After seven extremely successful years, Dave Crowell passed the torch to Assistant Steve Powell. The cupboard was far from bare as two-time state champ, Jack Cuvo, and seven current or former starters returned. Northampton returned nine starters and Coach Don Rohn’s squad was expected to make the leap to the top tier in his 3rd year at the helm. Phillipsburg, which returned state champ Dave Boncher, and Allen, which returned seven starters, were also expected to contend in the EPC.
With nine returning starters Northwestern was the heavy favorite to repeat in the Centennial League. Stroudsburg and Northern Lehigh were expected to battle for 2nd while Pocono Mountain and Palmerton were also expected to contend.
With six returning league champions and two other starters returning, Nazareth was expected to easily win their fifth straight Colonial League title. Wilson was given the edge to finish 2nd; beyond that the league was considered wide open.
The PIAA made significant changes to the start of wrestling and basketball seasons to eliminate the overlap with fall sports. Start dates for wrestling practice was bumped back to November 26th and matches to December 14th. Limiting teams to only a dozen dual meets and two tournaments prior to the post season was a major reduction in the number of competitions. The Morning Call’s Ted Mexeill wrote that the “PIAA had right idea but went too far” with their limitations.
The very first ASD Tournament kicked off the new season. Hosted by Dieruff, the event featured Allen, Allentown Central Catholic, the host Huskies, Emmaus, Kutztown, Pennridge, Salisbury and Whitehall (under new Coach Ed Kutz). Allen had eight finalists to easily win the first tourney title, but surprising Salisbury (Tony Buttillo, Lee Todora & Evan Fidelisbus) and Emmaus (Chris Zorman, Tom Johns & Bucky Nicholas) tied for the most individual champs. The Canaries crowned Scott Hovan (126) and Scott Schleicher (155).
Liberty and Freedom finished 2nd and 3rd in the Wilkes-Barre Holiday Wrestling Tourney behind Shikellamy. Dan McIntyre, Gino Capuano and Joe Martinez won titles for the Hurricanes while Dean Lyden and Keith Venanzi won for the Patriots.
Easton had five champions – Jack Cuvo, Tom Marchetti, Jerry Hulbert, Jeff Karam and John Avia – in winning the Crestwood Tournament. Phillipsburg won the first eight bouts to top Parkland 43-24 in an EPC opener. Bethlehem Catholic won all three matches in a quandrangular at Bullis Prep. Northampton downed Northern Lehigh 40-14.
On December 19th, Northampton defeated Bethlehem Catholic 32-21 with Terry Daubert, Joe Billy and Wayne Reiss scoring falls in the EPC opener for both teams. One night later, Liberty handled Parkland 39-15 while Pocono Mountain rallied with falls in the final two bouts to beat Wilson 34-25.
On December 22nd, Easton visited Nazareth before a packed house. The Rovers triumphed 36-19 on the strength of four falls by Willard Baker (98), Jack Cuvo (112), Trevor Purdy (132) and Jerry Hulbert (145). Parkland hosted a small, but very competitive tourney with North Penn winning the title followed by the Trojans and Quakertown. Andy Yankanich (98), John Yankanich (155), Steve Baumbach (167) and Kevin Kloiber (185) won titles for Parkland. Bethlehem Catholic edged NJ powerhouse North Hunterdon 28-27.
Nazareth edged Salesianum, DE, Allen and Northampton to claim the Christmas City team title. Ron Miller (126), Jim Karch (167) and Rusty Amato (185) won individual titles for the Blue Eagles. Catasauqua’s Chris Henry won a come-from-behind victory at heavyweight against a Salesianum wrestler to preserve Nazareth’s victory. Amato defeated Lehighton’s regional champ Roger Neff 9-1 to win the OW; Northern Lehigh’s Larry Rehrig edged Northampton’s Joe Billy in overtime at 132.
Quakertown had six champs to easily win the Kutztown Tourney; Northwestern also had six champions to capture their 3rd straight Jim Thorpe Tourney title; and Emmaus won the Governor Mifflin Tourney as Jim Carls (126) and Tom Johns (145) won titles. Wilson won the Delaware Valley tourney with five champions, and Stroudsburg was 2nd at the Warren Hills Holiday Tourney with Dan Cramer winning the 119-pound title. Easton had four individual champs – Jack Cuvo, Jerry Hulbert, Jeff Karam and Kevin Benton – to edge Meadville in the Manheim Central Tourney. Liberty, paced by Gino Capuano and Elliot Cox, took 3rd in the Top Hat Tourney.
Pocono Mountain was 4th in the Tunkhannock Tourney while John Waykanich, Steve Baumbach and Kevin Kloiber were all 1st for Parkland in the Selinsgrove Tournament.
After the holidays, Northwestern hammered Northern Lehigh 44-11 which begged the question “could anyone in the Centennial League hang with the Tigers?” Stroudsburg ripped Notre Dame 44-6, and Pocono Mountain defeated Palmerton 39-23. In the Colonial League, Wilson clipped Palisades 33-27. Quakertown nipped Liberty 29-27 in a non-league bout.
On January 5th, Northampton took an early 15-6 lead after five bouts against Easton 15-6. The Rovers’ Mike DiSora’s 4-2 win over Joe Billy at 132 sparked a six bout winning streak as Easton went on to claim a 31-20 victory. Phillipsburg defeated defending NJ state champion Delaware Valley 29-27. Northern Lehigh won five of the final six bouts to defeat Wilson 33-27; Parkland defeated Catasauqua 35-29; Quakertown won the first seven bouts to top Allen 31-16; and Nazareth beat Emmaus 41-22. Bethlehem Catholic placed 2nd in the New Paltz Tournament in New York.
On January 10th, Wilson jumped out to a 21-11 lead, but Catasauqua roared back to lead 28-25 entering the heavyweight bout. Chris Henry scored a fall to give the Rough Riders a key 34-25 Colonial League victory. Nazareth beat Southern Lehigh 38-12, and Salisbury defeated Pen Argyl 34-21.
In the EPC, Easton defeated Liberty 31-17 by piling up 19 team points from 145-185. Phillipsburg had five falls to beat Bethlehem Catholic 41-19, Allen won eight bouts to down Freedom 36-16; and Emmaus edged Whitehall 32-27. In the Centennial League, Northwestern doubled up Pocono Mountain 36-18.
The Pat Reilly Memorial Tournament morphed into Duals in 1985. Easton and Phillipsburg both defeated PA western powerhouse, Canon-McMillan, and Phillipsburg-Osceola. Northern Lehigh rallied to nip Southern Lehigh 27-26; Northwestern won nine bouts to defeat Parkland 34-15; and Nazareth cruised over Parkland 42-18.
In the Colonial League, Nazareth easily passed their first test by beating up-and-coming Salisbury 44-22. In the Centennial League, Northwestern ripped East Stroudsburg 48-16, and Pocono Mountain had six falls to defeat Northern Lehigh 42-20.
On January 17th, Liberty jumped out to a 10-0 lead before Northampton reeled of five straight wins and later Wayne Reiss used a “cement job” for match clinching fall at 185 in a huge 31-24 EPC win. Phillipsburg started quickly as they outpaced Freedom 32-18.
2nd-ranked Easton traveled to Sunbury to wrestle top-ranked Shikellamy on January 19th. The Braves’ strong lower weights and their ability to win the close bouts (four bouts by two points or less) allowed them to defeat the Rovers 32-17 to prove their #1 state ranking. Bethlehem Catholic’s John Likins (119) and Rich McGinnis (145) both scored falls to lead Liberty to a 29-28 win over victory. Nazareth cruised by Freedom 45-13; Phillipsburg beat NJ rival North Hunterdon 35-23; and Northampton won nine bouts to defeat Pocono Mountain 38-15.
Heading into its January 24th dual against Phillipsburg, Allen was undefeated in the EPC along with the Stateliners and Rovers. Allen was still looking for its 1st win over Phillipsburg since 1966, but Coach Rick Thompson’s ‘Liners had other ideas as they jumped out to a huge lead and won 31-18. The same night, Nazareth kept its undefeated record intact in the Colonial League by beating Catasauqua 39-15.
Bion Konya (155) and Wayne Reiss (Hwt) both scored falls as a packed house at Northampton Junior High School exploded as the Kids defeated Nazareth, for the first time in five years, 36-24.
A few miles to the south, another powerhouse was developing in Coach Dave Evans’ Quakertown squad. The Panthers knocked off both Liberty and Allen and moved up to #5 in the area wrestling poll with a 10-0 record. Freedom’s Craig Katynski won a 3-2 decision at 185 to give Freedom a 26-25 win.
While it was not surprising that Phillipsburg defeated Northampton, the final margin of victory 41-12 was. It was a total team effort for the Stateliners who won 9 of 12 bouts.
On January 31st, the Kids bounced back to edge Allen 31-29 with pins from Steve and Stan Reuben and two superior decisions being the difference. Wayne Reiss interrupted a Canary rally with a major decision at 185 to clinch the win. The same evening, Wilson took an early lead but Nazareth roared back for a 41-21 Colonial League victory.
Easton sophomores, Doug Hager (112) and Tom Marchetti (126), both came up big and Easton’s strong upperweights (145-185) iced the match as the Rovers defeated Phillipsburg 32-13 in their annual rivalry match to put themselves alone in the top spot in the EPC. The same night in the Centennial League, Stroudsburg stayed unbeaten in the league by edging Northern Lehigh 34-30.
On February 7th, Phillipsburg recovered from their lost to the Rovers by beating Liberty 31-21. Dan McIntyre dealt Jason Hawk his first defeat 10-5. Northampton roared out to a 26-0 lead after the first six bouts and held off Parkland to win 35-24; Emmaus edged Dieruff 26-24 in a back-and-forth match. In the Colonial League, Salisbury’s Ton Demillo avenged a prior year loss and scored a decision to clinch the Falcons a 29-26 win over Catasauqua.
On February 9th, Pocono Mountain dealt Stroudsburg a 28-23 loss, taking away much of the anticipation from the Mounties upcoming match with Northwestern. Dave Resuta scored an upset win at 105 while Steve Paglusch (112) and Mark Hardenstine (185) scored falls for the Cardinals. Northwestern moved to 12-0 overall and 6-0 in the league as they downed Palmerton 40-15.
Freedom did not drop a bout from 112-145 in the crosstown rival match with Liberty and Craig Katynski’s 11-9 win at 185 as the Patriots downed Liberty 28-23. In a non-league bout, Nazareth doubled Parkland 42-21, and Easton defeated Wilson 44-13. Whitehall’s Scott Morgan and Mike Deutsch scored falls in the final two bouts to defeat Stroudsburg 29-28.
Nazareth and Northwestern again wrestled a non-league bout and this time, the Tigers turned the tables on the Blue Eagles 30-21. Northwestern jumped out to an early lead and clinched the win when Keith Neislen earned a 4-4 draw with Rusty Amato at 185. Easton was too much for Allen as they won eight bouts to top the Canaries 42-15, and Bethlehem Catholic defeated Freedom 30-15.
On February 14th, Salisbury’s Tony Demillo scored a fall in the final bout to defeat Wilson 34-26. Two days later, Northwestern trounced Stroudsburg 52-6 to wrap up the Centennial League Title. Parkland defeated Northern Lehigh 33-23; Northampton also defeated Stroudsburg 50-11; and Northwestern clipped Emmaus 34-25. Easton defeated West York 43-15 but lost to Downingtown 38-21. Highland defeated Phillipsburg 30-17 in the New Jersey Region 4 Group tourney.
Liberty defeated Nazareth 36-22 and Dieruff 35-30. Allen and Freedom had strong performances in defeating Bethlehem Catholic 41-11 and Emmaus 40-13, respectively.
On February 21st, Easton won 9 of 12 bouts to rout Bethlehem Catholic 47-14 to finish unbeaten in the EPC. Liberty roared out to a 27-5 lead over Allen. The Canaries fought back to pull within 27-26, but Elliot Cox nipped Mike Ott 3-1 at heavyweight as the Hurricanes won a hard fought 30-26 win.
The dual season closed out as Allen defeated Dieruff 47-10; Bethlehem Catholic beat Allentown Central Catholic 42-16; Parkland handled Emmaus 36-19; and Northampton topped Freedom 33-18 and Whitehall 63-6.
The regular season ended with all league champions undefeated in league action, as follows (overall records in parenthesis): EPC – Easton (17-1), Colonial – Nazareth (14-4), Centennial – Northwestern (16-0). Other teams with very good records included: Allen & Becahi 13-5, Northampton 15-2, Phillipsburg 21-2, Pocono Mountain 13-3 and Salisbury 16-2.
League standings were as follows:
|Compiled Standings 1984-85||Place||W-L-D|
|Allentown Central Catholic||9||3-8|
Nazareth and Northwestern dominated their league tournaments just as they had during the regular season as they each crowned five league champions in their respective tournaments.
It was a clean sweep for Easton in the District XI AAA tournament. The Rovers took the team title with three champions – Jack Cuvo (105), Jerry Hulbert (138) and Jeff Karam (155). Jack Cuvo became only the third wrestler to win four District titles and also was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler and won the pinner award. Coach Steve Powell was named Coach of the Year. Nazareth and Northampton each crowned two champions each in Jim Karch (167) & Rusty Amato (185) and Joe Billy (126) & Wayne Reiss (Hwt), respectively. Liberty’s Dan McIntyre (98), Bethlehem Catholic’s John Likins (112), West Hazleton’s Keith Lowery (119), Freedom’s Keith Venanzi (132) and Allen’s Scott Schleicher (145) each won their first titles. Venanzi, Karam and Karch all defeated defending District champions in the finals.
North Schuylkill had won four team titles and coach of the year awards, but 1985 was a different year. Northwestern crowned three champs – Scott Derr (98), Phil Villard (155) and Keith Nielsen (167) to win the team title. The Tigers’ Mike Pladdus was named Coach of the Year. The Spartans, led by Steve Cesari who won his 4th District title at 145, nipped Northern Lehigh for 2nd. The Bulldogs tied the Salisbury for the 2nd most champions as Larry Rehrig (126) & Don Evans (185) won for the Bulldogs and Lee Todora (112) and John Fidelibus (132) won for the Falcons. Pine Grove’s Allen Daubert (105), Wilson’s Jim Bodai (119), Palisades’ Frank Zelinsky (138) and Pen Argyl’s David Mutton (Hwt) were also crowned district champs.
District XI advanced 24 wrestlers to the semi-finals in the AAA Northeast Regional tourney. Emmaus’ Glenn Kepic (98) registered a stunning comeback win against Shikellamy’s top-seeded Bob Supsic 17-15. Shikellamy put a bit of a crimp in District XI’s plan as they crowned four champs and advanced eight to states to win the team title 126.5-84 over Easton. District XI was able to crown seven champs (four from Easton) and advance 18 wrestlers to the states. For the Rovers, Jack Cuvo became the first ever four-time Northeast Regional champ ever while Jerry Hulbert, Jeff Karam and Mark Benton also won. Liberty’s Dan McIntyre, Allen’s Scott Schleicher and Nazareth’s Jim Karch rounded out the local champs.
District XI was completely dominant in the Southeast AA Regional advancing 44 of 48 wrestlers to the semi-finals. Northwestern, Northern Lehigh and Salisbury finished 1-2-3 in the team race in leading the local wrestlers to claim 33 of 36 state qualifier slots. Northwestern and Salisbury each crowned three champs. The Tigers’ champs were Butch Padamonsky (138), who was an upset winner over Frank Zelinsky, unbeaten Phil Villard (155) and Keith Nielsen (185). The Falcons’ champions were Tony Butillo (98) along with unbeaten wrestlers Lee Todora (112) and John Fidelibus (132). Allen Daubert and Larry Rehrig won their 2nd titles and Steve Cesari won his 3rd title. North Schuylkill’s Jeff Grove (119), Northern Lehigh’s Don Evans and Schuylkill Haven’s Tom Seitzinger (Hwt) rounded out the titlists.
PIAA State Tournament
In the state championships, District XI had thirteen first round winners and ultimately advanced eight wrestlers to the semi-finals. In a great semi-final round six of eight wrestlers moved on to the AAA finals. Ultimately, District XI crowned three champions. Easton’s Jack Cuvo was named Outstanding Wrestler as he claimed his 3rd state title with a takedown clinic 26-12. After finishing 2nd to Easton’s Jerry Hulbert two weeks in a row, Liberty’s Gino Capuano won the 138 pound title 8-5 over Quakertown’s Tom Hontz. Allen got their first state champ in 18 years as Scott Schleicher took the title at 145. Liberty’s Dan McIntyre (98), Freedom’s Keith Venanzi (132) and Nazareth’s Jim Karch (167) placed 2nd. Northampton’s Joe Billy was 3rd at 126 while Bethlehem Catholic’s John Likins (112) and Easton’s Kevin Benton (185) both finished 5th.
In AA, eight District XI wrestlers advanced to the semi-finals. Northern Lehigh was the surprise team champ in the AA competition thanks to two runner-ups, Larry Rehrig and Don Evans, and a 4th place finisher, John Chang at 105. District XI did get two state champs in Pine Grove’s Allen Daubert (105) and North Schuylkill’s Steve Cesari (145). Cesari won his 155th career bout to move into 3rd place on the all-time PA win list. Salisbury freshman, Lee Todora, took 2nd place and suffered the 1st loss of his career – an 8-7 heartbreaker. Six additional placers included Wilson’s Jim Bodai (4th-119), Minersville’s Brian Pritz (6th-126), Salisbury’s John Fidelibus (3rd-132), Northwestern’s Butch Padamonsky (6th-138), Palisades’ Rob Miller (5th-145) and Tamaqua’s Garth Lakitsky (3rd-167).
Phillipsburg Post Season
Phillipsburg regained the NJ District 16 team title from Delaware Valley with five champions – Dave Boncher (105), Mark Faglioni (112), Jon Koehler (126), Jeff Turner (138), Gregg Meglic (155). Coach Rick Thompson was named Coach of the Year. They went on to crown three Region 4 champions – Faglioni, Koehler and Turner.
For Phillipsburg, Dave Boncher won his 2nd state title while Jeff Turner was a runner-up and Mark Faglioni placed 3rd.
In the sixth Easton Lions Classic, the PA team won 10 of 12 bouts on their way to a 43-7 rout of the New Jersey team. State champs, Jack Cuvo, Gino Capuano and Scott Schleicher, all scored bonus points for the winners while Easton’s Jeff Karam battled NJ state champ, Tom McGourty, to a 1-1 draw. The 5th state champ to participate was New Jersey’s Jerry Durso won by major decision.
Jack Cuvo was victorious in the Challenge of Champions while Scott Schleicher and Steve Cesari battled to an 8-8 draw; Gino Capuano also participated and had a draw. The AAA team won 30-16.
Cuvo then participated on a primarily Lehigh-based all-star team faced a team from Japan and scored a fall at 105 pounds. In a junior meet, the Eastern PA team won 7 bouts to New Jersey’s 6. John Change, Joe Billy, Jeff Karam and Scott Schleicher were all victorious. In the “Hall of Fame Classic” held at Bethlehem Catholic, the District XI team won 48-6 over South Jersey. Kevin Arduini, Joe Billy and Phil Villard led the squad with three falls.
Cuvo, Capuano and Schleicher all participated in the Pittsburgh Press Classic and won decisions over the US All-Stars as PA triumphed over the US team 29-13.