After five years coaching at Hazleton, Don Rohn returned to the Lehigh Valley to take over a Northampton program that had finished 6-13 the previous year. I
In the EPC, Phillipsburg was favored to outpace Bethlehem Catholic, Easton and Liberty. The Stateliners returned five district champs and a runner-up along with three additional starters. Liberty returned seven starters but lost their four talented seniors from 155-Hwt. Bethlehem Catholic returned ten starters and Easton did not have quite the returning depth of the other contenders, but had a strong group of underclassmen.
In the Centennial League, Northern Lehigh was favored to repeat with three regional finalists and five other returning starters. Pocono Mountain got the nod for 2nd with Lehighton expected to contend. Wilson was considered the team to beat in the Colonial. The Warriors returned three state qualifiers. Nazareth, Catasauqua and Saucon Valley were expected to challenge Wilson.
Easton and host North Schuylkill both had four champions in the North Schuylkill Invitational. For the Rovers, Jack Cuvo (98), Paul Zarbatany (112), Brian McIntyre (132) and Jody Karam (155) won titles. For the Spartans, defending state champions Kent Lane (119) and Joe Cesari (145) along with Rob Wary (167) and Glenn Geist (Hwt) were champions. Host Parkland had seven finalists, including champions Thurston Nichols (105) and Jim Best (112), in the Trojan Tournament.
December kicked off with Bethlehem Catholic had pins in the final four bouts to defeat Saucon Valley 39-26. The Panthers led 26-15 but Duane Peoples, John Wagner, Brian Slowey and John Brown all scored falls for the Hawks. Allen, with transfer Felix Rosado, lost a close bout to Nazareth 29-23 and signaled that they belonged among the top tier programs in the Lehigh Valley.
In the Reilly Tournament, Easton had four champs (Jack Cuvo, Jeff Karam, Paul Zarbatany and Mike DiSora) in the first five weights to outpace Bethlehem Catholic.
Northern Lehigh had six falls to route Northwestern 44-18. Wilson and Palisades were locked in a close 24-23 match; the Warrior won the final three bouts to win 39-23 in a Colonial League opener.
Hazleton edged Parkland 27-25; Allen whipped Saucon Valley 39-13; and Catasauqua clipped Northampton 33-23 on December 11th.
After dropping a dual to Northern Lehigh, Northwestern bounced back and upset Pocono Mountain 30-26 in Centennial League action; Jason Grantham’s fall at heavyweight clinched the win. Stroudsburg defeated Lehighton 40-29. In the EPC, Freedom’s Scott Turner bumped up to 155 and had a 1-1 draw with Becahi’s Duane Peoples. With the team score deadlocked at 19-19, the Hawks won the final three bouts to triumph 31-19. Easton won all but two bouts against Parkland to win 48-9. In the Colonial League, Wilson was dominant in a 40-17 win over Catasauqua.
On December 17th, Easton used their takedown prowess to cruise past Nazareth 44-14. Bethlehem Catholic’s Pat Santoro was the OW and one of five titlists for Bethlehem Catholic as they won the North Penn Wrestling Tourney. Wilson was strong in the lighter weights in defeating Pocono Mountain 33-18.
Northern Lehigh and Pocono Mountain matched up in a key pre-Christmas Centennial League dual that would likely decide the league title. The Bulldogs led 18-3 at the halfway mark, but Pocono Mountain narrowed the lead to 18-12. Greg Parsons, Darrin Evans and Chris Grammes put the match away as Northern Lehigh triumphed 31-18. In the EPC, Liberty won five of six bouts from 126-155 to defeat Allen 31-19. In the Colonial League, Saucon Valley was too much for Catasauqua 33-22. One day later, Phillipsburg pounded Parkland 48-15.
In the annual holiday tournaments, Bethlehem Catholic and Northern Lehigh were locked in a tight battle heading into the final round. Pat Santoro’s upset win over Jim Milot at 112 proved to be the winning margin for the Hawks especially after the Bulldogs’ Darrin Evans nipped John Wagner at 167. Northern Lehigh’s Larry Rehrig defeated the #1, 2 and 4 seeds at 105 to win the championship. Northwestern had four champs (Tim Erkinger, Tim Simpson, Tim Kelchner and Jason Grantham) to win the Jim Thorpe tourney. Dieruff had two champs (Lonnie Westerman and Andy Voit) in the Kutztown Tournament.
Visiting St. Edwards and Shikellamy dominated the Top Hat Tourney while Easton finished 3rd and Liberty was 4th. Saucon Valley’s Sean Finkbeiner (138) and Easton’s Jody Karam (155) claimed titles while Jack Cuvo was edged by Shikellamy’s Paul Gemberling 9-8. Jim Best (112) and Scott Hemmis (185) were champions for Parkland in the Selinsgrove Tourney. Pocono Mountain had four champions (Phil Deluca, Ken Hart, Tim Phillips and Bob Voorhees) to repeat as team titlist in the Wallenpaupack Tourney.
On January 6th, Easton gained revenge from last year’s defeat to top Liberty 37-18. Thanks to falls by Mike Bresnak (105) and Derron Henning (138), the Hurricanes led 18-15 but Easton won the final five bouts to secure the big win. Wilson hammered Saucon Valley 44-12 in a key Colonial League battle – only Nazareth remained in their way of claiming the league title.
Two days later, Liberty rebounded to whip Wilson 39-11 while Nazareth defeated Northampton in the first bout of the Nunamaker-Rohn rivalry 39-16. Freedom easily beat Saucon Valley 47-11; at 155 Scott Turner and Sean Finkbeiner battled to a 5-5 draw. Bethlehem Catholic competed in the Eastern States Wrestling Classic and won the team title as Pat Santoro, Duane Peoples and John Brown were champions.
On January 11th, there were two huge EPC matches with Easton topping Bethlehem Catholic 36-18 and Phillipsburg jumping to an early lead and defeating Liberty 33-17. The Easton-Becahi match would see the Rover roar out to a 22-0 lead by winning the first five bouts. Paul Zarbatrany defeated Pat Santoro 12-6 at 112. The match also featured a marquee match-up at 155 with Jody Karam battling Duane Peoples. Peoples led 11-8 in the 3rd period and countered a Karam headlock attempt with a throw but was DQ’d for an illegal slam – a result that left neither boy nor the crowd satisfied per The Morning Call. Phillipsburg had aa edge (16-8) in the battle of strong lower weights as Jeff Bowyer decisioned Mike Bresnak at 105 while Derron Henning nipped Don Margeson at 132. The teams alternated wins the rest of the way as the ‘Liners registered the win. Freedom slipped Allen 32-19 while Parkland and Emmaus tied 31-31. Nazareth hammered Catasauqua 48-9 in a Colonial League match up.
At about the midway point of the dual schedule, Easton and P-Burg were headed for a showdown in the EPC as Nazareth and Wilson were in the Colonial. Northern Lehigh was solidly in the top spot in the Centennial League and expected to run the table.
“A frenzied packed house in Wilson” per The Morning Call was the setting for the Nazareth-Wilson showdown on January 20th. Wilson took an early lead and led 17-9 at the halfway point, but the Blue Eagles won all but one of the remaining bouts to win 33-20. Jim Karch, Judd Smith and Bob Fehr scored 17 team points in the last three bouts to deliver the “W” and the Colonial League title.
Phillipsburg won 9 of 12 bouts to defeat Freedom 31-15. Northern Lehigh won their 10th bout in a row as they defeated Lehighton 56-8. A few days later, Freedom rebounded to defeat Nazareth 34-18. Easton fell to Shikellamy 35-22; in key match-ups, Paul Zarbatany pinned Tony Reed at 112 and John Supsic edged Mark Benton 13-10. In other non-league match-ups, Liberty defeated Hazleton 37-21, and Pocono Mountain won the final five bouts to upend Northampton 32-22.
On January 25th, Easton defeated Freedom 42-15. One night later, Allen pulled off a huge upset beating Bethlehem Catholic 30-21 and giving Coach Don Schleicher his first win over a Bethlehem school in his eight-year career. Unexpected heroes for the Canaries were sophomore Chris Schmidt with a fall at 105 and freshman Jeff Roth with a 7-5 decision over heavily-favored Brian Culligan at 132. The same night, Nazareth defeated Saucon Valley 34-21 to basically lock up the Colonial League title. The Panthers had led 21-16, but Jim Karch, Judd Smith and Bob Fehr all scored falls for the Blue Eagles.
As January came to a close, Freedom topped Lehighton 46-15 with Scott Turner defeating Glenn Whiteman 7-2 at 155, and Allen defeated Parkland 39-21. To the north, North Schuylkill was rolling through the competition in the Schuylkill League. The Spartans knocked off Shikellamy 39-23 and rival Hazleton 34-17.
What remained was the Easton-Phillipsburg match on February 3rd which would decide the EPC title. The Rovers dropped a number of their lower weights and jumped out to a 19-0 lead. The Stateliners fought back with falls in the next two bouts and a major decision to trim the lead to 19-16. John Swick and Jody Karam had falls in the next two bouts, and Easton won 31-26. Nazareth clinched the Colonial League title with a lopsided win. In the Colonial League, Bangor scored falls in the final three bouts to upset Saucon Valley 28-26 and Salisbury upset Catasauqua 39-26.
Two days later, Phillipsburg cruised past Bethlehem Catholic 44-18; Parkland and Freedom tied 25-25; and Allen edged Whitehall 27-24. Saucon Valley’s Sean Finkbeiner nipped Glenn Whiteman 4-3 at 155 and the Panthers got a win at heavyweight to trip Lehighton 29-26.
Liberty opened up a 20-9 lead over Bethlehem Catholic, but the Hawks’ Duane Peoples, John Wagner and John Brown had falls to pull out the win 27-26. Future Bloomsburg star Ron Ippolite scored a fall as Highland defeated Phillipsburg 28-22.
Rivalry matches took place on February 16th with Allen beating Dieruff 46-6; Liberty downing Freedom 31-16; Bethlehem Catholic clipping Allentown Central Catholic 36-13; and Whitehall beating Emmaus 30-27. Nazareth rallied again in the final three bouts to edge Pocono Mountain 30-29.
After snow delayed the initial dual, North Schuylkill traveled to Slatington to face Northern Lehigh on February 17th. The Bulldogs led 16-0 after three bouts, but North Schuylkill was able to take advantage of the rule requiring the home team to put their wrestler on the mat first so Coach Cesari was able to get the matchups that he wanted at 126/132 and 145/155. The Spartans held a 22-16 lead with three bouts to go. Darrin Evans, who dealt Rob Wary his first loss in 30 bouts, and Chris Grammes put Northern Lehigh ahead 23-22, but Glenn Geist’s pin at heavyweight gave the Spartans a 28-23 victory.
In some final duals, Liberty defeated Nazareth 36-15, and Easton clobbered Wilson 49-15. Allen had a resurgent year, but fell to Easton 45-6. Scott Hemmis scored a fall over Judd Smith at 185 to clinch Parkland’s 28-24 win over Nazareth.
An exciting dual season ended with Easton, Nazareth and Northern Lehigh all going undefeated in their respective leagues to win the East Penn, Colonial and Centennial league titles. Easton finished 15-1 (losing only to Shikellamy) while Nazareth was 14-4 and Northern Lehigh was 17-1 (losing only to North Schuylkill). North Schuylkill finished an incredible 27-0, Phillipsburg 17-2, Freedom 15-4-1, Allen 15-5, Liberty 14-3 and Nazareth 14-4. North Schuylkill was so dominant that it outscored its opponents 1,334-278 in its 27 dual meet victories.
Final league standing were as follows:
|Compiled Standings 1982-83||Place||W-L-D|
|Allentown Central Catholic||8||3-8|
As they had done in the regular season, Nazareth and Northern Lehigh won the Colonial and Centennial League tourneys. Nazareth had eight finalists while Northern Lehigh had five champs. Phillipsburg had nine champions in romping to the NJ District 16 team title.
With a change in the criteria for determining AAA and AA schools, the AAA field expanded to 24 teams but many of the perennial favorites – Bethlehem Catholic, Easton & Liberty – were back to compete for the team title. The tournament was also consolidated into one weekend (Friday-Saturday). While the favorites jumped out to a strong start with five semi-finalists each, Hazleton (last year’s runner-up), Parkland and Whitehall had four semi-finalists each.
Parkland’s Thurston Nichols jumped out to an 8-2 lead over Easton’s Jack Cuvo, but The Cuve battled back to cap a 17-13 comeback win. Cuvo along with Jody Karam (155) won titles while the Rovers also had a 2nd, three wrestlers place 3rd and one 4th on their way to the team title. Bethlehem Catholic Duane Peoples became only the 2nd wrestler to win four District XI titles as he defeated Lehighton’s Glenn Whiteman 12-4 at 145 as he led the Hawks to a 2nd place finish. Rudy Preletz won at 126 for Becahi. Mickey Torres avenged two losses to Hazleton’s Mark DeLese at 112 as he led the Hurricanes to a 3rd place finish. Ten different teams would have titlists in a very balanced tournament. Parkland’s Jim Best (105) and Dieruff’s Andy Voit (185) registered the final’s only falls. Northampton’s Steph Billy (119), Saucon Valley’s Sean Finkbeiner (132), Freedom’s Scott Turner (138), Stroudsburg’s John Fisher (167) and Whitehall’s Tony Lucci (Hwt) rounded out the champions.
In the AA tournament, Northern Lehigh did more than enough to win in most years – scoring 141.5 – and crowning three champions, Larry Rehrig (98), Jim Milot (105) and Darrin Evans (167). But this wasn’t most years! North Schuylkill had six champions and 201 points – Kent Lane (119), Joe Cesari (138), Steve Cesari (145), Rob Wary (155) Al Razzis (185) and Glenn Geist (Hwt). Joe Sr was named Coach of the Year and Joe Jr was named Outstanding Wrestler. Catty’s Matt Gerhard (112) and Wilson’s John Handlovic (126) & Greg Roscioli (132) were the remaining winners.
In the Northeast Regionals, Easton had another great week by scoring 100 points and crowning three champs (Jack Cuvo, Brian McIntyre and Jody Karam). District XI wrestlers won ten titles and advanced 21 wrestlers to the state tournament. Cuvo went into OT to nip Shikellamy’s Paul Gemberling while Shik’s John Supsic nipped Parkland’s Jim Best in OT at 105. Liberty’s Mickey Torres, Saucon Valley’s Sean Finkbeiner, Freedom’s Scott Turner, Becahi’s Duane Peoples, Stroudsburg’s John Fisher, Dieruff’s Andy Voit and Whitehall’s Tony Lucci rounded out the winners.
In the AA Southeast Regional tourney, District XI wrestlers won 37 of 48 quarterfinal matches including Catausaqua’s Matt Gerhard winning his 100th match. North Schuylkill was again dominant and had eight finalists, five of whom were crowned champions in winning the team title by almost 80 points. For the Spartans – Kent Lane, Joe Cesari, Steve Cesari, Al Razzis and Glenn Geist – all took 1st place. District XI crowned 10 titlists in total including Northern Lehigh’s Jim Milot, Catty’s Matt Gerhard and Wilson’s John Handlovic, Greg Roscioli & Larry Smith (167).
PIAA Wrestling Championships
In AA, seven wrestlers won their first 2 bouts to advance to the semi-finals, but North Schuylkill’s defending state champ Kent Lane was injured and had to default. Despite Lane’s setback, for the 3rd weekend in a row, North Schuylkill ran the table. They claimed the team title, Coach of the Year (Joe Sr) and Outstanding Wrestler (Joe Jr). Joe Cesari Jr. won his 2nd title at 138 while Bob Wary was 2nd at 155 and Steve Cesari was 5th at 145. Matt Gerhard won his 3rd state title 13-7 at 112, and Wilson’s John Handlovic won at 126. Northern Lehigh’s Jim Milot (2nd at 105), Darrin Evans (3rd at 167) and Greg Parsons (6th at 145) helped pace the Bulldogs to a 4th place finish.
District XI advanced 15 wrestlers to the AAA quarterfinals and seven wrestlers to the semi-finals. Easton’s Jody Karam lost a wild 16-11 match against North Penn’s Jim Kwortnik. A District XI squad also won the team title in the AAA state championships. Easton led by 98-pound state champ, Jack Cuvo; runner-up Brian McIntyre (126) and 5th place finisher Jody Karam (155) won the team title.
District XI advanced four other wrestlers to the finals with Liberty’s Mickey Torres winning a come from behind 9-8 match to claim the title at 112. Saucon Valley’s Sean Finkbeiner finished 2nd for the 2nd consecutive year; Lehighton’s Glenn Whiteman and Stroudsburg’s John Fisher were also runner-ups. Bethlehem Catholic’s Duane Peoples set the state record for most wins but fell short in his quest for a state title losing 4-3 in the semi-finals and finishing 4th. Parkland’s Jim Best (105), Freedom’s Scott Turner (138) and Dieruff’s Andy Voit (185) all finished 3rd while West Hazleton’s Frank Buchman (167) was 5th and Liberty’s Pete Bearse (155) was 6th.
Phillipsburg had nine champions and 3 runner-ups in romping to the NJ District 16 team title. Brett Morrow, Mike Barna, Tim Cummings and Todd Burdette all won their 2nd consecutive titles, and Rick Thompson was named Coach of the Year for the 3rd straight season.
Phillipsburg had three wrestlers win NJ Region 4 titles – Jeff Bowyer (105), Don Margeson (132) and Mike Barna (138).
Phillipsburg’s Jeff Bowyer (105) and Mike Barna (138) were New Jersey state runners-up. Barna lost an 8-7 heartbreaker.
In the 3rd Easton Lions Classic, New Jersey won 26-22 over PA when Phillipsburg’s Todd Burdette won by decision at heavyweight. There were some great individual bouts involving Phillipsburg wrestlers as Northern Lehigh’s Jim Milot nipped Jeff Bowyer 6-5; Brett Morrow edged Wilson’s John Handlovic 3-2; and Tim Cummings and Stroudsburg’s John Fisher tied 1-1.
Two local wrestlers participated in the very first Challenge of Champions where top AAA seniors wrestled AA seniors. AAA topped AA 34-15 in the first dual held at Penn State’s Rec Hall. Wilson’s John Handlovic lost a close decision while Lehighton’s Glenn Whiteman defeated Dan Klingerman 10-7.
PA took a 5-3-1 lead in its Pittsburgh Press Classic competition with the USA team by defeating the USA team 27-16. No local wrestlers competed.