By Wayne Witkowski
Freshman Joe Lamparelli continued to show the promise he brought into the season when he won the 106-pound weight class Jan. 28 as one of two Allentown High School’s wrestlers who prevailed in their weights when the Redbirds finished third in the team standings at the Mercer County Championships.
Junior Liam McDermott also was a weight class winner at 170 pounds, as Allentown’s young team finished higher than last year’s fourth-place finish in the team standings despite a young lineup with only one senior among the regular wrestlers.
Allentown freshman Nick Golden lost in the championship finals at 113 pounds.
Freshmen Gino Giacolona at 120 pounds and Matt Paglia at 126 and sophomore Drew Romein at 138 and Nolan Pecci at 160 all nailed down fourth-place finishes. Giacolona and Pecci beat place-winners from last year’s district tournaments, and Paglia made a strong return after sitting out the past three weeks with a finger injury.
“I thought they all did well with such a young team that had five freshmen,” coach Mitch Nock said. “It was the first time we had a full team, so we showed who we truly are with seven wrestlers in the top four. We could’ve done better, but we really did well.”
Lamparelli scored a 5-2 decision in his championship match over Hunter Martell of Hopewell Valley Central High School, which won its seventh straight team title with 278.5 points ahead of Nottingham High School (206) and Allentown (173.5). It was the third time Lamparelli, who is 23-1, beat Martell, a senior, this season.
“I was at a little disadvantage because of [my] age, but it was super important to get this one out of the way and out of my system,” Lamparelli said. “When I got the two back points in the second [period], it gave me a little bit of confidence.”
Lamparelli got an escape shortly after those back points for a 3-0 lead and built it to 5-0 late in the match. He relinquished two points late in the match rather than getting pinned or giving up a lot of points on a few big moves to Martell.
“He was in control in the championship match and picked up his intensity from match to match,” Nock said.
In the semifinals, Lamparelli won by a 14-1 decision over Brandon Murray of West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South and in the quarterfinals, he won by technical fall over Trenton Central High School’s Tavon Rodgers at 2:20.
In his championship match, McDermott decisioned Josh deFour of Hopewell Valley, 8-0, to raise his record to 16-1. He pinned Owen Jones of Lawrenceville School at 1:30 in the semifinals and won by major decision in the quarterfinals, 12-0, over Trenton’s Brian Shawsam.
“I thought [the semifinals] was his match of the year,” Nock said of McDermott. “He stayed on the attack. His gas tank was never empty.”
Golden dropped a 7-0 decision to Hopewell Valley’s Chris Lancione in his championship bout. In the semifinals, Golden upset third-seeded Christian Charich of Hightstown High School, 6-0. Charich was a district place-winner last year.
In dual-meet action, Allentown improved to 9-8 on Jan. 24 with a 42-32 victory over Trenton, as it got pins from Lamparelli, Golden, Giacolona, Anthony Heinz (138), Paskal Miga (145), Nick Campbell (182) and heavyweight Harrison Hill.
The victory strengthens Allentown’s likely No. 8 seed for the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group IV tournament that begins Feb. 6. Nock said he expects that action to take place at Jackson Memorial High School, which looks like the No. 1 seed.
The Redbirds came into last week winning two of three matches in a big quad meet Jan. 21, beating West Windsor-Plainsboro South, 51-24, and Pemberton High School, 36-31, and losing to Seneca High School, 39-28. Lamparelli swept all three bouts — one of them by a pin — and McDermott had two pins.
Allentown wrestles Feb. 1 at home against Robbinsville on Senior Night and travels to West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North Feb. 3 before hosting a quad meet starting 9 a.m. Feb. 4 with Princeton High School, Ewing High School and Pennsville High School.
Allentown likely will remain in second place in the Colonial Valley Conference’s Valley Division, which it won last year behind behind Nottingham, which handed the Redbirds their lone division loss, 36-25, Dec. 30. Nock hopes his team will sweep its remaining six opponents to finish 15-8 in dual meets.
Junior guard Ryan Weise scored her 1,000th career point and finished with 26 points for Allentown when it dropped a 57-52 Colonial Valley Conference showdown, 57-52, to Ewing (13-1).
Sarina Campanella, who scored 12 points, sank a 3-point shot to give Allentown a 41-38 lead in the fourth quarter when Ewing rallied back, outscoring the Redbirds, 19-11, in the quarter. Allentown also beat Trenton, 67-44, Jan. 26, as Weise led the way with 27 points and Campanella and Lauren Coiante chipped in 17 and 13 points, respectively.
Allentown entered the week 12-3 after Middletown High School North gradually pulled away to a 50-36 victory Jan. 28. Weise was Allentown’s lone double-figure scorer with 16 points. She averages a team-best 18.7 points with 33 3-point baskets. Campanella scores 12.4 points per game with 36 3-pointers.
The Redbirds, who are 3-0 in the Colonial Valley Conference’s Valley Division, play at division rival Hamilton High School West Feb. 8. Allentown is ranked No. 3 in the latest conference ratings behind Ewing and Notre Dame High School.
Allentown (5-10) continues its late-season fade after dropping a pair of games last week.
Allentown lost, 88-57, to Trenton Jan. 26. Nahshon Taylor scored 24 points, while Yeshua Powe and Robert Hynes put in 15 and 11 points, respectively, for Allentown. Trenton broke open a 38-32 lead at halftime with a 30-12 surge in the third quarter.
The Redbirds also lost, 65-34, to Ewing Jan. 24. Taylor put in 11 points, and Powe and Anthony Alexander each scored 10.
Coach Jay Graber praised the determination and rugged rebounding of Hynes in recent games.
Allentown remains alive for a state tournament berth based on power points at the lower end of the bracket. It played West Windsor-Plainsboro South Jan. 31.
Allentown travels to Nottingham Feb. 6 and takes on Hamilton West Feb. 7 in a pair of Valley Division games.
Josh Rosenbaum tied the score with 2:58 left with his 29th goal of the season off passes from Joe Pontrelli and Ryan Van Duren before Princeton fired in a shorthanded goal with 1:12 left to pull out a 2-1 victory. The Ravens (10-6-1) had played to a 3-3 tie against Princeton (12-2-3) in their previous game Jan. 18 on a goal by the Ravens’ Shawn Camisa with 5:31 left. Camisa has 22 goals.
Indoor track and field
Kassidy Mulryne finished third in the high jump at 5-2 to lead Allentown’s girls team in the NJSIAA Group III Relays at the John Bennett Indoor Athletic Complex in Toms River Jan. 20. The Redbirds’ 4×400 relay and its distance medley relay team had fifth-place finishes, and Carly Roche placed seventh in the pole vault at 8-0.
Allentown presented awards during its football banquet Jan. 29 that honored its NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group IV and West Jersey Football Patriot Division championship team, which was 10-2.
Linebacker Ricky Mottram — one of the state leaders in tackles the past two seasons — got the Most Valuable Player, and quarterback Jordan Winston got the Most Outstanding Offensive Award. Ryan Huth was honored as the Most Outstanding Lineman. Jha’Qui Brown got the Top Prospect award.