None of the local squads were able to survive the competitive ’87-’88 season unbeaten and the ’88-’89 season was expected to be similarly competitive.  Easton, Nazareth, Northampton and Phillipsburg all suffered some key losses due to graduation but each also had many returning stars.  The new season would also see the first change in the number of weight classes since 1959 with the addition of a 13th weight class. For full details of weight class changes through the years see:   http://lehighvalleywrestlinghistory.com/features-stories-more/lehigh-valley-state-wrestling-championship-history-pa-nj-pciaa-lists-history/piaa-weight-class-history/

In addition, the technical fall was reduced from six to five team points and the superior decision was eliminated.

In the EPC, Northampton, Phillipsburg and Easton finished 1-2-3 in ’87-’88 and were the preseason favorites as the Top 3 again.  It was the Rovers, with nine returning starters, who was named by the coaches as the favorites in an informal preseason poll by The Morning Call.  The Kids retuned seven starters including four state qualifiers and they got the nod over Phillipsburg who suffered heavy losses in three state placers and four more district champs.  Allentown Central Catholic and Liberty were expected to be at the top of the 2nd tier.

Nazareth lost five starters but still returned plenty of talent including juniors Brad Silimperi and Mike Miller.  As a result, they were heavily favored to win their 9th straight Colonial League title with Wilson and Saucon Valley expected to battle for 2nd.

The Centennial League ended in a three-way tie after an extremely competitive dual season.  Pocono Mountain and Stroudsburg were again expected to battle for the top spot, but Notre Dame lost seven starters and was expected to be in the middle of the pack.  East Stroudsburg and Palmerton were also looking to contend. 

December

The ASD and BSD tourneys kicked off the season.  Allen, with three champions – Dan Wagner (103), Jason Wagner (112) and Damien Dugan (Hwt) – edged up and coming Allentown Central Catholic and Whitehall, both of whom also had three champs, in the ASD Tourney. 

Jason Jenkins
Jason Jenkins Was One of 5 Allen Finalists as They Won the ASD Tourney Title (Photo Courtesy of William Allen HS Yearbook)
Matt Finacchio
Matt Finacchio Was One of North Penn’s Champions in the BSD Tourney (Photo Courtesy of North Penn HS Yearbook)

The BSD Invitational saw Northampton flexing its muscles as they ran away from some strong competition, including Wyoming Valley West, North Penn and host Liberty.  The Kids’ Rian Youwakim nipped Liberty’s Pat Tocci 4-3 while Don Suranofsky dropped a 12-8 decision to North Penn’s Matt Finacchio at 125.  Chad Billy (103), Mike Recker (119), Rob Davies (152), Brian Chamberlain (160), Kevin Smith (171) and Mike Reenock (Hwt) also won titles for Northampton.

Nazareth outdistanced Bald Eagle Area to win the Top Hat Wrestling Tournament as Brad Silimperi (119) and Mike Miller (152) won titles and nine wrestlers place in the top four.  Saucon Valley’s Tom Koch won the 130-pound championship.  Easton had nine finalists and saw Thad Picone (130), Dave DiSora (145) and Tony Rizzolino (160) win titles as Easton cruised to the team title.  Catasauqua had 10 place winners to win the New Hop Wrestling Tournament; Brad Fickes was the 171-pound champion.

In early dual action, Bethlehem Catholic rallied to defeat Freedom 39-26. The Golden Hawks fresh off winning the Class 2A football championship saw Tony Spagnola, Blayne Diacont, Tony Iasiello Jr. and Rob Carpenter shift from the gridiron to wrestling mats to key the win.  The Hawks trailed 26-0, but rallied to win the final seven bouts to triumph.  Pleasant Valley had six falls to defeat Saucon Valley 42-35.

On December 17th, the first match of the season between “The Big Four” took place as Easton and Nazareth locked up.  The Blue Eagles won four of the first six bouts to lead 15-7.  The Rovers won the next two bouts and then pulled ahead for the only time all night 20-18 after Tony Rizzolino and Brian Marchetti won back-to-back decisions at 160 and 171.  Jack Kapanka’s fall and Scott McEntire’s win by DQ capped a 30-20 Blue Eagle win.  Meanwhile, Northampton downed Catasauqua 41-15.

Parkland had four champs as they battled District 1 powerhouses, Downingtown and Quakertown and finished 2nd to the Whippets while Bethlehem Catholic was runner-up in the Carlisle Tourney.  Freedom had two champs to outdistance host Pen Argyl in the Pen Argyl Invitational.  The Green Knights had three champs; East Stroudsburg’s Ray Makulics upset two-time state champ Dave Foley 5-4 at 119.

In pre-Christmas action, Nazareth traveled to The Pit to face Phillipsburg.  The Blue Eagles held leads of 13-4, and then 29-12 with four bouts to go.   With Kevin Dutt, Jim Crouse, Kevin Kane and Greg Troxell waiting in the wings, the question remained – “was it enough?”  The answer was “no” as all four won with Crouse and Troxell registering falls as the Stateliners won 30-29 in their season debut. 

Catasauqua’s Maurice Haughton and Joe DeWalt scored falls in the final two bout to break a 23-23 tie against Saucon Valley to win 35-23 in Colonial League action.  In the Centennial League, Stroudsburg hammered Notre Dame 46-13 while Northwestern topped Northern Lehigh 38-26 and Palmerton won six bouts in a row from 119-145 to nip Pocono Mountain 29-28.

Easton clobbered Bethlehem Catholic 51-11; Parkland won the final eight bouts to top Freedom 43-15; and Allen had falls in the final two bouts to defeat Liberty 36-27.

Holiday Tournaments

Holiday tourney action kicked off as Phillipburg won their own tourney with four champions – Ed Moore (103), Jim Crouse (171), Kevin Kane (189) and Greg Troxell (Hwt).  Palmerton had five champions to win the Jim Thorpe Tourney while Pleasant Valley and Pen Argyl finished 2nd and 3rd.  Stroudsburg had three upper weight champs and was 2nd in the Warren Hills Tournament.

The annual Christmas City Tourney featured a series of upsets in the finals as Nazareth outdistanced Northampton 225-209 to win the team title despite the Kids having six champs.  At 112, Rian Youwakim defeated Upper Perk state runner-up, Jason Marks, 7-4 then Marks’ teammate Brad Rozanski escaped with one second left to upset Nazareth state champ, Brad Silimperi, 3-2 at 119.  The Kids’ Don Suranofky made it three upsets in a row as he topped two-time state champ, Dave Foley, 8-7.  Nazareth’s Preston Moritz clinched at least a tie for the team title by knocking off National Prep placer, Greg Welch, 14-5.  In addition to Mortiz at 135, Dan Madson (140) and Mike Miller (152) won titles for the Blue Eagles.  Catasauqua finished a solid third in the team race.

In Manheim, Easton and Shikellamy battled for the team title with the Rovers triumphing as Moss Grays, Dave Disora, Tony Rizzolino and Brian Marchetti won titles.  Two-time state champ Chris Kwortnik from North Penn was pushed to overtime by Erie Prep’s Jeff Liebel at 189, but Kwortnik won 8-8, 4-1.

Easton Won the Team Title in the Manheim Tourney Over Rival Shikellamy (Photo Courtesy of Easton HS Yearbook)

In other holiday tourney action, East Stroudsburg had three champs and was 2nd at Tunkhannock; Liberty was 3rd at Lock Haven; and Parkland won at Governor Mifflin.  Whitehall had three champions to win at Lehighton; Wilson matched the Zephyrs with three champs and was 3rd at Lehighton.  The Warriors were also 2nd at Delaware Valley.

January

After the holidays, Palmerton jumped out to a seemingly comfortable 30-6 lead over East Stroudsburg and then saw that lead narrowed to 30-26.  Paul Muffley’s fall at heavyweight ended the scare and the Blue Bombers stayed unbeaten 36-26.  Pocono Mountain pounded Northwestern 56-16.

The competitive EPC saw Liberty surprised Parkland 33-24.  The Trojans led early 12-0, but the Hurricanes rallied and won the next four bouts to lead 16-12.  Mike Evans pinned Rod Oppenheimer at 145, and Dan D’Amico downed Howie Miller 3-1 at 160.  The match was tied at 24-24 before Jose Vasquez and Dan Ehret won the final two bouts to complete the upset.

On January 7th, #1 nationally-ranked North Allegheny visited the Lehigh Valley to compete in the Reilly Tournament.  Coach Gus DeAugustino’s Tigers had won 52 matches in a row and featured defending state champs, Ty Moore and Ray Brinzer, and state runner-up Mike Norton.  North Allegheny was too much as they defeated both Nazareth (39-21) and Easton (39-15).  Norton defeated Brad Silimperi 4-0 at 119.

The same day, Northampton defeated Shikellamy 34-26 as Mike Reenock scored a fall in the final bout.  The Kids also defeated Phillipburg-Osceola 35-15 and Lower Dauphin 44-15.  Phillipsburg competed in the Virginia Duals and beat Virginia Beach-Cox 33-26 but lost to Great Bridge 37-17.  Stroudsburg showed that they can beat one of the EPC’s competitive teams as they knocked off Allen 28-24.  Wilson defeated Notre Dame 34-22 and tied Dieruff 32-32; Bethlehem Catholic dropped a 31-23 match with Warren Hills; and Allentown Central Catholic nipped Palmerton 29-26.

On January 11th, Palmerton bounced back from their non-league loss to down Notre Dame 44-17 while East Stroudsburg pinned their way to a 47-24 triumph over Northwestern, and Pocono Mountain beat Northern Lehigh 41-22.

Northampton started fast against Easton to take a 17-0 lead after four bouts as Chad Billy, Rian Youwakim, Mike Recker and Don Suranofsky all won.  That’s when Coach Don Rohn made a switch at 130-135 that paid dividends as Steve Moyer kept it close with Thad Picone, and Mike Laury beat Jim Brown 19-13.  Brian Chamberlain, Kevin Smith and Mike Manning won key bouts over Tony Rizzolino (10-7 at 160), Brian Marchetti (11-8 at 171) and Rich Moran (2-1 at 189), respectively, to help clinch the Kids’ 29-25 win before 1,900 fans in Easton’s gym.  In other EPC action, Liberty edged Bethlehem Catholic 30-27; Parkland beat Allen 33-29; and Freedom started strong to top Whitehall 35-30.

A few days later in non-league action, Catasauqua nipped a tough Palmerton squad 31-27 on a fall by Joe DeWalt at heavyweight.  Stroudsburg had three straight pins from 160-189 to defeat Allentown Central Catholic 40-23.

On January 18th, Nazareth defeated Bangor 60-6 as Coach Ray Nunamaker won his 300th career dual meet.  Palisades upended Wilson 33-30 as Todd Slack’s reversal with 20 seconds to go in the final bout gave him the decisive points for a 9-8 win.  In the Centennial League, Stroudsburg dominated Pleasant Valley 55-12.

Blue Eagles Celebrate after Coach Ray Nunamaker’s 300th Win (Photo Courtesy of Ross Nunamaker)

Easton, Northampton and Phillipsburg all dominated the competition as they beat Liberty, Allentown Central Catholic and Bethlehem Catholic, respectively.  Allen trailed Freedom 23-9 but rallied to defeat Freedom 32-23.

On January 21st, Nazareth had two huge wins early on its way to a 28-22 win against Northampton.  At 112, Brad Silimperi caught Rian Youwakim in a lateral drop to score a late 2nd period fall while at 125, Mike Herceg downed Don Suranofsky 18-11 in key match-ups.  Preston Moritz, Dan Madson, Ross Nunamaker and Mike Miller won consecutive matches from 135-152 to open up a 24-11 lead.  The Kids won three of the final four bouts, but Jack Kapanka’s major decision at 171 clinched the match.

Mike Herceg (Left) and Don Suranofsky Battle on Their Feet (Photo Courtesy of Northampton HS Yearbook)
Ross Nunamaker Rides Rob Davies (Photo Courtesy of Northampton HS Yearbook)

Watch the match between “Respected Rivals” Nazareth and Northampton courtesy of Todd Killino’s You Tube Channel & TV4:

Nazareth-Northampton Part 1             Nazareth-Northampton Part 2

The same day, Easton middle weights – Thad Picone, Moss Grays, Dave DiSora and Dan Goffredo – were too strong for Shikellamy as the Rovers won 26-19. Parkland had both Phillipsburg and Catasauqua on the ropes, but lost both by close scores.  Against the ‘Liners, Parkland led 27-10, but lost the final five bouts as Phillipsburg won 31-27.  Against the Rough Riders, the Trojans led 31-23, but lost the final two bouts as Catty won 34-31.

Northern Lehigh won the final two bouts to nip Wilson 28-27; Emmaus edged Lehighton 31-27; Palmerton rallied in the middle and upper weights to down Freedom 32-26; and Allen won 4 of the final 5 bouts to beat Bangor 34-25.  Pen Argyl had three champions to win the Pius X Tourney.

On January 25th, two key Centennial League bouts were on tap.  Undefeated Stroudsburg trailed Palmerton 22-9 before their “Murderer’s Row” of Erik Overcash, Steve Nordmark, Bill Canfield, Paul LaBar and Troy Marsh strung together five wins as the Mountaineers took sole possession of first place 32-22.  Pocono Mountain stayed in the mix by beating East Stroudsburg 35-31.

In an intra-city bout, Allentown Central Catholic dropped six wrestlers one weight class for their dual meet against Allen.  The Vikings led 22-12, but Jason Jenkins spurred a four bout win streak, and the Canaries won 30-25.  This match was one of many extremely competitive bouts between all six Allentown and Bethlehem schools along with Parkland, Whitehall and Emmaus during the exciting EPC dual season.

Liberty’s middle weights were the key in a 37-24 win over Whitehall, and Parkland rallied to defeat Allentown Central Catholic 35-24.  In non-league action, Catasauqua defeated East Stroudsburg 44-19, and Phillipsburg beat Warren Hills 33-20.

As January came to a close, the league races shaped up as follows:

  • EPC – Northampton and Phillipsburg – both 6-0 and wrestling a dual on 2/4; Easton 6-1.
  • Centennial – Stroudsburg – unbeaten and Palmerton & Pocono Mountain with one loss each.
  • Colonial – Catasauqua and Nazareth – both 4-0 and Bangor 3-1.

February

As February began, Liberty led Phillipsburg 22-21 with three bouts to go, but Jim Crouse and Kevin Kane had falls and Mark Troxell won by forfeit as the Stateliners prevailed 39-22.  In the Colonial League, Nazareth and Catasauqua remained unbeaten in the league by beating Palisades 58-6 and Pen Argyl 50-13, respectively. 

Rian Youwakim Tries to Maintain Control (Photo Courtesy of Northampton HS Yearbook)

A day later, Freedom defeated Emmaus 38-28; Parkland topped Bethlehem Catholic 35-22; and Phillipsburg again rallied in the upper weights as they defeated Allentown Central Catholic 38-22.

Ed Moore edged Chad Billy 5-2 at 103, but Northampton won the next four bouts to lead early 15-3.  Phillipsburg rallied to win two and tie two bouts, but the Kids counterpunched with wins by Brian Chamberlain and Kevin Smith to lead 24-16 with two bouts to go.  Kevin Kane had a fall at 189, and Greg Troxell scored a major decision at heavyweight as the Stateliners won 26-24 to move into sole possession of first place in the EPC.

Chad Billy and Ed Moore in Action in Bout Won by Moore (Photo Courtesy of Northampton HS Yearbook)
Kids’ Mike Laury is in for a Takedown (Photo Courtesy of Northampton HS Yearbook)

Stroudsburg had not won a Centennial League title since 1978 and led Pocono Mountain by a slim 14-12 score after eight bouts, but had their “Murderer’s Row” waiting in the wings.  The Mountaineers upper weights pulled out a 34-18 victory to keep Coach Ron Spinner’s team unbeaten at 14-0 overall and 7-0 in the league.  Palmerton moved into sole possession of 2nd place by beating Northwestern 56-15.

Brad Silimperi Looks for Back Points Against Catty (Photo Courtesy of Nazareth HS Yearbook)

On February 8th, Catasauqua was hoping to keep it close against Nazareth, but the Blue Eagles won all but three bouts to rout the Rough Riders 48-8 and all but clinch their 8th straight Colonial League title.  In the EPC, Parkland won the first two bouts, but Easton won all but one of the rest to cruise to a 48-13 victory.  Freedom led Northampton 20-16, but the Kids had a decision and three falls to win 37-20; Allen got a close decision from Victor Burton and a fall by Damien Dugan to beat Bethlehem Catholic 32-28.

The Easton-Phillipsburg dual was moved to Lafayette’s Kirby Field House and was wrestled before a packed house of 4,000 fans.  Easton needed a big lead heading into Phillipsburg’s tough upper weights.  The Rovers held a 27-10 lead after winning six straight bouts from 130-160.  Brian Marchetti nipped Jim Crouse 7-6 at 171 as the Rovers went on to win 30-17 setting up a likely three-way tie for the EPC title with Phillipsburg and Northampton. 

On February 15th, Howie Miller’s fall at 152 pulled Parkland into a 21-21 tie with Northampton, but the Kids again pulled away in the upper weights as they won the final four bouts – three by fall plus Kevin Smith’s big 7-3 win over Jeff Kloiber at 171 as Northampton won 42-21.  Stroudsburg beat rival East Stroudsburg 43-14 to wrap up the Centennial League title while Palmerton downed Northern Lehigh 43-23 to finish 2nd.  Catasauqua clinched 2nd in the Colonial League by routing Bangor 39-18.  One day later, Nazareth wrapped up the league title by whipping Wilson 59-9.

In year-end rivalry duals, Allen defeated Dieruff 37-23; Liberty beat Freedom 45-14; Parkland downed Emmaus 43-19 and Bethlehem Catholic beat Bethlehem Catholic 44-23.

Phillipsburg would go on to win its 4th straight New Jersey team dual mat title by defeating Warren Hills 33-21, crushing Voorhees 54-3 and beating High Point 31-18.  Easton closed out its season by whipping state-ranked Manheim Central 30-19 and North Penn 49-10.  Northampton crushed Quakertown 47-11.   The three co-EPC champions would each finish 10-1 in the league and with overall records of Easton (15-3), Northampton (17-2) and Phillipsburg (19-2).

Stroudsburg’s bid for an unbeaten season came down to the final two bouts against twice-beaten Catausaqua.  The Rough Riders won both bouts (Maurice Haughton 16-12 over Paul Labar and Joe DeWalt 10-5 over Troy Marsh) to put one blemish on Stroudsburg’s otherwise fabulous season 24-23.  Stroudsburg won the Centennial League title and finished 15-1.

1989 Catasaqua Team Had an Outstanding Year & Spoiled Stroudsburg’s Chance for an Unbeaten Season (Photo Courtesy of Catasauqua HS Yearbook)

Nazareth won their 8th straight Colonial League title and finished 16-2 closing their season with a 46-9 win over Parkland.

1989 Nazareth Team Won their 9th Consecutive Colonial League Title (Photo Courtesy of raynunamaker.com)

Other teams finishing with solid records included Catasauqua (16-2), Palmerton (16-3), Liberty (14-6), Pocono Mountain (12-4), Allen (12-6) and Parkland (12-7).

Final league standings were as follows:

Compiled Standings 1988-89PlaceW-L-D
East Penn
Easton1T10-1
Northampton1T10-1
Phillipsburg1T10-1
Liberty4T7-4
Parkland4T7-4
William Allen4T7-4
Bethlehem Catholic75-6
Freedom84-7
Whitehall93-8
Allentown Central Catholic102-9
Emmaus111-10
Dieruff120-11
Colonial
Nazareth18-0
Catasauqua27-1
Bangor36-2
Saucon Valley45-3
Pen Argyl54-4
Palisades6T3-5
Wilson6T3-5
Southern Lehigh81-7
Salisbury90-8
Centennial
Stroudsburg18-0
Palmerton27-1
Pocono Mountain36-2
East Stroudsburg44-4
Northern Lehigh5T3-5
Notre Dame5T3-5
Pleasant Valley5T3-5
Lehighton8T1-7
Northwestern8T1-7

Stroudsburg had three champs and four runner-ups to win the Centennial League Tourney over Palmerton who led all times with five champions.

District Tournaments

Kevin Smith Remained Unbeaten & Won the 171 Pound Title (Photo Courtesy of Northampton HS Yearbook)

Easton, Nazareth and Northampton had 23 of the 29 semi-finalists as they dominated the first day action.  Nazareth moved five men into the finals and qualified nine wrestlers for regionals as they won the team title over the Kids and Rovers.  Brad Silimperi pinned Liberty’s Pat Tocci at 112, and Mike Miller pinned Parkland’s Rod Oppenheimer at 145 for the Blue Eagles’ two titlists.  Northampton and Easton each had three champs.  Don Suranofsky (125), Brian Chamberlain (160) and Kevin Smith (171) won crowns for the Kids while Moss Grays (135), Dave DiSora (140) and Tony Rizzolino (152) were the Rovers’ champs.  Rizzolino came behind from a five-point deficit to edge Nazareth’s Ross Nunamaker 14-12.  Allen had two champs as Jason Wagner (103) and Damien Dugan (Hwt).  Freedom’s Dave Foley won his 3rd title by gaining revenge against East Stroudsburg’s Ray Markulics 5-3 at 119.  Markulics had nipped defending District Champ Mike Recker 4-3 in the semi-finals in one of the district’s toughest weight.  Parkland’s Darin Roth (130) and Bangor’s Doug Comunale (189) were the other titlists.  Fourth place finishers also advanced to regionals as the bracket expanded from eight to eleven wrestlers in each weight class.

Watch the 1989 District XI Finals courtesy of Todd Killino’s Youtube channel & TV4:

1989 District XI Finals – Part 1                1989 District XI Finals – Part 2

After 27 seasons at the helm and a 357-31-2 record, North Schuylkill Coach Joe Cesari Sr. was in his final District XI AA tournament.  Facing increased competition as Bethlehem Catholic and Saucon Valley, who had bumped down from AAA, the Spartans, ranked first in Class 2A had seven finalists and three champions to win the team title.  Coach Cesari was named Coach of the Year.  Chris Rickard (103), Bill Klotz (130) and Mark Cesari (145) were the Spartans champs.  Bethlehem Catholic finished 2nd and Catasauqua was 3rd.  Bethlehem Catholic (Tony Spagnola 152 and Blayne Diacont 160), Palisades (Lew Hower 140 and Mike Semmel 189), Pine Grove (J.J. Fasnacht 112 and Allen Riegel Hwt), and Saucon Valley (Tom Koch 125 and Jim Severn 171) each had two champions.  Palmerton’s Ryan Heimbach (119) and Pen Argyl’s Rick Kocher (135) rounded out the titlists.

AA District XI Champs (Photo from Bethlehem Globe Times courtesy of Cathy Leibensperger)

Regional Tournaments

Moss Grays Was One of Five Finalists & 2 Champs for Easton (Photo Courtesy of Easton HS Yearbook)
Mike Herceg (Photo Courtesy of Nazareth HS Yearbook)

After finishing 3rd in the District tourney, Easton had five finalists and won the Northeast Regional team title.  District XI was able to crown 8 of 13 champs and claim 19 of the 39 qualifiers for the state tourney.  Easton, Nazareth and Northampton had two champs each in Thad Picone & Moss Grays, Brad Silimperi & Mike Miller, and Dave Laury (130) & Kevin Smith, respectively.  Allen’s Jason Wagner and Bangor’s Doug Comunale were also winners from District XI.  The tourney had several major upsets.  Freedom’s two-time state champ Dave Foley lost 11-7 to Shikellamy’s Greg Underkoffler and was then pinned by Jersey Shore’s Crock Herman, who then lost 2-1 to Northampton’s Mike Recker in an incredibly tough 119-pound weight classs.  Liberty’s two-time state placewinner, Pat Tocci, lost 6-3 in the semi-finals and then 2-1 to Northampton’s Rian Youwakim at 112.  District 2 had a “much improved performance” per Ted Meixell with four champs and nine state qualifiers.

(Photo Courtesy of Tom Elling)

The Southeast Regional Tournament saw District XI’s AA wrestlers once again flex their muscles and claim 37 of 39 slots for the state tourney.  It was another big day for North Schuylkill!  Mark Cesari (145) became the first four-time Southeast regional champ, and Chris Rickard (103), Bill Klotz (130) and Paul Hummel (189) all won titles.  Saucon Valley’s Tom Koch (125) and Jim Severn (170) remained unbeaten in becoming champs.  The Spartans had seven state qualifiers while Bethlehem Catholic and Catasauqua each had four.  District XI won 12 of 13 titles as J.J. Fasnacht, Ryan Heimbach, Northwestern’s Todd Fluck (152) and Tri-Valley’s Ralph Wehry (Hwt) also were crowned champions.

(Photo Courtesy of Tom Elling)

PIAA Wrestling Championships

Tony Iasiello Jr Hugs His Father & Coach, Tony Sr, After Winning 171 Title (Photo Courtesy of TI Memorial Golf Tourney / Matt Billy)

In Hershey, District XI wrestlers dominated the AA action. Twenty-two wrestlers won their first round matches with the local wrestlers and Schuylkill League wrestlers fairly evenly splitting the winners.  Seven District XI wrestlers won both of their Friday matches to advance to the finals.  Five were able to win titles – Becahi’s Blayne Diacont & Tony Iasiello Jr and North Schuylkill’s Chris Rickard, Randy Reitler & Mark Cesari.  The Golden Hawks’ duo also were part of Becahi’s state championship football team.  The Spartans rolled to the team title, setting a points record, in Coach Joe Cesari’s final year while Becahi finished 4th.  Saucon Valley’s Tom Koch & North Schuylkill’s Paul Hummel finished as runner-ups; Koch dropped a 6-3 decision to defending state champ John Hughes of Benton.   District XI had 9 more place winners in Mahoney Area’s Jim Keck (103-4th), Pine Grove’s J.J. Fasnacht (112-3rd), Northwestern’s Chris Shelbert (112-5th) & Todd Fluck (152-5th), Palmerton’s Ryan Heimbach (119-4th), North Schuylkill’s Tom Edwards (119-6th) & Bill Kleitz (125-5th), Bethlehem Catholic’s Willie Stavino (125-5th) and Saucon Valley’s Jim Severn (171-4th).

1989AA – Front  row,  left  to  right:   Chris  Rickard  (103)  North  Schuylkill  (11);   Randy  Reidler  (112)  North  Schuylkill  (11);   Cary Kolat  (119)  Jefferson-Morgan  (7);   John  Hughes  (125)  Benton  (4);   Michael  Warnick  (130)  Meyersdale  (5)  and  Steve  Budman  (135)  Hughesville  (4).
Standing,  left  to  right:  James  Rawls  (140)  Susquehanna  Twp.  (3);   Mark  Cesari  (145)  North  Schuylkill  (11);   Bryan Wenner  (152)  Benton  (4);   Blayne  Diacount  (160)  Bethlehem  Catholic  (11);  Tony  Iasiello  (171)  Bethlehem  Catholic  (11) ;   Tom  Storey  (189)  Coudersport  (9)  and  Aaron  Armer  (275)  Reynolds  (10).    (Photo Courtesy of Bob Hower)
1989 AA State Champion North Schuylkill Spartans (Photo from Pottsville Republican)
Mark Cesari
Mark Cesari – Two-Time State Champion (Photo from Pottsville Republican)
Brad Silimperi (Photo Courtesy of Nazareth HS Yearbook)

In AAA action, fifteen District XI wrestlers advanced through the first round and eleven were able to reach the semi-finals.  #1 nationally ranked North Allegheny won the team title while Easton, Nazareth & Northampton all finished in the top 5 in the team race. Nazareth’s Mike Miller scored a takedown with 5 seconds left to win the 145 title while teammate, Brad Silimperi, was edged by Ty Moore 4-3 to finish 2nd. Northampton’s Kevin Smith finished 2nd to 3-time Champ Chris Kwortnik from North Penn.  Kwortnik finished his career with a 141-1 record!  Easton had four wrestlers in consecutive weights (Moss Grays, Dave DiSora, Dan Goffredo & Tony Rizzolino) finish 3rd while Allen’s Jason Wagner & Nazareth’s Mike Herceg also finished 3rd; Northampton’s Chad Billy & Mike Recker were 4th & Liberty’s Brian Cuddy was 6th.

Mike Miller Became Coach Ray Nunamaker’s 2nd State Champ (Photo Courtesy of Nazareth HS Yearbook)

1989 – AAA  champs – Front  row,  left  to  right:  Brian  Kapusta  (103)  Greensburg-Salem  (7);   Ty  Moore  (112)  North  Allegheny  (7);   Brian  Merrifield (119)  Lock  Haven  (6);   Joey  Wildasin  (125)  South  Western  (3);  Steve  Krouse  (130)  Lock  Haven  (6)  and  Dave  Thomas (135)  Waynesburg  (7).
 Standing,  left  to  right:  Tom  Best  (140)  Williamsport  (4);   Mike  Miller  (145)  Nazareth  (11);   Rich  Catalano  (152)  North  Allegheny  (7);   Ray  Brinzer  (160)  North  Allegheny  (7);   Chris  Kwortnik  (171)  North  Penn  (1);   Mike  Kraft  (189)  Penn  Hills  (7)  and  Skip  Pighetti  (Hwt)  Bald  Eagle  Area. (Photo Courtesy of Bob Hower)

Phillipsburg Post Seaason

Jim Crouse
Jim Crouse Pins His Opponent (Photo Courtesy of Phillipsburg HS Yearbook)

Phillipsburg had seven champions Ed Moore (103), E.J. Watson (119), Pat Maczko (130), Kevin Dutt (160), Jim Crouse (171), Kevin Kane (189) and Greg Troxell (Hwt) – and won the New Jersey District 16 team title.

Phillipsburg had champions in the first three weights (Ed Moore, Scott Dellatore and E.J. Watson) and the last three weights (Jim Crouse, Kevin Kane and Greg Troxell) in the N.J. Section 4 Regional Tourney.

In New Jersey, Phillipsburg crowned back-to-back champions in Kevin Kane (189) and Greg Troxell (Hwt) and Jim Crouse (171) took 3rd as Bob Jiorle’s squad finished the season in the #1 slot in New Jersey.

Kevin Kane
Kevin Kane – NJ State Champ at 189 (Photo Courtesy of Phillipsburg HS Yearbook)

On March 23rd, New Jersey won the 9th annual Easton Lions Classic by a 28-18 score over the Pennsylvania team.  In the evening’s main event match-ups of high-placing state finishers, the Garden state grapplers were able to win four of five match-ups.  Phillipsburg’s Jim Crouse won a 1-0 decision over Becahi’s Tony Iasiello 1-0, and Kevin Kane scored a comeback 6-4 win over Northampton’s Kevin Smith to be name the OW.

Chris Kwortnik
Chris Kwortnik – 3-Time State Champ (Photo Courtesy of North Penn HS Yearbook)

In the 7th annual Challenge of Champions on March 25th, the AA Team was able to defeat the AAA Team 28-20.  North Schuylkill wrestlers were 2-0-1 as Chris Rickard won at 103, Randy Reidler had a draw at 112 and Mark Cesari won at 145.  Bethlehem Catholic’s Blayne Diacont and Tony Iasiello lost to Rob Harris and Chris Kwortnik, respectively.  Northampton’s Mike Recker and Easton’s Tony Rizzolino lost close decisions for the AAA squad. On April 2nd, the 15th annual Pittsburgh Press Classic took place as the US All-Stars outpointed the PA All-Stars 30-16.  District XI wrestlers competing included Bethlehem Catholic’s Blayne Diacont, Northampton’s Mike Recker and North Schuylkill’s Chris Rickard, Randy Reidler & Mark Cesari.  Cesari was able to register a 12-7 win while the rest of the local participants dropped decisions.  North Penn’s Chris Kwortnik was named PA’s Outstanding Wrestler