|Notable Coaching Changes:||Al Zarbatany --> Ray Walters (Wilson)|
|Changes in Structures:||PIAA approves that Catholic School teams can compete in PIAA|
|Tournaments. Allentown Central Catholic & Bethlehem Catholic compete|
|in 1973; Notre Dame continues to compete in PCIAA Tournament.|
|Northeast Regional Will Now Advance Champions & Runner-Ups to|
|State Tournament which will now have 8 qualifiers at each weight;|
|Consolation Round Added for Semi-Finals Losers.|
|Weight Class Changes:||New weight classes are adopted.|
|East Penn League Champion:||Easton (9-0)|
|LVIAA League Champion:||Emmaus (7-0)|
|Lehigh-Northampton League Champions:|
|North Division:||Nazareth (6-0)|
|South Division:||Salisbury (6-0)|
|District Champion:||Easton (5 Champions)|
|Regionals:||District XI 8 Total Champs; Easton (3), Bethlehem Catholic, Freedom, Liberty & Saucon Valley (1 Each) + Saucon Valley (1 Exhibition)|
|Individual State Champion:||Pat Sculley, 126, Bethlehem Catholic|
The 1972-73 season saw many changes take place. For the first time in 13 years, the standard 12 high school weight classes were realigned. The PIAA approved the participation of Catholic league schools in the PIAA which brought Bethlehem Catholic & Allentown Central Catholic into the District XI tournament. Finally, the state bracket was redrawn to include 8 wrestlers at each weight class which resulted in the Northeast Regional qualifying two wrestlers for the state tourney.
There were several coaching changes as well. Al Zarbatany had started the Wilson program and retired passing the torch to Ray Walters. The Warriors consistently finished in the top 3 in the Lehigh-Northampton League. Two coaches who would figure prominently in their school’s wrestling history began coaching: Dave Hawk at Northwestern and Ron Spinner at Stroudsburg.
Weight Class Changes
The regular season opened on December 1st with Bethlehem Catholic flexing their muscles with three pins and whipping Allentown Central Catholic 36-14.
The main wrestling schedule would swing into action on December 7th. Saucon Valley graduated seven seniors from their stellar 1971-72 team and immediately was challenged by Freedom. The Patriots had falls from Mike Zito (112), Mark Hill (126) and Wayne Horton (185) all had falls to lead Freedom to a huge 30-18 victory. Bethlehem Catholic had falls from George Mascasevich (105), Pat Sculley (132), Jim Fink (138) and Tom Lawler (167) on their way to a 34-22 win over Northampton. In a very competitive match, Notre Dame nipped Salisbury 27-23. The Crusaders opened up a 15-0 lead, but the Falcons roared back and led 23-21 on Jeff Kozero’s pin at 185. Jim Doran scored a 2nd period fall at heavyweight to clinch the win.
In other competitive bouts, Dieruff’s strong middleweights pulled out a 29-21 EPL win over Pennsbury. Southern Lehigh got falls from Len Sheptock and Gene Miller in the final two bouts to beat Whitehall 32-24. Emmaus downed Parkland 33-19.
On December 9th, Phillipsburg continued their dominance over Nazareth by whipping the Eagles 33-14. Saucon Valley was able to get back on the winning track by bashing Allen 33-9 while Easton flexed their muscles with a 36-13 win over Emmaus. Freedom hammered Northampton 43-9 by winning the final eight bouts. Wilson easily beat Notre Dame 37-18.
The PIAA officially announced that they were admitting 24 Catholic schools into PIAA membership thus allowing them to participate in state championships. In District XI, Allentown Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Bishop Hafey, Freeland MMI, Pius X and Pocono Central Catholic were all deemed eligible.
Allentown Central Catholic had falls in two of the final three bouts, but Salisbury was still able to pull out a 24-23 win thanks to Jeff Cozera’s 3-0 decision at 185 avenging a loss by fall the year before! Northwestern rallied for a 40-22 win over Bangor in an LNL league match. Emmaus dropped a non-league match to Spring-Ford 26-23.
On December 13th in EPL action, powerful Phillipsburg shut out Neshaminy 66-0. Easton had four falls in a row (Lutz, Perelli, Snyder & Wesley) in the middleweights to cruise past Pennsbury 50-5. Dieruff didn’t lose a bout from 112 to 185 as they drubbed Notre Dame 32-14.
The next night, Freedom continued their winning ways by beating Allen 37-9. Wilson trailed Salisbury 20-5, but won the final five bouts to triumph 26-20. Meanwhile, Liberty had four pins to down Northampton 33-18.
On December 16th, “a standing room only crowd of over 2,000 in the Blue Eagles’ gym” (per The Morning Call) came to see visiting Easton face Nazareth. After Greg Shoemaker opened with a major decision, Dave Schreck electrified the crowd by jumping out to a 5-0 lead over Rocky Creazzo, who then defaulted with an injury. Nazareth won the next two bouts to open up a 13-7 lead. Easton’s Joe Perelli won 10-5 to narrow the gap to 13-10, and Russ Snyder and Terry Reese drew at 138. After the teams swapped decisions in the next two bouts, Darwin Brodt and Lee Guzzo both won by decision. The Rovers led 21-18, but Nazareth heavyweight Lynn Morris won 3-0 to give the Blue Eagles a surprising 21-21 tie.
Bethlehem Catholic won their 13th match in a row by beating Lancaster Catholic 48-2. Lehighton had 8 pins as they crushed East Stroudsburg 54-9. Phillipsburg moved to 3-0 by whipping Warren Hills 46-6. Dieruff dropped a non-league bout to Hunterdon Central 31-11. Liberty traveled to Langhorne, scored three falls, to easily beat Neshaminy 40-9 in an EPL match. Allentown Central Catholic trailed Whitehall 16-7 with five bouts to go, but got wins from McFadden, Larry Cash, Tony Cuoto and Tim Kober to win 23-19.
Action heated up as the holidays approached. Dieruff led unbeaten Freedom 19-16 after Rich Crush’s fall at 155, but the Patriots won the final three bouts, two by fall, to win 32-19. Although the Canaries scored three falls, Easton won the remaining 9 bouts against Allen to triumph 32-18. Neshaminy surprised Notre Dame 25-22. Phillipsburg opened its match against Becahi with a fall by Bill Mack and had a fall from Gary Osbourne at 155 on their way to a 27-18 win. Liberty pounded Pennsbury 33-11 to pull into a 1st place tie with Easton, Freedom and P-Burg in the EPL.
LNL and LVL teams continued with non-league matches. Emmaus, Nazareth, Parkland, Pen Argyl, Salisbury, Saucon Valley, Southern Lehigh and Wilson all triumphed.
Easton’s holiday tournament was the first one to kick off, and the host Rovers flexed their muscles early by advancing nine wrestlers to the semi-finals. Greg Shoemaker (98), Curt Stanley (126), Russ Snyder (138) and Lee Guzzo (185) all won titles for Easton. Saucon Valley finished tied for 2nd with West York and crowned freshman Rick Rodriguez as champion at 119. Freedom’s Wayne Horton knocked off Darwin Brodt 12-5 at 167 to give Freedom a champion.
Parkland and Northampton challenged Bethlehem Catholic in the early rounds of the Christmas City Tournament. The Hawks were able to crown five champions to win their 4th straight team championship. Scott McCoach (88), George Macasevich (105), Bob Cassidy (112), Pat Sculley (132) and Tom Lawler (167) were all winners. Northampton had two champions, Terry McReil (98) and Jerry Heist (119), to finish 2nd. Allentown Central Catholic’s Larry Cash (155) was named outstanding wrestler. Other local winners included Salisbury’s Erv Boskit (126), Solehi’s Bill Congreve (138), Allen’s Glen Rassler (145) and Notre Dame’s Jim Doran (Hwt).
Emmaus advanced eight wrestlers into the finals of the 2nd Emmaus Rotary Holiday Wrestling Tournament and saw seven of them crowned champions as they routed the competition. John Lucik (112), Bill Nonnemacher (119), Ron Krebs (132), Brad Weller (138), Greg Adams (145), Randy Roberts (155) and Kevin Smith (Hwt) all won for the Hornets. Palisades had two champs in Dan Ballard (126) and Dave Nagle (185) while Lehighton had one winner in Troutman (105).
The Phillipsburg High Wrestling Tournament saw the host Stateliners advance eight wrestlers to the semi-finals while Nazareth advanced seven. All eight – Mike Rossetti (95), Rick Thompson (112), Dale Rhodes (120), Don Miller (127), Bruce Lear (133), Gary Osborne (138), Rich Cook (154) and Scott Merritt (175)- won! Thompson became a four-time champion when he defeated Nazareth’s tough Greg Skutches 8-3. Nazareth had six finalists, but was only able to crown one champ in Dave Schreck (103) who was named outstanding wrestler.
Tamaqua won the 2nd Annual Jim Thorpe Christmas Tourney team crown with 10 finalists. Liberty won the 5th annual Wilkes-Barre Area Wrestling Tournament as Jim Werner (112), Kurt Hoyak (119), Tom Biamon (167) and Milt Schuler (Hwt) were titlists. Dieruff participated in Wall Township Invitational, crowned three champions in Dexter Burton, Jody McMullin and Mel Riddick. Results could not be located for the Wallenpaupack Tournament which had a number of teams from the northern tier competing.
In the first matches after the holidays, unbeaten Freedom visited unbeaten Phillipsburg, and Nazareth traveled to Hellertown to face Saucon Valley. Unfortunately, Freedom was without four regulars and could not give the Stateliners a close battle. Rick Rike had a fall for the Pats at 105, but that was the only bout Freedom would win until 167. By that time, P-Burg led 30-8, and the match was already decided. Rick Thompson won the headline match up with Mike Zito 5-3 at 112.
Saucon Valley had won 44 LNL matches in a row, but would not get to 45. The Panthers had last lost to Nazareth in 1968. Dave Schreck and Terry Faust both scored falls as they Blue Eagles won the first four bouts to jump out to an 18-0 lead. Saucon won the next two bouts, but then Terry Reese and Marty Boo scored back-to-back falls to all but clinch the match for Coach Ray Nunamaker. At the end of the night, the Blue Eagles had won by a shocking 36-12 count.
Despite losing three very close bouts, Dieruff led Liberty 16-12 after eight bouts. The Hurricanes won the final three bouts including Milt Schuler’s pin in the deciding heavyweight bout as Liberty remained unbeaten in the EPL with a 24-16 victory.
In other LNL action, Bangor broke a 51 bout losing streak in the LNL as they beat East Stroudsburg 38-30 in Northern Division match. In the Southern Division, Northwestern beat Jim Thorpe 34-20, and Palisades edged Pleasant Valley 34-27.
In the LVL, Emmaus had falls by Mike Ondrovic and Kevin Smith in the final two bouts to defeat Northampton 32-19. Catasauqua won three of the final four bouts, including a fall by Peters at 167, to upend last year’s league champion, Lehighton, 24-21. Stroudsburg defeated Palmerton 37-17.
In non-league action, Wilson clipped Southern Lehigh 33-22, and Notre Dame easily topped Allentown Central Catholic 36-18.
On January 6th, Bethlehem Catholic, Easton and Notre Dame all easily won EPL matches against Allen, Neshaminy and Pennsbury. The same day, Phillipsburg and Hunterdon Central match up in a bout which The Morning Call called a “New Jersey championship wrestling match.” Rick Thompson scored a fall at 112, and P-Burg won five out of six bouts in the middle to upper weights to win 26-19. Saucon Valley bounced back to defeat Northampton 32-17 while Salisbury clipped Catasauqua 30-21. Parkland improved to 4-1 on the season by beating Northwestern 52-12.
On January 11th, the EPL’s three unbeaten teams all won their league bouts. Easton had the toughest match up as they faced Freedom, but were boosted by the return of Rocky Creazzo who defeated Rick Rike 5-1. Lee Guzzo dropped to 167 and pinned Wayne Horton, and Darwin Brodt followed with another fall as the Rovers routed Freedom 32-11. Liberty easily topped Allen 30-16, and Phillipsburg won their 7th match in a row 37-8 over Notre Dame. Bethlehem Catholic beat Pennsbury 40-12.
In the LVL, Emmaus continued their winning ways by beating Stroudsburg 38-17 while Northampton moved past Whitehall 27-18. Catasauqua crushed Slatington 40-12.
Parkland sported a fine record, but was no match for Nazareth as the Blue Eagles tallied four falls and triumphed 47-5 in LNL North action. Wilson stayed unbeaten in the league by beating Pen Argyl 49-9, and Saucon Valley slammed East Stroudsburg 53-9.
In the LNL South, Salisbury’s lightweights set the pace as they defeated Southern Lehigh 28-16. Pocono Mountain drubbed Pleasant Valley 51-3, and Palisades nipped Northwestern 25-24 on Dave Nagle’s fall at heavyweight.
Dieruff’s strong middleweights led them to a 27-19 non-league win over Allentown Central Catholic. A few nights later, the Vikings were involved in another competitive match but dropped another close match – this time 25-20 to Catasauqua. Nazareth routed Northampton 44-11; Allen won nine bouts in beating Hill School 37-10; and Easton hammered previously unbeaten Wilson 47-6.
In mid-January, Phillipsburg improved to 5-0 in the EPL by easily beating Pennsbury 38-9. In the LNL Southern Division, Northwestern had falls in the first three bouts as they clobbered Slatington 42-12.
On January 17th, Liberty stayed unbeaten in the EPL as unbeaten Curt Hoyak (119) and Butch Horvath (167) scored falls as the Hurricanes downed Notre Dame 37-7. Allen was involved in a tight back-and-forth match with Pennsbury; heavyweight Mike Miller’s 7-2 decision clinched the match for the Canaries 21-19. Freedom won ten bouts as they beat Neshaminy 40-5. Phillipsburg had five falls as they pounded Dieruff 41-17.
Last year, Bethlehem Catholic defeated Easton 27-15 forcing a tie for the EPL title. Easton gained revenge 29-15 for the 15th win in a row. The Rovers jumped out to a 10-0 lead on Greg Shoemaker’s major decision and Rocky Creazzo’s huge fall over last year’s PCIAA champs, George Mascasevich. The teams largely traded decisions over the next 7 weights with Tom Ortwein’s fall offsetting two decisions. Pat Sculley had a big 7-2 win over Curt Stanley at 126 in a battle of future state champs. Easton led 22-12 with three bouts to go and had big guns, Lee Guzzo and Darwin Brodt, waiting in the wings, and they both posted wins.
In the LNL North, Nazareth shut out Pen Argyl 60-0; Saucon Valley had four pins to beat Parkland 45-7; and Wilson cruised past Bangor 48-6. In the Southern Division, Pocono Mountain was trailing 18-16 with four bouts to go, but rallied to win three of the final four bouts to triumph 28-21. Salisbury routed Pleasant Valley 45-12, and Southern Lehigh defeated Jim Thorpe 41-12.
The LVL top teams easily won their bouts. Emmaus had five pins as they whipped Whitehall 47-4; Northampton topped Slatington 41-15; and Catasauqua kept pace by clipping Palmerton 32-19.
January 20th saw a number of interesting non-league matches take place. Allen trailed Emmaus 23-14 with only two bouts to go. Mike Miller’s fall and Jim Karapelou’s tight 11-8 win over Kevin Smith gave the Canaries a 23-23 tie. Tough luck Allentown Central Catholic dropped their 4th bout by 9 points or less, losing 27-21 to Northampton on Steve Clemons pin in the final match. Pocono Mountain had falls in the first three bouts and held on to defeat Stroudsburg 26-20. In the only EPL bout on the schedule, Freedom with falls from Rich Rike, Bob Trumbower, Glastmire and Dan Persa beat Notre Dame 41-12.
Freedom had decisions in the first five bouts to lead Bethlehem Catholic 15-0. Pat Sculley’s fall led a comeback by the Golden Hawks who narrowed the gap to 15-12 by winning three bouts in a row. After Dan Persa’s fall at 154 and two draws, the Patriots held a 25-16 lead and then capped the night with a fall by John Kilpatrick at heavyweight for a 31-16 final score.
On January 25th, two of the remaining three unbeaten in the EPL took the mats at Liberty’s Memorial Gym. With 3,000 fans packing the stands, the Stateliners won the first four bouts by decisions to lead 13-0. Jay Miller temporarily interrupted the momentum with a win at 126, but P-Burg reeled off wins in the next six bouts, including falls by unbeaten – Bruce Lear (132), Gary Osborne (145) and Scott Merritt (185) – to topple the Hurricanes 40-6.
Easton kept pace by hammering Dieruff 45-12 with a total of seven falls, and Allen had four pins in their 39-17 win over Notre Dame.
Nazareth got over their last major hurdle in the LNL North by defeating Wilson 34-14 as Dave Schreck (105) and John Yavorski (132) had falls. Parkland whipped Bangor 56-8, and Pen Argyl pounded East Stroudsburg 39-15. In the LNL South, Pocono Mt. stayed unbeaten as they easily beat Jim Thorpe 42-15. Southern Lehigh easily defeated Pleasant Valley 42-9, and Salisbury beat Northwestern 44-12. In the only interdivisional bout, Saucon Valley topped Palisades 42-9.
In the LVL, Emmaus and Catasauqua stayed unbeaten in the league by defeating Slatington 43-14 and Stroudsburg 26-23, respectively. The Rough Riders’ Dale Hein had a comeback win at 185 to clinch the match. Lehighton beat Whitehall 27-18, and Northampton topped Palmerton 41-12.
On January 27th, Bethlehem Catholic visited Saucon Valley in an interesting non-league match up. The teams split the bouts evenly, but Becahi had three falls on their way to a 27-19 win. Bob Cassidy “used a chicken wing and half nelson to pin Rusty Chunko” per The Morning Call. Pat Sculley (126) and Dave Toachovsky (138) also scored falls.
A few days later, Liberty visited Easton looking to get back into the EPL title hunt. Easton started quickly as Greg Shoemaker and Rocky Creazzo both scored falls. Liberty then won three decisions in a row to close the team score to 12-9. The Rovers answered back as Joe Perelli pinned Bittenbender at 132. The Hurricanes again answered back by winning three more decisions to knot the score at 18-18. Easton again answered back as Darwin Brodt scored a fall at 167, and Chris Bartholomew, who was subbing for Lee Guzzo, beat Mark Cabassa 6-1 to clinch the win. Liberty’s Milt Schuler had a fall at heavyweight to narrow the final score to 27-24.
As the month of February began all but the LNL Northern Division title were still up for grabs.
In the EPL, Bethlehem Catholic was too much for Dieruff as they beat the Huskies 32-14. Through seven bouts, the teams were tied at 14-14, but Becahi won the last five bouts. Allen was able to get back to .500 by nipping Neshaminy 23-19. Bob Hersh and Mike Miller had wins at 167 and 185 to clinch the match for the Canaries.
Northampton led Catasauqua 18-12 with only three bouts to go in a key LVL match up. However, Dave Stein, Dale Hein and Jim Knittle all scored falls for the Rough Riders as they remained unbeaten in the league. Emmaus also stayed unbeaten in the league by winning all but two bouts as they defeated Palmerton 43-9. Lehighton defeated Slatington 37-19.
In the LNL North, Saucon Valley won the battle for 2nd place as Dan Travisano (155) and Gary Albright (167) scored falls to lead the Panthers over Wilson 34-12. Nazareth shut out Pleasant Valley 60-0 as they gave Coach Ray Nunamaker has 100th career win.
In the LNL South, Pocono Mountain remained unbeaten in the division and went to 9-1 overall as they beat Northwestern 34-15 on the strength of three falls. Salisbury remained tied for the division lead as they easily moved past Jim Thorpe 49-9. Southern Lehigh beat Palisades 23-17; in a battle of unbeatens Len Sheptock edged Dave Nagle 4-2 at 185.
On February 3rd, Nazareth started fast against Liberty as steve Keck and Dave Schreck both scored falls to take a 12-0 lead. The Blue Eagles never looked back as the beat the Hurricanes 27-15. At heavyweight, Milt Schuler decisioned Lynn Morris 8-4 to win a battle of unbeaten wrestlers. Easton crushed Wyoming Valley West 50-3, and Freedom shut out Pennsbury 49-0 in EPL match.
In a dual that would decide the LNL Southern Division title, Pocono Mountain’s Ken Siegfried (98) and Webb (112) scored falls in two of the first three bouts to give the Cardinals a 12-3 lead. Salisbury roared back to win the next six bouts including a fall by Irv Bosket at 126. The Falcons led 25-12. Pocono Mountain scored falls in two of the final three bouts, but Jeff Kozero’s 6-2 as Salisbury won 28-24.
Bethlehem Catholic used a middle weight run by Pat Sculley, Fink and Chris Karabin to pull ahead of Liberty 19-9. Two draws and Tom Lawler’s 2-0 win at 167 helped the Hawks lock up a tough 26-22 victory. Phillipsburg had four falls to remain unbeaten by crushing Allen 40-9.
On February 8th, Emmaus and Catasauqua were tied 6-6 after three bouts. Catty dropped unbeaten Wayne Stofko down to 119, but he had to rally to tie Bill Nonnemaker 4-4. Cory Faul scored a decision at 126 and then Ron Krebs and Brad Weller both scored falls to give the Hornets a commanding 23-8 lead. The Rough Riders did rally, but Emmaus won two more upper weight bouts to take sole possession of first place in the LVL 30-23. Northampton defeated Lehighton 31-15, and Stroudsburg beat Slatington 33-21.
Easton had a tougher than expected 31-20 victory over Notre Dame with a looming EPL showdown with Phillipsburg set nine days later.
In the LNL North, Nazareth, Saucon Valley and Wilson all won easily. In the LNL South, Salisbury was fresh off its big win against Pocono Mountain, but still had to get by Palisades. The Falcons rolled up a 28-9 lead and then held off a fierce rally to win 28-24. Jim Thorpe beat Pleasant Valley 39-18, and Southern Lehigh defeated Northwestern 39-11.
Two nights later, Saucon Valley pulled away from Liberty in the 155-185 bouts on their way to a 28-13 victory. Dieruff’s middleweight trio of unbeaten Mel Riddick, Wayne Palmer and Rich Crush led Dieruff to a tight 23-18 win over visiting Neshaminy in an EPL match. Not many bonus points were scored, but Bethlehem Catholic easily defeated Notre Dame 35-3.
In an LNL interdivisional match, Parkland showed the strength of the Northern Division as they scored four pins and defeated Pocono Mountain 40-15.
Jody McMullen and Mel Riddick both scored falls to lead Dieruff to a 26-23 win over crosstown rival Allen. In Bethlehem, Freedom started quickly and then had a fall from Dan Persa at 155 and decision by Wayne Horton at 167 to clinch a win over Liberty 30-21.
Wilson trailed Parkland 19-18 after eight bouts in a tight LNL North match. The Warriors reeled off four wins in a row including pins by Roger Miller, Tom Glosa and Cal Siegfried to triumph 39-19. Nazareth shut out East Stroudsburg 59-0; Saucon Valley clinched 2nd by defeating Bangor 53-3. For the first time since the 1967-68 season, Nazareth had defeated a “rebuilding” Saucon Valley to win the Northern Division title. The Blue Eagles completed a 12-1-1 season losing to another nemesis, Phillipsburg. The Panthers finished a respectable 11-3.
In the LNL South, Pocono Mountain finished 2nd as they clipped Southern Lehigh 32-23. The Cardinals started quickly with three pins in the first six bouts. Northwestern beat Pleasant Valley 39-17, and Palisades routed Jim Thorpe 48-9. Salisbury was idle, but cruised to their 2nd straight division title and finished 10-2 overall.
Emmaus won their first LVL title in two years by hammering Lehighton 27-12. The Hornets finished 7-0 in the league and 10-3-1 overall. Catasauqua more than doubled up Whitehall 33-16 to finish 2nd; overall they had their best record ever at 11-3. Northampton downed Stroudsburg 30-18 while Palmerton topped Slatington 38-16.
Bethlehem Catholic closed their season by dominating Neshaminy 42-9 to end their season at 11-3. The ’72-’73 season was the final season for Allen’s Little Palestra. After 43 seasons, the Little Palestra was being replaced by a new modern “Phys. Ed. Center.”
11-0-1 vs. 13-0 – Easton vs. Phillipsburg at The Pit – 7 Undefeated Wrestlers – Final Match of the Season! That was the set up on Saturday, February 17th as the two rivals squared off to decide the East Penn League title. The Rovers started quickly as Greg Shoemaker shut out Mike Rossetti 6-0 and Rocky Creazzo registered a fall. Phillipsburg fought back by winning three of the next four bouts, including superior decisions by Rick Thompson and Bruce Lear to lead 13-11. At 138, Russ Snyder held an 8-2 lead over Gary Osborne when Osborne “threw Snyder off the mat” per The Morning Call. The result was a disqualification after Snyder couldn’t continue, and the Rovers led 17-13. Bob Wesley and Darwin Brodt both had falls around a decision win by P-Burg’s Cook. Easton held an insurmountable 29-13 lead. Lee Guzzo added a decision for Easton, and Coach Bob Zarbatany had his 2nd win over Phillipsburg 33-20. The Rovers also won the East Penn League title and had a 20 match unbeaten streak intact.
North Schuylkill dominated the Tri-Valley league and completed an undefeated 14-0 season and had a 34 match winning streak intact.
In addition to the league champions, other teams with at least 10 wins included Bethlehem Catholic (11-3), Catasauqua (11-3), Freedom (11-2) and Pocono Mountain (10-3).
Final league standings were as follows:
|Compiled Standings 1972-73||Place||W-L-D|
|Lehigh-Northampton Northern Division|
|Lehigh Northampton Southern Division|
With Catholic school teams, Allentown Central Catholic and Bethlehem Catholic now competing in the PIAA championships, they joined the East Penn League sectional while independent Pine Grove joined the Tri-Valley sectional. Updated sectional groupings were as follows:
|East Penn Plus||Lehigh Valley||Lehigh-Northampton||Tri-Valley|
|Allentown C.C.||Catasauqua||Bangor||Blue Mountain|
|Bethlehem Catholic||Emmaus||East Stroudsburg||Hazleton|
|Dieruff||Lehighton||Jim Thorpe||Mahoney Area|
|Pine Grove||Stroudsburg||Parkland||Pine Grove|
|William Allen||Pocono Mountain||Schuylkill Haven|
|Saucon Valley||West Hazleton|
The Lehigh-Northampton’s and Lehigh Valley’s tournaments were held on February 23rd and 24th. In addition to crowning a league champion, the finalists at each weight class qualified for the following weeks’ District XI tournament. It is unclear if team scores were kept for the Tri-Valley League, but they did wrestle a final round. The East Penn League’s sectional served solely as a qualifier for Districts.
Nazareth and Saucon Valley dominated the early action as they had during the regular season. The Blue Eagles advanced 10 wrestlers to the semi-finals while the Panthers advanced nine. Both teams had six wrestlers in the finals and had three head-to-head match-ups. Amazingly, despite losing all three head-to-head match-ups, Nazareth was still had a shot at the team title thanks to Wilson’s Joe Butto and Salisbury’s Irv Bosket who both knocked off Panthers in their finals bouts. That set up the heavyweight bout between Nazareth’s Lynn Morris and defending league champ Carl Texter of Pocono Mountain to decide the team title. Morris won 6-4, and Coach Ray Nunamaker’s Blue Eagles had won the team title 95-1/2 to 93 over Saucon Valley.
The Lehigh Valley League saw regular season champion, Emmaus, dominated the action. The Hornets won their 4th league tournament in five years and crowned five champions – Barry Nonnemacher, John Lucik, Ron Krebs, Brad Weller and Randy Roberts. Northampton finished as runner-up and had two champions.
Things went pretty much as expected in the East Penn League Sectional. Easton led the way by advancing seven wrestlers. All three Bethlehem schools – Becahi, Freedom and Liberty – had four men each moving on while Dieruff had three.
North Schuylkill had nine wrestlers in the Tri-Valley League finals, thus advancing to Districts, and had six winners.
Like many teams, Nazareth had Mat Maids to cheer on their wrestlers. Per Ross Nunamaker, his father took this very seriously and required the girls to take a written test to prove their wrestling knowledge.
District XI Wrestling Tournament
The final “all-class” District XI tournament was held in 1973. Teams were awarded one point for each wrestler advancing from sectional competition. The quarterfinals featured three 8th seeded wrestlers knocking off top-seeded grapplers. Saucon Valley’s Rusty Chunko was matched up with defending PCIAA champ and #1 seed George Mascasevich of Bethlehem Catholic at 98. Chunko trailed 4-0 with only 20 seconds to go in the match but rallied with an escape, takedown and near fall to win 5-4. At 119, Wilson’s Joe Butto scored a first period fall over North Schuylkill’s top-seeded Larry Stein. The 145 pound weight class was turned upside down as the top three seeds all lost with Liberty’s Tom Biemen, Emmaus’ Greg Adams and Dieruff’s Rich Crush doing the honors. Easton, Saucon Valley and Nazareth were engaged in a three-way battle for the team title.
During the semi-finals, Easton pulled away from the field by going five for five. Freedom was able to score four finalists, but still trailed the Rovers by a healthy margin. Both Nazareth and Saucon Valley were hit hard in the semi’s as they advanced one and two wrestlers to the finals, respectively. Nazareth’s unbeaten Dave Schreck was upset by Freedom’s Rich Rike 6-5 denying fans seeing the much anticipated Creazzo-Schreck rematch. Wilson’s Joe Butto continued has upsets by pinning Dieruff’s tough Jody McMullin.
The finals would see Easton again go five for five and pull away with the team title by crowning five champions. Freedom nipped Saucon Valley for 2nd, and Bethlehem Catholic finished a very respectable 4th in their first tournament. For the Rovers, Greg Shoemaker topped North Schuylkill’s previously unbeaten Dave Hoffman 8-4 at 98, and Rocky Creazzo won his 3rd District title by downing Rich Rike 6-2 at 104. At 132, Russ Snyder defeated Becahi’s Jim Fink 6-2. Juniors Darwin Brodt (167) and Lee Guzzo (185) earned the final two titles with a fall over Freedom’s Wayne Horton and 7-5 decision over Pottsville’s Emerson Carter.
Wilson’s Joe Butto scored his 3rd fall and was named the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler after he pinned Saucon Valley freshman Rick Rodriguez at 119. At 126, defending PCIAA champ Pat Sculley of Becahi beat Salisbury’s Irv Bosket 8-1. Palmerton won its first ever district title as Bill Graver beat Dieruff’s Rich Crush 5-1 at 145. Saucon Valley’s Dan Travisano had dropped a 2-1 decision to Freedom’s Dan Persa in the Easton Holiday Tourney, but turned the tables on Persa 5-4 to win the 155 pound title. Other winners included Freedom’s Mike Zito (112), Nazareth’s Terry Reese (138) and Liberty’s Milt Schuler (Hwt).
District Team Scores were as follows:
|Saucon Valley||45||Pocono Mountain||5|
|Bethlehem Catholic||32||West Hazleton||3|
Northeast Regional Championships
The Northeast Regionals were held in Williamsport, and both sessions were sold out early in the week. The semi-finals would now be the key to qualifying for states as for the first time regional runner-ups would also advance. Nine District XI grapplers advanced to the semi-finals. Joe Butto was leading his semi-final bout, but saw his post season run come to an end when he was pinned in the 3rd period. All five of Easton’s wrestlers won their bouts. Rocky Creazzo defeated unbeaten Mike Portanova of Jersey Shore 9-8.
The finals saw a solid performance by the district wrestlers who won eight titles. The Rovers went 3 for 5 as Rocky Creazzo (105), Darwin Brodt (167) and Lee Guzzo (185) won their bouts; Greg Shoemaker (98) and Russ Snyder (132) both dropped their final bouts. Saucon Valley’s Dave Quier won the 88 pound exhibition weight class while teammate Dan Travisano won by forfeit at 155. The Bethlehem trio of Mike Zito (Freedom 112), Pat Sculley (Bethlehem Catholic 126) and Milt Schuler (Liberty Hwt) all won both of their bouts handily.
PIAA State Championships
The 1973 state tournament returned to the Farm Show Arena in Harrisburg. Three former state champs, including Easton’s Creazzo, were in the field. It was a challenging quarterfinal round for the Lehigh Valley wrestlers. Creazzo, Freedom’s Mike Zito, Becahi’s Pat Sculley, Saucon Valley’s Dan Travisano, Easton’s Lee Guzzo and Liberty’s Milt Schuler won their bouts. Easton’s Darwin Brodt dropped a heartbreaking 8-7 decision.
The semi-finals saw Creazzo again fall to Carylnton’s Denny Zuk; Travisano, Guzzo and Schuler also dropped their semi and consolation bouts. All four wrestlers finished 4th.
Freedom’s Zito advanced with an exciting 11-10 win in the semi-finals, but dropped a 2-2, 2-2, referee’s decision to Shaler’s Keith Nellis. That left Becahi’s Sculley as the only remaining hope for a District XI state title; he was matched up against future Pitt star and coach, unbeaten Rande Stottlemyre of Hickory. Sculley built a 4-0 lead, fell behind 7-6, but rallied with a two-point nearfall at the buzzer to win 8-7. Coach Tony Iasiello had a state champ in his 1st year in the PIAA and said “I’m glad we got the opportunity to be here, and Paddy was super” per The Morning Call. Indeed, he was!
While District XI may not have claimed quite as many finalists as expected, a number of underclassmen gained valuable post season experience that would pay off in 1973-74.
According to “Welcome to the Pit”, Phillipsburg ended the regular season ranked #1 for the 3rd year in a row in the NJ Coaches Association Poll, and Coach Jan Dutt was tied with Easton’s Bob Zarbatany as the Express-Times Coach of the Year.
For the 7th year in a row, the Stateliners were crowned District 16 team champions with six individual champs – Mike Rossetti (95), Bill Mack (103), Rick Thompson (112), Bruce Lear (133), Gary Osborne (138) and Steve Ellis (Hwt). In the regionals, Rossetti, Thompson, Lear and Osborne all triumphed.
The NJ State Championships saw Rick Thompson win his 2nd state title. Mike Rossetti was 2nd; Bill Mack was 3rd and Gary Osborne finished 4th.
With the majority of schools joining the PIAA, a scaled-down version and final PCIAA tournament was held at Notre Dame High School. The Crusaders qualified 8 wrestlers, and all of them placed. Notre Dame’s heavyweight Jim Doran had a fall in the finals. Notre Dame finished 3rd in the overall team standings behind Pittsburgh Canevin Catholic and Immaculata Conception of Washington.