There was very little turnover in the coaching ranks entering the ’81-’82 season and with all three AAA state champs graduating, The Morning Call’s Ted Meixell couldn’t help but asking “if this is the year for a letdown”?  While the AAA cabinet was far from bare, there was deeper returning place winners at the AA level including Catty’s Gerhard brothers and eleven other state qualifiers.  In the EPC, Liberty and Phillipsburg were favored to unseat the Rovers at the top of the standings.

In the Colonial League, Catasauqua was expected to battle perennial league favorites, Nazareth and Saucon Valley.  The latter challenged Bethlehem Catholic, who had been hit hard by graduation, in an early season test.  The Golden Hawks served notice that they would contend by winning the final five bouts to beat the Panthers 32-20 on December 3rd.

With the Pat Reilly tourney moving to earlier in the year, the Hawks outpaced Saucon Valley, Hazleton and Easton among others to again show that they would be a contender.  John Wagner won the 185 pound title by fall to give Bethlehem Catholic the team title.  Pat Santoro was the Hawks other champ at 105 while Saucon Valley led all teams with three champions – Sean Finkbeiner, Bill Hershey and Ken Ziegler.

Hazleton Wrestling
Hazleton Was at Their Peak in 1982 under Coach Don Rohn (Photo Courtesy of Hazleton HS Yearbook)
Pat Reilly Tournament
1981 Pat Reilly Champs (Photo Courtesy of West York Alumni Wrestling Website)
In a nine day span, Central Catholic’s Felix Rosado defeated both Steph Billy, Northampton, 12-5 and defending state champ, Matt Gerhard, 3-2.
Felix Rosado
Felix Rosado Had a Great December (Photo Courtesy of Central Catholic HS Yearbook)
Wilson had dropped an early dual 31-27 to Catasauqua, but Wilson rebounded by upsetting Pocono Mountain 37-21.  Easton reeled off five straight wins from 132-167 to top Nazareth 30-23 on December 19th.  On December 23rd, Wilson had three fall in the first four bouts to lead Saucon Valley 18-3 then found themselves trailing 28-24 as Jim Krause took the mat at heavyweight.  Krause’s fall gave Wilson a 30-28 victory and their first win over Saucon Valley since the 1965-66 season!
Stroudsburg and Northern Lehigh were expected to battle for the Centennial League title.  Northern Lehigh defeated defending league champ, Pocono Mountain 34-19 on December 23rd.  The Bulldogs raced out to a 21-0 lead and held off the Cardinals’ rally.  Liberty’s strength was on full display as they shut out a much-improved Allen squad 54-0.
In the annual holiday tournaments, Bethlehem Catholic easily won their Christmas City tourney as Bill Bittenmaster (119), Duane Peoples (155) and John Wagner (185) won titles.  Freedom matched the Hawks with three champions – Bill Kibler (132), Scott Turner (138) and Ken Russell (145).  Phillipsburg was tops at Council Rock, and Emmaus won in Hamburg with five champions.  An Easton freshman, Jack Cuvo, won the 98 pound title in the Top Hat Tourney; Liberty and Saucon Valley finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively, behind Shikellamy. Pocono Mountain had three champs to win the Wallenpaupack Tournament.
On January 7th, there were two huge duals.  Liberty snapped Easton’s 39-match win streak 37-18.  The Hurricanes got falls from Angelo Fetter (105), Mickey Torres (112), Derron Henning (126) and Dave Green (Hwt).  Nazareth moved past Catasauqua 32-21 on the strength of falls from Greg Noll (112), Jim Albanese (126), Rich Dech (132) and Bob Fehr (Hwt).
One week later, Phillipsburg nipped Liberty 26-25.  In a battle of state champs, John Barna decisioned Mickey Torres 11-6 at 112.  After Don Margeson’s fall at 126, P-Burg led 15-6.  An illegal slam took place at 145 with P-Burg’s Kevin Stocker leading but then being DQ’d against Junie Rich.  The Stateliners rebounded to win the next two bouts and then earning a draw at 185 to wrap up the match.  The same night, in the suddenly very competitive Colonial League, Nazareth downed Wilson 35-23 on four falls.
On January 16th, Freedom scored falls in three of the final four bouts to upend Easton 32-22, and Parkland won the last two bouts against Allen to edge the Canaries 32-26.  Next up for the Patriots was ultra-tough Phillipsburg who won in a 45-8 rout.
On January 21st, Nazareth jumped out to an early 13-3 lead against rival Saucon Valley.  The Panthers took the lead on Ken Ziegler’s fall at 167 and extended it to 24-20 after the 185 pound bout.  Heavyweight Bob Fehr’s fall gave the Blue Eagles a 26-24 victory.
On January 27 th, the long awaited Centennial League showdown between Stroudsburg and Northern Lehigh took place.  The Bulldogs raced to an early lead on falls by Jim Milot and Todd Herzog and then saw Stroudsburg pull to within 24-21 after John Fisher’s fall at 167, but Darrin and Dan Evans both posted wins as Northern Lehigh won 31-21 and all but assured itself of the Centennial League title.  On February 4th, Pocono Mountain would claim 2nd place by downing Stroudsburg by an impressive 39-15 score.
Darrin Evans
Darrin Evans Helped Lead Northern Lehigh to a Centennial League Title (Photo Courtesy of Northern Lehigh HS Yearbook)
Dan Evans
Dan Evans Rides Opponent (Photo Courtesy of Northern Lehigh HS Yearbook)
The annual “War on the Delaware” took place on January 30th.  Phillipsburg’s John Barna (112) and Brett Morrow (126) scored falls.  Easton’s Jody Karam won a 16-14 bout over Don Margeson.  The Stateliners won their first dual against Easton since 1976 by a 31-20 score.  Liberty rallied to win three of the final four bouts to top Saucon Valley 32-25.
On February 3rd, Catasauqua then upset Saucon Valley 31-29 pretty much clinching the league title for Nazareth.  Jeff Gerhard (98), Jeff Miller (145) and Chris Gerhard (155) scored falls.  North Schuylkill avenged defeats the past two seasons against Hazelton by beating the Cougars 22-21.  Freedom defeated Nazareth 38-17.
Phillipsburg won the first six bouts to establish all the momentum as they beat Bethlehem Catholic 32-13 to win the EPC title.  One week later, Liberty defeated the Hawks 27-13 to clinch 2nd place in the EPC.  Pocono Mountain started with two falls and finished with one as they defeated Nazareth 31-27.
Easton led Shikellamy 22-9 with only four bouts to go, but the Braves scored three falls to clip the Rovers 29-24.  In a late dual on February 24th,
Another very competitive dual season ended with Phillipsburg, Nazareth and Northern Lehigh all going undefeated in their respective leagues to win the East Penn, Colonial and Centennial league titles.    Phillipsburg finished 18-2 while Nazareth was 12-5 and Northern Lehigh was 16-2.  Liberty and North Schuylkill were both 20-1, Catasauqua 15-3, Saucon Valley 14-3-1, Pocono Mountain 13-2 and Easton was 11-4.

Final league standings were as follows:

Compiled Standings 1981-82PlaceW-L-D
East Penn
Phillipsburg111-0
Liberty210-1
Bethlehem Catholic3T8-3
Easton3T8-3
Freedom56-5
Parkland6T5-6
William Allen6T5-6
Emmaus84-7
Allentown Central Catholic93-8
Dieruff10T2-9
Northampton10T2-9
Whitehall10T2-9
Colonial
Nazareth18-0
Catasauqua2T6-2
Saucon Valley2T6-2
Wilson2T6-2
Southern Lehigh54-4
Palisades63-5
Pen Argyl72-6
Bangor81-7
Salisbury90-8
Centennial
Northern Lehigh18-0
Pocono Mountain27-1
Stroudsburg36-2
Northwestern45-3
Notre Dame54-4
Lehighton63-5
East Stroudsburg72-6
Palmerton81-7
Pleasant Valley90-8
Phillipsburg Wrestling
Phillipsburg Won the EPC Title (Photo Courtesy of Phillipsburg HS Yearbook)
Nazareth Wrestling
Nazareth Again Won the Colonial League Title (Photo Courtesy of Nazareth HS Yearbook)
Northern Lehigh Wrestling
Northern Lehigh – 1982 Centennial League Champs (Photo Courtesy of Northern Lehigh HS Yearbook)
Coach Charlie Bartolet had said he had a better tournament than dual meet team and his words proved prophetic as Saucon Valley crowned five champs to win the Colonial League Tournament.  Pocono Mountain won the Centennial League tourney by placing ten wrestlers including four champs. Phillipsburg was edged by North Hunterdon 32-31 in their bid for the Group 3 NJ Team Wrestling Championship.
Barry Yocum
Led by Barry Yocum, Pocono Mountain Won the Team Title in the Centennial League Tourney (Photo Courtesy of Pocono Mt. HS Yearbook)
After the first weekend, Liberty, Easton and Hazleton were slugging it out in the District XI AAA tournament and were all within 1.5 points of each other.  Hazleton had the lead going into the finals and both teams had four finalists.  After Jack Cuvo won the 98 pound title as a freshman, Keith Maurer defeated Angelo Fetter 5-3 in the first head-to-head match-up between Hazleton and Liberty. Liberty’s Mickey Torres won the 112 pound title.
Keith Maurer
Keith Maurer (Photo Courtesy of Hazleton HS Yearbook_
Mickey Torres
Mickey Torres Was in the Mix All Year for the Hurricanes (Photo Courtesy of Liberty HS Yearbook)
Hazleton had three finalists from 155 to 185, and while none of them were able to win but the Cougars still led in the team race. Liberty’s Mike Capuano had won a key final at 185, and then Dave Green won the heavyweight title to give the Hurricanes a 121.5 to 121 victory in the team race.  Becahi’s Duane Peoples won his 3rd District title by defeating Easton’s Pat Rizzolino 3-2.
1982 District XI AAA Champions
1982 District XI AAA Champs (L-R) – Front Row: Jack Cuvo (Easton), Keith Maurer (Hazleton), Mickey Torres (Liberty), Jim Albanese (Nazareth), Bill Hershey (Saucon Valley), Sean Finkbeiner (Saucon Valley) Back Row – Barry Yocum (Pocono Mountain), Duane Peoples (Beth Catholic), Mike Muth (Stroudsburg), Woody Marcks (Dieruff), Mike Capuano (Liberty), Dave Green (Liberty) (Photo Courtesy of Mike Capuano)
Mike Capuano
Mike Capuano District XI 185 Pound Champion (Photo Courtesy of Mike Capuano)
Mike Capuano
Liberty’s Mike Capuano – 185 Lb District Champ (Photo Courtesy of Liberty HS Yearbook)
Dave Green
Dave Green’s Win Gave Liberty a 1/2 Point Win Over Hazleton (Photo Courtesy of Liberty HS Yearbook)
Mike Capuano
Score Sheet from 185 Pound District Final (Photo Courtesy of Mike Capuano)
North Schuylkill had eight semi-finalists to pull away from the competition in the AA tournament.  The Spartans crowned two champions – both named Cesari (Steve and Joe) to again outpace Catasauqua to win the AA team title.  Catty’s Gerhard brothers were both champions and Panther Valley also had two titlists in Marty Maurer (155) and Tom Tessitore (167).
In the Northeast Regionals, District XI wrestlers won seven titles and advanced 20 wrestlers to the state tournament. Easton’s Jack Cuvo, Hazleton’s Keith Maurer and Jeff Sweda, Nazareth’s Jim Albanese, Saucon Valley’s Bill Hershey and Sean Finkbeiner and Freedom’s Scott Turners were champions.
Jack Cuvo
Frosh Jack Cuvo Burst on the Scene Winning His 1st of 4 NE Regional Titles(Photo Courtesy of The Morning Call)
The AA wrestlers saw four District XI teams – Catasauqua, Northern Lehigh, North Schuylkill and Wilson -have five semi-finalists each.  were completely dominant with 23 of 24 finalists and crowning twelve champs in the Southeast Regional tournament.  Wilson won the team title and District XI rounded out the balance of the top five as well.
The AA wrestlers continued their success in Hershey by crowing five state champions.  Catasauqua’s Gerhard brothers – Matt (105) and Chris (145) – both won state titles; North Schuylkill’s Kent Lane (112) and Joe Cesari Jr (138) also won state titles as the teams finished 2nd and 3rd in the team race.  Joe Cesari Sr. was named Coach of the Year; Mahoney Area’s Jim Trusky (185) became his school’s first champ ever.  Nine other District XI wrestlers earned medals.
Catasauqua Coaches and Wrestlers with PIAA Team Runner-Up Trophy: L to R: Head coach Jim Angeline, Barry Lovelace (6th place), Chris Gerhard (State Champ) holding trophy, Jeffrey Miller (5th place), Matt Gerhard (State Champ) and Coach Tony Villani. (Photo Courtesy of Barry Lovelace & Chris Gerhard)
Kent Lane
(Photo Courtesy of N. Schuylkill HS Yearbook)
Joe Cesari
Joe Cesari Sr – PIAA AA COY (Photo Courtesy of N. Schuylkill HS Yearbook)
Joe Cesari
(Photo Courtesy of N. Schuylkill HS Yearbook)
Matt Gerhard
Catty’s Matt Gerhard Won State Title #2 (Photo Courtesy of Catasauqua HS Yearbook)
Chris Gerhard
State Champ Chris Gerhard (Photo Courtesy of Catasauqua HS Yearbook_
The AAA state championships would District XI advance five consecutive wrestlers to the finals from 119 to 145 (Nazareth’s Steve Albanese, Saucon Valley’s Bill Hershey & Sean Finkbeiner, Pocono Mountain’s Barry Yocum and Becahi’s Duane Peoples).  Only Hershey would emerge victorious with a 14-5 win over Wilkes-Barre Meyers’ Lee Miller.  Finkbeiner lost in overtime; otherwise, the Panthers would have had back-to-back champions.  Four other District XI wrestlers earned state medals.
Bill Hershey
State Champ Bill Hershey (Photo from The Morning Call)
Phillipsburg Post-Season
Phillipsburg won their 16th District 16 team title in a row and had seven champions in the process.  John Barna, Jim Smith, Brett Morrow, Mike Barna, Kevin Stocker, Tim Cummings and Todd Burdette all won titles.  Jeff Bowyer, John Barna and Smith also won regional titles.  John Barna was trailing 10-4 when he pinned his opponent to win his 3rd New Jersey state title.  Jim Smith finished 3rd and Jeff Bowyer was 4th.
John Barna
Phillipsburg’s John Barna Won His 3rd NJ State Title (Photo Courtesy of Phillipsburg HS Yearbook)