December

On December 10th, Liberty and Pocono Mountain opened the season in an exciting non-league dual.  The teams split the first eight bouts, but Liberty led 20-12 thanks to bonus point wins.  The Cardinals had three wins in a row to take a 27-20 lead.  Nick D’Amico’s fall and Jason Bond’s major gave Liberty the 30-27 win for new coach Jody Karam.

Jody Karam
Liberty Opened the Season with a Win for New Coach Jody Karam (Photo Courtesy of Liberty HS Yearbook)

The next day, The Valley Youth House Elite Duals saw the Valley’s top teams, Easton, Nazareth and Northampton, again beat up on the visitors.  The local squads went 9-0 outscoring their opponents – Rock Hill SC, Long Beach NY and Pennridge – by a combined 547-54 score. 

Travis Doto
Travis Doto Displays How Local Teams Treated the Visiting Teams in the Elite Duals (Photo Courtesy of Nazareth HS Yearbook)

Also on the opening weekend, the 10th Annual ASD Tourney was held with Emmaus claiming the team title.  Coach Tom Schleicher’s squad had four champions – Tim Sullivan, Toby Kratzer, Alex Derr and Chuck Miller – as they outdistanced Dieruff 180.5-163.5.  Salisbury’s Brian Nesfeder won his 3rd title.  Pius X won the Bloomsburg Tourney. 

During the ’92-’93 season, Northampton went 24-0 and won every tournament they entered.  The Kids graduated 8 starters, but were still ranked 2nd in the state, but were not the pre-season favorite to win the EPC.  That honor went to Phillipsburg who had 10 starters returning.  Easton was also hit hard by graduation.  After 29 years, Liberty Coach Frank Gutierrez retired and was replace by Easton alum, Jody Karam.

Liberty Hurricanes with 4th Coach in School History (Photo Courtesy of Liberty HS Yearbook)

Nazareth was a heavy favorite to win its 14th straight Colonial League title which would be the Blue Eagles last.  Nazareth along with Northampton would be joining five Centennial League teams to form the Mountain Valley Conference for the 1994-95 season.  The remaining Centennial League teams would be joining the Colonial League.  In the Centennial League, Stroudsburg was favored to repeat with ten returning full-time starters.

On December 15th Easton signaled that it would be a force in the EPC as the Rovers hammered Parkland 43-12.  At 125, Easton’s Tony Rosado jumped out to a 7-0 lead over Parkland’s returning state place winner Matt Roth.  Roth rallied for an exciting 13-10 win.  The same evening, Nazareth topped Pocono Mountain 47-8 with Dan Tashner nipping Jon Laudenslager 2-1 in the marquee match-up at 135.

Nazareth was expected to beat Easton by a healthy margin, but the Rovers’ upsetters put them in a position to win the match.  After Jason Rute won the opening bout for the Rovers, the Blue Eagles strung together five wins in a row as Andy Cote (by fall over Jamar Billman), Brian Tashner, Sean Topping, Justin Hoff and Dan Tashner (by fall) to take a 21-3 lead.  Brad Weaver hit a lateral drop with 10 seconds left to upset Mark Getz 8-7 at 140 and then Russ Snyder got a defensive fall over Dave Cote at 145 to narrow the gap to 21-12.  Ben Duelley had a major decision and then Travis Doto won 10-6 over Blane Sandt at 160 to extend the lead to 28-12.  Easton was still mathematically alive and did win the final three bouts to narrow the final score to 28-24, but fell one bout short of the upset.

The same day, host Quakertown won their own tourney while Stroudsburg and Saucon Valley rounded out the top three.  The Mounties and Panthers each had three champs – Josh Lesoine (135), Kevin Lesoine (140) and Mark Miller (189) for Stroudsburg and Ben Chunko (103), Dan Ziegler (112) and Brian Szoke (171) for Saucon Valley.  Meanwhile, Bethlehem Catholic finished 2nd in the Carlisle Tournament to Solanco as Gary Olivi (103) and Sean Shea (119) won titles.  Phillipsburg was flexing their muscles in the Hunterdon-Warren County Tournament by running away with the team championship with seven champs.

Three days before Christmas, Nazareth and Phillipsburg were again back in Liberty’s Memorial Gym in front of 2,500 fans for another big dual.  As they had the year before, the Stateliners started quickly by winning the first three bouts to lead 12-0, including Mike Coyle’s 10-8 OT win over Brian Tashner at 119.  The teams split the next two bouts before Nazareth strung together five straight wins including falls by Mark Getz (140) and Ben Deulley (152) to lead 26-15.  Jason Garcia and Mark DeFrancisco won close decisions to narrow the lead to 26-21, but Zach Musselman’s fall clinched the match for the Blue Eagles 32-21. 

Holiday Tournaments

Thirty-four local teams were in action in holiday tournaments.  In the Christmas City Tourney, Northampton jumped out to a Day One lead by moving 11 wrestlers into the semi-finals, but surprisingly it was rookie coach Pete Stoelzl’s Pen Argyl squad was 2nd while Nazareth was 3rd.  The Kids soared ahead of the competition as they placed 12 of 13 wrestlers, had nine finalists and six champions.  Nazareth was able to move past Pen Argyl for 2nd place as they had seven finalists and four champs.  Dennis Liberto (112), Whitey Chlebove (130), Ryan Gumlock (152), Ryan Davis (160), Rick Umstead (171) and Craig Fenstermaker (189) all won titles for the Kids.  Chlebove edged AA state place winner, Placido Salamone from Pen Argyl, 5-3 while the Knights’ James Kocher handled Nazareth’s Mark Getz 6-0 in another battle of state placewinners.

Ryan Gumlock
Ryan Gumlock Was 1 of 6 Christmas City Champs for the Kids (Photo Courtesy of Northampton HS Yearbook)

Mount Carmel won the Kutztown Tourney, and Salisburgy’s Brian Nesfeder won his 3rd title and was named OW.  Pocono Mountain won the Tunkhannock Tournament as Greg Theony (125) and Jon Laudenslager (135) won individual titles.  Pleasant Valley again won the Jim Thorpe Christmas Tourney as Mark Remaley (112), Derrick Barkalow (145) and Kevin Serfass (Hwt) won titles; Palmerton and Jim Thorpe were 2nd and 3rd.    Easton’s Eric Thompson won the 171 title as Easton finished 3rd in the Manheim Central Holiday Tournament.  Stroudsburg again won the Warren Hills Tourney while   Parkland repeated in the Governor Mifflin Tourney.

Parkland Again Won the Gov. Mifflin Tourney Team Title (Photo Courtesy of Parkland HS Yearbook)

January

League action was in full swing on January 5th as dual action resumed.  In the EPC, Freedom rode bonus point wins to a 28-26 victory over Bethlehem Catholic while Phillipsburg clipped Parkland 33-28; Mike Coyle dealt Matt Roth his first loss of the season at 125 by a 7-2 score.  Pen Argyl stayed unbeaten and defeated Saucon Valley 43-18 in their first Colonial League bout.

Northampton again participated in the Cedar Cliff Duals and beat Dallastown 43-15 in the finals.  Parkland had three falls as they edged Pocono Mountain 30-28 in a competitive non-league meet.  On January 13th, the Kids gave Coach Don Rohn a birthday present as the easily defeated Phillipsburg 40-15 as Denny Liberto, Tim Mazzocchi, Jason Davis and Matt Smith all scored falls. 

Don Rohn
Northampton Delivered a Big “W” over Phillipsburg for Coach Rohn on His Birthday (Photo Courtesy of Northampton HS Yearbook)

The same day, Easton topped Bethlehem Catholic 39-18; Northern Lehigh defeated Pocono Mountain 36-21; and Nazareth cruised past Freedom 42-15.

On January 15th, Easton won 9 of 13 bouts as they downed Shikellamy 43-17.  Liberty started fast and held off a furious Stroudsburg rally to triumph 33-24.  Nazareth won two bouts in the Virginia Duals, and Pius X crowned five champions to win the title in their own tourney.

On January 19th, Coach Ray Nunamaker was seeking career win #400 against Pen Argyl, but bad weather canceled this and later in the week the Blue Eagles big match against Northampton.    The snow pretty much wiped out the entire slate of matches for the week of January 17th

Snow wiped out even more matches during the week of January 24th, but the Easton at Northampton match was wrestled on the 26th.  After Whitey Chlebove’s technical fall and Chad Gerstenberg’s fall, the Kids led 19-7 after the first six bouts.  Easton came back as Brad Weaver, Russ Snyder (by fall) and Mike Mertz all won to tie the score at 19-19.  Ryan Gumlock won a major decision and then Rick Umstead nipped Blane Sandt 5-4 at 171 to open up a 26-19 lead.  Eric Thompson’s third period takedown was the difference as he topped Craig Fenstermaker 3-2 in a marquee match, but the Kids triumphed 29-22.

Rick Umstead
Rick Umstead Had a Key Win in Northampton’s Win Over Easton (Photo Courtesy of Northampton HS Yearbook)

With weather continuing to impact schedules and travel, the Reilly Duals line up was altered but still featured nationally ranked Canon McMillan visiting to challenge Northampton and Easton.  The K-Kids were too much for the Mighty Macs and won 10 of 13 bouts, five by fall, to win 45-16.  Canon-McMillan led Easton 19-6 before the Rovers rallied to close the gap to 19-12.  However, they could get no closer and lost 32-24.  Stroudsburg, who had not wrestled in three weeks due to the weather, lost to both Northampton and Easton. 

The same day, Nazareth was also in action and defeated Bangor 57-6 for Coach Ray Nunamaker’s 400th career victory!  Liberty and Freedom faced off in a crosstown rivalry match.  The Hurricanes won five matches by two or fewer points, and Jason Bond’s 6-4 win over Rich Koehler at heavyweight was the deciding match in a 25-20 victory.   The Hurricanes and Bethlehem Catholic then had a 24-24 tie.  Becahi led 9-3 after Sean Shea’s fall, but Liberty won 5 of the next 6 bouts to lead 20-12.  The Hawks won the next three bouts before Jason Bond’s major decision deadlocked the score at 24.

As January came to a close, Pleasant Valley remained unbeaten at 11-0 as they defeated Lehighton 57-9.  February began with two big duals – the annual Easton-Phillipsburg match at Kirby Field House and Stroudsburg visited Northern Lehigh in a critical Centennial League match. 

Phillipsburg built leads of 19-6 and 22-10 before Mike Mertz, Blaze Clymer and Blane Sandt (in OT) won three decisions to narrow the gap to 22-19.  Needing to win at least one of the final two bouts, Coach Rick Thompson bumped Marc DeFrancisco up to heavyweight to battle the Rovers’ Chris Shannon instead of sending him out against Eric Thompson, who won by fall.  Shannon road out DeFrancisco in the 2nd overtime to win the bout and the match for the Rovers 28-22; it was Easton’s 6th straight win over the Stateliners.

Northern Lehigh’s Jeremy Bailey and Jeremy Dogmanits both scored falls in the opening two bouts to lead 12-0.  Visiting Stroudsburg then won six of the next seven bouts, including a fall by Josh Lesoine, to lead 23-16.  Ryan Kern had a fall for the Bulldogs, but Mark Miller countered with a fall for Stroudsburg.  After Rick Brensinger’s one point win at 185, the score stood at Stroudsburg 29-25 with the teams having each won six bouts.  It meant that undefeated heavyweight R.C. Price needed a major decision to win the match for the Bulldogs.  He fell one point short with an 8-1 win, and Stroudsburg remained unbeaten in the Centennial League by winning 29-28.

Ryan Kern’s Fall Kept the Bulldogs Close But They Dropped a 29-28 Decision to Stroudsburg (Photo Courtesy of N. Lehigh HS Yearbook)

February

On February 3rd, unbeaten Liberty (10-0-1) faced favored Phillipsburg.  Omar Poratta scored a fall to open the bout for the Hurricanes.  Damon Achey and Bob Werner both took favored P-Burg wrestlers into the 3rd period before losing 7-3 and 3-2 decisions, respectively.  After four bouts, Liberty led 9-6.  Jason Dudeck (140) and Mike Webb (152) both scored falls, and Liberty held a narrow 21-18 lead with four bouts to go.  Dan Huff, Jason Garcia and Mark DeFrancisco all won decisions before Jason Bond’s fall at heavyweight cut the final score to 29-27 P-Burg.

Only two days later, Northampton registered a stunning 57-6 win over that same Hurricane team that had taken Phillipsburg to the limit proving just how strong the Kids’ team was.  The same day Phillipsburg and Freedom met in a match which featured some match ups between highly ranked wrestlers.  Freedom won both bouts as Jon Horvath defeated top-ranked Pete Poretta 11-7 at 112 and Rich Kovacs decisioned Marc DeFrancisco 7-3 at 189, but the Stateliners won the meet 29-24.

After actually being able to wrestle a full week of bouts, the Winter of ’94 was back at it and the Northampton-Nazareth and Northern Lehigh-Pleasant Valley bouts were both postponed on February 9th.  On the 10th, Liberty was back it again and put a scare in another of the area’s top teams as they won the first six bouts to lead Easton 22-0.  The Rovers won the next five bouts to lead 25-22.  With Chris Shannon set to meet freshman phenom, Jason Bond, at heavyweight, the match was far from decided.  Coach Steve Powell sent banged-up Eric Thompson out at 189 to face Nick D’Amico, and Thompson responded with a fall for his 100th career win.  Shannon followed with a 5-3 overtime win, and Easton survived 34-22.

Pleasant Valley rode a balanced effort to a 29-18 win over Stroudsburg in a match that featured a number of close bouts, several upsets and a disqualification at 171 which resulted in a 10 point swing in the team score.  Just a day later, winter storm #12 snow would again result in the postponement of the Northampton-Nazareth match and most of the slate. 

After four delays, the Nazareth-Northampton match took place on Valentine’s Day up before 3,600 fans at Stabler Arena, and the match did not disappoint!   Ryan Reph and Denny Liberto (with the night’s only bonus point) gave the Kids a 7-0 lead.  Brian Tashner used a 2nd period headlock to defeat Dave Emili 7-5 at 119.  The Kids countered as Whitey Chlebove, who had dropped from 130, defeated fellow unbeaten Sean Topping 3-2.  Northampton led 10-3.  That’s when Dan Tashner, Justin Hoff, Mark Getz and Dave Cote strung together four straight decisions to give the Blue Eagles a 15-10 lead.  Unbeaten Ben Duelley had pinned Jason Davis last year, but Davis used a five-point play to complete the 9-4 upset.  Ryan Gumlock followed with a tight 6-5 decision over Travis Doto at 160, and the Kids regained the lead 16-15.  Craig Fentsermaker dropped to 171 and scored a 10-6 decision and then Rick Umstead won 9-5 to give Northampton an insurmountable 22-15 lead.  Zach Musselman won by decision at heavyweight and the final score was Northampton 22-18 in a dual which lived up to all hype!

Denny Liberto
Denny Liberto Was a Big Part of the Kids’ Strong Start in Matches Throughout the Season (Photo Courtesy of Northampton HS Yearbook)
Craig Fenstermaker
Craig Fenstermaker Weight Drop Paid Off In the Big Match (Photo Courtesy of Northampton HS Yearbook)

The same night in a key Centennial League match, Pleasant Valley and Northern Lehigh faced off.  Northern Lehigh opened a 10-0 lead on a forfeit and Jeremy Dogmanits’ major decision.  After two Pleasant Valley wins and a northern Lehigh major decision at 130, the Bulldogs led 14-7.  The Bears then won two close decisions – Doug Hunter 7-4 at 135 and Paul Gehart 3-1 OT at 140 to cut the lead to 14-13.  Northern Lehigh again responded as Jeremy Szoke and Ryan Kern won decisions to again extend the lead to 7 points.  Pleasant Valley then strung together Chris Iandoli’s decision at 160, Dave Iandoli’s default win at 171 and Kevin Serfass’ 5-3 decision over Brandon McManus at 5-3 to take a 25-20 lead.  The Bulldogs’ unbeaten R.C. Price needed a pin in order for his team to win.  Price had a big lead and had John Regina almost pinned, when Regina reversed and scored a fall of his own.  After losing a team point for fans running onto the mat, the Bears won 30-20, but still had to face Pocono Mountain.

Central Catholic had four pins, a technical fall and key 4-3 decision by Ryan Seagreaves over Josh Lesoine at 135 to top Stroudsburg 32-30.  One night later, Matt Roth edged Brian Tashner 3-2 at 119, but Parkland dropped a 38-9 match to Nazareth. 

Wrestling for the 3rd day in a row, Nazareth defeated Pen Argyl 44-9 to clinch their 14th Colonial League title in a row.  While Nazareth won the war by winning 10 of 13 bouts, Pen Argyl won a few key battles including two match-ups where the #2 ranked Bear wrestler upset the #1 ranked Blue Eagle wrestler.  At 125, Placido Salamone nipped Sean Topping 1-0, and at 135, James Kocher scored an early takedown to upset Dan Tashner 3-2. 

Nazareth Won Their 14th Colonial League Title in a Row (Photo Courtesy of Nazareth HS Yearbook)

Pleasant Valley hoped to win the Centennial League title outright, but Pocono Mountain had other ideas.  The Cardinals won the first six bouts with plenty of bonus points to jump out to a huge 33-0 lead.  The Bears won all but one of the remaining bouts (and that one went to overtime), but their comeback fell short, and Pocono Mountain had a 36-24 victory.   In other Centennial League action, Anthony Morici won by overtime at heavyweight to break a tie and give Notre Dame a 36-33 win over Lehighton.  Stroudsburg kept its hopes for a share of the title alive by crushing East Stroudsburg 69-6.

District Duals

In the New Jersey’s Group 3 North dual tourney, Phillipsburg scored a 63-0 win for their 11th sectional title in twelve years. 

On February 19th, the 5th Annual District Duals were held with carpooling encouraged due to the mountains of snow which remained around Liberty High School.

In the AAA quarterfinals, Easton easily defeated Pleasant Valley 51-10 winning all but two bouts while Liberty’s Jason Bond won an 11-9 decision to give the Hurricanes a 30-28 win over North Schuylkill.  The Rovers advanced to face Nazareth and they jumped out to leads of 6-0 and then 9-4 after Tony Rosado defeated Sean Topping 10-6 at 125.  Justin Hoff, Dan Tashner, Mark Getz and Dave Cote all won their bouts to give the Blue Eagles a 22-9 lead.  The Easton comeback began as Mike Mertz scored a fall over Ben Duelley at 152 and Eric Thompson, down at 160 for the first time, topped Travis Doto 14-7.  After a Blaze Clymer decision and Blane Sandt fall, the Rovers led 27-22 with one bout to go.  Chris Shannon closed out the match with a decision, and Easton advanced to the finals by a 30-22 score.  Meanwhile, Northampton was too much for Liberty as the Kids won 10 of 13 bouts on their way to a 38-13 win.

The Kids got off to a hot start in the finals as Ryan Reph, Denny Liberto, Dave Emili and Whitey Chlebove (by fall) all won their bouts to build a 16-0 lead.  The Kids won a number of close bouts through the middle weights and Craig Fenstermaker gained revenge against Eric Thompson 4-3 as Northampton won by a wider than expected 35-12 margin.  The victory was also Coach Don Rohn’s 200th win at Northampton (46-0 over the past two seasons and the Kids would go on to add two more wins and finish the two seasons at 48-0).

The Kids Were Perfect at 24-0 for the 2nd Year in a Row (Photo Courtesy of Northampton HS Yearbook)

In Class 2A, three-time defending champ Pine Grove was only the #3 seed and rolled to a 51-16 win, scoring seven falls in the process, over Saucon Valley in the quarterfinals.  The other quarterfinals saw Tri-Valley move past Wilson 40-27 with two falls and a decision in the final three bouts.  In the semi-finals, #1 seed Pen Argyl was tied 6-6 with Tri-Valley after three bouts and then ran off 10 straight wins to triumph 51-6.  Northern Lehigh led Pine Grove 7-0 after two bouts, but after falls by Rusty Huber (125), A.J. Hewes (130) and Rob Anspach (140) trailed 19-10.  The Bulldogs were able to narrow the team score to 25-19 after Ryan Kern’s pin but could get no closer, and Pine Grove won 34-25.

Pine Grove had between Pen Argyl in the 1993 finals, and the match was very tight through the first 10 bouts.  Pine Grove’s Coach Duane Mauer had passed the torch to long-time assistant, Steve Donofrio, but the result would be the same.  The Green Knights won several of the marquee match ups of the night as Placido Salamone edged Rusty Huber 4-3, giving Pen Argyl a 9-6 lead after 4 bouts, and James Kocher bumped up to 140 and majored Rob Anspach 14-4, pulling the Knights within 14-13.  Pen Argyl retook the lead at 19-17 after Matt Beltz’s decision at 160.  Matt Warner, Matt Lehman and Joe Flynn all won by decision and the Cardinals won the title 27-19.

Phillipsburg moved to the finals of the Region 3 championship, but lost for the 2nd year in a row.  This time Brick Memorial got a decision and fall in the final two bouts to cap a 32-28 comeback win.

Due to the prior weather delays, there were still a good number of rescheduled duals to be wrestled.  On February 22nd, there were two very interesting non-league duals.  Pocono Mountain led Freedom  33-25 with only two bouts to go.  Rick Kovacs major decision and Rick Koehler’s fall gave the Patriots a 35-33 win.  Bethlehem Catholic led Saucon Valley 27-3 and survived a fierce rally to triumph 31-28.

One night later, in another non-league bout, Liberty won three of the first four bouts to lead Nazareth 10-3.  The Blue Eagles then reeled off seven wins in a row and won the match 31-16.  The same night, Easton and Freedom met in an EPC match up which the Rovers won 39-17.

The Centennial League’s annual tournament saw Stroudsburg crown three champions (Josh Nordmak, Kevin Lesoine and Mark Miller) and placed eight other wrestlers to win the team title over Pocono Mountain.  The Cardinals’ Jon Laudenslager won his 4th league title beating Stroudsburg’s Josh Lesoine 6-4.  Notre Dame’s Scott Salebsky also won his 4th title (his first was in an exhibition weight class).

Freedom had another comeback with falls in the final two bouts (Kovacs & Koehler) to beat Saucon Valley 33-28.  Dieruff easily beat Allen 42-17 in their annual rivalry bout.

John Flamish
John Flamish Helped Lead the Huskies to Win Over Rival Allen (Photo Courtesy of Dieruff HS Yearbook)

The final league standings were as follows:

East PennPlaceW-L-D
Northampton111-0
Easton210-1
Phillipsburg37-2 (*)
Liberty47-3-1
Freedom57-4
Parkland66-5
Bethlehem Catholic75-4-1 (*)
Emmaus84-6 (*)
Dieruff93-8
William Allen102-9
Allentown Central Catholic111-10
Whitehall120-11
Colonial
Nazareth18-0
Pen Argyl27-1
Wilson36-2
Bangor45-3
Saucon Valley54-4
Salisbury63-5
Catasauqua72-6
Southern Lehigh81-7
Palisades90-8
Centennial
Pleasant Valley1T7-1
Pocono Mountain1T7-1
Northern Lehigh3T6-2
Stroudsburg3T6-2
Lehighton5T3-5
Notre Dame5T3-5
Palmerton5T3-5
Northwestern81-7
East Stroudsburg90-8

(*) – Phillipsburg’s league bouts against Bethlehem Catholic & Emmaus were cancelled due to inclement weather and were not made up.

League champions overall records were:  Northampton (24-0), Nazareth (21-2), Pleasant Valley (15-2) and Pocono Mountain (10-7).  Other teams with very good records were Pen Argyl (20-3), Easton (18-4), Phillipsburg (17-5), Liberty (16-5-1), Parkland (15-7), Northern Lehigh (14-3), Emmaus (14-7), Freedom (14-7) and Bethlehem Catholic (11-5-1).

Districts

Five District champs and five runner-ups led a very talented returning group of wrestlers to the AAA tournament.  In AA, seven defending District Champs returned, including two defending state champs in Salisbury’s Brian Nesfeder and Mt. Carmel’s Mike Garcia.

As expected after Day 1 in AAA action, Northampton, Easton and Nazareth claimed the top three spots.  The Kids and Rovers each had eight semi-finalists while Nazareth had seven.  Northampton had two six seeds upset #3 seeds as Dave Emili and Rick Umstead (via cement job) both won.  The Kids pulled away from the field in the semi-finals as they went 7 for 8 on their way to advancing 10 wrestlers to regionals on their way to repeating as team champions by a 76-point margin.  Four of the five defending champs were again on top of the podium including Whitey Chlebove who won his 4th district title 8-4 over Easton’s Brad Weaver.  Nazareth’s Dan Tashner (125) won his 2nd title in four final appearances; Easton’s Eric Thompson (160) preserved “The Streak”; and Northampton’s Craig Fenstermaker (171) won his 2nd title.  Pocono Mountain’s Jon Laudenslager upended Mark Getz 12-2 at 135 to deny a 5th repeat titlist.

Dan Tashner
4-Time District Finalist Dan Tashner Won his 2nd Title (Photo Courtesy of Nazareth HS Yearbook)

The Kids Denny Liberto (in OT over Jamar Billman at 103), Dave Emili (having defeated the #1, 2 and 3 seeds at 119 & earning the Outstanding Wrestler award) and Ryan Gumlock (by fall at 152) gave Northampton at total of five champions.  Parkland’s Matt Roth edged Freedom’s Jon Horvath 7-6; Stroudsburg’s Kevin Lesoine (140), Nazareth’s Dave Cote (145), Allen’s Aldain Lobban (185) and Pottsville’s Randy Homa (Hwt) rounded out the champions.

Aldain Lobban
Aldain Lobban, Shown Here Wrestling Up at Hwt, Won a District Title for the Canaries at 189 (Photo Courtesy of Allen HS Yearbook)

The AA tourney saw Pine Grove, with nine semi-finalists, and Pen Argyl, with seven semi-finalists, neck and neck in the team race.  There were several upsets as defending champ Jeremy Dogmanits from Northern Lehigh was upset 7-4 by Wilson’s Ryan Garis at 103.  Wilson’s Steve Klass, a #8 seed, upended top-seeded Dave Masser from Tri-Valley 9-5.  The Cardinals were able to advance six wrestlers to the finals and ultimately qualified eleven wrestlers for regionals as they won the team title for the 3rd year in a row.  First year coach, Steve Donofrio was named Coach of the Year as Dennis Schneck (135), Matt Warner (160) and Matt Lehman (189) won titles.  Pen Argyl suffered several injuries but was still able to finish 2nd as they crowned four champions in Scott Kupec (119), Placido Salamone (125), James Kocher (130) and Matt Beltz (152).   

At 140, Saucon Valley’s Joey Killar took down Salisbury’s favored Brian Nesfeder for a four point play and led 6-0 on his way to an 8-4 victory and the Outstanding Wrestler Award.  Two-time state champ Mike Garcia of Mt. Carmel won be default over Pen Argyl’s James Powell at 145.  Catasauqua’s Frank Piff (103), Notre Dame’s Scott Salabsky (112), Mahoney Area’s Joe Weidle (171) and Pius X’s Steve Smith (Hwt) rounded out the champions. 

Regionals

The first day of the 1994 Northeast AAA Regionals saw a dominant performance by the District XI grapplers.  Local teams claimed 37 of 52 semi-final slots while District 4 had 13 and District 2 had only two.  Two Nazareth wrestlers fell victim to upsets as Dave Cote and Travis Doto were both upset by District 4 foes. 

Northampton advanced five wrestlers to the finals and four more to the consolation finals in running away with the team title.  District XI was able to advance 19 wrestlers to the finals and a earned a total of 25 state qualifiers.  District 4 claimed the other 14 qualifiers while District 2 was shut out.

In the finals, there were five rematches of District XI finals.  Denny Liberto and Matt Roth were both able to increase their margins of victory over Jamar Billman and Jon Horvath, respectively, at the first two weights as did Whitey Chlebove at 130 over Brad Weaver.   Chlebove won his 4th regional title!  Two wrestlers were able to reverse the prior week’s results as Nazareth’s Mark Getz defeated Pocono Mountain’s Jon Laudenslager 4-2 at 135, and Stroudsburg’s Mark Miller had a takedown in overtime to upend Northampton’s Craig Fenstermaker 6-4. 

The Kids’ Ryan Gumlock defeated Central Catholic’s Fran Volpe 16-5 while Easton’s Eric Thompson defeated Dieruff’s John Flamish 12-4 at 152 and 160.  Northampton’s Dave Emili (119), Allen’s Aldain Lobban (189) and Pottsville’s Randy Homa (Hwt) rounded out the District XI winners.   

Fran Volpe
Central Catholic’s Fran Volpe Made the Finals but Lost to Ryan Gumlock (Photo Courtesy of ACC HS Yearbook)

In the Southeast AA Regionals, many of the local teams also fared as well as their AAA counterparts in Day 1 action.  Northern Lehigh and Saucon Valley both advanced 6 of 7 wrestlers and Pen Argyl advanced 5 of 6 wrestlers.  District team champ Pine Grove only went 6 for 11 and saw defending regional champ, Rusty Huber, pinned at 125 and District champ, Matt Lehman upset at 189.  Despite the upsets, Pine Grove took the Day 1 lead in the team race.

Pine Grove had a better Day 2 as they had four finalists and four in the consolation finals to easily win the team championship.  Pen Argyl nipped Northern Lehigh for 2nd.  The AA District XI wrestlers matched last year’s strong performance as they claimed 30 of 39 regional slots.  In addition, they had 10 of 13 champions.  Salisbury’s Brian Nesfeder avenged his District final’s loss to Saucon Valley’s Joey Killar 7-5 at 140.  Northern Lehigh had champs at the first and last weights in Jeremy Dogmanits (103) and R.C. Price (Hwt).  Tri-Valley had back-to-back titlists as Josh Miller (112) and Dave Masser (119) both won their bouts.  Pen Argyl’s Placido Salamone lost 3-2 to unbeaten Jamie Canady of Oxford, but James Kocher (130) and Matt Beltz (152) were able to give the Knights titles.  Team champ Pine Grove also crowned two champs in Dennis Schneck (135) and Matt Warner (160).  Defending State Champ Mike Garcia of Mt. Carmel cruised to the 145 pound crown.

R.C. Price Won Regional Title at Hwt (Photo Courtesy of N. Lehigh HS Yearbook)

States

Northampton went a perfect 7 for 7 in the opening round of AAA action while the remaining contingent was a very solid 13 for 17.   It was a rough quarterfinal round as only eight District XI wrestlers advanced to the semi-finals.  Northampton’s Dennis Liberto (103), Dave Emili (119) and Whitey Chlebove (130) and Nazareth’s Dan Tashner (125) and Mark Getz (135) also advanced.  At 112, Jon Horvath upset Northern Allegheny’s Teague Moore 3-2 while Matt Roth won 5-3.  At 171, Stroudsburg’s Mark Miller rounded out the semi-finalists.

Both the Kids and Blue Eagles were able to advance two wrestlers to the finals in Dave Emili & Whitey Chlebove and Dan Tashner & Mark Getz, respectively.  Dennis Liberto lost 7-4 to McGuffey’s very tough Jeremy Hunter 7-4.  Parkland’s Matt Roth and Stroudsburg’s Mark Miller also advanced. 

In the finals, Matt Roth’s 9-6 win gave Parkland its second state champ in school history.  Jason Lamotta of Conestoga, who was pinned by the Kids’ Mike Tomsic in the 1993 finals, edged Dave Emili 7-5 at 119.  Local wrestlers then won the next three weights as Dan Tashner scored a 3rd period reversal to win 2-1; Whitey Chlebove won 10-4; and Mark Getz won 3-2.  Stroudsburg’s Mark Miller dropped a close 5-4 decision.  The Kids’ Dennis Liberto and Ryan Gumlock both placed 3rd for Northampton who won the team title for the 2nd year in a row.  Coach Don Rohn was again named Coach of the Year as the Kids completed their 2nd straight perfect season.  Nazareth was 5th in the team standings. Other placers were Easton’s Jamar Billman (4th-103) and Eric Thompson (3rd-160) and Freedom’s Jon Horvath (4th-112).

Matt Roth
Matt Roth Won the 112 AAA State Title for the Trojans (Photo Courtesy of Parkland HS Yearbook)
Whitey Chlebove
Whitey Chlebove Won the 130 Pound State Title (Photo Courtesy of Northampton HS Yearbook)

In AA, Pine Grove followed their strong regional performance with five first round winners while Northern Lehigh and Pen Argyl each advanced three wrestlers to the quarterfinals.  Eight District XI wrestlers won their quarterfinal bouts, including defending state champs Brian Nesfeder and Mike Garcia.  Nesfeder and Garcia then won their semi-final bouts as well along with Northern Lehigh’s Jeremy Dogmanits (103) and Tri-Valley’s Josh Miller (112).  Pen Argyl’s James Kocher upset two-time state champ, Biff Walizer 8-4, but was called for an illegal slam in his semi-final bout and lost when his opponent could not continue.

In the finals, Nesfeder won his 2nd state title with a 13-7 decision while Garcia claimed his 3rd title and was named Outstanding Wrestler.  Tri-Valley’s Miller claimed the District’s 3rd gold medal, but Jeremy Dogmanits dropped a 7-5 decision in overtime to finish 2nd.  Pen Argyl’s James Kocher (135) defeated Bidd Walizer for the 2nd time to take 3rd place while teammates Placido Salamone was 4th and Matt Beltz was 5th as the Green Knights were 4th in the team race.   Other local place winners included Saucon Valley’s Joe Killar (4th-140), Notre Dame’s Scott Salabsky (5th-112), Northern Lehigh’s Mike Altif (5th-130).  Pine Grove had 3 place winners while Tri-Valley and Mahoney Area each had one.

Brian Nesfeder
Brian Nesfeder Would Go on to Win His 2nd State Title (Photo Courtesy of Salisbury HS Yearbook)

Phillipsburg Post Season

Phillipsburg gained a measure of revenge on Delaware Valley Regional, last year’s team champ, as the Liners easily won the District 1 NJ team title.  Phillipsburg advanced twelve wrestlers to the regionals and had five champions – Pete Poretta (112), Mike Coyle (119), Ryan Wardlow (125), Tim Flynn (130) and Jason Garcia (171).  In a clean sweep, Coyle was the OW, and Coach Rick Thompson was Coach of the Year.

In the Region 1 championships, Poretta, Coyle and Marc DeFrancisco (189) all won titles.  Flynn and Travis Spencer (135) were 2nd while Mike Schatzabel (145) and Garcia were both 3rd.

In the state finals, Pete Poretta had a dominating performance to win 10-2 and repeat as the 112-pound state champion.  Mike Coyle led defending state champion, Damion Logan, 4-2 at 119 entering the third period.  He locked up a tight waist tilt and was able to score the fall to give Coach Rick Thompson two champions on the night.  In addition, Tim Flynn and Marc DeFrancisco took 5th/6th.

With as many as eight state or national prep school champions scheduled to compete, the 14th annual Easton Lions Classic promised to be an exciting event.  Jeff Karam coached the New Jersey team while Steve Powell coached the PA team.  In match-ups of state champions, Parkland’s Matt Roth decisioned Phillipsburg’s Pete Poretta 9-4, Nazareth’s Dan Tashner defeated Mark Piotrowski 8-6; and Brent Conly downed Northampton’s Whitey Chlebove 8-4.  Salisbury’s Brian Nesfeder was named the Outstanding Wrestler as he pinned National Prep School champ, Adrian Miles.  Pennsylvania defeated New Jersey 29-20 to open up an 8-6 lead in the all-time Classic series.   

On March 26th, the Pittsburgh Classic took place with four local wrestlers competing.  It was a mixed bag as the local participants split their bouts and the PA team dropped a 36-18 dual to the USA team.  Parkland’s Matt Roth and Northampton’s Whitey Chlebove (by fall) both won their bouts while Nazareth’s Dan Tashner and Mark Getz both lost close decisions.

On March 27th, a number of local wrestlers participate in the AAA-AA Challenge of Champions.  Parkland’s Matt Roth decisioned Notre Dame’s Scott Salabsky 4-3 at 112 while Nazareth’s Dan Tashner (125), Pen Argyl’s James Kocher (130) and Nazareth’s Mark Getz (135) all won their bouts.  Tashner was the AAA OW while Kocher was the AA OW as AAA defeated AA 21-19.

On March 31st, Tashner, Chlebove, Kocher and Getz were all in action again as the Lehigh Valley squad defeated the Berks County team 42-13 to win the all-star meet for the 3rd straight year.

Tashner was the “iron man” of the group competing in the Easton Lions, Pittsburgh Classic, Challenge of Champions and Lehigh-Berks meets going 3-1.