Wrestlers blow out Manville

Hopewell Valley wrestling

By: Mike Molaro
   When everything goes a team’s way — as it did for the Hopewell Valley Central High School wrestling squad in its 69-9 domination of visiting Manville on Jan. 11 — a coach can sit back for a brief moment, as all the hard work becomes worthwhile.
   "A lot of things went well for us," Bulldog coach Mario Harpel said. "Everyone wrestled well, and we went out and did a really nice job."
   HoVal (4-6 overall, 1-3 in the Colonial Valley Conference) won 12 of the 14 matches, including 10 via pin. Senior Nick Kilstein earned a 13-7 decision at 135 pounds, and junior Bo Palker won via forfeit at 215.
   Earning the victory with a pin were sophomore Scott Yaros at 152 (5:25), freshman Kevin Marr at 160 (3:38), sophomore Donnie McLane at 171 (1:32), sophomore George Saliba at 189 (1:01), senior Anthony Lebbad at 103 (1:39), freshman Tom Jones at 112 (1:56), freshman Matt Barnabei at 125 (33 seconds) junior Warren Gerstacker at 130 (1:37), senior Roger Tower at 140 (3:05) and freshman John Gangi at 145 (1:02).
   "Tom (Jones) worked hard and impressed us with his pin," Harpel said. "Nick (Kilstein) also had a nice win.
   "Kevin (Marr) has been a true team player for us. He usually gives up about 15 pounds at 160 for us. It was real nice to see him pin."
   The Bulldogs showed their grit and mettle in last Saturday’s 33-31 home setback against West Windsor-Plainsboro North. HoVal trailed by a huge margin before coming back to win six of the final seven bouts wrestled, giving the Knights a huge scare.
   "This match says a lot about the guys coming back," Harpel said. "They could’ve gone in the tank.
   "The neatest thing was that it was a great wrestling match. The crowd was into it, and every bout was tightly contested. This was the most fun match for me to coach this year."
   Palker (5:40), Gerstacker (3:28) and Barnabei (2:40) each won via pin, while Lebbad moved up to 119 and recorded an 8-0 major decision victory. Saliba had a 6-0 decision, and Jones won via forfeit.
   "The guys put forth a good effort," Harpel said. "George (Saliba) beat Chris Webb, who was 13th last year in the district. Bo (Palker) was losing for most of his match before he turned it around with the pin. Anthony (Lebbad) went up two weight classes and came through for us.
   "All of our guys wrestled hard. I’m really impressed with how we came back instead of throwing in the towel. This was a fun match to coach and to be a part of. I really enjoy it when the guys put forth the effort, and they truly did that against North."
   With matches this week at Hightstown this past Wednesday and at home Saturday against Nottingham, the Bulldogs continue their climb.
   Slowly but surely, HoVal is making its mark. The Bulldogs are working hard, and the results are showing.
   "It’s been all good," Harpel said. "I like where we are and where we are going."