire state, but Handwerger’s loss only strengthens their team, according to one of his teammates.

“Seeing a teammate lose picks us up even more and makes us stronger,” South Plainfield’s Tory Russell said after winning his 220-pound bout against David Tobe of Elizabeth. “We have to fight hard and we just need to stay strong and focused.”

St. Joseph skates past Old Bridge in GMCT final

WOODBRIDGE — With the rain pouring down outside, the St. Joseph High School ice hockey team supplied the thunder inside, scoring two short-handed goals in a span of 26 seconds at the end of the first period en route to a 4-1 victory over Old Bridge in the Greater Middlesex Conference Championship.

Sean Rappleyea netted both short-handed goals for St. Joseph (17-2-3) and John Reid and Michael Nisky each found the back of the net as the top-seeded Falcons defended their GMC title.

Right from the start, St. Joseph delivered crushing body blows in the open ice to set the tone against the second-seeded Knights.

“The difference for us tonight was just that we had this mentality that we weren’t going to lose,” St. Joseph coach Ryan Carter said. “It took St. Joseph 21 years to win a championship and we just didn’t want to give up the trophy.”

Less than three minutes into the contest, Reid got the Falcons on the board when he stole the puck behind the Old Bridge net and wrapped a shot inside the near post to beat Knights goalie Justin Amayo.

From there, the teams traded scoring opportunities for the next 10 minutes, but inside of three minutes to play, St. Joseph was whistled for a double-minor penalty.

Not fazed by the four-minute penalty, Rappleyea and his penalty-killing mates took over, putting the game out of reach with his pair of goals. The first of the two goals at the 13:21 mark of the first period stunned Old Bridge, but the second, just 26 seconds later, left the Knights (13-6-2) shell-shocked.

“My first goal, their defenseman made a bad pass and I read it from the blue line and just stepped up and walked in on net,” Rappleyea said. “But on my second, I just made a couple moves and dangled their goalie and scored.”

Amayo made 35 saves in the contest for Old Bridge, which was outshot 39-20.

With St. Joseph on the power play, Nisky found the back of the net at 1:15 of the second period to put the Falcons up 4-0. They wouldn’t add to their lead for the remainder of the game, but the damage had been done.

Dan Rubin scored at the 4:32 mark of the second period to get Old Bridge on the board, but the Knights, who dropped a 6-1 decision against St. Joseph in the regular season, couldn’t get any closer.

The Knights managed to get 20 shots on net against Daniel Garb, but most of them came from the outside and weren’t serious threats to find the back of the net.

Defending their GMC Cup was a big goal for St. Joseph coming into the contest, but Carter knows that there is more to the season.

The Falcons are the sixth seed in the NJSIAA Non-Public Tournament, with a matchup against 11th-seeded Montclair Kimberly looming Thursday.

“We’ve had some pretty big games this year, beating Don Bosco was a huge step for our program, and that game gave us the belief that we’re capable of playing with and beating anyone in the state,” Carter said. “We’re a huge contender. If people want to overlook us, that’s fine, we’re just going to keep churning.”

Atilola, Leto to double dip at Meet of Champions

Most high school track athletes are thrilled to compete in one event at the NJSIAA Meet of Champions.

Rahway’s Emmanuel Atilola and Old Bridge’s Alex Leto will double their pleasure on Saturday.

Atilola is a contender in the high hurdles and high jump and Leto will be in the mix in the 400 and 4×400 at Toms River’s Bennett Indoor Complex. The boys’ meet starts at 10 a.m., the girls pole vault begins at 11 a.m. and the rest of the girls meet kicks off at 1 p.m.

Atilola, a senior has seized his opportunity this winter after paying his dues behind talented teammates as an underclassman.

“We’re happy for him and his success; as a sophomore and junior he always came in second and third in his events,” Rahway head coach Gary Mobley said. “He has taken advantage of his moment to shine this year and making the most of it. He’s carried the torch this winter.”

Atilola has qualified for both the 55-meter hurdles and the high jump Saturday. He is seeded tied for fifth in the high jump after clearing 6-4 and 10th in the 55-meter hurdles after he ran a 7.73.

“We really feel that he’s met our expectations,” Mobley said. “He’s really composed and he works hard.”

Atilola helped Rahway finish second at last weekend’s Group II meet, when he finished second in the high jump and won the the 55-meter hurdles.

“We’re hoping for top-6 finishes in both events,” Mobley said. “We’re just pleased with his performance and we’ll be happy with whatever he finishes with.”

Leto is a junior, but like Atitola he came up through the ranks in a talent-laden program.

“Freshman year I wasn’t a big part of the team and last year I was fighting for a serious role, and now as a junior I have been part of a team that’s been reckoned with,” Leto said.

The Knights have been one of the state’s best 4×400-meter relay teams this season, with Leto running as anchor leg. He said that switching over from the leadoff leg that he ran a season ago to the anchor has added some pressure, but Leto sees it as added motivation to be great, especially when the 4×400 is one of the last events of any meet.

“Being anchor when it’s the last event is a good pressure to have on the team and I,” he said.

Leto’s 4×400 team placed third at the Group IV meet last weekend, coming in at 3:27.55 just one week after finishing second at the Central Group IV meet in 3:28.03. They are seeded fifth at the Meet of Champions. Individually, Leto is seeded 11th in the open 400, an event he’s hoping to place in.

“My expectations are to just win my heat and give myself a chance to place overall,” Let said. “Regardless of how I do, I’ll just be happy because I made it this far.”

Other area boys to watch are Sayreville sophomore Colin Winslow in the 400 (sixth seed), Piscataway senior Jamaal James in the 55 dash (eighth seed) and Franklin senior Yakibu Ibrahim in the 55 hurdles (third seed).

Area girls to watch: Franklin freshman Selena Thorne in the high jump (second seed), Piscataway junior Brionna Pettus in the 400 (eighth seed), Piscataway junior Jazmine Elleston in the 55 hurdles (eighth seed), Woodbridge in the 4×400 (seventh seed) and Old Bridge junior Oksana Sokolova in the high jump (sixth seed).

Sayreville, South Brunswick roll to GMC titles

Sayreville's Jay Ciszewski. Photo by: Augusto Menezes

Sayreville’s Jay Ciszewski. Photo by: Augusto F. Menezes

NORTH BRUNSWICK — All season long, Sayreville High School boys bowling head coach Michael Weinert made it known that if his team bowled to its potential, opponents would have a hard time beating them.

On Wednesday, the top-seeded Bombers completed a perfect run through the Greater Middlesex Conference, knocking off second-seeded Colonia 2-0 to win the conference’s tournament title.

Senior Jay Ciszewski came within a fault on his 12th ball of a perfect 300 in the second game, but that extra 10 pins wouldn’t have made much of a difference. Sayreville, which won the first game 1,077-966, exploded for a total pinfall 1,187 in the second game behind Ciszewski’s 290 to win total wood by a staggering 320 pins.

“We were prepared to bowl today. We knew it was going to be a good match and we knew we’d be tested and pushed,” Weinert said. “Credit to Colonia for making it this far; there wasn’t a lot of room for error today. But when we bowl to our potential, we’re tough to beat.”

In the second game, all five Bombers went over 200, as AJ Angotti (244), Mike Bernstein (227), Kevin Nettler (214) and Andy Danchisko (212) backed up Ciszewski’s monster game.

“The guys had my back the entire tournament; I didn’t bowl that well against St. Joseph on Monday and they picked me up then so I figured I could pay them back today,” Ciszewski said.

He did so in a major way, collecting a strike on each of his first 11 balls in the game, but when he approached the line for the 12th time, his plant foot slid a bit too far and went over the line for a fault. Even though he came that close to a perfect game, Ciszewski found a silver lining.

“It’s OK,” he said. “I’ll save it [a perfect game] for the state finals.”

Chad Gallop kept Colonia in it, rolling games of 231 and 195, but in the end, Sayreville had too much firepower.

On the girls side, fellow top-seed South Brunswick continued to roll its competition, besting third-seeded Carteret 2-1 to capture the team title.

The Ramblers jumped out on top, winning the first game 1,032-969, but the Vikings took control from there, winning Game 2 988-901 and capping it off with a narrow 959-955 victory in the deciding Game 3.

“Carteret bowled an awesome first game,” South Brunswick head coach Tara Burniston said. “Even if we bowled our average, we wouldn’t have won, so I told the girls to forget about it and if they wanted to win, they had turn it up a notch.”

In the second game, Amy Caruso took her coach’s advice and started the game with strikes in the first eight frames en route to a 277. Caruso, the GMC’s Individual Champion, finished with a tournament-best 692 series.

“I knew I had to come out strong because Carteret is a really good team and I just tried my best to take it frame-by-frame and I didn’t think about the bigger picture at hand,” Caruso said.

Even with Caruso’s 277, South Brunswick needed a couple more of their bowlers to step up in the second game to swing the momentum, and Connie Thanapuasuwan and Alanna Zetchus answered the bell. The pair rolled matching 181 games to help spur the Vikings and give them a lead in total pinfall that they wouldn’t relinquish.

Carteret’s Heather Androvich did all she could to will the Ramblers to victory, but in the end, South Brunswick’s depth was too much. Androvich finished with a 665 series (217-204-244) and capped off her day with four consecutive strikes in the third game.

Boys Final

Sayreville 2, Colonia 0

Sayreville 1077-1187 — 2264: Jay Ciszewski 238-290 — 528, AJ Angotti 231-244 — 475, Mike Bernstein 235-227 — 462, Kevin Nettler 181-214 — 395, Andy Danchisko 171-212 — 383, Mike Danchisko 192-191 — 383.

Colonia 966-879 — 1944: Chad Gallop 231-195 — 426, Joe Adase 183-213 — 396, Brandon Wilczynski197-189 — 386, Bruce Thome 179-191 — 370, Kyle Caggiano 176-190 — 366, Ryan Gormanly 131-125 — 256.

Girls Final

South Brunswick 2, Carteret 1

South Brunswick 869-988-957 — 2916: Amy Caruso 203-277-212 — 692, Connie Thanapuasuwan 185-181-187 — 553, Alanna Zetchus 162-181-194 — 537, Kristin Krier 164-171-182 — 517, Adrianna Anghelone 146-178-183 — 507, Brianne Font 155-159-183 — 497.

Carteret 1032-901-955 — 2888: Heather Androvich 217-204-244 — 665, Cryssi Golino 216-155-217 — 588, Cynthia Youngclaus 214-177-180 — 571, Dashira John 211-177-133 — 521, Alexis Policastro 174-188-150 — 512, Kati Golino 147-116-164 — 427.

Woodbridge girls surprising everyone

Over the first two rounds of the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament, one thing is clear: the Woodbridge High School girls bowling team isn’t going to go quietly.

The tenth-seeded Barrons knocked off seventh-seeded Edison 2-0 in the first round last Wednesday before pulling off the upset of the tournament; a 2-1 decision over second-seeded Cardinal McCarrick.

Jodi DiSilvestro’s 598 series carried Woodbridge, which entered the GMCT with a record of 5-9-3. But their performances of late have been nothing but stellar.

“The last couple of weeks, our girls have been bowling really well; shooting over 850 consistently and they’ve come a long way since the beginning of the year,” Woodbridge head coach Rich Maddock said.

In the semifinals, which take place this afternoon at Carolier Lanes in North Brunswick, the Barrons will take on third-seeded Carteret, which is fresh off of a first-place finish in the NJSIAA Central Sectionals.

“We just have to stay focused,” Maddock said. “A lot of times, the girls get frustrated with everything that’s going on, so I just have to keep them calm and concentrate on making spares. If we make spares, we can hold our own with a lot of good teams.”

On the other side of the girls bracket, top-seeded South Brunswick will matchup with fourth-seeded North Brunswick. Both teams qualified for the NJSIAA state finals after strong performances this past Saturday.

“When we’ve bowled them in the regular season and in tournaments, we’ve sometimes gotten the better of them, as far as scores go,” North Brunswick head coach Paul LaMagra said of South Brunswick. “But whenever we’ve gone head-to-head, we’ve been able to take one out of the three games and it’s going to take our best effort to beat them.”

Over on the boys side of the tournament, the top four teams have made it to the semifinals. Top-seeded Sayreville will meet fourth-seeded St. Joseph and second-seeded Colonia will matchup with third-seeded Woodbridge.

Combined, the four teams have won 55 of a possible 67 matches this season, which makes the semifinal round one to watch. Not only have the four teams made it to within two wins of a conference championship, but they’ve done so by dominating the competition.

But Sayreville head coach Michael Weinert knows that if his team bowls to their potential, they shouldn’t have much to be concerned about.

“If we bowl the way we should bowl, we should win,” Weinert said. “I’m confident in that. Obviously as you get down to these last few teams, you’re bowling against better competition.”

Sayreville and St. Joseph met twice in the regular season, with the Bombers winning the first meeting 3-1. In the second of the two matches, the teams tied 2-2.

“They’ve been bowling much better lately and they’re clicking at the right time,” Weinert said. “But we don’t worry about what the other team does. We just worry about us and if we go out and execute, we’ll be where we want to be.”

GMC Individual Champ Joe Adase leads Colonia against Mike Chundak and up-and-comer Mark Simon and Woodbridge in the other semifinal. Both teams go four deep in terms of stars in their starting lineup, so plenty of pins should fall to determine which of the two squads moves on to battle for a conference crown.

North Brunswick edges Franklin for Group III title

NORTH BRUNSWICK — Opening a three-game series with identical scores in your first two games is quite difficult to do. But for the North Brunswick High School girls bowling team, they showed that, sometimes, doing the impossible leads to the bigger prize.

At Saturday’s NJSIAA Central Sectionals, the Raiders opened with a pair of 895 games and finished with a 932 in the third game, narrowly edging second-place Franklin for the Group III crown.

Both teams qualified for the state finals, which will take place Feb. 11 at Carolier Lanes in North Brunswick.

“All I can say is that they bowled very consistently,” North Brunswick head coach Paul LaMagra said. “It’s almost impossible to bowl the same game twice in a row, but it’s just a coincidence. Luckily, we had those solid first two games, which got us off to a good start. We just stayed solid and in that third game we did even better and it was enough to overtake Franklin.”

Leading the way for North Brunswick was Kate Lonczak, who shot a 607 series (180-191-236). Her set was the fifth-highest of all the competitors, but the Raiders had someone different lead the team in each of the three games.

“In each game, someone different stepped up and it gave us a nice boost,” LaMagra said.

Franklin, which captured the Skyland Conference Tournament title on Thursday, backed that performance up with a strong showing, coming in second in the group. The Warriors got off to a fast start, rolling matching 943 games to open their day, before finishing with a 795. Morgan Marcial paced Franklin as she rolled a 591 set (184-222-185), and her showing was one that she has been searching for all season long.

“I wanted to show my coach that I can really bowl this way and me having a good season personally has been a great way to end my senior year,” Marcial said.

In Group IV, South Brunswick finished 45 pins behind Howell. The Vikings got off to a slow start, by their standards, but finished their day with two games over 900 to advance to the finals.

“The first game, there were a little bit of jitters there; we dug ourselves a little bit of a hole, but came back in the end with a really solid third game,” South Brunswick head coach Tara Burniston said. “We went frame-by-frame and they let everything hang out and we took control at the end. It was great to see.”

South Brunswick finished with 988 and 910 in their final two games, thanks in large part to Kristin Krier. The sophomore posted a 178-245-181-604 line, which was good enough for the seventh-best set on the day. Amy Caruso went over 200 twice and Alanna Zetchus struck out in the tenth frame of the third game to finish with a 205.

Not to be outdone by their Greater Middlesex Conference rivals, the Carteret Ramblers won the Group I crown, finishing 50 pins ahead of second-place Cardinal McCarrick. Carteret’s third game of 941 propelled them to the top of the group.

“They were absolutely fantastic in the third game,” Carteret coach Charles Simon said. “The first and second game, we could have done a little better, but they were relaxed going into the third game and they bowled as a team and pulled it out.”

Heather Androvich and Cryssi Golino helped the Ramblers, posting 576 and 566 series respectively. Both bowlers went over 200 in the third game, with Androvich registering a 211 and Golino posting a 208.

“Coming from behind is always nice,” Simon said. “They showed today in the third game that this game is fun and that’s part of why we were able to pull it out.”

Demetria Bethel of Piscataway scored the second-highest series at 644, with Katie Latham of Cardinal McCarrick coming in just behind her at 643.

Franklin sweeps titles in Skyland Conference Bowling Tournament

Franklin's Sergey Eccles. Photo by: Mark R. Sullivan.

Franklin’s Sergey Eccles. Photo by: Mark R. Sullivan.

WASHINGTON TWP. — Heading into the third and final game of the Skyland Conference Bowling Tournament Thursday afternoon, Franklin High School coach Ken Margolin took his boys team aside and gave them a bit of a pep talk.

“I just told them that they ‘needed to step it up,’ ” Margolin said, and that ‘there were a lot of teams within 100 pins of us and if we bowl better than everyone else in this game, then we’re going to win.’ We needed to send a message; you’re conference champs in the regular season, so if you want to be tournament champs, you’ve got to step it up.”

And step up they did, as the Warriors rolled a 1,015 in the third game to pull away, capturing the title at Oakwood Lanes.

The sextet of Dylan Coker, Sergey Eccles, Kevin Greene, Jake Hills, Nick Piomelli and Jake Olszyk finished with a team score of 2,960, 99 pins ahead of second-place South Hunterdon. Greene and Hills spilt time for Franklin in the tournament.

“We knew it was going to be tight on both sides,” Margolin said. “We just needed to knock down more pins than everybody else. In this conference, if our boys and girls bowl to their ability, we’re not going to lose many matches.”

The Franklin girls squad of Michelle Kwan, Morgan Marcial, Alanna Merritt, Megan Rossi and Lucy Shepherd cruised to the team title, finishing 105 pins ahead of Warren Hills.

Franklin's Megan Rossi. Photo by: Mark R. Sullivan.

Franklin’s Megan Rossi. Photo by: Mark R. Sullivan.

Before the third game, Margolin tried to pump the girls up in a similar way he did with the boys, relaying a simple message of confidence.

“They just needed to relax and trust their stuff and bowl to their abilities,” Margolin said. “That’s been the message all season long.”

Margolin credited volunteer assistant coach Robin Both with helping the girls stay focused all year.

“She’s a tremendous coach and someone that has been the voice in their ear when I’m with the boys team,” he said. “She’s been telling them exactly what they need to do and it’s been great to have her on board.”

Both teams led wire-to-wire, but their coach knows that the way they bowled on Thursday won’t take them too far come state tournament time.

“The whole season is about states,” Margolin said. “It’s nice winning the conference and the conference tournament, but it is all about states. We have some work to do when we get to states, but we know what we need to do to move on the rest of the season.”

Boys team scores: 1. Franklin 857-988-1015–2960; 2. South Hunterdon 916-964-985–2861; 3. Warren Hills 896-916-962–2774; 4. Hunterdon Central 927-938-891–2756; 5. Watchung Hills 939-953-855–2747; 6. Immaculata 937-941-879–2557.

Girls team scores: 1. Franklin 860-869-779–2508; 2. Warren Hills 792-848-763–2403; 3. South Hunterdon 653-631-645–1929; 4. Watchung Hills 615-609-611–1835; 5. Hunterdon Central 563-591-644–1798; 6. Immaculata 542-628-507–1677.