Wrestling: Delbarton takes No. 1-ranked Blair down to the wire in regular-season finale
MORRIS TOWNSHIP – Score another point for New Jersey high school wrestling.
In what is evolving into one of the best single seasons in terms of dual matches in recent memory, Blair Academy and Delbarton lived up to the hype and then some on Friday night.
Blair, the No. 1 ranked program in the country according to Rokfin, scored a come-from-behind, 26-24 victory over Delbarton, No. 1 in the latest NJWWA Top 20, at Abbot Brian Clarke Gym on the Morris Township campus.
“Hats off to Delbarton. This was a great dual,” Blair coach Ross Gitomer said. “Delbarton is extremely talented and the team coach Bryan Stoll puts together every year is extremely talented. I knew this was going to be a big feat with just the way we matched up with them. This was a very good night for New Jersey wrestling.”
Trailing by four points heading into the final match, the Buccaneers escaped the Morris County campus when heavyweight Carter Neves decked Delbarton’s Connor Martin in 31 seconds to secure the team victory.
“I always want it to come down to me. It puts all the pressure on me and I like that. It’s where I thrive,” said Neves, the nation’s top-ranked heavyweight.
“Obviously, it was a great dual. I just went out there and do what I do. My respect level for Delbarton is high. Coming in here and putting it on the line. Respect to them. They had a huge crowd. They’re a really good team.”
For the first time in a dual match this season, Delbarton went from being the hunted to the hunters in the final tuneup before the NJSIAA Non-Public A team tournament gets underway on Tuesday. The Green Wave and Buccaneers won seven matches apiece and split in bonus points, but Neves’ fall was the difference.
“We left some bonus points on the table early on. I was hoping that wouldn’t come back to bite us. We were working for pins and probably should have been working for technical falls. That’s on us as coaches,” said Stoll, whose team is the No. 1 seed in Non-Public A.
“But at the end of the day, that’s Blair Academy. They’re a great team. Ross [Gitomer] is an awesome coach. It’s an honor to compete against them and to go down to the wire. Last year was a little bit of a fluke as we were missing guys and they were missing guys. Here we were both at full strength and we took them down to the end. This is something we’re going to learn from.”
Another one! Delbarton cruises to 14th straight Morris County Tournament title behind seven champions
Blair had won both matches at home, defeating the Green Wave, 34-27 exactly one year ago and 56-6 in 2020. The Green Wave have clearly closed the gap over the last two years.
Delbarton (14-4) raced out to an 8-0 lead on back-to-back major decisions from freshmen Dylan Palentchar (106) and Jayden James (113).
Leo DeLuca (120) got the Buccaneers on the board with a 5-3 decision over Daniel Jones. Two straight majors by Marc-Anthony McGowan (126) and Matt Lopes gave the Blairstown prep school its first lead of the night, 11-8.
McGowan, the Cadet world champion from Tampa, Florida, defeated sophomore Chase Quenalt, 11-3. It was the season debut for Quenalt, who missed the first two months of the campaign rehabbing after an injury.
“He (Quenalt) went out there and fought,” Stoll said. “He saved bonus points for us against one of the top wrestlers in the country."
Vincent Lee put the home team up by four points and sent the home crowd into a frenzy when he majored Roman Martinez in the penultimate match, just before Neves reclaimed the spotlight seconds later.
“Whoever is in front of us (in Non-Public A) next week is going to be really good. We’re going to see a lot of state-quality guys in every match,” Stoll said. “We’ll probably have to go through two of the top four teams in the state to do it. We came out healthy tonight, which is really important. It’s not going to be easy, but I think we’re in a good place.”
Blair 26, Delbarton 24
Carter Neves (Blair) vs. Connor Martin (Delbarton)
Neves, the top-ranked heavyweight in the country, rallies the Buccaneers with a pin in 31 seconds for the win.
Blair 26, Delbarton 24
Vincent Lee (Delbarton) vs. Roman Martinez (Blair)
Lee gives Delbarton the lead with one bout to go. The junior takes down Martinez five times for a 12-4 major decision.
Delbarton 24, Blair 20
Henry Forte (Delbarton) vs. Joshua Anthony (Blair)
Forte limits Anthony to a 12-6 decision. The teams are tied with two bouts to go.
Delbarton 20, Blair 20
Simon Ruiz (Delbarton) vs. Lorenzo Norman (Blair)
Ruiz, the 2022 NJSIAA champion at 157 pounds, gives Delbarton the lead again with a 4-2 win. Ruiz scores his points on a takedown midway through the first period, an escape in the second and another escape late in the third.
Delbarton 20, Blair 17
Louis Cerchio (Delbarton) vs. Peter Snyder (Blair)
Snyder hit with a stall with nine seconds left in sudden victory. Cerchio pulls out a 2-1 win to even the score through 10 bouts.
Blair 17, Delbarton 17
Alessio Perentin (Delbarton) vs. Paul Ognissanti (Blair)
Perentin comes through for the Green Wave. The sophomore gets an escape and a takedown in the third period for a 5-3 win.
Blair 17, Delbarton 14
Carl Betz (Delbarton) vs. William Henckle (Blair)
Henckle makes it two in a row for Blair. The freshman earns a 6-2 decision over Betz with six bouts left.
Blair 17, Delbarton 11
Joey Davi (Delbarton) vs. Logan Rozynski (Blair)
Rozynski, a Wyoming Seminary transfer, defeats Davi, 4-0 on two early takedowns to help Blair retake the lead.
Blair 14, Delbarton 11
Will Dekraker (Blair) vs. Tyler Vazquez (Delbarton)
Vazquez, the 2022 NJSIAA champion at 132 pounds, scores a 6-2 decision over Dekraker to even the score through six bouts. Three first-period takedowns is the difference.
Delbarton 11, Blair 11
Matt Lopes (Blair) vs. Trevor Jones (Delbarton)
Lopes makes it three straight for the Bucs and the lead. The junior scores a 13-4 major decision against the Green Wave freshman.
Blair 11, Delbarton 8
Marc-Anthony McGowan (Blair) vs. Chase Quenalt (Delbarton)
McGowan, the Cadet world champion who has committed to wrestle at Princeton, pulls Blair within a point with an 11-3 major decision over Quenalt, who returned to the mat for the first time this season.
Delbarton 8, Blair 7
Daniel Jones (Delbarton) vs. Leo DeLuca (Blair)
DeLuca puts the Buccaneers on the board with a 5-3 decision. A reversal with five seconds left in the second period and an escape midway through the third was the difference.
Delbarton 8, Blair 3
Jayden James (Delbarton) vs. Ryan Meier (Blair)
James adds more bonus points for Delbarton. The freshman scores a 13-2 major decision.
Delbarton 8, Blair 0
Dylan Palentchar (Delbarton) vs. Benji Koch (Blair)
Palentchar cruised to a 11-0 major decision to give the Green Wave the early lead and key bonus points in the opening match. The freshman raced out to a 7-0 lead in the first period on a takedown, two back points and three back points.
Delbarton 4, Blair 0
This article originally appeared on Morristown Daily Record: Delbarton NJ wrestling takes Blair to the wire in finale