|Coaching Changes:||Rennie Hunt to Glen Miller (Bangor)|
|Jody McMullin to Jerry Heist (Dieruff)|
|Jake Llewelyn to Richard Flacco (Jim Thorpe)|
|Unknown to Roger George (Palmerton)|
|Henry Callie to Harold Smith (Pen Argyl)|
|Richard Martin to Ken Santoro (Pleasant Valley)|
|Mike Free to Glenn Schantz (Salisbury)|
|Structural Changes:||No major changes.|
|East Penn||Phillipsburg (11-0)|
|Centennial||Northern Lehigh (8-0)|
|Colonial League Tourney:||Saucon Valley (5 Champions)|
|Centennial League Tourney:||Pocono Mountain (4 Champions)|
|Class AAA:||Liberty (3 Champions)|
|Class AA:||North Schuylkill (2 Champions)|
|Class AAA:||District XI 7 Total Champs Shikellamy wins first team title|
|Class AA:||District XI 12 Total Champs Wilson wins first team title (2 Champs)|
|Class AAA:||Saucon Valley 3rd with one champion & one runner-up|
|Class AA:||Catasauqua 2nd with two champions|
|North Schuylkill 3rd with two champions|
|Individual State Champions:|
|Class AAA:||Bill Hershey, 126, Saucon Valley|
|Class AA:||Matt Gerhard, 105, Catasauqua|
|Kent Lane, 112, North Schuylkill|
|Joe Cesari Jr., 138, North Schuylkill|
|Chris Gerhard, 145, Catasauqua|
|Jim Trusky, 185, Mahoney Area|
|New Jersey:||John Barna, 112, Phillipsburg|
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 were a deeper stable of returning place winners at the AA level including Catty’s Gerhard brothers and eleven other state qualifiers.
In the EPC, Liberty with ten returning starters and Phillipsburg with seven returning starters including two-time state champ, John Barna, were favored to unseat Easton at the top of the standings. Both the Rovers, who had graduated seven senior leaders, and Bethlehem Catholic were hit very hard by graduation.
In the Colonial League, Catasauqua was expected to battle perennial league favorites, Nazareth and Saucon Valley with Wilson also expected to be in the mix.
Pocono Mountain had finished undefeated but lost many of their top wrestlers to graduation. The Cardinals still hoped to contend for the Centennial League crown, but were underdogs to last year’s 2nd place team, Stroudsburg, and Northern Lehigh, who returned almost every starter.
November / December
Saucon Valley opened the season on November 28th and got falls from Sean Finkbeiner and Bill Hershey to win 33-22 over Freedom. Liberty opened their season and avenged last season’s defeat by upending Hazleton 30-20 with Angelo Fetter, Derron Henning and Pete Bearse registering falls.
With only two returning starters, Bethlehem Catholic met Saucon Valley in an early season test. The Golden Hawks rallied from a 20-11 deficit to win the final five bouts to beat the Panthers 32-20 on December 3rd. Joe Tobin (145), Tim Fradeneck (167) & John Wagner (185) won decisions while Duane Peoples (155) and John Brown (Hwt) had falls.
With the Pat Reilly tourney moving to earlier in the year, the Bethlehem Catholic 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 Duane Peoples was defeated by West York’s Tom Toggas 3-2. Saucon Valley led all teams with three champions – Sean Finkbeiner, Bill Hershey and Ken Ziegler. For Easton, freshman Jack Cuvo won a wild 11-10 bout over Dave Andrews from Emmaus and Tony Mowad won the 126-pound title. At 145, Freedom’s Scott Turner and Pocono Mountain’s Barry Yocum were deadlocked through regulation and overtime, but Turner won on criteria.
In an early Colonial League showdown, Catasauqua started quickly against Wilson and led 11-0 after Matt Gerhard’s superior decision. Wilson then scored three falls and a decision to take a 21-11 lead. The Rough Riders then won the next four bouts including falls by Barry Lovelace (167) and Cort Lasenderfer (185) to win 31-27.
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. Gerhard also defeated Billy 12-4 as Catasauqua downed Northampton 33-15.
On December 17th, Bethlehem Catholic continued their winning ways again rallying from behind as they defeated Freedom 34-16 in the EPC.
On December 19th, on the strength of four early falls, Wilson rebounded by upsetting Pocono Mountain 37-21. The same day, Easton reeled off five straight wins from 132-167 to top Nazareth 30-23. Jack Cuvo (98), Hector Bedoya (119) and Jody Karam (138) scored lopsided decisions and Pat Rizzolino (155) scored a fall. In non-league action, Hazleton defeated Stroudsburg 42-19 while Wilkes-Barre Coughlin upended both Northern Lehigh and Northampton.
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 with two champs (John Barna at 112 and Tim Cummings at 155), and Emmaus won in Hamburg with five champions (Rusty Moyer, Frank Frenduto, Steve Rohrbach, Mike Johns and Brook Farling). 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. Dave Romig (119) and Dave Green (Hwt) won titles for Liberty while Sean Finkbeiner (132) won for Saucon Valley.
Pocono Mountain had three champs (Phil DeLuca, Paul Jarrett and Kris Knecht) 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). The same night, Allen won the last four bouts to defeat Emmaus 31-26. NJ state champ John Barna pinned Felix Rosado as Phillipsburg easily moved past Allentown Central Catholic 46-16.
On January 9th, visiting Warwick knocked Bethlehem Catholic from the unbeaten ranks 30-21; Liberty again showed its strength by defeating a very solid Wilson team 55-3; Parkland scored falls in the final two bouts to clip Catasauqua 32-20; Nazareth was too much for Northampton 35-20; and Phillipsburg defended their #1 NJ state ranking 29-21 over Voorhees.
Phillipsburg nipped Liberty 26-25 on January 14th. 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. Emmaus defeated Parkland 29-23. 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 almost squandered a 26-0 lead, but won the last two bouts against Allen to edge the Canaries 32-26. Two nights later, Emmaus nipped Northampton 27-24 in the competitive EPC.
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. In the Centennial League, Stroudsburg defeated Northwestern 34-21 and Northern Lehigh downed Lehighton 33-19 as both teams remained unbeaten in the Centennial League. In the EPC, Freedom was coming off their big win over Easton, but ran into ultra-tough Phillipsburg and lost in a 45-8 rout.
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.
The annual “War on the Delaware” took place on January 30th. Phillipsburg’s John Barna (112) and Brett Morrow (126) scored falls, and P-Burg led 19-3 after the first five bouts. Easton’s Jody Karam won a 16-14 bout over Don Margeson at 138, but Kevin Stocker nipped Pat Rizzolino 3-2 at 145. The Stateliners ultimately 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. It was a tale of two matches as Northampton won the first six bouts to lead 28-0, but Pocono Mountain won the last six bouts to win 31-28.
On February 1st, Northern Lehigh led Catasauqua 13-8, but the Rough Riders won the next four bouts to lead 20-13. Darrin and Don Evans scored a superior decision and fall, but their wins were bookended by Cort Lansenderfer’s major decision, and Catty won 25-24.
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. Cliff DelValle’s fall and Joe Cesari’s and Al Rezzif’s one-point wins were key to the victory. Freedom scored four falls to defeat Nazareth 38-17.
On February 4th, Phillipsburg won the first six bouts to establish all the momentum and a 21-0 lead as they beat Bethlehem Catholic 32-13 to win the EPC title. John Barna pinned Pat Santoro at 112 while Tim Cummings and Duane Peoples battled to a 4-4 draw at 155. Pocono Mountain would claim 2nd place by downing Stroudsburg by an impressive 39-15 score on the strength of four falls.
Two days later, Stroudsburg rallied from a 30-17 deficit to tie Wilson 30-30. Hazleton led Shikellamy 13-3, but the Braves roared back to win 32-15. Freedom was too much for Parkland as they scored four falls to win 38-17.
On February 9th, Phillipsburg led Delaware Valley 19-4, but could not hold on dropping a tough 27-26 match. One night later, Liberty defeated the Hawks 27-13 to clinch 2nd place in the EPC. The Hurricanes started quick winning all but one of the first seven bouts to lead 17-5. Fran Gutierrez’s, Mike Knox’s and Dave Green’s decisions clinched the match for Coach Frank Gutierrez. Dieruff surprised Freedom 31-28 by winning four of the final five bouts in an EPC upset. One night later, the Patriots would be on the right side of close match with Allen 27-24. Pocono Mountain started with two falls and finished with one as they defeated Nazareth 31-27.
On February 13th, Scott Hemmis and Mark Lentz scored falls in the final two bouts to nip Nazareth 30-29. Easton topped crosstown rival Wilson 43-6. A few nights later, the Rovers led Shikellamy 22-9 with only four bouts to go, but the Braves scored three falls to clip Easton 29-24. Tom Wilde’s upset win at 98 spurred Allen on to a 33-15 win over Dieruff while Bethlehem Catholic topped Allentown Central Catholic 34-22; Emmaus edged Whitehall 31-30; and Liberty rolled past Freedom 42-9 in rivalry bouts as the dual season came to an end.
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 1981-82||Place||W-L-D|
|Allentown Central Catholic||9||3-8|
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.
After the first weekend, Liberty (7 in semis), Easton (3 in semis) and Hazleton (6 in semis) were slugging it out in the District XI AAA tournament and were all within 1.5 points of each other. Liberty’s 16th seeded Mike Bresnak upset top-seeded Eric Breslin of Blue Mountain at 103. Allen’s John Thompson, a #9 seed, upended top seed Al Viduzzynski of Pottsville. In addition, Emmaus’ Rusty Moyer upset #2 seed Felix Rosado from Central Catholic. Hazleton had the lead going into the finals and both teams had four finalists.
Hazleton led Liberty heading into the consolation finals and finals. 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 at 105. Liberty’s Mickey Torres won the 112 pound title. Hazleton had three finalists from 155 to 185 so the team race took a break while some very competitive matches took place. Nazareth’s Jim Albanese (119), Pocono Mountain’s Barry Yocum (138 – gaining revenue over Freedom’s Scott Turner) and Bethlehem Catholic’s Duane Peoples (145 – his 3rd District title) all won close bouts while Saucon Valley’s Bill Hershey (126) and Sean Finkbeiner (132) cruised to District titles. Despite dropping three finals in a row as Stroudsburg’s Mike Muth topped John Semanchick (155), Woody Marcks scored a fall over Bob Fisher (167) and Liberty’s Mike Capuano defeated Jeff Sweda in a key final at 185, Hazleton still led. When Dave Green won the heavyweight title, the Hurricanes had passed Hazelton for a 121.5 to 121 victory in the team race.
North Schuylkill took the lead after the first weekend over Wilson and Catasauqua as they advanced eight semi-finalists to pull away from the competition in the AA tournament. The only major upset of the first weekend was Palisades John Pursell shocking top-seeded Rick Hendricks of Wilson at 155. The Spartans crowned two champions – both named Cesari (Steve and Joe at 132 and 138) to again outpace Catasauqua to win the AA team title. Catty’s Gerhard brothers – Matt at 105 and Chris at 145 – were champions. Mahoney Area and Panther Valley also had two titlists each in Gary Sanchez (126) & Jim Trusky (185) and Marty Maurer (155) & Tom Tessitore (167), respectively. Northern Lehigh’s Jim Milot (98), Lehighton’s Dennis Semmel (112), Wilson’s John Handlovic (119), Pius X’s Frank Cinelli (Hwt),
In the Northeast Regionals, District XI wrestlers won seven titles and advanced 20 wrestlers to the state tournament in a solid performance. 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 Turner were champions. For the first time at regionals a team scores were tallied, and Shikellamy outdistanced Hazleton (4 state qualifiers) to win the team race. Liberty placed 4th and also advanced four wrestlers to the state tournament.
The AA wrestlers saw four District XI teams – Catasauqua, Northern Lehigh, North Schuylkill and Wilson -have five semi-finalists each. District XI wrestlers were completely dominant with 23 of 24 finalists and crowning twelve champs in the Southeast Regional tournament. In a close team race Wilson won the first AA team title as they, North Schuylkill, Northern Lehigh and Catasauqua all finished within ten points of each other. District XI champs won regional titles at eight weights in Jim Milot, Matt Gerhard, Dennis Semmel (holding off North Schuylkill’s Kent Lane), John Handlovic, Gary Sanchez, Joe Cesari, Chris Gerhard and Jim Trusky. At 132, Palisades’ Scott Rimmer turned the tables on Steve Cesari. Wilson’s Rick Hendricks’ win at 155 was one of the keys to the Warriors team titles. Darrin Evans (167) of Northern Lehigh and Tim Adams (Hwt) of Williams Valley rounded out the champions.
PIAA State Tournaments
AA wrestlers advanced 11 wrestlers through the first day including three from Catasauqua; six wrestlers won their semi-final bouts. In the finals, the AA wrestlers continued their success in Hershey by crowning 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. Mahoney Area’s Gary Sanchez (126) lost his finals’ bout. Eight other District XI wrestlers earned medals – Northern Lehigh’s Jim Milot (98 – 4th), Palisades’ Dennis Gilliland (105 – 5th), Lehighton’s Dennis Semmel (112 – 4th) & Glenn Whitman (145 – 4th), Wilson’s Troy Handlovic (98 – 6th) & John Handlovic (119 – 5th) and Catasauqua’s Jeff Miller (138 – 5th) and Barry Lovelace (167 – 6th).
Fifteen AAA wrestlers won their first round bouts, but only six were able to advance to the semi-finals. 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 – Hazleton’s Keith Maurer 105 – 4th), Liberty’s Angelo Fetter (105 – 6th), Freedom’s Scott Turner (138 – 6th) and Pottsville’s Al Viduszynski (185 – 5th).
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.
In the Easton Lions Classic, New Jersey triumphed 29-18 as Phillipsburg’s 3-time state champ John Barna scored a superior decision and North Hunterdon’s Tom Jamicky scored a fall over PA state champ Chris Gerhard. In the Pittsburgh Press Classic, the USA Team triumphed 24-19. Mahoney Area’s Jim Trusky was the only participant from District XI. The USA Team had future college stars Jim Jordan, Greg Randall, Jim Heffernan and Greg Elinsky.