Savino records 100th career win


By: John E. Powers
   Every time the Lawrence High School wrestling team takes to the mats, it seems the Cardinals register another milestone.
   Last Wednesday, the Cardinals beat North Hunterdon for the first time, 35-28. The next day, in a 76-0 defeat of Hopewell Valley, senior 130-pounder Mark Savino recorded his 100th career win to join his brother Mike as the only two in school history to hit the century mark.
   The Mercer County Tournament champions were beaten by Somerset County Tournament champion Hillsborough 55-17 Saturday in Hillsborough.
   The Cardinals, who were scheduled to wrestle Hightstown on Wednesday, are on the brink of wrapping up both a Colonial Valley Conference Colonial Division title and an overall league title. They are 12-2 overall with both losses coming against Skyland Conference schools, Voorhees and Hillsborough.
   The third-seeded Cardinals will hope to earn their first Central Jersey Group III sectional win when they face Hightstown at Wall High School at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. If the Cardinals win, they would face second-seeded Wall at 7 p.m. Tuesday in a sectional semifinal.
   "Hopefully, we can take that first step and win that first sectional win," Lawrence coach Chris Lynne said.
   The Cardinals did record their first win against North Hunterdon on Tuesday at Lawrence. The match opened at 145, where Chris Floyd won by a 10-0 major decision, but North rebounded with a major win by Anthony Sciaretta at 152 and a decision by Vin Catullo at 160 to take a 7-4 lead. But Lawrence won the next six straight bouts between 171 through 103. Neal Amato, who is 8-4 on the season after having suffered a collarbone injury last year, started the run with a 5-3 win over Sean Kershner.
   "Neal put a stop to it (North Hunterdon’s run)," Lynne said.
   That was followed by pins by Brian Friedeborn (189) and Adam Oliszewski (215). Eric Pak, who weighed in at 195 pounds, went up to 215 and beat Sean Plaisted. Matt Friedeborn (103) scored a decision, and technical falls by Matt Friedman (112) and Savino (130) delivered the final points.
   "It was really a no-win situation for us," Lynne said of the North Hunterdon match. "Everybody says North Hunterdon is down (4-9), so if we win, we’re supposed to win.
   "I don’t care if they’re down. We still have a lot of respect for them."
   The next night, the celebration was for Savino, who picked up his 100th career victory. Savino has ambitions of winning a state championship next month in Atlantic City, and reaching 100 wins is part of the process of getting there. Mike Savino holds the school record at 105, but now his younger brother — who notched a win against Hillsborough — is just four wins from tying him.
   "It’s rewarding, and Mike is rooting for me," Savino said. "It’s four years of hard work and long seasons and it kind of cheers you, knowing it pays off."
   Savino, now 23-2, has lost only to Jefferson’s Dan Vallimont in the 135-pound final at the Hunterdon Central Christmas Tournament in December and to Randolph’s Matt Kaplan at the Coaches’ All-Star Meet at Rider University.
   "I’m really enjoying this season," Savino said. "To be part of a winning season makes it so more special. We have made history and every individual is working hard. It motivates you."
   Savino’s partner in the practice room, Chris Floyd, is 16-2 at 145. Matt Friedeborn is 16-8 at 103, and Matt Friedman is 20-2 at 112. Alex DeHart is 13-10 at 119. Brian Friedeborn is 18-5 at 189, and Adam Oliszewski is 20-2 at 215. Everybody is pitching in.
   "Nobody is messing around in the room, and that really makes it a great environment to work in," Savino said.