After another competitive year in which no local team survived the season undefeated, it was time to close out the 1980’s. In the EPC, “The Big 3” of Easton, Northampton and Phillipsburg were all hit pretty hard by graduation. Could any of them survive the season undefeated? In the Colonial League, would this be the year that a loaded Catasauqua team could challenge perennial champion, Nazareth? Would the Blue Eagles win their battles over their EPC rivals? Who would emerge as the Centennial Champ – Stroudsburg, Notre Dame, Palmerton or Pocono Mountain?
These were just a few of the questions on wrestling fans’ minds as the ’89-’90 season kicked off.
The ASD and BSD Tournaments were again the first events on the schedule. Catasauqua raced out to an early lead in the ASD Tourney, placed nine and crowned two champions (Kyle Rusnock and Joe Cappolella) as Coach Mike Connor’s team claimed their first ASD team title. Allen and Allentown Central Catholic each crowned four champions in finishing 2nd and 3rd, respectively. In the BSD Tourney would see Northampton battle District 1 powerhouses, North Penn and Quakertown. The Kids and the Panthers each had three champs to the Knights two, but North Penn won the team title. Meanwhile, Easton won the Crestwood Mountaintop title.
On December 16th, Nazareth visited Easton for the first big dual of the season. Coach Ray Nunamaker made a key move by inserting son, Ryan, into the lineup at 119 and bumping Brad Silimperi and Mike Herceg up in weight. The move paid off as all four won and the Blue Eagles went on to win 10 of 13 bouts in a 47-10 rout. At 160, in a classic match-up, Moss Grays took a 4-1 lead against defending state champ, Mike Miller. Miller rallied to take a 7-4 lead and ultimately winning 7-6 in an action-packed match. Northampton held a 24-23 lead over Catasauqua and then had Mike Manning, Jeremy Grim and Mike Reenock each win decisions to win 33-23.
In more tourney action, Allentown Central Catholic, Phillipsburg and Quakertown won the Pen Argyl, Wyoming Valley West and Quakertown Invitational Tourneys, respectively.
The following week, Stroudsburg won their first Centennial League battle among contenders with both coaches agreeing that Chuck Menke’s fall at 119 was the key in the Mountaineers 39-25 win over Notre Dame.
Wrestling before an overflow crowd in its own gym, Nazareth won the first three bouts to grab the early momentum. They followed with a strong performance in the middle and upper weights, winning six of 7 bouts from 135-189 as they topped Phillipsburg 39-13.
In early holiday tournament action, Palmerton crowned seven champions as they romped to the Jim Thorpe title while Dieruff had three champions in finishing 2nd in Kutztown.
Nazareth had already defeated Easton and Phillipsburg in dual meets and now matched up against Northampton in the Christmas City Tournament. The Kids took the early lead, but saw the Blue Eagles crown five champions – Brad Silimperi, Mike Herceg, Mike Miller, Dan Madson and Anthony Silimperi – to pull away in the team race.
Easton had three champs – Rich Snyder, Moss Grays and Dan Goffredo – but finished 5th in the Manheim Tournament; Stoudsburg was 2nd in the Warren Hills Tourney; Whitehall was 2nd in the Lehighton Tourney; and Liberty was 3rd in Lock Haven.
After the holidays, Liberty’s lightweights led the way as the Hurricanes downed Parkland 31-22. Only two days later, the Trojans bounced back in a big way to defeat Phillipsburg 32-27. Kyle Wolfe’s fall over NJ state place winner, Ed Moore, at 125 was a key bout. Easton and Nazareth both defeated Quakertown and Wyoming Valley West in the Pat Reilly Invitational. Northampton dropped a 28-19 decision to Shikellamy in the Cedar Cliff Duals.
On January 10th, Palmerton had five falls as they defeated Notre Dame 36-22 in a Centennial League dual. Northern Lehigh clobbered Pocono Mountain 40-18 to serve notice that they were in the Centennial title chase. Parkland nipped Allen 32-31 in the EPC.
One night later, Northampton jumped out to an early 14-3 lead over Easton. The Rovers battled back to within 25-20 with two bouts to go, but Matt Marino had a technical fall and Mike Reenock had a quick fall at heavyweight as the Kids won 36-20 putting themselves in prime position to win the EPC title. Bethlehem Catholic knocked off Liberty 29-27.
Phillipsburg was upended by NJ #1 Warren Hills 32-31 ending a long unbeaten streak against New Jersey opponents (first loss since 1985). Catasauqua dealt Palmerton its first loss of the year by winning the final five bouts to triumph 41-17.
While Northampton was marching towards an outright EPC title, the remaining teams continued to battle it out. On January 18th, Liberty won the close bouts to lead 20-18 with two to go. Tony Tracca and Jose Vasquez both scored falls, and Liberty defeated Easton 32-18.
“Sold Out” and “closed circuit TV” in the cafeteria – had to be Northampton at Nazareth on January 20th. Nazareth was considered the favorite and did not disappoint as they won 32-16 after being named the #1 team in the state by PA Wrestling Round Up. There was no shortage of marquee match-ups, and Northampton more than held their own. Chad Billy repeated his holiday tourney win over Jason Magditch 6-3 at 112. Rian Youwakim and Brad Silimperi battled to a 4-4 draw at 119. Mike Laury defeated Mike Herceg 13-10 in a battle of unbeaten, and Mike Manning defeated Dan Madsen 7-4. While the Kids may have won those battles, the Blue Eagles won the war as Mike Miller and Anthony Silimperi both had falls.
The same day, Shikellamy defeated Easton 28-22, and Phillipsburg nipped High Point 29-28. Whitehall surprised Liberty 31-24 while Catasauqua routed Parkland 37-18.
On January 24th, Palmerton’s talented light weights built a 21-2 lead over Stroudsburg. But Coach Ron Spinner had a plan of bumping two wrestlers up one weight and another two wrestlers up two weights. They all won and the Mounties added falls by Troy Marsh and Dave Palomba in the final two weights to win 26-24. Northern Lehigh downed Notre Dame 33-23.
One night later, Northampton turned back Liberty’s upset bid 36-26, and Allen won the battle of Allentown 30-22 over much-improved Central Catholic.
As January came to an end, Stroudsburg and Northern Lehigh met in a match that would likely decide the Centennial League champion. The Mounties won two close bouts to take an early lead, but the Bulldogs fought back with three straight falls from Rob Chandler, Ivan Rosario and Bob Wetzel. Stroudsburg tried to battle back in the upperweights, but Northern Lehigh was able to win the final three bouts to win 32-16. Phillipsburg rallied to defeat Liberty 34-23.
As February began, league contenders were as follows:
- EPC – Northampton (6-0), Parkland & Phillipsburg (each 6-1), Easton (5-2)
- Colonial – Nazareth & Catasauqua (each 5-0), Bangor & Wilson (each 4-1)
- Centennial – Northern Lehigh (6-0), Stroudsburg & Palmerton (each 5-1)
On February 3rd, Don Rohn’s Konkrete Kids traveled to The Pit to face off against Phillipsburg. Northampton won nine of thirteen bouts to cruise to a 36-16 victory. Steve Moyer (135) and Matt Marino (189) both scored falls. In non-league action, Nazareth crushed Parkland 53-8 and Whitehall upended Stroudsburg 27-24 as Rick Boyer, Chad Bonshak and Bob Hartman won the final three bouts.
On February 7th, Catasauqua hosted Nazareth in a showdown for the Colonial League title. The Rough Riders wrestled well, but as others found out earlier in the season, the Blue Eagles were in a class by themselves. Coach Ray Nunamaker’s squad won nine bouts to win 36-14. In the Centennial League, Northern Lehigh, Palmerton and Stroudsburg all won.
The next evening, Easton traveled to Parkland in an ‘elimination match’ for who would stay in the EPC title hunt. John Lantz and Scott Heleva scored back-to-back wins for the Trojans at 125 and 130 and then Doug Ruth won be default over Greg Geiger at 145. Parkland triumphed 32-27 and defeated both Easton and Phillipsburg in the same season for the first time in school history.
Two nights later, Easton rebounded to defeat Phillipsburg 32-29. Craig Jones (130), Joe Malakian (145) and Moss Grays (152) all scored falls and Dan Goffredo (171) registered a technical fall to clinch the match for Steve Powell’s Rovers. Northampton cruised to a 42-13 win over Centennial League leader, Northern Lehigh.
Northern Lehigh was looking to win the league title outright when it hosted Palmerton on Valentine’s Day. Palmerton jumped out to a 12-0 lead after three bouts; the lead was extended to 18-0 when Rich Hertzog won on a DQ on an illegal slam over heavily-favored Ivan Rosario. Ryan Heimbach (140) and Terry Duschak (152) both scored falls as the Blue Bombers went on to win 32-26. This set up a three-way tie between the two schools and Stroudsburg in the Centennial League. Northampton clinched the EPC title by handling Parkland 41-15, and Nazareth clinched the Colonial League title by downing Wilson 44-10.
A few days later, for good measure, Northampton topped Quakertown 32-20.
The regular dual season ended with the following league champions:
- East Penn – Northampton 11-0 (17-2 overall)
- Colonial – Nazareth 8-0 (18-0 overall)
- Centennial – Northern Lehigh (14-3-1), Palmerton (16-3) and Stroudsburg (13-3) – all 7-1 in the league
Other teams with five losses or less included – Catasauqua (16-2), Parkland (14-5), Notre Dame (13-3).
Final league standings were as follows:
|Compiled Standings 1989-90||Place||W-L-D|
|Allentown Central Catholic||9||4-7|
On February 24th, the inaugural District XI team dual championships were held with four teams each qualifying in AA and AAA.
In AA action, Catasauqua easily won their semi-final match 51-12 over Allentown Central Catholic while Bethlehem Catholic edged Wilson 36-33. In the final, the Rough Riders had five falls to easily top Becahi 46-11 and finish 18-2 on the season. In AAA, in a match that featured eight falls, Nazareth scored six of them to down Parkland 41-25. Northampton led Easton 19-17 when Jeremy Grim (returning from an injury) and Mike Reenock scored falls in the final two bouts for a 31-17 win. The finals saw Nazareth repeat their early victory of the Kids – this time by a 31-19 count. Mike Miller and Anthony Silimperi book-ended falls around Dan Madson’s and Scott McEntire’s decisions. The Blue Eagles finished the year 20-0 while the Kids were 18-3.
In New Jersey District 16 action, Warren Hills outpaced Phillipsburg to win the team title; Phillipsburg had won 23 District 16 team titles in a row! The Stateliners did have four champions in Scott Frinzi (112), Ed Moore (119), Joe Shimko (152) and Greg Troxell (Hwt).
One year after Bethlehem Catholic and Saucon Valley moved to AA, Allentown Central Catholic, Bangor, Southern Lehigh and Tamaqua joined them making AA more competitive with 26 teams and dropping the AAA count to 18. In addition, the format for the Regional tournaments would change with four wrestlers from District XI advancing. As a result, an additional consolation match was added.
In AAA action, Nazareth advance 10 of its 13 wrestlers to the semi-finals on their way to advancing 10 wrestlers to regionals and running away with the team title. Allen’s Jason Wagner and Damien Dugan book ended the champions for the 2nd year in a row. While trailing 3-2, Brad Silimperi pinned Northampton’s Chad Billy. Silimperi was the first of three Nazareth champs with Mike Herceg (125) and Mike Miller (152) also claiming titles. Easton matched the Blue Eagles with three champions in Steve Calandra (130), Moss Grays (145) and Dan Goffreddo (171). Nazareth would also sweep all the awards as Ray Nunamaker was Coach of the Year; Silimperi was Outstanding Wrestler and Miller won the pinner award.
The AA tournament shifted to North Schuylkill High School from Allen. Catasauqua easily won the team title and Coach Mike Connor was named Coach of the Year. The Rough Riders had five finalists and crowned two champions in Joe Cappollela (125) and Kevin Krautsack (152). Three of four defending champs repeated – Pine Grove’s J.J. Fasnacht (112), Saucon Valley’s Tom Koch (130) and Pen Argyl’s Rick Kocher (135). The 4th defending champ, Palmerton’s Ryan Heimbach lost to Bethlehem Catholic’s Willie Stravino 4-3 in the semi-finals; Stravino lost a 7-6 decision to Koch in the District’s toughest weight class. Ten different teams crowned champions.
Phillipsburg crowned three champions in the NJSIAA Region 4 Tournament. Defending state champ, Greg Troxell (Hwt) improved to 29 -0 on the season. Ed Moore (119) and Joe Shimko (152) were also crowned champions.
In the Northeast AAA Regionals, #1 Nazareth and #3 Shikellamy each advanced eight men to the semi-finals in a close team race. Brad Silimperi became only the 2nd 4-time NE Regional champ (Jack Cuvo was the 1st) with an 11-5 win over Chad Billy. Mike Herceg and Mike Miller (his 3rd regional title) also won for Nazareth, but it wasn’t enough as Shikellamy’s depth proved to be too much in the team race. The Braves had one less champ and one less state qualifier (6 vs. 7), but had 12 qualifiers racking up points. Allen’s Jason Wagner, Northampton’s Mike Laury and Easton’s Moss Grays all won their 2nd straight regional titles as District XI wrestlers won 10 of 13 weight classes and claimed 26 of the 39 state qualifier slots.
District XI was dominant in the first round of the Southeast AA Regionals, as area wrestlers claimed 43 of 52 semi-final slots on their way to qualifying 33 wrestlers for the state tournament. Catasauqua won the team title but had to settle for three silver and two bronze medals. Pine Grove was the only team to crown more than one champ in Ken Newswanger (103) and J.J. Fasnacht (119). Palmerton’s Ryan Heimbach gained revenge by defeating Tom Koch 3-2 in the semi’s and Willie Stravino 12-2 in the finals.
The first round of the AAA state championship went as planned with Nazareth (5-for-7), Northampton and Parkland (each 4-for-4) and Easton (3-for-4) leading the way. Nazareth and Easton were both able to advance three wrestlers each to the semi-finals, but Nazareth star, Brad Silimperi got hit with a five-point move by Souderton’s Chad Clemens and dropped an 8-6 decision denying Silimperi a shot at his 4th straight final. Northampton’s Rian Youwakim turned the tables on North Penn’s Matt Finacchio 7-4. Youwakim, Easton’s Moss Grays, Nazareth’s Mike Herceg & Mike Miller and Parkland’s Jeff Kloiber advanced to the finals. Youwakim faced North Allegheny’s 3-time state champ, Ty Moore in the finals in a memorable finish as Moore countered a deep high crotch attempt, using a hip toss for a fall and his 4th title. District XI was able to place all 3 of its wrestlers at 119 as Youwakim was 2nd, Parkland’s Kyle Wolfe 3rd and Nazareth’s Ryan Nunamaker was 5th. Nazareth’s Herceg dropped a 15-5 decision to Upper Perk buzzsaw, Brad Rozanski. At 145, Easton’s Gray scored a 2nd period fall while at 152 Miller won his 2nd title with a 5-4 win. Kloiber lost for the 2nd week in a row to Shikellamy’s Jeff Walter. Nazareth finished 2nd in the team standings behind North Allegheny, and Easton was 5th. Ray Nunamaker was named Coach of the Year. Liberty’s Mike Evans and Easton’s Dan Goffredo finished 3rd while four other District XI wrestlers placed.
In AA state action, Catasauqua had four first round winners, and all three of District XI’s entries in the 130 pound class advanced. Pine Grove’s J.J. Fasnacht (119), Saucon Valley’s Tom Koch (130), Northwestern’s Matt Masters (135) and Allentown Central Catholic’s Rich Evans (189) all advanced to the finals. Only Fasnacht was able to emerge as a champion as he won 8-3 to finish 36-0 on the year. Evans dropped an 11-9 decision. Finishing 3rd were Pine Grove’s Ken Newswanager (who topped Catty’s Kyle Rusnock at 103), Northern Lehigh’s Ivan Rosario (119) and Wilson’s Kyle Werkheiser (160). Seven other District XI wrestlers placed.
Ed Moore and Greg Troxell (his 2nd) both won New Jersey state titles. Scott Frinzi placed 4th and Pat Maczko was 5th/6th.
In the Easton Lions Classic, PA rolled to a 43-11 win over New Jersey. Parkland’s Jeff Kloiber was named the top AAA wrestler as he scored a fall to help AAA defeat AA 35-13 in the Challenge of Champions. Pennsylvania had a huge 39-9 win over the US All-Stars in the Pittsburgh Press Classic. Moss Grays and Mike Miller both won decisions to help lead the PA squad.