Northampton and Easton finished tied for the EPC title in 1987, but it was Phillipsburg who was deemed the pre-season favorite with Easton, Northampton and Parkland expected to be top contenders. The Stateliners had eight starters back including four wrestlers who placed in the top three at regionals. Easton and Parkland both retuned eight starters while the Konkrete Kids returned seven + AA state place winner Kevin Smith who moved from Northwestern. The three Bethlehem schools were expected to be in the next tier and push the top four.
In the Colonial League, Nazareth was heavily favored to win its 8th straight championship. The Blue Eagles lost four regional qualifiers but still returned a solid mix of seniors and underclassmen. Bangor, Catasauqua, Saucon Valley and possibly Palisades were expected to battle for slots #2 to #5. The annual league tournament was canceled.
The Centennial League was a toss-up with six of nine teams expected to compete for the league title per The Morning Call. Northwestern got the most mentions as the potential favorite.
As the season kicked off, Dieruff, under Coach Mel Riddick, won the ASD title with three champs – Juan Enriquez (98), Buddy Maxwell (132) and Ted Steiner (Hwt). At 105, Whitehall freshman Doug Bonshak defeated Allen sophomore Jason Wagner 9-7. Salisbury’s Lee Todora won his 4th ASD title and his 100th career bout.
Northampton won the 2nd annual Bethlehem School District tourney over Quakertown and defending state champ, North Penn, who had four titlists. The Kids only had one champ in Brad Youwakim at 105, but their balance was on display as they placed 10 of 12 wrestlers. Easton won the Crestwood Tournament as Jack Thompson won the heavyweight title; they also had three runner-ups and six additional place winners.
Northampton followed their tourney win over Quakertown by winning 9 of 12 bouts to whip the Panthers in a dual meet a few days later 37-13. In their EPC opener, Easton was dominant as all eight of their wins were by bonus points as they rolled to a 47-9 victory. Freedom led Parkland 13-11, but the Trojans got falls from J.C. Doto, Andy Yankanich, Jeff Kloiber and Danny Wehr to win 35-18. Frank Gutierrez won his 250th dual meet as Liberty defeated Allen 40-13.
On December 19th, an overflow crowd of more than 2,000 fans packed the 25th Street gym as Easton and Nazareth battled in an early season dual. Easton’s Gary Rute scored a last second reversal to win at 98, and Thad Piccone scored a fall at 119 to pace the Rovers to an early lead. Nazareth came back to win three straight bouts from 145-167 from Mike Miller, Ken Herceg and Andy Joseph to close within 20-17, but Mike Mineo nipped John Renner 2-1 and Jack Thompson won a superior decision to top the Blue Eagles 28-17. The loss would turn out to be the Blue Eagles only dual loss of the season.
The same day, Quakertown nipped Parkland by a single point in the Quakertown Invitational Tourney. The Trojans’ Kyle Wolfe (98), Brian Handwerk (105) and Darin Roth (132) finished in 1st place. Liberty defeated Hazleton 38-23.
On December 23rd, the Hurricanes ran into upstart Parkland, and the Trojans beat Liberty for the first time EVER in school history 36-15. Kyle Wolfe (98) and J.C. Doto (145) had falls while Darin Roth nipped Mike Evans 3-2 at 132. Allen defeated Whitehall 38-21; Saucon Valley defeated Notre Dame 32-25; and Catasauqua clipped Northwestern 39-19.
Northampton won its 3rd straight Christmas City Tourney team champion as they defeated Nazareth 235-217. The Kids and Blue Eagles had five head-to-head match-ups in the finals with Nazareth having a 3-2 edge. Brad Silimperi (105 over Rian Youwakim), Mike Miller (145) and Ken Herceg (155) won for Nazareth while Mike Recker (112) and Jeff Kocher (132) won for Northampton. The Kids had two additional champs in Kevin Smith (167) and Mike Reenock (Hwt) to bring their overall total to four.
Dieruff had four champs to win the Kutztown Tourney and Buddy Maxwell won his 2nd OW award; Juan Enriquez (98), Stan Ortega (119) and Ted Steiner (Hwt) also won titles. Easton was 2nd in the Manheim Tournament as Dave Moser (105) finished 1st and the Rovers had two wrestlers finish in 2nd, 3rd and 4th place. Phillipsburg won their own tourney with seven champions and four runner-ups.
Pleasant Valley won their first ever tournament title in the Jim Thorpe tourney; Vinny DeLuzio was a champ at 155 and the Bears also had three runner-ups. Liberty finished 2nd in the Lock Haven Tourney and had two champs in Pat Tocci (112) and Lance Morabito (185). Parkland won the Governor Mifflin Tournament with five champions – Kyle Wolfe (98), Brian Handwerk (105), J.C. Doto (145), Andy Yankanich (155) and Danny Wehr (Hwt). Pocono Mountain was 4th and East Stroudsburg was 5th in the Tunkhannock Tourney. Jeremy Adkins (138) and Steve Paglusch (145) won for Pocono Mountain while Ray Markulics (112) was East Stroudsburg’s victor. Stoudsburg won the Warren Hills Tourney as Sy Yost was crowned 152-pound champion.
After the holidays, in Colonial League action, Salisbury defeated Wilson 42-24, and Saucon Valley had four pins to edge Southern Lehigh 33-30. Nazareth flexed its muscles against Liberty 43-9 as Brad Silimperi decisioned Pat Tocci 5-2 at 112. Phillipsburg beat Delaware Valley 31-15; Catasauqua clipped Palisades 39-19; and Pine Grove handled Northwestern 43-19.
Last year, Easton nipped Northampton 24-23 and the teams ultimately tied for the EPC title. This year, in a match where 10 of the 12 bouts were decided by four points or less, the Kids edged the Rovers 23-18. Easton’s Jason Rute upset Rian Youwakim to start the match at 98, but Mike Recker answered back by edging Dave Moser 9-7. After Williard Baker and Don Suranofsky battled to a draw, Ed Youwwakim and Jeff Kocher each won one point bouts, and the Kids led 11-5. Moss Grays and Dan Goffredo had the only bonus points of the night and gave Easton a 15-11 lead after seven bouts, but the Kids won the next four bouts to build an insurmountable 23-15 lead. Jarrid Konya nipped Tony Rizzolino 8-7 at 145 and Brian Chamberlain decisioned Brian Marchetti 10-7 at 155.
The following collection of photos from Jarrid Konya who wrestled for Northampton that night at 145:
The same evening, Rich Evans decisioned Ted Steiner 5-4 at 185 as Allentown Central Catholic edged Dieruff 28-27. Parkland had shown early in the season that they had some very good wrestlers on their team, but on January 9th Phillipsburg showed they were just better. After Ed Moore and Kyle Wolfe fought to a 2-2 stalemate at 98, the ‘Liners won 8 of the remaining 11 bouts for a surprising 38-11 rout. State runner-up Jason Hawk defeated Darin Roth 6-4 in a featured match.
Stroudsburg had three falls in defeating Notre Dame 33-17 in a key Centennial League match; East Stroudsburg won the final four bouts to score a 33-30 comeback win over Pleasant Valley; and Pocono Mountain doubled up Palmerton 42-21. Lastly, Northwestern won seven of the first eight bouts and held off Northern Lehigh 32-26.
In the Colonial League, Pen Argyl defeated Bangor 36-19, and Catasauqua crushed Palisades 45-8. In non-league action, Freedom beat Saucon Valley 36-19, and Liberty dropped a tough 26-25 match to Pine Grove.
On January 14th, Easton won the important match ups as they defeated Liberty 40-8; Jason Rute (98), Moss Grays (132) and Jack Thompson (Hwt) all had falls. Dave DiSora and Mike Evans had a 3-3 draw at 126. Phillipsburg continued its dominant wins by beating Bethlehem Catholic 43-14. In the Centennial League, Stroudsburg defeated Lehighton 34-15; Pocono Mountain pounded Northwestern 45-21; Notre Dame won the final five bouts to top Pleasant Valley 33-24; and East Stroudsburg beat Palmerton 31-20.
Two days later, Allentown Central Catholic’s Matt Nagle, Rich Evans and Paul Hegedus won the final three bouts as the Vikings edged Stroudsburg 28-24. Nazareth continued scoring impressive wins as they defeated Freedom 44-8, and Northampton crushed Pocono Mountain 54-9.
The middle of Saucon Valley’s line up was too much for Palisades as the Panthers won 40-24, and Catasauqua whipped Wilson 40-15. In the Centennial League, Notre Dame’s Dave Plonki and John Reilly scored pins in the final two bouts as the Crusaders clipped Palmerton 31-27; Pocono Mountain defeated Northern Lehigh 47-21; and East Stroudsburg won the final five bouts to rally from a 27-10 deficit to beat Northwestern 34-27.
One day later, Phillipsburg won 9 of 12 bouts in routing Freedom 46-12; Allen beat Allentown Central Catholic 29-16; and Northampton remained undefeated by defeating Liberty 39-10.
On January 23rd, with several hundred fans turned away from the Blue Eagles gym, Nazareth and Northampton faced off. Rian Youwakim scored a fall to start the match, but Brad Silimperi nipped Mike Recker at 103 and Dan Madson upset Ed Youwakim 10-8 at 119. Don Suranofsky and Jeff Kocher both won by decisions and the Kids only had a 12-6 lead. Preston Moritz and Ross Nunamaker won decisions and the bout was tied 12-12. Jarrid Konya and Mike Miller drew at 145, and the teams swapped falls at 155 and 167 which tied the match at 20-20 with only two bouts to go. Both John Renner and Scot Engler fought off their backs and scored falls for Nazareth to give them a 32-20 upset win.
The following collection of photos from Jarrid Konya who wrestled for Northampton that night at 145:
Teams Shake Hands Post Match
Youtube link from Ross Nunamaker of Pre-Match and Final Two Bouts:
The same day, upstart Souderton beat North Penn 40-25; it was the Indians first win over the Knights in 25 years! Easton hammered Shikellamy 40-9, and North Schuylkill dominated Northwestern 55-3. Saucon Valley nipped Bethlehem Catholic 28-27; Allentown Central Catholic edged Salisbury 32-28; and Palmerton beat Freedom 31-24.
In the very competitive Centennial League, East Stroudsburg remained unbeaten in the league by beating Northern Lehigh 31-13. In the Colonial League, Saucon Valley bumped several of the star upper weights up but the move backfired when Catasauqua’s Tom Newhart scored a fall at 145 as the Rough Riders won 30-25. Nazareth won all but two bouts to cruise past Salisbury 53-9.
On January 28th, Thad Piccone upset state champ Dave Foley 9-6 at 119, and Easton easily defeated Freedom 47-7. Parkland won the final seven bouts to beat Allentown Central Catholic 51-12. Northwestern led Notre Dame 33-22, but the Crusaders’ Dave Polanki and John Reilly scored falls. The Tigers lost a team point, and the Crusaders won 34-32.
A few days later, Coach Ed Watto’s son, “Little Ed” Watto had a fall in the final bout as Pocono Mountain beat East Stroudsburg 36-24; Palmerton and Stroudsburg won six bouts each, but all of the Blue Bombers wins were for bonus points as they upset the Mountaineers 34-30 on January 30th. In the Colonial League, Catasauqua had a big win over Pen Argyl 41-16. Down in District 1, Quakertown topped both Souderton and North Penn in successive matches.
As January ended the league races shaped up as follows:
- East Penn: Phillipsburg & Northampton – unbeaten; Easton & Parkland – 1 loss
- Colonial: Catasauqua & Nazareth – unbeaten; Pen Argyl & Saucon Valley – 1 loss
- Centennial: Pocono Mountain – unbeaten; East Stroudsburg, Notre Dame & Stroudsburg – 1 loss
On February 1st, Palisades upset Pen Argyl 35-23.
On February 2nd, Phillipsburg and Easton wrestled before an overflow crowd in the Rovers’ 25th Street Gym. The Liners got a big win from Ed Moore (98) right out of the gate. Phillipsburg got some late match heroics as E.J. Watson’s last second takedown earned a draw at 112; Jason Elke’s 3rd period takedown gave him an 8-6 win at 138 and Greg Gehm pulled out a draw at 145. The score was stood at 14-13 Easton. Jim Crouse defeated Brian Marchetti 7-2 at 155 as P-Burg led 16-14. The teams split the next two bouts and then Heath Condon defeated last year’s hero for Easton, Jack Thompson, 5-2 at heavyweight to give the Stateliners their first win over the Rovers in five years, 22-17. A bright spot for Easton was Moss Grays knocking off NJ state runner-up Jason Hawk 6-1.
Easton vs. Phillipsburg Match (Easton HS Sports Videos)
The next night, Notre Dame won the first six bouts to stun previously unbeaten Pocono Mountain 42-15 as four teams were now locked in a tie for the Centennial League lead.
The previous season, Parkland upset Easton 24-21, and the Rovers were seeking revenge as they traveled to Orefield. Three Rovers who had lost the year before were winners this year – Dave Moser, Mike Mineo and Jack Thompson – as the Rovers won 35-15. Damien Dugan’s pin at heavyweight helped Allen beat Bethlehem Catholic 27-26. Emmaus edged Dieruff 26-25. Nazareth and Catasauqua were both undefeated in the Colonial League, but the Blue Eagles were dominant and won 48-6.
On February 6th, Northampton faced Phillipsburg at The Pit. The Kids raced to a 16-0 lead with Rian Youwakim edging Ed Moore 4-3 at 98 and Don Suranofsky pinning E.J. Watson at 112. The Liners fought back to win the next three bouts to cut the lead to 16-12. The teams split the next two bouts before Kevin Smith scored a come-from-behind 11-9 decision over Greg Troxell and Eric Gieske won 18-9 at 185. Both Kids were on the backs but fought back as Northampton triumphed 26-19.
The following collection of photos from Jarrid Konya who wrestled for Northampton that night at 145:
In other bouts, East Stroudsburg defeated Allentown Central Catholic 35-29; Liberty beat Downingtown 35-19; Stroudsburg and Saucon Valley battled to a 28-28 tie; and Easton shut out Wilson 60-0.
On February 10th, Notre Dame rallied from a ten-point deficit to defeat East Stroudsburg 29-24. Steve Davey (167) and John Reilly (Hwt) scored falls. Pocono Mountain defeated Lehighton 33-18; Stroudsburg beat Northern Lehigh 39-17. In the EPC, Phillipsburg defeated Liberty 32-14; Northampton was too much for Parkland 36-16; Bethlehem Catholic edged Whitehall 33-27; and Freedom beat Dieruff 29-24. Nazareth shut out Wilson 63-0, and Saucon Valley beat Pen Argyl 40-19.
Then on February 13th, Pocono Mountain defeated Stroudsburg 32-24 to finish tied with Notre Dame for the league title. Steve Paglusch (155) and John McCoy (167) scored falls as some middleweight line up maneuvering by Coach Ed Watto helped to spur the win. East Stroudsburg slipped Lehighton 32-17. Nazareth beat Parkland 35-11, and Phillipsburg Catholic nipped Notre Dame 29-26 in non-league action.
On February 17th, East Stroudsburg defeated rival Stroudsburg 30-21 to finish 3rd in the very competitive Centennial League. Saucon Valley beat Bangor 44-23 to keep their hopes for a tie for the Colonial League title alive. Bethlehem Catholic trailed Freedom 27-12, but got a technical fall, forfeit and fall in the final three bouts to pull out a 29-27 victory.
On February 20th, in a series of rivalry duals, Allen defeated Dieruff 27-17; Liberty beat Freedom 38-18; and Parkland cruised past Emmaus 53-9. Easton won non-league bouts against Downingtown 59-0 and North Penn 48-12. Notre Dame defeated Allentown Central Catholic 40-18, and Catasauqua clipped Stroudsburg 31-30.
A few days later, Parkland beat East Stroudsburg 37-16. Bethlehem Catholic bumped Tony Iasiello Jr up to 185 and he scored a fall to break a 22-22 tie as the Hawks won 31-22.
Nazareth hammered Saucon Valley 51-8 to wrap up the Colonial League title.
New Jersey won its third straight NJ Group 4 state dual title and finished #1 in the coaches and Star Ledger polls as the #1 team in New Jersey (final record = 19-1). League champions were as follows:
- EPC – Northampton – 11-0 league and 17-1 overall (only loss to Nazareth)
- Colonial – Nazareth – 8-0 league and 17-1 (only loss to Easton)
- Centennial – Notre Dame – 7-1 league and 15-3 & Pocono Mountain – 7-1 league and 14-3 overall
Other teams with very good records were: Easton 16-2, Liberty 13-6, Parkland 13-4, Catasauqua 13-3, Saucon Valley 12-5-1 and East Stroudsburg 13-5.
Final league standings were as follows:
|Compiled Standings 1987-88||Place||W-L-D|
|Allentown Central Catholic||10||2-9|
The Colonial League Tournament was eliminated, but the Centennial League Tournament saw East Stroudsburg, who finished 3rd in the dual standings, claim the top spot with three champs and three runner-ups.
Down in District 1, Souderton was also flexing its muscles as it outpaced both Quakertown and North Penn to win the Section 2 title. Quakertown turned the tables on Souderton in the District 1 North championship winning the team title by 1.5 points.
In AAA, Easton, Nazareth and Northampton were locked in a three-way battle for the lead after Day 1 of the district tourney. Freedom’s Mike Villani upset #1 seeded Pat Tocci from Liberty 6-4 at 105 while at 132 Allen’s Jason Jenkins upset the #6 seed and pinned the #3 seed. Northampton had not won a District team title in 35 years, but Don Rohn’s K-Kids won the AAA won crown in the semi-finals when they advanced six wrestlers to the finals. When the dust settled, they had crowned three champs – Mike Recker (105), Ed Youwakim (119) and Kevin Smith (167), three runner-ups and three 3rd place finishers as they topped Nazareth by 30 points. The Blue Eagles also crowned three champs – Brad Silimperi (98), Mike Miller (138) and Ken Herceg (145). Freedom’s Dave Foley (112) and West Hazleton’s Tim Samec (Hwt) scored the only falls on the finals. Pleasant Valley’s Mike Froehlich (126) and Saucon Valley’s Jim Severn (155) both won in overtime over Dieruff’s Buddy Maxell and Freedom’s Rod Kessler, respectively. Easton’s Moss Grays (132), who was also named OW, and Liberty’s Lance Morabito (185) won the remaining two titles. The Kids led all teams by advancing nine wrestlers to regionals.
After a 21-1 dual season which earned them the #1 AA ranking in the state, North Schuylkill jumped out to a lead over Pine Grove as both teams advanced eight wrestlers to the semi-finals. The Spartans pulled away on Day 2 as they romped to the AA team title and crowned four champions – Chris Rickard (98), Tom Edwards (112), Mark Cesari (138) and Todd Lane (155). They qualified eleven wrestlers for the regional tournament. Northwestern’s Scott Derr (126) and Salisbury’s Lee Todora (132) both won their fourth District titles while Rickard won his 3rd District title. Pine Grove’s Trevor Humphrey (105) & Kurt Schneck (119), Tri-Valley’s Martin Heim (145) & Kevin Clouser (Hwt), Palisades’ Tom Socker (167) and Pen Argyl’s Rick Sterner (185) also won titles.
With a strong quarterfinal performance, District XI advanced 27 of 36 wrestlers to the Northeast Regional AAA semi-finals. On the strength of four regional champs, Nazareth outpaced Northampton and Shikellamy to win the team title. District XI won eight of twelve championship bouts and qualified 23 wrestlers for states. Brad Silimperi (98), Mike Miller (138), Ken Herceg (145) and John Renner (185) won titles for the Blue Eagles. Renner’s 6-4 upset win over Liberty’s Lance Morabito gave Nazareth an 83.5-83 triumph over Northampton. Freedom’s Dave Foley (112), Dieruff’s Buddy Maxwell (126 wotj career win #99), Northampton’s Kevin Smith (167) and West Hazleton’s Tim Samec (Hwt) also won titles. Maxwell became Dieruff’s first 100-win wrestler ever the following week at states.
In the Southeast AA Regional, District XI had a dominate performance as they crowned all 12 champions and qualified 30 for the state tourney. North Schuylkill easily won the team title with six champions – Chris Rickard (98), Randy Reidler (105), Tom Edwards (112), Mark Cesari (138), Todd Lane (155) and Paul Hummel (185) – and eight total qualifiers. Salisbury’s Lee Todora (132) won his 4th regional title. Pine Grove’s Kurt Schneck (119), Tri-Valley’s Martin “Butch” Heim (145), Palisades’ Tom Socker (167) and Tri-Valley’s Kevin Clouser (Hwt) won the remaining titles.
The Southeast AAA Regional would see North Penn edging Quakertown and Souderton (68-65.5-63) as the Finacchio brothers and Chris Kwortnik triumphed.
PIAA State Tournaments
In the first round of the AAA championship, Northampton advanced all five of the state qualifiers while Nazareth advanced all four of theirs; five other District XI wrestlers also won their first round matches. The Blue Eagles’ matched their first day performance by again going 4-for-4 in the quarterfinals. In addition, five more District XI wrestlers moved into the semi-finals. Nazareth finished with a strong final day performance in the AAA states as Brad Silimperi became Coach Ray Nunamaker’s first state titlist (and the school’s first in 34 years) with a 7-3 win over Upper Perk’s Jason Marks at 98. The Blue Eagles finished 2nd in the team race as John Renner finished 2nd at 185 to Quakertown’s John Hangey while Ken Herceg was 3rd and Mike Miller was 4th. Ray Nunamaker was named Coach of the Year. Freedom’s Dave Foley was in the finals for the 3rd time and won his 2nd championship at 112. West Hazleton’s Tim Samec was 2nd at heavyweight. “Morning Call area” wrestlers Mike Salone from Souderton and North Penn’s Chris Kwortnik also won titles at 145 and 167, respectively. Seven other District XI wrestlers placed in the top six. Easton’s Moss Grays was 3rd at 132 while Northampton’s Mike Recker (105), Don Suranofsky (112) and Kevin Smith (167) all finished 4th. Freedom’s Rod Kessler (155) was 4th; Liberty’s Lance Morabito (185) was 5th; and Pleasant Valley’s Mike Froelich (126) was 6th.
AA matched AAA as 14 District XI wrestlers won their first round bouts and half of the winners advanced to the semi-finals. North Schuylkill had three finalists but only Mark Cesari (138) was able to win in the finals. Mark joined brothers, Joe and Steve, as state titlists. Teammates Chris Rickard (98) and Randy Reidler (105) finished 2nd as the Spartans finished 2nd in the team race as well. Salisbury’s Lee Todora won by an 8-1 score in the 132-pound final to win his 2nd AA state title. Pen Argyl’s Rick Sterner was 2nd at 185 while Northwestern’s Scott Derr and Palisades’ Tom Socker were 3rd place winners.
Phillipsburg won another District 16 team title (21 of the past 22 years) as eight wrestlers claimed championships which gave Coach Rick Thompson an even 50 district champs in eight years of coaching. Mike Kocsis (125), Jason Hawk (130) and Greg Gehm (145) won Region 4 titles. Kevin Dilts finished as a NJ state runner-up at 103 while Mike Kocsis (125) was 3rd, and Jason Hawk (130) was 5th. Coach Rick Thompson was named Coach of the Year.
The Pennsylvania Team rolled to a 38-10 victory over New Jersey in the Easton Lions Classic. In a match-up of state champs, Salisbury’s Lee Todora defeated North Hunterdon’s Mike Van Doren 5-3. Northwestern’s Scott Derr was named OW for defeating Phillipsburg’s Mike Kocsis 6-2.
In the Challenge of Champions, Salisbury’s Lee Todora had a draw while Quakertown’s John Hangey helped the AAA team triumph 23-20 over the AA team.
No local wrestlers were participating in the Pittsburgh Press Classic, but the PA Team won 27-13 over the US team.