Four from Pascack Valley had moved on from the Districts, while two have already wrestled in attempt for further success.
Matt Beyer (132), Casey Lewis (182), Robbie Natelli (120), and George Dvoynos (170) had all claimed a spot in the Region 1 Tournament hosted at Bergen Community College. Although, only Natelli and Dvoynos wrestled in the first round. The first place finishes from Beyer and Lewis resulted in the two having a first round bye.
At 120, Natelli wrestled Wyatt Ross from Cresskill. In the County Tournament earlier this year, Natelli pinned him in 2:08 in the consolation bracket. Natelli repeated his success, shutting out Ross in a 5-0 decision. In Round Two, Natelli has the task of wrestling a familiar face in River Dell's Jotaro Kurachi.
The rivalry between Natelli and Kurachi has seen Natelli emerge victorious over Kurachi in their dual this past January, but Kurachi pulled away as victorious twice against Natelli last season. One of the victories came in last year's District 8 Tournament in the consolation round. Having lost two out of three against Kurachi in the past two years, Natelli will have a chance to even up the score against him with this intense matchup.
Dvoynos was not as fortunate to have the same success as Natelli in the first round of the Regions, as he fell to Emerson Boro's Zach Lewis in a 16-1 tech fall. Therefore, Dvoynos' successful first season wrestling on Varsity comes to a close.
Natelli and Kurachi will not be the only rematch PV will have in the second round. When Beyer returns from his first round bye, he will wrestle Old Tappan's John Pabst at 132 who Beyer just recently pinned in the finals of the District Tournament.
The 182 bracket features PV's other District champion in Casey Lewis. If Lewis defeats Kittatinny's Josh Klimek, there is a good chance that he faces a rematch against Northern Highlands' senior, Shane Sosinksy. In the dual against the Highlanders this season, Sosinsky majored Lewis 14-7.
Natelli, Beyer, and Lewis' matches all take place Friday, February 24th at Bergen Community College.
During the respective finals matches of Matt Beyer and Robbie Natelli on Saturday, they decided to spice up the occasion by wearing unconventional singlets.
These singlets feature two gold stripes that start at the shoulder blade and follow to the quadricep area, where it wraps around the leg. There is one wide green stripe in between the two gold on one side of the uniform. On the opposite side, the gold and green stripe are only wrapped around at the leg area. Finally, in the middle of the back of the singlet is colored black with a gold colored Indianhead in the middle.
While many may have been scratching their heads at the sight of the singlets, it turns out these singlets were not a recent Pascack Valley wrestling invention. In fact, they originate as far back as to twenty years ago, according to Beyer.
"It's actually a really old singlet from probably about the 90s. But I actually wore it last year in the Regions [Tournament]," Beyer said.
By the sound of it, there may not be enough of these throwback singlets to go around to every PV wrestler. Beyer shared how he and Natelli actually got access to the singlets.
"We have one at the school, but the other one was from a guy that used to wrestle at Valley. He found one in his attic so he gave it to me. And I wrestled in it in the regions last year, so I thought that District Finals would be a perfect time to wear it."
Beyer, who didn't specify the former Indian wrestler that gave him the singlet, then explained that Robbie's throwback uniform was the one from the school.
Whether Beyer or Natelli will wear these retro singlets in the Regions remains a mystery. But considering the fact that Beyer wore it in the Regions last year, the possibility seems to be at least plausible if not probable.
It is safe to say that sophomore Tommy Chiellini made immediate impact for this PV wrestling team after serving his 30-day suspension for transferring over from Don Bosco.
His first match of the season came on January 18th against Tenafly, and was PV’s eleventh match. Since then, Chiellini has accumulated 11 wins and zero losses.
Chiellini’s season did not end how many expected it to including Chiellini himself, after he injured his finger during the warmups of Round 1 of the state sectional tournament. Word on the street was that his finger slammed down onto the mat, but Chiellini commented on the diagnosis of it.
“I fractured it at the growth plate and ripped it out [of] the nail bed,” Chiellini said. After PV’s loss to River Dell that night, Chiellini went to get surgery on his finger that same night.
The injury put Chiellini out indefinitely for PV’s last team match and the individual tournaments. Chiellini admitted that he enjoyed the season, but the injury to his finger was a huge blow.
“The season was great and was lots of fun while it lasted,” Chiellini said. “The injury was a freak accident and it’s something that I’m just going to have to live with and begin to prepare for the future.”
Coach Tom Gallione also commented on how he felt about his standout wrestler.
“I felt bad for him [Chiellini]. I know he was gearing up for it, I know he wanted it. I felt bad for him and the way it occurred. You warm up every time before a match. For however long wrestling has gone on, you warm up. It’s just an unfortunate situation.”
After the injury occurs, it can always be hard to live with the pain that comes with it and the hassle it can be to everyday life. But with so little of the season left, Chiellini felt deprived of a good ending to the season.
“It’s been hard to deal with the past few days. Especially having the end of the season so close, it felt like I was stripped of my season and my hard work. But I just have to look at the big picture and that I have two more years to wrestle and complete my goals.”
There can be a lot to learn from a sports injury. For any athlete to have to process that they are forced to sit out their respective sport is never an easy task. Many feel that to get back to where they were, starting their training process over is necessary. Not to mention the time it takes for an injury simply to heal. Chiellini sees this time to sit out a chance to sit back and think about what he can prepare for in the future.
“I think I can learn from this injury. There will always be bumps in the road, but that shouldn’t stop you from achieving your final goal.”
Chiellini also mentioned that his teammates have helped lift his spirits though this tough time, that they’ve been reaching out and giving him support. The season-ending injury aside, Chiellini first season at PV went anything but unnoticed.
And for Chiellini’s coach to watch it all go down this season, he was impressed with what he’s seen from him, including Chiellini’s early days.
“I’ve seen Tommy [Chiellini] wrestle since he was a little kid. He’s a great competitor, he’s very talented. You could see that this year. The 11 or 12 matches that he wrestled, you saw that. It’s hard to practice for a month and not really compete on the mat, and there were a few close matches early. Then you could see once he got more and more relaxed, once he got more and more comfortable, you could see he was turning it on. And it’s just unfortunate that he got the injury the other night.
“But I’m impressed, I’m excited for another two years of him. Two more years of him is going to be a good thing. It’s a nice group and every single kid in our lineup is coming back, and there’s a lot to be said for that.”
The Indians finished off their team matches February 11th home against Nutley and Northern Highlands.
PV went 1-1 on the day, with their win coming from their match against Nutley. James Allmers started off the match and won by a technical fall. Robbie Natelli the match win a pin, followed by an overtime win by Nolan Shields.
After they jumped out to the 14-0 lead, Nutley put forth the reigning District 13 champion, Frank DeMaio. But luckily, PV had their sophomore standout Matt Beyer on the mat for them to face DeMaio. Beyer proceeded to major DeMaio with a score of 12-4.
Will Morris won by a decision at the 160 bout. After Morris' victory, PV put George Dvoynos out on the mat. During his bout, he was down 4-0 at the end of the first period. Dvoynos' opponent, Craig Hadlock, tacked on two more points in the second. But Dvoynos didn't seemed to be phased, as he recorded a takedown and pinned Hadlock in 3:40.
After the 170 bout, PV had a 27-7 with only six bouts to play. Unfortunately, the Indians lost four of those bouts and won just two. The last bout of the night was the 113 bout, which featured Jake Averna on the mat for the Indians. Averna pinned his opponent, and amazingly tied up the match score.
It looked like that the match was going to go into tie-breaking criteria. That was avoided after the Nutley coach got hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty point, which put Nutley one point down from the Indians. The final score ended as 33-32 in favor of PV.
The Northern Highlands match did not quite go as well, as PV fell by a score of 42-25. Our scorers included Natelli, Beyer, Stephen Soravilla, Morris, and Zach Olson. The former two won by technical fall while the latter two won by pin. Morris won by a decision.
Next up for all PV wrestlers is a chance to enter the Districts tournament on February 18th at River Dell High School.
Gallione: "The kids wrestled with a lot of heart, a lot of pride, and every single kid battled out there.”
River Dell may have crushed PV's hopes and dreams of advancing in the state sectional tournament, but Coach Gallione is always looking to stay positive.
PV's 36-25 loss on Monday night included many tough luck situations, including Tommy Chiellini's last minute injury and Jake Prusha's last minute takedown loss, to only name a pair of devastations.
Regardless of the outcome, the bright side of the situation was simply making the desired tournament.
“There’s pride [in making it] because it’s a step in the right direction,” Coach Gallione began. “We missed it last year, we made it this year. We fell short of the goal we wanted to accomplish and thought we could accomplish, but with that said, there’s still pride in making it."
Had the Indians defeated River Dell, they would have gone on to face Sparta, the number one seeded team in their section. With this being said, the Indians would have gone into their second straight away match. Many teams would consider this a disadvantage, but the Indians are certainly not many teams.
“Our goal all week was to not have another home match this year which would’ve meant that we were away at Sparta today and at the sectional final on Friday. That was our focus but we came up a little short.
“We had chances, we had opportunities, the kids wrestled with a lot of heart, a lot of pride, and every single kid battled out there."
Despite the tournament elimination, the PV wrestlers still have one more dual meet and one more tri-meet left in their season followed by the individual Districts and Regions tournaments. They already rebounded by smoking Glen Rock 52-15 Wednesday night.
The said goal was to play out these last few team matches and then get the wrestlers ready to win in the District Tournament in attempt to move them into the Regions tournament.
“We’ve got four matches this week and our goal is to set our guys up, work on what they need to do individually. You do that stuff and the team matches will take care of themselves. We want to win these last four matches leading into the districts.”
The Indians could not prevail against the Golden Hawks, once again.
This comes as the fifth straight loss to River Dell within the past four years. Coming into the night, there were many question marks about which PV wrestlers would wrestle whereas the Indians had their share of injuries. In the end, the likes of Matt Beyer and Jake Averna ended up battling it out on the mat.
The match started at the 126 weight class, and PV got off to a good start with Robbie Natelli winning by a decision. PV's next wrestler was Nolan Shields, who lost to Brian Meeth in an overtime takedown.
With the match tied at 3-3, Beyer stepped up to the mat. In his bout, he tacked on five extra points for PV, winning by technical fall against Sean Burke in 2:29.
The 145 weight class seemed to be in the hands of Tommy Chiellini, but he was forced out with an apparent injury to his finger during warmups.
Stephen Soravilla unfortunately could not capitalize on his last second move to the 145 spot, as he fell to Paul Kallensee for the second time this season. Although, the Indians were still up 9-7 after the 145 weight class bout.
The three matches that followed were wrestled by Jake Prusha, Will Morris, and George Dvoynos in that order. Prusha gave up a tough decision loss at the buzzer, Morris won by a major decision, and then Dvoynos pinned his opponent, Hiyuma Nagai.
At this point, the Indians were up with a 19-10 lead over the Golden Hawks. The first of the final seven matches started out with Jack Tsokanos on the mat against Patrick Rizzo at 182. Back on January 6th, Tsokanos defeated Rizzo in a decision 3-1. But on this night, Rizzo returned the favor and beat Tsokanos by a decision score of 9-5.
Casey Lewis was one key wrestler that was definitely missed back in January against this River Dell team. Lewis pinned Tyler Neehaut in 1:41 to boost PV to a 25-13 lead.
The situation to follow did not go as planned, but did not kill the Indians' chances. Anthony Romana lost at 220 by a major decision, but Mitchell Soretta lost at 285 only by a decision. The 285 class has been a struggle for PV all season long, so to not give up six points at this class was big for the Indians to keep themselves in the match.
The match swung back to the polar opposite side of the weight spectrum, with Bradley Zirlin and Jared Wagriech wrestling at 106. Wagriech beat Zirlin by a decision in January, but pinned him in this tournament in 0:59.
River Dell controlled the score at this point in the match, winning 32-25 before the start of the 113 bout. With only two bouts left for PV to catch up, two major decisions were necessary for the win at least. The matchup was Jake Averna against Kyle Taibot.
Devastatingly, Taibot pinned Averna to seal the bout and the match for PV. There was no possible way for PV to catch up after Averna's defeat. After James Allmers lost via major decision against Jotaro Kurachi in the next and final bout, PV had no choice but to face defeat in the first round of their state sectional tournament.
However, PV's 36-25 loss was not a failure to most. The Indians clearly displayed some of the hardest fought battles on the mat of the entire season. They limited River Dell from running the table with pins and/or technical falls, and instead forced most of their matches to decisions and major decisions. This match certainly did not see PV give a lack of effort or commitment, only a lack of outcome.
For the first time in eleven years, the Indians made this tournament. With their entire roster being comprised mostly of sophomores and juniors, PV can look forward to playoff contention next season.
But before that, PV has their next dual match against Glen Rock this Wednesday, February 8th.