|Notable Coaching Changes:||Dick King --> Art Schaeffer (Dieruff)|
|Harry Wall --> Dick Ortwein (Northampton)|
|Rule Changes:||All Falls = 6 Team Points; Decision Wins by 10+ Points = 4 Team Points|
|Added to League:||Jim Thorpe & Pleasant Valley join the Lehigh-Northampton League.|
|Due to Number of Teams - Two Divisions of 7 Teams Each Are Formed.|
|East Penn League Champions:||Bethlehem Catholic & Easton Tie (8-1)|
|LVIAA League Champion:||Lehighton (7-0)|
|Lehigh-Northampton League Champions:|
|North Division:||Saucon Valley (6-0)|
|South Division:||Salisbury (6-0)|
|District Champion:||Saucon Valley (5 Champions, 1 Runner-up)|
|Regionals:||District XI 9 Total Champs; Saucon Valley (4), Easton, Freedom,|
|Lehighton, Liberty & Pen Argyl (1 each)|
|State Championships:||Saucon Valley Tied 1st (1 Champion & 1 Runner-up)|
|District XI has 4 finalists|
|Individual State Champion:||Dan Santoro, 133, Saucon Valley|
While much remained the same heading into the 1971-72, there were changes taking place on several fronts. First, there were several rules changes. Previously, first period falls scored six team points while second and third period falls scored five team points; all decisions scored three team points. Beginning with the new season, all falls earned six team points. In addition, a new “superior decision” was added where decisions by ten points or more would score four team points.
With Jim Thorpe and Pleasant Valley joining the Lehigh-Northampton League, there were now fourteen teams in the league – too many to allow for a full league schedule under PIAA rules. This required two divisions – North and South to be established, as follows:
|Pen Argyl||Pocono Mountain|
After the sudden death of long-time, legendary Northampton coach, Harry Wall, Tom Ortwein stepped in to coach the Konkrete Kids. Harry Wall had been coaching at Northampton High School since April 1945. He conducted the first exhibition at Northampton Junior High School and fielded the first team during the 1945-46 season. Considered one of the fathers of the Lehigh Valley League, he compiled a record of 180-110-4 over 26 seasons. Very active with supporting his wrestlers, students and the community, the dedication from the Northampton Class of 1972 describes Harry as a “coach, teacher and friend” to his students.
Easton suffered a tremendous loss when Brad Weaver tragically lost his life in an auto accident in August 1971. Weaver, a state runner-up and leader in the Rover wrestling room, was posthumously named co-captain of the 1971-72 team. Co-Captain Tom Heilman said Brad was an untouchable person, a great guy and tremendously hard work. He said that he felt connected to Brad, thought of him often and was inspired by Brad to provide leadership to a young Rover team, which included future stars Greg Shoemaker, Curt Stanley, Lee Guzzo and Darwin Brodt, throughout the season.
One other coaching change saw Dick King, who had been involved with the Dieruff wrestling program since it began in 1959, retired. King was replaced by former Easton District champ, Harry “Art” Schaeffer.
Liberty was coming off an undefeated season and opened up with a non-league match against Northampton. The Hurricanes had five falls and spoiled Coach Tom Ortwein’s coaching debut by drubbing the Kids 48-6. Bethlehem Catholic returned a strong core of wrestlers from a ten-win team. The Golden Hawks roared out to a 21-0 lead and closed the match with three straight falls on their way to an easy 42-6 win over Allentown Central Catholic.
With Saucon Valley returning seven seniors, many of whom had wrestled together since their midget league days, the Panthers were primed for a big season. Freedom surprised Saucon by jumping out to a 16-0 lead after three bouts including falls by Mark Hill (103) and Lance Leonhardt (112). After the teams traded decisions in the next two bouts, Dan Santoro started a five bout winning streak that included two “superior” decisions. The Panthers led 20-19 with two bouts remaining. Wayne Horton’s 9-1 win at 180 put the Patriots back in the lead, but Tom Giordano’s 9-4 decision over Charlie Tuskes at heavyweight gave allowed Coach Charlie Bartolet to escape with a 23-22 nail biter.
The same evening, Emmaus rode a strong middleweight performance to a 29-23 victory over Parkland. Notre Dame, Southern Lehigh and Stroudsburg also triumphed in their openers over Salisbury 30-21, Whitehall 30-22 and Pen Argyl 32-25, respectively. Two nights later, Catasauqua crushed Northwestern 45-9; Lehighton shut out Jim Thorpe 57-0; and Palmerton beat Bangor 42-22.
Northampton took an early 9-0 lead over Saucon Valley, but the Panthers ran the table with nine straight wins including falls from Tom Lechner (127), Dan Santoro (133), Dennis Underkoffler (138), Don Rohn (145) and Dan Travisano (154) on their way to a 46-9 victory. The same evening, East Penn League action commenced with Bethlehem Catholic cruising past Neshaminy 47-7. The Hawks had five falls from Pat Sculley (120), Jim Fink (127), John Schnalzer (138), Jack Sculley (180) and Frank Seier (Hwt).
On December 9th, Liberty trailed Allentown Central Catholic 21-18 with three bouts remaining. Pete Kessack (165) and Milt Schuler (Hwt) both scored falls to pull out a 32-23 win for the Hurricanes. Pleasant Valley and Slatington saw every bout end in either a fall or forfeit as the teams battled to a 36-36 draw. Nazareth topped Lehighton 30-19 in their opening bout of the season; Parkland defeated Northwestern 44-8, Pocono Mountain won their opener over East Stroudsburg 31-25; and Pen Argyl beat Palmerton 39-21.
Easton made its debut on December 11th with a young, but talented team. The Rovers jumped out to an early 13-6 lead against Emmaus then trailed 21-19, but got a win from Tom Heilman at 180 and a draw at heavyweight to edge the Hornets 24-23. Wilson trailed Notre Dame by eighteen points, but reeled off four straight falls by Mike Bertolino, Bob Creveling, Ron Keesler and Sam Crivellaro from 138 to 165 to win 33-27.
Phillipsburg continued to be a thorn in Nazareth’s side as they defeated them for the 13th straight year. The Blue Eagles had two falls in the first four bouts to lead 12-7, but the Stateliners reeled off five wins in a row to lead 28-12. P-Burg had falls from Bruce Leer (133) and Gary Osbourn (145). Nazareth was able to win two of the last three bouts, but P-Burg triumphed 31-21. Saucon Valley had pins from Dan Santoro (133) and Don Rohn (145) as they easily beat Allen 32-11.
Pennsbury was coming off a strong showing in the EPL in 1970-71 and picked up right where they left off by scoring six falls to whip Dieruff 42-17. Five nights later, they pulled an even bigger upset as they dumped defending EPL champ, Liberty, 24-17. Liberty won three of the first five bouts including Ernie Gonzalez’ fall at 120 to take a 13-6 lead. Dave Byrnes, Wayne Vetter, Steve Goff and Tom Girman all scored decisions and Mike Logar had a huge fall at 180 to clinch the win for Pennsbury.
The same night Phillipsburg and Bethlehem Catholic faced off. The Stateliners’ Rich Rosetti won a decision at 95 and then Rick Thompson had a huge fall at 103. Becahi would fight back with three consecutive decisions from Cichelli, Pat Sculley and Fink to lead 12-9. P-Burg was able to stage a middle weight comeback with decisions by Bruce Lear, Lee Frey, Gary Osborne and Rich Cook to lead 21-12. The Golden Hawks were not yet done as Dennis Fenton won 14-0 and Jack Sculley had a big 9-7 win over Jeff Curzi to cut the lead to 21-19. Blair Miers nipped Frank Seier 3-1, and the ‘Liners won 24-19.
In other EPL action, Easton cruised past Allen 35-8 including falls from Greg Shoemaker (95) and Rocky Creazzo (103). Freedom got pins from Rich Rike (95), Blaise Derrico (127) and Wayne Horton (165) on their way to a 42-9 whipping of Dieruff.
The Lehigh Valley League season kicked off with four not-so-close matches on December 16th. Emmaus easily beat Stroudsburg 38-12; Lehighton pounded Palmerton 42-15; Catasauqua crushed Slatington 42-15; and Northampton whipped Whitehall 40-14.
The Lehigh-Northampton League continued with interdivisional matches. East Stroudsburg, Nazareth, Parkland, Pen Argyl, Saucon Valley, Southern Lehigh and Wilson all triumphed.
On December 18th, the young Easton squad faced another test as they faced Nazareth. Greg Shoemaker and Terry Faust had falls for their respective teams early on, and the match was tied 9-9 after four bouts. Curt Stanley and Russ Snyder won decisions for the Rovers as they moved ahead 16-9. The Blue Eagles were able to narrow the score to 16-15, but Phil Dale battled through a knee injury to score a 4-2 decision at 154, and then Darwin Brodt decked John Farnack at 165. Tom Heilman and Abeldrew battled to a 0-0 draw rendering Gib Bastian’s fall at heavyweight ineffective as the Rovers triumphed 27-23.
In non-league bouts the same day, Phillipsburg defeated Warren Hills 24-21 on Blair Miers’ clutch 7-2 win at heavyweight. Visiting Hunterdon Central whipped Dieruff 40-16; Wilson defeated Northampton 29-16; and Catasauqua won the first six bouts on the way to defeating Southern Lehigh 27-18. A few days later, Central Catholic led the entire match as they defeated Whitehall 24-16.
In the final bouts before the holidays, there were a number of key East Penn League matches on tap on December 22nd. Phillipsburg won their first two bout to lead Freedom 6-0, but Lance Leonhardt’s fall at 112 spurred a three bout winning streak for the Patriots. George Stasak (138), Dave Woodruff (145) and Wayne Horton (165) all had falls giving Freedom an insurmountable 30-12 lead on their way to a huge 30-21 upset. Liberty had a closer than expected battle with Dieruff as the won 26-18. Bethlehem Catholic beat Allen 41-7; Easton hammered Neshaminy 43-6; and Pennsbury beat Notre Dame 36-14.
The LNL continued with interdivisional action as Parkland knocked off Palisades 41-15; Wilson pounded Pocono Mountain 38-9; Nazareth shut out Northwestern 56-0; Southern Lehigh rode an early lead and upended East Stroudsburg 30-24; and Salisbury slammed Bangor 45-9.
The holiday tournament season kicked off with the 10th annual Bethlehem Boys’ Club wrestling tourney. The finals included names of future stars such as Billy, Kern, Negrete, Wentz, Mugavaro and Rodriguez.
The Christmas City tournament saw host Bethlehem Catholic roar out to a lead by placing 11 wrestlers in the semi-finals. Notre Dame, Allentown Central Catholic, Parkland, Salisbury and Northampton followed as the local teams led the way. The Golden Hawks crushed the competition by winning seven individual titles and scoring 142-1/2 points to finish well ahead of 2nd place Notre Dame. Bob Cassidy (103), Steve Cichelli (112), Pat Sculley (120), Jim Fink (127), Dennis Fenton (165), Jack Sculley (180) and Frank Seier (Hwt) were crowned as champs for Becahi. Joe Holva (95) and Carlos Negrete (133) were Notre Dame’s champions; Leroy Steverson (138) and Ed Emerich (154) were winners for Allentown Central Catholic; and Northampton’s McReil (88) and Salisbury’s Clauser (145) rounded out the winners.
Freedom and West York dominated the action at the Pat Reilly Easton Area Holiday Tourney by advancing nine wrestlers each to the semi-finals. West York went on to win the team title. For the local teams, Saucon Valley had three champions in Rocky Chunko (120), Outstanding Wrestler Don Rohn (145) and Fred Kugler (165) while Freedom had two champs in Rich Rike (95) and Lance Leonhardt (112). Easton’s Rocky Creazzo (103) trailed 3-1 before scoring a 3rd period fall to win his 2nd title.
Saucon Valley Crowned 2 Champs But West York Won the Team Title at the Easton Holiday Tourney (Photo Courtesy of Don Lehman www.westyorkwrestlingalumni.com). Click on photo to go to website.
In the inaugural Rotary Holiday Tournament, Lehighton and host Emmaus shared an early lead. Lehighton ended up outscoring Emmaus 90-73 to win the team title; Whitehall scored 34points to place 4th. Lehighton crowned champions in the first four weights – Bruce Troutman, Harry Eisenhower, Don Barry, and Larry Weaver – plus Heavyweight George Barkanic. Emmaus had three champs in Mark Derr (133), Ed Schmauch (145) and Steve Paterno (165) while Whitehall had one in Glen Young (138).
Nazareth traveled into New Jersey to compete in the Phillipsburg Holiday tournament. Host P-Burg advanced nine wrestlers to the semi-finals to tie Westfield, Newton and Middletown with the most Day 1 winners while Nazareth had 8. The Stateliners would go on to crown the most champions with five as Mike Rossetti (95), Rick Thompson (103), Bruce Lear (127), Jeff Curzi (180) and Blair Miers (Hwt) won in the finals. Nazareth qualified several wrestlers for the finals but was unable to crown a champion.
Jim Thorpe had three champions (Bruce Pollock, Pat Crowley and Keith Fry) in their tournament while Palmerton had four champions in the first seven weights (Mike Solt, Rick Brownmiller, Joe Solt and Bill Graver).
In the first action of the new year, Liberty got three straight pins from Greg Filipos, Ernie Gonzalez and Jay Miller to pull away from Allen on their way to a 36-19 win. Dieruff and Notre Dame were tied after six bouts, but the Huskies pulled away on the strength of falls by John Parry (138), Rich Crush (145) and Bob Freer (180) to win 33-21.
In the Lehigh Valley League, Lehighton won the final six bouts to easily beat Stroudsburg 40-9; Emmaus shut out Whitehall 54-0; Northampton slammed Slatington 57-3; and Catasauqua jumped out to a huge lead and defeated Palmerton 47-12.
On January 6th, the LNL North title was on the line as Saucon Valley visited Nazareth. The Blue Eagles won the first three bouts including a fall by Terry Faust (112) to lead 13-0. The Panthers came roaring back as they won the next seven bouts in a row as the strength of the Saucon Valley team flexed their muscles. Six of the seven winners remained unbeaten including Don Rohn who scored a fall at 145. With three bouts to go, the Panthers led 25-13. Nazareth won decisions in the final two bouts, but Saucon Valley had the win 25-19 to win their 38th LNL match in a row. Parkland downed Pen Argyl 30-18, and East Stroudsburg whipped Bangor 55-6 in other LNL North bouts.
Over in the LNL South, Salisbury and Pocono Mountain battled to a 13-13 tie after seven bouts. The Falcons then won three straight bouts on their way to a 28-21 victory. Jim Thorpe won their LNL debut by beating Northwestern 44-15, and Palisades defeated Pleasant Valley 35-18.
In non-league action, Wilson crushed Southern Lehigh 44-3, and Allentown Central Catholic defeated Reading Central Catholic 40-21.
On January 8th, Freedom led Easton 17-12 after Dan Persa defeated Viola 2-0 at 154. Lee Guzzo edged Wayne Horton 6-5 at 165 for a key win, and then Tom Heilman and Al Ciambrone iced the match with decisions to give the Rovers a 22-16 win. In a match that featured three draws, Bethlehem Catholic’s lower weights were the difference as the Hawks knocked off Pennsbury 25-24. Jim Fink (127) had a critical pin, and Frank Seier (Hwt) clinched the match with a 7-4 decision at heavyweight.
In non-league action, Phillipsburg and Hunterdon Central battled to a 20-20 tie after eleven bouts before 3,000 fans. Heavyweight Blair Miers won a 9-1 decision as the Stateliners triumphed 23-20. Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg battled to a 26-26 tie in a Pocono’s rivalry bout; Saucon Valley crushed Dieruff 42-12; and Nazareth had four falls as they routed Northampton 39-11.
On January 12th, Freedom had five falls as they easily beat Neshaminy 44-11. The following night, Easton and Bethlehem Catholic met in a key EPL match. Easton took an early 9-0 lead as Greg Shoemaker, Rocky Creazzo and Mike Stevens scored decisions. Becahi came back with a fall by Pat Sculley and decision by Jim Fink to tie the match at 9-9. Easton led 15-12 after winning two of the next three bouts, but the Rovers would not win another match. Tom Ortwein, Dennis Fenton and Jack Sculley won decisions, and then Frank Seier scored a fall to add an exclamation point to a 27-15 victory.
The same night, Liberty defeated Notre Dame 31-15; Pennsbury strong upper weights doomed Allen 30-12; and Phillipsburg destroyed Dieruff 42-10.
The top teams all held serve in the LVL as Catasauqua defeated Stroudsburg 33-19; Emmaus slammed Slatington 52-6; Lehighton beat Whitehall 45-6; and Northampton crushed Palmerton 46-10.
Don Rohn scored his 9th straight fall as Saucon Valley defeated 42-6; Nazareth kept pace by beating Parkland 24-15; and Wilson whipped Pen Argyl 48-6 in LNL North action. In the Southern Division, Salisbury jumped out to a big lead and held on to nip Southern Lehigh 28-27. Jim Powell’s 7-0 decision at 180 clinched the win. Palisades clipped Northwestern 35-20, and Pocono Mountain cruised past Pleasant Valley 43-10.
On January 15th there were several exciting non-league matches. Easton met cross-town rival Wilson. Bob Viola won a close 4-2 decision at 154 to seemingly give Easton a comfortable 21-10 lead. However, Wilson ran the table the rest of the way but could not get the needed bonus points and fell 21-19. Allen traveled to Pottstown to battle Hill School but gave up falls in two of the final three bouts to lose a 27-26 heartbreaker. A few nights later, Emmaus broke Allentown Central Catholic’s four match winning streak 34-20.
On January 20th, Bethlehem Catholic was involved in another exciting EPL match up – this time going down to the wire with Freedom. The teams battled in the lower weights with Bob Cassidy, Sculley and Fink winning for Becahi and Rik, Leonhardt and Trumbauer winning for the Patriots. Freedom would win two of the next three bouts including a fall by Stasak at 138 to give the Pats a 19-13 lead. Dennis Fenton nipped Wayne Horton 3-2, and Jack Sculley tripped Charlie Tuskes 3-0, and the match was tied at 19-19. Frank Seier used an arm bar to pin John Kilpatrick at heavyweight, and Coach Tony Iaseillo’s squad had another win. Allen trailed Notre Dame 24-18 with only two bouts to go, but Kyle Breuning scored a fall at 180 and Scott McClafferty had a come from behind 3-2 win at heavyweight to give the Canaries a 27-24 win. In other EPL action, Easton hammed host Dieruff 38-8
A year ago, Liberty had ended Phillipsburg’s 58 match unbeaten streak, and this year’s match would go all the way to the final bout. Rick Thompson (112) and Jeff Curzi (165) had falls for the Stateliners, but Liberty had countered with falls by Greg Filipos (103) and Pete Kessack (180). P-Burg had also gotten a superior decision by Osbourne at 138. As a result, they trailed 24-22 entering the heavyweight bout. Blair Miers trailed Milt Schuler 4-3 entering the final period but was able to triumph 7-4 to win the match 25-24.
In a Lehigh Valley League battle of unbeaten, Northampton won the first four bouts and then got a fall from Eric Butler at 154 to defeat Catasauqua 25-18. Emmaus and Lehighton both remained unbeaten as they defeated Palmerton 50-6 and Slatington 57-3, respectively. Stroudsburg also beat Whitehall 33-24.
In the LNL North, Saucon Valley pushed their league unbeaten streak to 40 as they came back from a 12-0 deficit to defeat Parkland 29-18. Wilson beat Bangor 57-6, and Nazareth downed Pen Argyl 33-18 in other league action.
Salisbury took the LNL South lead as they won all but one bout in defeating Pleasant Valley 51-2. Pocono Mountain’s Carl Tester had a fall at heavyweight to lead his team to a 28-25 win over Palisades. Southern Lehigh tripped Jim Thorpe 27-21.
On January 22nd, Phillipsburg stayed in the East Penn League title hunt by defeating Pennsbury 27-11. In non-league action, Emmaus had falls from Mark Derr, Ed Schmauch and Jim Wentz on their way to edging Hill School 30-28. Hunterdon Central crushed Allen 42-3. The next night, Allentown Central Catholic doubled up Northampton 36-18 to beat the Kids for the first time ever.
Freedom and Allen traveled to Bucks County in EPL action. The Patriots beat a solid Pennsbury squad 28-12, and Allen clipped Neshaminy 27-15. The following night, Easton, Bethlehem Catholic and Phillipsburg all kept themselves in title contention. Easton and Liberty were knotted at 9-9 but the Rovers had decisions from Bob Wesley and Phil Dale, followed by a draw and then a Lee Guzzo fall at 165. Tom Heilman’s decision at 180 clinched the 26-14 victory. Bethlehem Catholic beat Dieruff 34-15, and Phillipsburg rolled over Notre Dame 39-18.
The title elimination matches continued in the Lehigh Valley League. Northampton’s strong middleweights gave the Kids an 18-13 lead with only four bouts to go. They still held a 23-18 lead but had the misfortune of having George Barkanic taking the mat for Lehighton. Barkanic had a fall in 30 seconds to keep Lehighton unbeaten in league action. Emmaus also stayed unbeaten in the league by cruising past Catasauqua 44-8. Stroudsburg beat Slatington 55-6, and Whitehall downed Palmerton 36-12.
Wilson stayed in the LNL North title hunt by defeating rival Nazareth 21-17. Nazareth won the first three bouts to lead 10-0, but Wilson would win four and tie one of the next five bouts to take a 14-12 lead. Glen Young won a narrow 6-5 bout over Bob Creveling to swing the lead back to the Blue Eagles. Sam Crivellaro, Ron Kessler and Bill Saylor won decisions for the Warriors to lead them to the win. Pen Argyl beat East Stroudsburg 33-23, and Parkland shut out Bangor 63-0.
In the LNL South, Salisbury continued their march toward a divisional title by hammering Northwestern 56-8. Southern Lehigh shut out Pleasant Valley 55-0, and Pocono Mountain rallied with two falls and two decisions in the final five bouts to beat Jim Thorpe 30-16.
Easton kicked off the month of February with another EPL win over Notre Dame by a 40-12 score. The Rovers remained tied with Bethlehem Catholic atop the league standings. Russ Snyder (127), Bob Wesley (138) and Lee Guzzo (165) had falls for Easton.
On February 3rd, Becahi kept pace with Easton by upending Liberty 25-1 9. At 120, Liberty’s Ernie Gonzalez nipped Pat Sculley 7-6 to hand Sculley his 1st loss of the season. The score stood at 6-6. After the Golden Hawks won the next two bouts and a draw, their lead stood at 14-8. Liberty’s Tom Biamon had a huge fall at 154 to put the Hurricanes ahead 17-14. Dennis Fenton won a 5-1 decision, and then Jack Sculley put the match away with a fall at 180. Meanwhile, Phillipsburg, the only team to beat Becahi all year, cruised past Allen 38-15. Lear (133), Gary Osbourne (138), Jeff Curzi (180) and Blair Miers (Hwt) all scored falls.
Saucon Valley remained unbeaten on the LNL Northern Division by defeating Wilson 33-15. Rocky Chunko (120) and Don Rohn (145) scored falls. Dennis Underkoffler (138) dealt Mike Bertolino his first loss of the season 10-7 as the Panthers won their 41st straight LNL match. In other LNL bouts, Pen Argyl pounded Bangor 42-15, and Southern Lehigh handled Palisades 35-9.
In the LVL, Lehighton and Emmaus faced off in a bout that would likely decide the league title. At the halfway point of the match, Emmaus held a slim 11-8 lead. After trading decisions, Coach Bill Krebs dropped unbeaten Steve Paterno down to meet Mike Knesevitch. The move backfired as Knesevitch won a close 3-2 decision, and Lance Barry won a 5-0 decision. Lehighton held a 3 point lead. Even after Emmaus’ Wentz scored a decision at 180 to tie the bout at 18-18, the Indians had George Barkanic waiting in the wings. Barkanic delivered with a first period fall, and Lehighton had a 24-18 victory.
Northampton moved into a tie for 2nd place on the strength of falls in the 1st three bouts as they defeated Stroudsburg 39-11. Catasauqua improved to 4-2 in the league as a key fall by Kevin Loch at 133 helped the Rough Riders move past Whitehall 24-17. Palmerton beat Slatington 39-24.
Dieruff trailed Neshaminy 19-9 after eight bouts but had a furious comeback to win 27-19. Rich Crush received a forfeit at 154; Bill Burch and Ken Freer posted decisions; and then Jim Gaycheck had a fall to complete the rally. Freedom and Notre Dame split the bouts evenly, but Freedom’s three fall were the difference in a 29-18 win.
In some interesting non-league action on February 5th, Liberty rode a strong early bout performance to defeat Nazareth 24-15. Easton hammered Wyoming Valley West 40-6, and Phillipsburg continued their winning ways by downing North Hunterdon 37-18.
The East Penn Midget League saw a changing in the guard as Northwestern won the team title in their annual tournament. The brackets included some very interesting names in Chris Wentz, Jim Zenz, Rick Negrete, Doug Billig and Rick & Jerry Rodriguez.
Saucon Valley continued their march towards an unbeaten season as they whipped Jim Thorpe 53-6 in a non-league bout. Five Panthers remained unbeaten. In an LNL bout, Parkland rode a fast start to a 34-12 win over East Stroudsburg.
Easton had not beaten Phillipsburg since 1962, but Easton was determined to change that on February 10th. Co-captain Tom Heilman said that Coach Zarbatany played the song “The Impossible Dream” to motivate the team as they prepared for the Stateliners. The Rovers had an immediate boost when Rocky Creazzo returned to the lineup and dropped to 95 pounds. Creazzo defeated Mike Rossetti 9-1. Phillipsburg would win four of the next five bouts to lead 12-6. Before a sellout crowd, underdog Bob Wesley clamped Gary Osbourne in a reverse cradle to score a fall at 138. The Rovers would go on to win the next four bouts as Phil Dale’s and Tom Heiman’s decisions book-ended Darwin Brodt’s and Lee Guzzo’s falls. Coach Bob Zarbatany had his first win in five tries against the ‘Liners 31-19 to win a share of the EPL title.
Bethlehem Catholic destroyed Notre Dame 49-3 to win the other share of the EPL title. Freedom had falls from Lance Leonhardt (112), Bruce Derrico (127) and Willie Horton (165) to easily defeat Allen 38-5.
Easton and Bethlehem Catholic Shared the EPL Title (Photos Courtesy of Easton & Bethlehem Catholic H.S. Yearbooks)
Catasauqua opened up a 19-12 lead in their attempt to deny Lehighton an outright LVL title. The Indians rallied scoring falls in three of the final four bouts – Mike Knesevitch, Lance Barry and George Barkanic – as they wrapped up the title 33-19. Emmaus easily won the battle for 2nd place in the league by crushing Northampton 41-8. Stroudsburg had two late falls to beat Palmerton 33-23, and Whitehall whipped Slatington 49-10.
Saucon Valley wrapped up the LNL Northern Division championship by pounding Pen Argyl 40-9. Wilson easily handled East Stroudsburg 41-8 to clinch 2nd place, and Nazareth scored a 54-6 victory over Bangor.
Salisbury moved closer to winning the first LNL Southern Division title after tripping up Palisades 37-12. Southern Lehigh stayed within range by scoring seven falls over Northwestern to win 54-4, Jim Thorpe cruised by Pleasant Valley 55-3.
On February 12th, the Saucon Valley seniors gained revenge in a big way over Liberty who had broken their winning streak the year before. The Panthers completed dominated the Hurricanes 39-6, winning all but one bout. Dan Santoro (133) and Fred Kugler (165) had falls. Bethlehem Catholic won their 9th straight bout by beating Emmaus 30-9. Southern Lehigh won the final four bouts to beat Pennridge 30-22; Nazareth shut out Pleasant Valley 69-0; Catasauqua beat Allentown Central Catholic 41-11; and Pen Argyl nipped Phillpsburg Catholic 33-27.
As league action wound down, Liberty kept Neshaminy winless in the EPL by defeating them 33-15. In the LNL South, Pocono Mountain rolled past Northwestern 47-10.
Pleasant Valley nipped Slatington 31-30, and Allentown Central Catholic pounded Palmerton 46-12.
In the final EPL bouts of the year on February 17th, Easton closed out their efforts for a tie for the East Penn League title as they defeated Pennsbury 31-12. Bob Wesley (138) and Lee Guzzo (165) scored falls. Freedom ran off a five-bout win streak in the upper weights to upend cross-town rival Liberty 28-15. Dieruff started quickly, trailed late, but got a decisive fall from Jim Gaycheck at heavyweight to beat Allen 21-19.
In the final LNL North action of the year, Saucon Valley wrapped up another title by shutting out Bangor 63-0 to finish an undefeated 14-0 season. Wilson handled Parkland 30-15, and Nazareth routed East Stroudsburg 45-2.
Saucon Valley Finished 14-0, Won the LNL North, District Title and Had Two State Finalists (Photo – including blue background – Courtesy of the Saucon Valley H.S. Yearbook)
The LNL Southern Division was yet to be decided, and Southern Lehigh did their part by beating Pocono Mountain 37-12 to stay within one match of Salisbury. Palisades won the final five bouts to beat Jim Thorpe 30-21, and Northwestern stayed out of the division basement by beating Pleasant Valley 35-27.
In non-league action Allentown Central Catholic beat Notre Dame 28-21. Heavyweight Steve Storck scored a 13-3 win as Emmaus nipped Owen J. Roberts 25-24: Pen Argyl tripped Salisbury 28-22; and Catasauqua beat Quakertown 32-18.
Bethlehem Catholic moved to 13-1 on the season as they easily defeated Northampton 42-12. Allentown Central Catholic pulled somewhat of a surprise by upending Lehighton 29-14 to finish 9-5. Lehighton finished 12-2 on the season.
The final regular season bout was a sweet one for Salisbury as they won the Lehigh Northampton League Southern Division title. Locked in a tight 13-12 match after seven bouts, Salisbury got falls from Wayne Clauser and Larry Hammershock to all but clinch the match. The Falcons went on to win 34-15.
Final League Standings were as follows:
|Compiled Standings 1971-72||Place||W-L-D|
|Lehigh-Northampton Northern Division|
|Lehigh Northampton Southern Division|
Saucon Valley finished the year unbeaten at 14-0 with a strong senior group of wrestlers who had been together at the high school level for four years. Dan Santoro shared that they were a close group who hung out together off the mats and many had grown up together, living only a few blocks apart and wrestling in the East Penn Midget Wrestling League. During their four years in high school, this very talented group went 53-2-1 in duals. They won 4 LNL titles and 2 District XI team titles and had 10 District Champs and 3 State Champs.
EPL Co-Champs, Bethlehem Catholic and Easton both wrapped up strong one loss seasons at 13-1 and 12-1, respectively. Lehighton, which had knocked Northampton and Emmaus out of the Lehigh Valley League top spot, led the way with the two loss teams with a 12-2 record while Phillipsburg with 11-2, Wilson finished 10-2 and Freedom was 9-2-1. Other teams with very strong records were Southern Lehigh 11-3, Emmaus 10-3, Allentown Central Catholic 10-4 and Catasauqua 9-4.
With a bit of realignment in leagues, the sectional groupings were also tweaked a bit, as follows:
|East Penn Plus||Lehigh Valley||Lehigh-Northampton||Tri-Valley|
|Freedom||Lehighton||Jim Thorpe||Mahoney Area|
|Pine Grove||Palmerton||Northwestern||North Schuylkill|
|Whitehall||Pen Argyl||Schuylkill Haven|
|Pocono Mountain||Shenandoah Valley|
|Southern Lehigh||West Hazleton|
Not competing in Sectionals: Pleasant Valley
The East Penn schools were not very hospitable hosts to the two visiting schools as they claimed all 26 spots for the District Tourney. Easton led the way with nine while Freedom had 6, Allen 5, Liberty 4 and Dieruff 2. Easton’s young squad dominated the lower and upper weight action. Freedom was without unbeaten Lance Leonhardt to an injury before the Sectionals started, and Liberty lost tough Ernie Gonzalez to a default at 120.
In the LNL Sectionals, Saucon Valley advanced its entire team into the quarterfinal round. A capacity crowd at Wilson H.S. watched the Panthers easily win the team title with 113 points to outdistance runner-up Nazareth’s 72 points. Saucon Valley had five champions – Rocky Chunko (120) , Dan Santoro (133), Dennis Underkoffler (138), Don Rohn (145) and Fred Kugler (165) – while advancing a total of seven men to Districts. Nazareth had three champions – Dave Schreck (103), Joe Skutches (112) and Mike Mihalik (154). The remaining champions came from Pen Argyl two and Parkland, Pocono Mountain and Wilson with one each.
In the LVL Sectionals, Emmaus and Lehighton each advanced ten wrestlers to the semi-finals to lead the action. Emmaus pulled away from Lehighton in the semi-finals and went on to crown five champions and two runner-ups to tally 82 points. Lehighton had four champions and finished second with 53 points. Champions for the Hornets included Bill Nonnemaker (112), Brad Weller (127), Mark Derr (133), Ed Schmauch (145) and Steve Paterno (165) while Lehighton’s champions were Bruce Troutman (95), Barry Eisenhower (103), Mike Knesevitch (154) and George Barkanic (Hwt).
North Schuylkill dominated the early action in the Tri-Valley Sectional by moving eleven men into the semi-finals. The Spartans were able to crown three individual titlists and advance a total of eight grapplers into the District XI tournament.
District XI Tournament
The Morning Call reported that the eight Saucon Valley wrestlers from 120-180 had a combined regular season record of 104-7-1. Seven of those wrestlers made it to the Districts and all seven won their quarterfinal bouts. Freedom was close behind after going five for six. Four second seeded wrestlers fell in the quarterfinals.
Saucon Valley wrapped up the team title in the semi-finals as they advanced six wrestlers to the finals with only Rick Ziegler losing. The finals took place before about 4,000 fans at Liberty’s Memorial Gym per The Morning Call. Saucon Valley won their first district title and dominated the competition. Rocky Chunko hammered Die ruff’s Kelvin Burton 13-1 at 120 while Dan Santoro (133) and Dennis Underkoffler (138) won handily. Don Rohn won his 3rd district title by pinning all three opponents at 145. Fred Kugler (165) had to go to overtime to defeat Freedom’s Wayne Horton 5-5, 1-0. The only Panther to lose in the finals was Tom Lechner who lost 9-5 to Pen Argyll’s Jim Santoro.
Easton had three champions. Greg Shoemaker won the 88 pound exhibition class while defending state champ Rocky Creazzo edged Freedom’s Rich Rike 7-5. At 180, Tom Heilman hammered Dieruff’s Jim Gaycheck 9-2. Liberty, Nazareth, Freedom and Lehighton each captured one individual champion. Respectively, Greg Filipos (103), Joe Skutches (112), Dan Persa (154) and George Barkanic (Hwt) were crowned District champions. Final team scores were as follows:
District Team Scores were as follows:
|Saucon Valley||83.5||Blue Mountain||5|
Northeast Regional Championships
The District XI wrestlers were in the familiar confines of Liberty’s Memorial Gym as Districts 2, 4 and 12 came to town. Five District XI wrestlers entered regionals undefeated on the season and several had very impressive records over multiple years. Two-time state champ Don Rohn was 23-0 and had pinned 20 opponents and sported a 73-0-1 record over the past three seasons. Defending state champ Rocky Creazzo was 16-0 after missing a portion of the year with back spasms and was 39-0 over two years. George Barkanic, defending state runner-up, was 23-0 and 47-1 over two years. Rocky Chunko was 24-0 and Jeff Santo was 20-0.
District XI completely dominated the Regional tournament winning 12 of 13 semi-final bouts and 10 of 12 final bouts. Only Saucon Valley’s Fred Kugler lost in the semi-finals by a 10-5 score to Mike McCabe, the eventual state runner-up. Easton’s Greg Shoemaker (88) and Rocky Creazzo (95) along with Liberty’s Greg Filipos (103) all won their final bouts by shut out. After Nazareth’s Joe Skutches lost 10-8 on a last second takedown. That’s when District XI ran off six straight titles from 120 to 154. Saucon Valley’s Rocky Chunko (120), Dan Santoro (133), Dennis Underkoffler (138) and Don Rohn (145) all won by healthy margins. Pen Argyl’s Jim Santo (127) and Freedom’s Dan Persa (154) also triumphed. Easton’s Tom Heilman lost also held a lead but dropped a 7-6 decision while Lehighton’s George Barkanic defended his regional title by fall.
PIAA State Championships
District XI had high hopes with nine regional champions including two defending state champs and one runner-up heading to the Farm Show Arena in Harrisburg. The semi-finals did not at all go as planned as all three lost their matches. Both Rocky Creazzo and Don Rohn scored the first takedowns in their bouts. Creazzo was shut down the rest of the way and dropped a 6-2 decision to Carylton’s Dennis Zuk. Rohn led North Allegheny’s Dave Rodgers 3-1 in the second period, but was taken down and then pinned with a cross-face cradle. Lehighton’s George Barkanic was not able to hang in with Lower Dauphin’s Fred Foreman and lost 13-3. Pen Argyl’s Jim Santo and Saucon Valley’s Dennis Underkoffler also fell in the semi-finals.
District XI did advance four men to the finals. Liberty’s Greg Filipos won 5-4 in the semi’s but lost 2-0 in the finals. Saucon Valley’s Rocky Chunko won 8-4 in the semi’s but also lost in the finals by a 5-1 score. Saucon Valley’s Dan Santoro won by a fall in the semi-finals. While Saucon Valley probably expected better results, Coach Charlie Bartolet was named Coach of the Year, and Santoro knowing he was the last hope to win a title came through by winning 4-1 to take the crown at 133. Freedom’s Dan Persa lost 3-0 in the finals at 154.
Phillipsburg Post Season
The Stateliners were again dominant as they won their sixth consecutive NJ District 12 wrestling team championship. P-Burg advanced 9 wrestlers to the finals as they compiled 104 team points to outdistance Warren Hills with 71.5 points. Winning titles and advancing to the regionals were Rick Thompson (103), Don Miller (120), Bruce Lear (127), Gary Osbourne (138), Jeff Curzi (175) and Blair Miers (Hwt).
Seven of nine Phillipsburg wrestlers advanced to the NJ Region 3 semi-finals, but it was one wrestler who did not that was the most shocking. Defending state champ, Rick Thompson, was upset 1-0 on an escape with four seconds left in the bout. Bruce Lear, Gary Osbourne, Jeff Curzi and Blair Miers all won regional titles. Miers upset two undefeated wrestlers on his way to earning his title.
Blair Miers won a state championship for the Stateliners at heavyweight with a fall in the finals. Bruce Lear and Gary Osbourne both took 3rd place, and Jeff Curzi finished 4th.
PCIAA Wrestling Championships
Bethlehem Catholic was again the top team in the PCIAA Eastern Regional Tournament. The Hawks tallied 129.5 points to easily win the team title at Rockne Hall. Joe Wilson (88), Bob Cassidy (103), Steve Cichelli (112), Pat Sculley (120), Jim Fink (127), Deghan (145) and Dennis Fenton (165) won titles and three more Hawks finished 2nd. Carlos Negrete (133) won a title for Notre Dame while Leroy Steverson (138) and Ed Emerich (154) won for Allentown Central Catholic.
The following week, the local teams traveled all the way to Erie for the PCIAA championships, but the local wrestlers fared very well in the quarterfinals. Becahi advanced ten while Notre Dame advanced four and Allentown Central Catholic had three wrestlers win. The Hawks took their fifth straight crown with 4 champions and 3 runner-ups for a total of 99 points. Allentown Central Catholic was 5th and Notre Dame was 6th. George Mascavage (95), Steve Cichelli (112), Pat Sculley (120) and Dennis Fenton (165) all won championships. For Sculley it was his 3rd title. Carlos Negrete (133) from Notre Dame and Ed Emerich (154) from Central Catholic also won titles. Steve Cassidy (BC 103), Leroy Steverson (ACC 138), Tom Lawler (BC 154) and Jack Sculley (BC 180) all took 2nd place.