Although they lost three regional champs to graduation, Northampton returned nine starters and was tabbed as the EPC pre-season favorite. Liberty also returned nine starters and was expected to have a strong chance to repeat. Easton and Bethlehem Catholic were also expected to be in the mix.
With two high state place winners returning and a late season tie with last year’s league champ, Northwestern, Palmerton was the pre-season consensus favorite in the Colonial League. In the Colonial League, Nazareth was the favorite with Palisades given an outside shot to unseat the Blue Eagles.
On December 20th, Easton spotted Nazareth 12 points in the first two weights due to the flu, but the Blue Eagles proved it didn’t matter as they easily defeated the Rovers 41-16.
Northampton had four champs and cruised to the team title in the Christmas City Tournament. Upper Perkiomen almost matched the Kids with three champs. In other holiday tournaments, Northwestern won the Jim Thorpe Tourney, Liberty was 2nd in the Lock Haven Tourney; Dieruff finished 2nd in the Kutztown tourney as Buddy Maxwell was named OW; Phillipsburg won their own tourney; and Easton was 6th in the Manheim Tourney.
On January 8th, Easton got big wins from sophomores, Thad Piccone and Moss Greys, to upset Northampton 24-23. One week later, Easton pulled away from Liberty in the final three weights to end the Hurricanes 25-match win streak 28-16.
In the Pat Reilly Tourney, Quakertown was too much for both Easton and Nazareth as they rallied in the upper weights to defeat both 28-25 and 32-18, respectively.
On January 24th, Easton held off a game Freedom squad 26-24 as Tom Marchetti bumped up to 185 and edged Craig Katynski 6-4. The same day, Northampton won four bouts in a row from 105-126 and then picked up bonus points at 167 and 185 to top Nazareth 32-15.
On January 28th, Phillipsburg led Easton 24-14 with only two bouts to go, but Tom Marchetti bumped up to 185 and won by disqualification for stalling, and then Jack Thompson, the nephew of P-Burg coach Rick Thompson, scored a fall at heavyweight to give the Red Rovers a 26-24 win.
Easton vs. Phillipsburg Match (Easton HS Sports Videos)
The same night, Northampton gained revenge for their loss to Liberty the year before, by topping the Hurricanes 26-15.
As January came to a close, it appeared that Easton would win the EPC title outright, but Parkland had other ideas. The Trojans led early (12-4) and then won four of the final five bouts including Dan Wehr’s 10-7 win at heavyweight over Jack Thompson in the deciding bout to stun the Rovers 24-21. The same night, Northampton cruised to an easier than expected 45-13 win over Freedom. Quakertown had broken North Penn’s unbeaten streak the prior year, but the Knights turned the tables on the Panthers 27-24 s they won the final four bouts.
February 7th was a big day in both the EPC and Centennial Leagues. Northampton won five bouts in a row from 132-167 to defeat Phillipsburg 23-16. Palmerton, under first year coach Rick Anderson, trailed Northwestern 21-12 but rallied to shock the three-time defending league champs, 33-27.
On February 11th, Easton clipped Allen 31-24 to clinch a tie for the EPC title. Nazareth came back to nip Liberty 22-21 as Jack Mushlitz had a key 7-2 win over Lance Morabito.
Easton participated in a four-team dual tourney at North Penn. The hosts won the tourney and finished 18-0 for the year. The Rovers dropped a close match to Manheim Central 26-24 and then beat Downingtown 54-9
The regular season ended with two teams finishing 10-1 in league action and tieing for the EPC crown – Easton (16-4 overall) & Northampton (16-1 overall). Nazareth was unbeaten in Colonial League action (16-2 overall) while Palmerton was unbeaten in Centennial League action (16-1 overall; losing only to Catasauqua). Other teams with strong records included Liberty 13-4, Phillipsburg 20-2, East Stroudsburg 13-5, Northwestern 15-2 and Stroudsburg 14-3.
The final league standings were as follows:
|Compiled Standings 1986-87||Place||W-L-D|
|Allentown Central Catholic||11T||0-10-1|
Nazareth easily won another Colonial League tourney with five champions. Northwestern gained a form of revenge in the Centennial League tourney over Palmerton. The Tigers led entering the finals, but Palmerton won 3 of 4 head-to-head match-ups. Heavyweight B.J. Nalesnik had a chance, with a win, to give the Bombers the title, but defending champ Curt Chastain of Pocono Mountain defeated him, and Northwestern had the title 137.5-135.
With a very balanced team performance, Nazareth won its first District XI championship since 1968 as they outdistanced Northampton. Surprisingly, neither of the top two AAA teams had a champion. Bethlehem Catholic led the way with three champions (Dave Foley, John Likins and Tony Padilla). Ray Nunamaker won the Coach of the Year while Allen’s Scott Hovan was named OW for the 2nd straight year.
In AA, North Schuylkill was back on top as they had seven finalists and two champions. Northwestern’s Scott Derr (119) and Palmerton’s Frank Zelinsky (155) each won their 3rd district titles. Coach Joe Cesari won his 6th Coach of the Year award, and Mark Cesari (138) was named OW as he won his 2nd District title.
In the AAA Northeast Regional, Shikellamy cruised to the team title. District XI crowned eight regional champs and advanced 20 wrestlers to the states. Easton’s Tom Marchetti 11-8 come from behind upset win over Allen’s Scott Hovan was the highlight of the finals. Six bouts were decided by one or two points.
In the AA Southeast Regional tournament, North Schuylkill was dominant with five finalists and three champions, Chris Rickard (98), Mark Cesari (138) and Phil Beaver (145). The Spartans, who qualified 8 wrestlers for states, outscored runner-up Northwestern 150.5-83. District XI wrestlers won all twelve titles and advanced 33 wrestlers to states. Pine Grove’s Chris Doukas (112), Northwestern’s Derr, Salisbury’s Lee Todora, Cesari and Palmerton’s Zelinsky all defended their regional crowns.
With District I flexing its muscles, North Penn had two champions (Dan Finacchio and Chris Kwortnik) to win the AAA team championship. District XI saw mixed results for its two defending state champs. John Likins faced defending state champ, Bob Truby, who was undefeated in two seasons in PA and also a two-time Maryland state champion. Truby nipped Likins 2-0. Allen’s Scott Hovan became the Canaries’ first two-time state champ ever as he reversed his only loss the past two seasons by defeating Easton’s Tom Marchetti 6-3. Likins’ teammate, Dave Foley won the 105 title by gaining revenge on Shikellmany’s Bob Supsic 5-4. Nazareth freshman, Brad Silimperi (98) and Stroudsburg’s Dave Zettlemoyer (167) also took 2nd.
A website dedicated to the state champion North Penn wrestling team can be found here: Knight Site.
Despite all their success to date, North Schuylkill was unable to claim the state AA team title as they finished 4th in a tightly contested team race. Salisbury’s Lee Todora (126) and Palmerton’s Dave Lucykanish (138) won state titles. Lucykanish upset North Schuylkill’s Mark Cesari 5-3 in the semi-finals and held on to win 12-11 in the finals. Joe Cesari Sr. was named co-Coach of the Year.