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 Centennial League. The Blue Bombers returned two state place winners and ten other wrestlers with significant varsity experience. East Stroudsburg returned nine starters and Pocono Mountain and Stroudsburg were also expected to contend. In the Colonial League, Nazareth was the favorite with Palisades given an outside shot to unseat the Blue Eagles who had five winning veterans returning per The Morning Call. The Pirates returned eight starters. Catasauqua and Saucon Valley were also expected to be in the mix.
The ASD Tourney again kicked off the new season, and Allen jumped out to the early lead and went on to win the team championship as Jason Wagner (98), Chris Wagner (119), Sean Moffitt (126), Pat Moffitt (145), Scott Hovan (155) and Jim Lipovsky (185) all won titles. Easton won the Mountaintop Tournament as Dave Moser (112), Doug Hager (126) & Tom Marchetti (155) were crowned champions.
The Bethlehem School District’s pre-season tournament saw both Northampton and Liberty crown four champions each, and the Kids won the team title. For the Kids, Mike Recker (98), Mike Bartholomew (138), Dave Malsh (145) & Eric Gieske finished 1st while Pat Tocci (105), Brian Cuddy (119), Pete Chalkowsky (138) & Daryl Klotz (155) won titles for the Hurricanes.
Bethlehem Catholic again wrestled three Maryland schools and swept all three while Stroudsburg defeated Catasauqua 27-21 and Notre Dame clipped Wilson 32-30.
Northampton had lost at Quakertown last year, but this year was a different story as the Konkrete Kids and heavyweight Eric Gieske gained revenge. Northampton led early 16-0 and 21-7, but the Panthers clawed back to a 25-25 tie. That’s when Gieske who was pinned last year by Bill Murray turned the tables and won by major decision to give Northampton a 29-25 victory on December 18th.
The same night the EPC opened its season. Easton forfeited the first two weights, and Bethlehem Catholic’s John Likins nipped Doug Hager 8-7 at 126 as the Hawks built a 20-2 lead. The Rovers were able to fight back going 6-1-1 the rest of the way to also win 29-25. Freedom trailed Parkland 21-11, but Todd Herrenkohl, Rod Kessler, Craig Katynski and Tim Cuevas all won as the Patriots won 27-21. Liberty was too much for Allen 41-16.
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 won 7 of 10 contested bouts to easily defeat the Rovers 41-16. Bethlehem Catholic won the Carlisle Tournament and had three champions in Dave Foley (112), John Likins (126) and Tony Padilla (138). Quakertown romped to the team title in their own tournament with nine champions; Parkland had four runner-ups to place 2nd.
Northampton had four champs – Ed Youwakim, Terry Daubert, Mike Bartholomew & Dave Malsch – and cruised to the team title in the Christmas City Tournament. Upper Perkiomen almost matched the Kids with three champs in the first three weights.
Northwestern won the Jim Thorpe Tourney as Chris Shalbert (105), Matt Masters (112), Scott Derr (126), Ed Kelchner (132) and Dave Leiby (138) won titles. Phillipsburg crowned four champions – Kevin Dilts (98), Mike Kocsis (105), Jason Hawk (126) and Mike Bobinis (138) – to run away with their own holiday tourney. Quakertown crowned four champions, including Jaime Ritter who captured his 100th win, to take the Lititz Lions Club Tourney. Wilson finished 2nd in the Delaware Valley Invitational with Chris Sousa (119) and Race Roth (155) winning titles.
Parkland won the Governor Mifflin Tournament as Todd Rader finished 1st all but one Trojan placed. Liberty was 2nd in the Lock Haven Tourney with three runner-ups; Dieruff finished 2nd in the Kutztown tourney as Buddy Maxwell was named OW; and Easton was 6th in the Manheim Tourney. North Penn scored a fall in the final bout to defeat Bethlehem Catholic 33-27.
On January 3rd, the Centennial League season began with favorite Palmerton locking up with Pocono Mountain. The Blue Bombers showed their strength with five falls. East Stroudsburg got a big scare from Pleasant Valley but a few bonus points made the difference in a 33-31 win. In the Colonial League, Catasauqua clipped Palisades 34-18.
In the EPC Easton’s Tom Marchetti rallied to defeat Steve O’Brien 10-6 at 167 and Jack Thompson won a 12-8 bout at heavyweight to edge Emmaus 25-19; Liberty was too much for Parkland 36-12; and Northampton hammered Bethlehem Catholic 51-6 but lost Terry Daubert for the season with a dislocated elbow.
January 7th, Easton got big wins from sophomores, Thad Piccone and Moss Greys, to upset Northampton 24-23. The Rovers minimized how many bonus points they gave up and Tom Marchetti scored a fall at 167. Parkland led early 21-7 before Allen roared back to lead 25-21; Dan Wehr’s pin at heavyweight gave the Trojans a 27-25 victory. Phillipsburg stayed undefeated in the EPC by topping Emmaus 30-22.
On night later, another big Centennial League showdown was on tap as East Stroudsburg visited Palmerton. The Blue Bombers trailed 12-3 but then rallied with their strong middleweights. B.J. Nalesnik’s 5-0 decision at heavyweight was the decider as Palmerton won 30-27.
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. Northwestern defeated Parkland 30-23; Catasauqua upended Palmerton 33-24; and East Stroudsburg got a fall in the final bout from Dave Williamson to nip Bangor 29-28.
On January 13th, Northwestern doubled up a short-handed East Stroudsburg team 42-21, and Pocono Mountain rallied to defeat Northern Lehigh 39-27. In the Colonial League, Saucon Valley edged Palisades 27-26, and Catasauqua defeated Wilson 39-17.
On January 15th, Easton and Liberty were tied 16-16; Tom Marchetti and Mike Heimbach each won close decisions and Jack Thompson score a fall as Easton pulled away from Liberty to end the Hurricanes’ 25-match win streak 28-16. Freedom’s upper weights again rallied to pull out a victory as they defeated Allen 29-24, and Phillipsburg handled Bethlehem Catholic 38-18. One night later, Liberty rebounded to beat Pine Grove 31-15 in a non-league match.
Nazareth built a huge lead to put the match out of the reach of Freedom’s upper weight heroes as they dealt the Patriots their first loss 35-15. Easton faced off against Shikellamy in their annual match-up. Tom Marchetti’s decision and Mike Heimbach’s draw at 167 and 185 clinched the match for the Rovers 27-22. Parkland won the final seven bouts to top Catasauqua 46-17, and Northwestern downed Pine Grove 33-21.
On January 21st, Saucon Valley won 6 of 10 contested matches, but had to forfeit the final two bouts as Catasauqua won 32-28. In the Centennial League, Palmerton beat Lehighton 44-18; Stroudsburg topped Pleasant Valley 33-24; and Northwestern easily defeated Notre Dame 48-7.
On January 24th, Easton and Freedom were locked in a close 17-14 match. The Patriots’ Todd Herrenkohl and Rod Kessler won at 145 and 155 to give Freedom a 21-17 lead. Mike Heimbach scored a technical fall at 167, and Tom Marchetti bumped up to 185 and edged Craig Katynski 6-4. Jack Thompson fought off Tim Cuevas’ attempt at a fall, and the Rovers had a 26-24 win.
The same day, Nazareth freshmen Brad Silimperi (98) and Mike Miller (132) won their bouts, but Northampton won four bouts in a row from 105-126 and then picked up bonus points at 167 and 185 from Bion Konya and Tim Buskirk to top Nazareth 32-15.
Nazareth did beat Palisades 45-11 while Saucon Valley nipped Wilson 30-29 in Colonial League action. In the Centennial League, Palmerton’s trio of Dave Lucykanish, Gary Dieter and Frank Zelinsky scored 17 team points from 138-155 to defeat Stroudsburg 37-24. East Stroudsburg beat Pocono Mountain 41-16, and Northwestern downed Lehighton 36-17.
As January entered its final week, the local leagues shaped up as follows:
- East Penn – Easton & Phillipsburg – unbeaten; Freedom, Liberty & Northampton – 1 loss
- Colonial – Catasauqua & Nazareth – unbeaten; Bangor – 1 loss
- Centennial – Northwestern & Palmerton – unbeaten; Stroudsburg – 1 loss
On January 28th, Phillipsburg led Easton 12-3 after 119 on the strength of wins by Kevin Dilts, Mike Kocsis & Jason Hawk. Easton won the next three bouts but Phillipsburg answered right back to win the following three bouts to lead 24-14 with only two bouts to go. Tom Marchetti again 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. Don Suranofsky (105), Jeff Kocher (132) and Dave Malsch (145) all won 1-point decisions, and Eric Gieske scored a technical fall at heavyweight. East Stroudsburg clipped Saucon Valley 29-25 in a non-league bout.
On January 29th, Nazareth won 10 of 12 bouts to crush Catasauqua 49-6 while Bangor stayed in the hunt by getting falls in the final two bouts from Doug Comunale and Andy Louden to defeat Palisades 34-28. In the Centennial League, Northwestern downed Stroudsburg 36-21, and Pocono Mountain nipped Notre Dame 30-29.
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 as Todd Rader (105) and Darin Roth (119) scored key decisions. Easton battled back to lead 14-12, but Parkland 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.
On February 4th, Phillipsburg won seven bouts by either technical fall or fall to easily beat Freedom 48-15. In the Colonial League, Nazareth whipped Wilson 55-12, and Bangor’s Marc Coleman and Doug Comunale both won major decisions and Ed Chidsey had a fall from 155-185 as the Slaters clipped Catasauqua 27-25. In the Centennial League, Northwestern pounded Pleasant Valley 49-16; Pocono Mountain defeated Lehighton 31-28; and Stroudsburg handled Northern Lehigh 45-14.
One day later, Liberty kept it close early led 19-7 after Daryl Klotz win at 155, but in the final three bouts, Chris Talpas scored a major over Aris Tarboro, Rob Packard scored an upset fall over Lance Morabito and Dino Pettinelli had a major at heavyweight as Phillipsburg came back for a 26-19 victory. Parkland hung in with Northampton early, but Ed Youwakim’s 5-3 win over Darin Roth at 119 had the Kids ahead 12-9. Northampton would win five and tie the only other remaining bout to win going away 34-11. Allen overcame an 18-point deficit to defeat Emmaus 27-25.
February 7th was a big day in both the EPC and Centennial Leagues. Phillipsburg won four of the first five bouts, including three one-point decisions by Mike Kocsis, over Don Suranofsky, Pat Maxzko over Steve Reuben and Jason Hawk over Ed Youwakim, to lead 13-3. Northampton won five bouts in a row from 132-167 and split the final two bouts to defeat Phillipsburg 23-16. Palmerton, under first year coach Rick Anderson, trailed Northwestern 21-12 but rallied back to tie the match at 21-21 after Dave Lcycanish’s and Gary Deider’s falls. Kevin Smith’s fall put Northwestern back in front, but Frank Zelinsky won by forfeit and B.J. Malesnik scored the deciding fall as the Blue Bombers shocked the three-time defending league champs, 33-27.
In the Colonial League, Nazareth whipped Saucon Valley 45-9, and Bangor beat Wilson 45-18. Liberty and Freedom wrestled two non-league bouts each and both went 2-0 as they defeated Wilkes-Barre Coughlin and Downingtown. Nazareth beat Parkland 37-19.
On February 11th, Easton clipped Allen 31-24 to clinch a tie for the EPC title. Philipsburg won the first three bouts to lead Parkland 12-0. Darin Roth defeated Jason Hawk 6-2 at 119, but Parkland was unable to close the gap, and the Stateliners won 32-20. Liberty and Nazareth battled with 6 of 7 bouts from 105-145 being decided by 2 points or less with the Hurricanes gaining the edge to lead 21-7. Nazareth came back to nip Liberty 22-21 as Jack Mushlitz bumped up to 167 and had a key 7-2 win over Lance Morabito, Ken Werkheiser scored a fall and John Renner won by forfeit.
One day later, Pleasant Valley upset Pocono Mountain 31-28, and Catasauqua clipped Salisbury 33-28
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. Nazareth won nine bouts to wrap up the Colonial League title with a 49-11 win over Salisbury. Stroudsburg beat rival East Stroudsburg 27-20, and Northwestern edged Emmaus 33-30.
In some final duals amongst rivals, Easton whipped Wilson 61-2; Allen defeated Dieruff 49-12 as Scott Hovan won his 100th bout; Bethlehem Catholic beat Allentown Central Catholic 49-13; Liberty nipped Freedom 29-27; and Emmaus and Parkland tied 25-25. One night later, Bethlehem Catholic edged Emmaus 27-22; John Likins and Jim Carls tied 5-5 at 126. Liberty also nipped Emmaus 27-21
Phillipsburg won the NJ Section 2 Group 4 dual title. The Stateliners won their 2nd consecutive NJ Group 4 state dual title by beating previously unbeaten Fair Lawn 40-17.
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.
District 11 Wrestling Tournaments
Plenty of talent returned as the AAA and AA district tournaments had a combined 13 returning champions.
Northampton took the early lead with seven semi-finalists, including 20th seeded Jarrid Konya at 145. Nazareth had lost 7 of 9 quarterfinal bouts, but found their spark in Saturday’s consolation rounds. That coupled with a Northampton going 2-5 in the semi’s set the stage for a major comeback. With a very balanced team performance, Nazareth won its first District XI championship since 1968 as they came back and outdistanced Northampton by 16.5 points. Surprisingly, neither of the top two AAA teams had a champion. Bethlehem Catholic led the way with three champions – Dave Foley (105), John Likins (119) and Tony Padilla (132); Foley beat Emmaus’ Glenn Kepic who he had lost to several times in the prior post-season. No other team was able to claim more than one champion. Liberty’s Pat Tocci (98), Easton’s Doug Hager who was a 12-9 comeback winner over Pleasant Valley’s Mike Froehlich at 112, Emmaus’ Jim Carls (126), Parkland’s J.C. Doto (138), Allen’s Scott Hovan (145), Saucon Valley’s Jim Severn (155), Stroudsburg’s Dave Zettlemoyer (167), Freedom’s Craig Katynski (185) and Pocono Mountain’s Curt Chastain (Hwt) all won titles. Ray Nunamaker won the Coach of the Year while Allen’s Scott Hovan, who defeated Easton’s Tom Marchetti 5-1 in the finals, was named OW for the 2nd straight year.
In AA, North Schuylkill advanced eight wrestlers while Northwestern and Pine Grove each advanced six wrestlers to the semi-finals. North Schuylkill was back on top as they had seven finalists and two champions. Northwestern’s Scott Derr (119), Salisbury’s Lee Todora (126) and Palmerton’s Frank Zelinsky (155) each won their 3rd district titles while Pine Grove’s Chris Doukas (112) won his 2nd. 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. Chris Rickard (98) was the Spartans’ 2nd winner. Catasauqua’s Craig Schuler (105), Northwestern’s Dave Leiby (132), Tri-Valley’s Butch Heim (145), Palisades’ Tom Socker (167), Pen Argyl’s Rick Sterner (185) and Tri-Valley’s Kevin Clouser (Hwt) rounded out the champions.
In the AAA Northeast Regional, Freedom’s district runner-up Tim Cuevas was injured and unable to compete in the regional tourney. His replacement, Pocono Mountain’s Bob Papcsy defeated previously unbeaten Pat Jonannes of Honesdale 2-1 to highlight the quarterfinals as 25 of 36 District XI wrestlers advanced to the semi-finals. Shikellamy with three champions 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 and broke Hovan’s 62-match winning streak. Six bouts were decided by one or two points in a very competitive final round. Nazareth had two champions in Brad Silimperi (98), who turned the tables on Liberty’s Pat Tocci 5-4, and Jack Muchlitz (155). Bethlehem Catholic also had two champs in John Likins (119) and Tony Padilla (132), but Dave Foley (105) dropped a 4-3 decision to Shik’s Bob Supsic. Stroudsburg’s Dave Zettlemoyer (167) and Freedom’s Craig Katynski (185) also triumphed.
In the AA Southeast Regional tournament, District XI won 41 over 48 bouts in the quarterfinals; Palmerton’s Frank Zelinsky won his 100th match. 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 Scott Derr (119), Salisbury’s Lee Todora (126), Cesari and Palmerton’s Zelinsky (155) all defended their regional crowns. Pine Grove’s Chuck McGrath (105), Pen Argyl’s Chris Yocum (132), Palisades’ Tom Socker (167), Pen Argyl’s Rick Sterner (185) and Panther Valley’s Pete Bochiccchio rounded out the District XI winners.
PIAA State Tournaments
Fifteen District XI wrestlers won their first round matches, and nine were able to win their quarterfinal bouts. 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) finished as runner-ups. Liberty’s Pat Tocci (98) & Northampton’s Mike Bartholomew (132) finished 3rd; Freedom’s Craig Katynski (185) was 4th; and Bethlehem Catholic’s Tony Padilla (132) was 5th.
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. The Spartans brought eight wrestlers to the tourney but were only able to move two wrestlers to the semi-finals. Overall, District XI advanced nine wrestlers to the semi’s. 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 despite fighting torn rib cartlidge. Pine Grove’s Chris Doukas and Kurt Schneck (119) both finished 3rd as did Mark Cesari, Palmerton’s Frank Zelinsky and Palisades’ Tom Socker. Northwestern’s Scott Derr & North Schuylkill’s Bob Harris (167) were 4th; North Schuylkill’s Chris Rickard (98) & Salisbury’s Tony Buttillo were 5th; and Northwestern’s Kevin Smith (167) & Pen Argyl’s Rick Sterner (185) were 6th. Joe Cesari Sr. was named co-Coach of the Year.
Phillipsburg Post Season
Phillipsburg won the District 16 team title with five champs – Mike Kocsis (105), Jason Hawk (119), Darren Anthony (126), Rob Packard (185) and Dino Pettinelli (Hwt). Hawk won the Region 4 title and was 2nd in the NJ state championships.
Allen’s Scott Hovan scored a technical fall and Stroudsburg’s Dave Zettlemoyer won by decision as the AAA team defeated AA 35-15 in the Challenge of Champions.
Hovan, Palmerton’s Frank Zelinksy and Freedom’s Tim Cuevas all scored falls to lead the PA team as they romped over the New Jersey squad in the Easton Lions Classic 47-4.
Hovan and Zettlemoyer were also selected to wrestle in the Pittsburgh Press Classic. Todd Chesboro decisioned Hovan while Zettlemoyer earned a draw. Kurt Angle won by a 5-4 decision as Team PA won 21-20 over Team USA.