The numbers all added up for the Delaware Valley Regional High School wrestling team on Friday. Nine bouts won. A pair of six-pointers on the scoreboard and three major decisions for good measure.
The result? A 36-23 NJSIAA Central Jersey Group 2 finals victory and the 17th sectional championship in program history for the top-seeded Terriers over Raritan.
“This was a complete team effort against a quality opponent,” said Del Val head coach Andy Fitz as he and his team emerged from the wrestling room after updating the program’s win total on the wall of fame from 749 to 750.
Del Val (21-3), ranked 11th in the state by the New Jersey Wrestling Writer’s Association and No. 8 in the region by lehighvalleylive, advanced to Sunday’s NJSIAA Group championships at Pine Belt Arena at Toms River North High School.
The Terriers will face the South Jersey sectional champion Collinswood, a 28-27 winner over Haddonfield on Friday, in the Group 2 semifinals scheduled for 9 a.m.
The other Group 2 semifinal will be Hanover Park vs. High Point.
“We’re going to enjoy this win for a little bit but we’re definitely not going to be satisfied with just getting to Toms River,” junior standout Kyle Lightner said. “Our goal is to come home on Sunday with the (Group 2) trophy.”
Lightner won an impressive 10-0 major decision over Raritan standout Ethan Wolf at 220 pounds as the Terriers jumped to a big early lead.
Del Val is looking to claim its eighth group championship and first since winning Group 2 in 1999 under then head coach Paul Petro.
“We have tremendous respect for Raritan,” Fitz said. “We scouted them a few times this season and our staff is outstanding at putting our lineup together and we were confident that we could put together this type of performance.”
The Terriers set themselves up nicely before anybody even took the mat, weighing Lightner in at 220 to create a matchup with Wolf.
Del Val already led 6-0 at that point, thanks to back-to-back wins by Shawne Ramsby at 182 and Eli Kalfaian at 195.
Ramsby scored a 3-0 decision over Justin Acevedo, while Kalfaian used a 3-point nearfall in the final period to secure a 6-2 decision over Ryan Dickens -- a Lafayette football signee.
Then after Lightner finished with Wolf, senior heavyweight Josh LaDuca nearly blew the roof off the packed gymnasium with a third-period fall over Dylan Kansky at 285.
Kansky led 5-4 after two periods and chose bottom to start the third, when LaDuca worked a two-on-one corkscrew to turn Kansky for the pin and extend the Terriers lead to 16-0.
“I knew I could never forgive myself if I didn’t give everything I had and lost that match,” LaDuca said. “I made a few mistakes earlier in the match, but I knew I was still in it and if I kept working I would be able to turn him.”
Freshman Gage Crater (126) and Tanner McLaughlin (152) also came up with big wins for the Terriers.
Crater (22-10) took the mat with his team leading 20-11 following A.J. DeRosa’s 9-1 major decision over Cameron Rafalko at 120.
Crater, considered a decided underdog, surrendered an initial takedown before outworking Rockets junior A.J. Erven (26-5) over the final five minutes and 20 seconds to post a 7-4 decision and extend Del Val’s lead to 23-11.
“Gage Crater wrestles every second of every match like he is down by one with 10 seconds left,” Fitz said. “He is relentless on the mat.”
The Rockets (26-3), who’ve now lost three-straight sectional finals matches to Del Val, cut the Terriers' lead to 23-14 with five bouts left, but took a giant step backwards when Christian Sookdeo was disqualified for flagrant misconduct during his match with Del Val’s Matt Kolonia at 138.
Kolonia was having his way with Sookdeo, leading 13-2, when the Raritan junior threw a straight right-handed jab into Kolonia’s face.
Sookdeo was disqualified and the Rockets were deducted three team points, making it a 29-11 match with four bouts left.
Rhys Zigich clinched the win with a 2-0 decision over James VanFechtman at 145.
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