Allentown High School is off to a solid start to the wrestling season.
The Redbirds are 6-3. They have gone 6-1 since starting 0-2.
Allentown beat Absegami High School, 42-37, on Dec. 15, Trenton Central High School, 48-36, on Dec. 19, Bordentown Regional High School, 44-33, on Dec. 21, Pemberton Township High School, 45-33, on Dec. 22, Hamilton High School West, 60-24, on Jan. 5 and Steinert High School, 42-36, on the same day.
“We’re doing alright. The kids have rallied around each other,” said Allentown coach Mitch Nock. “We’re chugging along and getting better by the day.”
Nock has a balanced, experienced lineup that can pull out close matches.
The consistent standouts have been 106-pounder Sam Nini, 126-pounder Joey Lamparelli, 145-pounder Matt Paglia, 152-pounder Gino Giacolona, 160-pounder Nick Golden and 182-pounder John Kuchar. They have only two combined losses in Allentown’s team victories.
They usually win by pinning their opponents, too.
Golden decked his opponents in 43 and 45 seconds, respectively, against Trenton Central and Bordentown.
“Nick is looking to get to states this year,” Nock said. “He’s looking to do some big things. His body is developing, so we’ll see what happens.”
Paglia also pulled off a sub one-minute pin, when he scored a fall in 49 seconds against Bordentown.
“Matt can get to states as well,” Nock said. “He’s a tough kid who wrestles year round. He’s also a well rounded athlete who played baseball last year for the school.”
But Lamparelli has been Allentown’s biggest standout, with a 9-0 record.
He has pinned four opponents, won by forfeit three times and earned two decisions, including an 11-4 decision over his counterpart from Northern Burlington County Regional High School, in a match Allentown lost as a team, 49-18.
Lamparelli won the Region 6 championship at 106 pounds last winter. He did not place at the state tournament in Atlantic City.
Led by Lamparelli, Golden, Paglia and the others, Allentown is in first place in the Colonial Valley Conference’s Valley Division, though at only 1-0 in division play. The Redbirds are going for their third division title in four years.
But they also expect bigger things this year. Allentown has never won a Mercer County title or served as a host to an NJSIAA sectional tournament quarterfinal. Nock hopes the Redbirds can accomplish both this year.
They certainly have the talent and balance to make program history. But they still have a ways to go before they meet their expectations, though the strong start has been encouraging.
Allentown has six dual meets scheduled for January and February, before the postseason begins. The Redbirds will try to keep their hot streak going in their next meet, on Jan. 9 at home versus Robbinsville High School.
But the big match is set for Jan. 16 at Hopewell Valley Central High School. The Bulldogs are the gold standard in Mercer County. They are responsible for three of Allentown’s four losses in the county in the last three years.
Hopewell Valley is strong again this year, at 6-5 overall. But it has been especially dominant against Mercer County opponents, beating three Mercer schools by a wide margin, 170-39.
Allentown is in for a challenge. But if it passes that test, it is within reach of making program history.
“It would be nice to win a county title,” Nock said before the season. “We’ve been close the last few years. Hopefully we can do it this year.”