Joe Stofko –> Tom Riegel (Catasauqua)
Mike Feifel –> B.J. Nalesnik (Lehighton)
Don Rohn –> Terry Daubert (Northampton)
John Toggas –> Jim Best (Parkland)
Mike Stambaugh –> Deno Palmisano (Pius X)
Joe Billy –> Kirk Stehman (William Allen)
The Konkrete Kids had a fantastic 1999-2000 season with Coach Don Rohn going out on top. The Kids graduated 4 state place winners, but returned 4 more along with 5 other district placers. Easton was the pre-season favorite to unseat the Kids as they returned 10 starters and added transfer Bryan Rizzo from Southern Lehigh and several talented freshmen, including Mike Rogers and Sean Richmond. The Rovers were ranked #2 in the nation and would face an incredibly challenging schedule over and above their already tough MVC slate. Nazareth, with eight returning starters, and Freedom, with ten returning starters, were expected to battle for 3rd place. Liberty and Parkland both lost a lot of talent, and the Trojans’ long-time coach John Toggas passed the torch to Jim Best. State Champs Ryan McCallum and Jake Giamoni along with state runner-ups Tommy Rohn, Brandon Mihalko and Paul Velekei were among the graduates.
Wilson defeated favored Northern Lehigh to win the Colonial League title in 2000. With thirteen returning starters, including ten District placers, the Warriors were favored to defend their league title. Northern Lehigh lost five starters with 27+ wins each, but still returned seven starters and three blue chippers. They were expected to battle Bangor, who returned eight starters, for 2nd place. Pen Argyl was looking to finish in the top 3 again with six returning starters.
Bethlehem Catholic had won the streamlined EPC in 2000 by nipping Dieruff to win the league title. Pottsville, coached by Mark Cesari, was added as a 6th team in the EPC while still competing in the Schuylkill League. Bethlehem Catholic, Dieruff and Emmaus, who returned all but one starter, were expected to battle for the league title. Bethlehem Catholic dropped down to AA for the post-season in Tony Iasiello’s 38th season coaching the Hawks; Kirk Stehman was the only rookie coach as he took the helm at Allen.
Host Brandywine won their 2nd title in a row in the Bullet Invitational with four finalists and two champions – Joey Lovello (160) and Anthony Corpora (171). Wilson West Lawn was 2nd while Northern Lehigh finished 3rd. For the Bulldogs, Justin Herzog (125) and Ryan Hluschak (145) won titles, but defending state champ, Jared Herzog dropped a 6-5 decision to Northern Lebanon’s Jim Collins 6-5. Emmaus was 4th with Derrick Reinsmith (160) and Andy Freas (Hwt) winning crowns.
In the Wilson Tournament, host Wilson regained the top spot with six champions. finished 2nd as Jeremy Hartrum (112), Ryan Garis (125), Justin Hartrum (130), Derrick Whisenant (135), Heath Lohrman (145) and Ed Johnson (171) won titles. Liberty finished 2nd with three champions – Mike Pena (103), Marc Israel (140) and Blaise Derrico (152). Whitehall’s Michael Perinotti (130) and Christian Franco (140) won championships in the Top Hat Tourney. Palisades crowned five champs to again with the New Hope Tournament. Paul Silfer (103), Liam DeRenzis (119), Chris Halsworth (130), Justin Campbell (135) and Scott Roher (189) all won their individual weights.
Nazareth again kicked off its season with a dual against Pen Argyl, and the Blue Eagles triumphed 42-10 in a non-league match. Joe Provini edged Jeff Santo 6-4 at 119 in a feature match-up. Four days later, Wilson reeled off eight straight wins from 112-152 to defeat Nazareth for the first time in 29 seasons by a 37-19 score. Bob Frey, Cory Garis, Ed Labatch and Derrick Whisenant had key wins. Pottsville made its EPC wrestling debut by defeating Allentown Central Catholic 34-27 as Josh Evans fall in the final bout clinched the dual.
On December 9th, the #1 ranked teams in AA and AAA faced off at the 2th Street Gym as Coach Dave Crowell’s Wilson Warriors visited Coach Steve Powell’s Easton Rovers. An overflow sellout crowd was on hand as the visitors started quickly with Joe Kushernick scoring a fall at 103, and Jeremy Hartrum edging Chad Sportelli 3-2 at 112 to give the Warriors a 9-0 lead. Bryan Rizzo and Matt Ciasulli each scored one point wins over Bob Frey and Cory Garis to narrow the gap to 9-6. Wilson’s Jeremy Hartrum (130) and Heath Lorhman (152) won close bouts, but in between Gino Fortebuono, Dan Brown and Isaac Csezmadia had three straight wins. After nine bouts, Easton led 17-15. Matt Lear had a huge fall at 160 and then Ryan Kilpatrick’s and Justin McLennan’s decisions put the match away. Andew Marsteller had a fall at heavyweight to narrow the final score to Easton 29 Wilson 21. The Rovers won the battle in what was a competitive match with seven bouts decided by two points or less.
Dieruff won the East Penn Duals with wins over Palmerton, Northwestern and Emmaus. Northern Lehigh edged Lehighton 32-29 on R.J. Defrain’s decision at heavyweight. Northampton defeated Shikellamy 51-14 and Milton 32-24. Notre Dame was 2nd in the Fort Meade Tournament at Jared Casciole (119), Kyle Messa (140), Jason Van Syckle (160) and Graham DePaolo (189) won titles. Stroudsburg won the Times Leader Invitational 192-185 over Pine Grove as Steve Ward (130), Joey Rivera (135) and Mike Yetter (Hwt) won championships.
On December 13th Nazareth started quick against Easton by scoring two falls for a 12-0 lead. The Rovers bounced back to win eight straight bouts including Matt Ciasulli’s fall over Eric Frick which avenged a dual loss from the prior year. The Blue Eagles won the final three bouts, but as they had the year before, Easton’s middleweights were too much as the Rovers triumphed 32-24. Freedom won the first two bouts against Northampton, but the Kids won the next five bouts to lead 22-9. Freedom won 3 of the next 4 bouts to narrow the gap to 22-18, but Phil Hard’s fall and Joe Lukachik’s OT decision iced the match for the Kids 31-18. Northern Lehigh’s late match heroics won another close one 28-26 over Pen Argyl in a Colonial League match up. Parkland upended Pocono Mountain 37-18 in a non-league match.
On December 17th, a growing number of local teams made the trip to the Beast of the East. brought some of the best teams in the country to Delaware. St Edward’s led after Day 1 as Northampton’s six quarterfinalists led the local contingent. St. Edward’s and Blair Academy finished as the top two team, but Northampton was a close 3rd. The Kids had three champs in Aaron Suranofsky who used a cement job to top Northern Lehigh’s Justin Herzog 6-5 at 119, Seth Lisa (130) and Phil Hard (189). Travis Frick won at 171 to lead Nazareth to a 5th place finish while Wilson was 6th. Seventeen other local wrestlers placed.
On December 20th, Northern Lehigh traveled to Bangor in a Colonial League showdown. Match-ups were one of the keys and Coach Todd Herzog controlled the all-important match-ups at 125-130 and 145-152. The Bulldogs led 13-0, and Northern Lehigh got a major decision from Justin Herzog over previously unbeaten Christian Fehrenbacher. Joey Puskas followed with a tech fall. The Bulldogs led 20-0, but Bangor rallied to win 5 of the next 7 bouts to narrow the lead to 28-25. R.J. DeFrain again closed out another close match with a 4-2 win as his team won 31-25.
Easton, Bethlehem Catholic and Upper Perkiomen all traveled to Reno for the TOC. The Rovers finished 3rd as Gino Fortebuono won the 135-pound title. Chad Sportelli (103), Matt Ciasulli (125), Bryan Hart (130), Dan Brown (140) and Issac Csezmadia (145) all placed in the top 8. For Upper Perk, Derek Zinck won the 152-pound title and Mark Smith placed at 145.
National #1 Blair Academy topped Nazareth easily 49-9.
Stroudsburg’s Andy Ludlow (189) and Mike Yetter (Hwt) won their championship bouts as the Mounties defeated Lehighton 146-138 for the team title in the 31-team Christmas City Tournament. East Stroudsburg South was 3rd while Pius X, with only eight wrestlers but four finalists, finished 4th. Octorara’s Jason Smith defeated Stroudsburg’s Joey Rivera 6-2 in a battle of state place winners and was named the Outstanding Wrestler.
Blair Academy had too much firepower for the field and crowned five champions on their way to a 50+ point win in the Bethlehem Holiday Classic. Northampton finished 2nd with four champions. Aaron Suranofsky defeated defending state champ Jared Herzog of Northern Lehigh 5-0 at 119. He had defeated twin brother, Justin Herzog a week ago in the Beast of the East finals. Jeff Ecklof defeated Blair’s Mark Perry and Wilson’s Justin Hartrum to win the 130-pound crown. Josh Haines (160) and Phil Hard (189) also won titles. Wilson was 3rd as Jeremy Hartrum won the 112-pound titled and placed nine other wrestlers. Freedom’s Craig Kunsman scored a 10-2 win over Northampton’s Seth Lisa to win at 140.
Easton had another dominant performance to again win the Manheim Lions Holiday Wrestling Tournament with five champions and twelve placers, which tied a tourney record. Bryan Rizzo (119), Matt Ciasulli (112), OW Gino Fortebuono (135), Dan Brown (140) and Ryan Kilpatrick (171) all won for the Rovers. Parkland was 5th with Matt Spengler (103) and Kyle Huddle (145) winning titles.
St. Edward’s won the Powerade Tournament; Whitehall’s Christian Franco was 1st at 135 and was named Outstanding Wrestler.
On January 3rd, Northampton cruised past Whitehall 57-3, and in a marquee match-up at 140, Seth Lisa edged Christian Franco 7-6. In another MVC match up, Parkland clipped Lehighton 46-12. In the Colonial League, Northern Lehigh defeated Northwestern 43-12. In the EPC, Pottsville improved to 3-0 in the league by defeating Bethlehem Catholic 39-27.
The first weekend in January boasted 71 dual meets on the schedule between the Easton-P-Burg and Zephyr Duals. Co-host Easton went 3-0 and topped three very good teams in Connelsville 52-9, North Allegheny 57-12 and St. Mark’s 40-22. Co-host Phillipsburg also went 3-0 while Nazareth, who had struggled early on, went 4-0. The Blue Eagles defeated Lake Stevens (Wash) 44-18, Council Rock 60-0, North Allegheny 51-13 and Upper Perkiomen 37-22. Upper Perk was in the match trailing only 24-22 before Nazareth swept the last 3 bouts; Travis Frick defeated Council Rock’s Rocky Mantellla 3-2.
AA power Wyalusing was too much for the locals as they defeated Bangor 43-21 in the finals while host Whitehall finished 3rd. Northampton again won the Cedar Cliff Duals by topping the hosts in the finals 44-13.
One day later, Easton returned to their home gym after a long stint on the road and easily defeated Liberty 56-8. A few days later, Liberty dropped a 33-12 match to an improving Freedom squad. With falls in the final two bouts, Bethlehem Catholic defeated Dieruff 39-27 in an EPC match. In the Colonial League, Bangor downed Northwestern 46-24 while Northern Lehigh trimmed Palisades 35-24.
Another weekend and another big set of duals were on tap at the Easton-Parkland Duals. St. Edward’s defeated Northern Lehigh 66-5 before taking on Northampton and Easton. The Kids led 16-14 before St. Ed’s reeled off five straight wins from 145-189 to win 33-19. Easton led St. Ed’s 27-18 after Ryan Kilpatrick’s fall at 171, but the visitors rallied with a major decision and fall to escape with a 28-27 victory. Earlier in the day, the Rovers had defeated Parkland 39-14 in a key MVC match. Upper Perk rallied to win the final five bouts to defeat Parkland 30-22. Pleasant Valley defeated Wyalusing 35-26, Germantown Academy 37-23 and Bethlehem Catholic 42-20.
In the Virginia Duals, Nazareth dropped a 35-33 match with Grundy in the semi-finals but bounced back to defeat Parkersburg South 34-26 and St. Mark’s 36-24 to take 3rd place.
The same day, in a back and forth bout at Nazareth, the Blue Eagles came out on top of Phillipsburg 27-19. Jeremy Messinger had a key win over Frank Stillo 12-9 at 130 to give Nazareth a 15-9 lead. Phillipsburg won the next two bouts to take their only lead of the match 16-15, but Nazareth won 3 of the final 4 bouts including Dan Miller’s 8-6 win over Craig Kempinski at 189 and Jaime Kleinle’s 2-1 double overtime win over Rob Stantini at heavyweight. Notre Dame repeated their team win in the Wayne Yeisley Jr. Memorial Tournament and outdistanced Emmaus who finished 2nd.
January 12th featured bouts critical to the league title race in both the Colonial and East Penn Leagues. Pen Argyl led Wilson 18-15, and Coach Darrin Evans did some line up juggling to try close out the win. Seth DeBoer, in the lineup for the first time this season, hit a 5-point move against favored Ed Johnson at 171, but Johnson came back to win 11-6. Chad DeFelice then bumped up to 189 but lost a close 5-3 decision to Andrew Marstellar. The Warriors’ Mike Bertolino scored a first period fall to give Wilson the 27-18 victory. Defending league champ Northern Lehigh downed Salisbury 58-12, and Bangor handled Saucon Valley 51-10.
In the East Penn League, Bethlehem Catholic had falls in the first two bouts, but Dieruff roared back and led 24-19 with only three bouts to go. The Hawks were able to score three close decisions to win 28-24. Chris Liberto defeated Kelvin Burton 7-2 at 171; Tim Kress edged Matt Reiss 6-3 at 189; and Dan Dazet scored a reversal with 18 seconds to go to nip Jesse Glass 5-4 at heavyweight. In competitive MVC matches, Freedom went to 13-0 on the season by downing Lehighton 45-22, and Nazareth was too much for Liberty 39-12.
Twenty-seven schools from five states were in town on January 14 and 15th for the Easton-Phillipsburg Duals at Lafayette’s Kirby Field House. #1 St. Edward’s Ohio was in town and topped Blair Academy in the Buc’s home gym 35-23 as a prelude to the event. They then cruised past #6 Easton 42-13 and Grundy Va 60-6 before beating Northampton 32-18. In the bout with the Kids, St. Ed’s won the first four bouts by a combined 9 points. Northampton won 3 of the next 4 bouts to close to 16-10, but could get no closer than that. Northampton defeated Walsh Jesuit 41-21 and Connellsville 49-12. Phillipsburg beat both Bald Eagle Area 44-12 and Walsh Jesuit 33-29. Easton was able to top Walsh Jesuit 30-24 but lost to Connellsville 34-30 while Nazareth was 2-0, Liberty 1-1 and Northern Lehigh defeated Council Rock in their only match 44-18.
On January 17th, Easton and Northampton squared off in their annual match up. Rovers’ Coach Steve Powell dropped a number of their wrestlers down a weight and inserted freshmen Mike Rogers and Sean Richmond into the lineup. The result was a 38-17 victory against the banged up K-Kids. The Rovers jumped out to a 20-0 lead as Chad Sportelli (by fall), Bryan Rizzo (by decision), Matt Ciasuilli (by fall) and Bryan Hart (by tech fall) all won their bouts. Jeff Ecklof led 5-2 over Gino Fortebuono, who then rallied to tie the bout and send it into OT where Ecklof won 6-5. Seth Lisa and Bobby Zuber both defeated the new freshmen additions to the Easton lineup but could only manage one bonus point. In between, Dan Brown scored another fall. Easton led 26-10 after 145. The teams traded bouts over the next four matches with Ryan Wasser and Phil Hard winning for Northampton, and Matt Lear and Ryan Kilpatrick winning for Easton. Justin McLennan’s bumped up to 275 and nipped Joe Lukachik 3-2 as the Rovers wrapped up a 38-17 victory.
The same night, Freedom scored its first victory over Nazareth since 1983 by winning 31-27 in another big MVC match up. The Patriots’ Ross Strebig, Renaldo Merced and Jared Ackerman (with a big 3-1 OT win over Joe Provini) led 10-0 after three bouts. Nazareth won the next three bouts, including a fall by Brett Frack, and the Blue Eagles led 12-10. Freedom’s Craig Kunsman, Dave Koehler and John Steiner scored falls in 3 of the next 4 weights to clinch the match. Nazareth won the final three bouts, but Coach Jeff Karam’s Patriots had scored a 31-27 upset.
Parkland started quick and held off Stroudsburg 29-25. In close EPC duals, Allen downed Allentown Central Catholic 33-32, and Dieruff edged Emmaus 34-27.
On January 20th, Easton led Blair Academy 18-9 after the 140-pound bout, but saw the tough Blair Academy upper weights rally the Bucs to a 38-18 win in the Final Four at Stabler Arena. The Rovers won their other matches 54-13 over Archbishop Moeller and 51-16 over Midwest City, OK.
Wilson was in the Ultimate Duals and defeated perennial AA contenders Brookville 53-12 and Reynolds 21-21 (most bouts won). Dieruff went 2-1 and finished 2nd to Governor Mifflin, coached by Dieruff alumnus Ralph Voit, in the Indian Valley Duals. Nazareth won the first five bouts to lead Phillipsburg 19-0, but the ‘Liners rallied with four straight bonus-point wins to take a 21-19 lead after 152. After another P-Burg win, Coach Greg Troxell forfeited to Travis Frick and trailed 25-24. Dale Rismiller’s headlock fall over Luke Morris at 189 was followed by Craig Kempinski’s fall at 215, and Phillipsburg went on to win 36-31.
On January 24th, two big duals were on tap. After its big win over Nazareth, Phillipsburg visited Northampton. The Kids won 5 of the first 6 bouts to open a 16-3 lead. The teams traded decisions over the next four bouts with Bobby Zuber (145) and Josh Haines (160) both winning one-point decisions as Northampton still led 22-9. Dale Rismmiller’s fall at 171 closed the gap to 22-15, but Phil Hard scored a 9-3 decision over Craig Kempinski at 189 to clinch the victory as Northampton went on to win 31-15.
The same evening in a match-up between the only two remaining unbeaten teams in the Colonial League, Wilson’s Jeremy Hartrum had a big early win over Jared Herzog 3-1 in overtime at 112. Bob Frey, Cory Garis, Nick Krecker, Heath Lorhman and Ed Johnson all scored falls as Wilson romped to a 50-6 win over Northern Lehigh. Saucon Valley defeated Catasauqua 67-1 to remain only one match behind the Warriors in the Colonial League standings.
Bethlehem Catholic topped Emmaus 36-18 and Dieruff defeated Allentown Central Catholic 43-16 in the EPC to stay within one match of Pottsville who held the league lead.
As January began to wind down, leaders in the league standings were as follows:
- Colonial – Wilson 8-0; Saucon Valley 6-1; Wilson 5-1
- EPC – Pottsville 3-0; Bethlehem Catholic & Dieruff 2-1
- MVC – Easton 5-0; Freedom, Liberty & Parkland 4-1; Northampton 3-1
On January 27th, three great match-ups were on the MVC schedule. Northampton got falls from Aaron Suranofsky (119) and Jeff Caulfield (125) followed by a 3-2 win by Jeff Ecklof over Eric Frick at 130 to lead 18-6. After Brett Frack defeated Billy Haydt 6-2 at 135, Seth Lisa, Bobby Zuber, Ryan Wasser and Josh Haines all won to put the match away for the Kids. Northampton went on to win 39-18.
Easton continued its dominance of local teams as they defeated Freedom 41-9. The Rovers dropped three of their starters and won most of the key individual matches. Chad Sportelli defeated Ross Strebig 7-1 at 103. Bryan Rizzo topped Reinaldo Merced 9-5 at 112 while Dan Brown decisioned Craig Kunsman 11-6 at 140. Freedom’s Dan Koehler broke through at 145 downing Kyle Dailey 6-4. Ryan Kilpatrick rallied to defeat John Steiner 12-8 at 160.
Parkland won the first four bouts against Liberty to jump out to a 12-0 lead. The teams split the next four bouts, and the Trojans still led 20-8. That’s when the Hurricanes rally began as Blaise Derrico decisioned Mike Heist, who had dropped from 160, 4-1. Nick Silva, Walter Henry and Mike Liberto all scored falls as Liberty went on to win 29-23.
On January 30th, Dieruff defeated Allen 49-9 and set their sights on Pottsville and a share of the EPC title.
One night later, Easton built a 30-0 lead over Phillipsburg after the 140-pound bout in which Dan Brown defeated Mike Fania 5-3. The Liners hung with the Rovers the rest of the way, but the damage was done, and Easton won their 15th straight match 46-14. Northampton dropped many of their wrestlers a weight to ready for the post season and defeated Liberty 42-12. In the EPC, Pottsville defeated Emmaus 39-24. Parkland won 8 of the first 9 bouts against Nazareth on their way to a 34-25 victory. Shaun Lally scored a fall over Eric Frick at 125, and Joe Fallstich nipped Cory Creazzo 7-6 at 130 to help spark the win.
In non-league bouts, North Schuylkill rallied to defeat Pottsville 30-26, and Liberty handled Dieruff 32-12.
Easton and Wilson were the top seeds for the AAA and AA District Duals, respectively. In AAA, Easton defeated Blue Mountain 46-15; Northampton defeated Dieruff 45-12; and Liberty again beat Parkland 34-21. In the #4-#5 match, Nazareth and Freedom were locked in a back and forth match which Freedom led 23-19 after John Steiner’s fall at 160. Travis Frick, Luke Morris and Jaime Kleinle won the final three bouts to clinch the Blue Eagles win 32-23.
In AA, Wilson handled Pius X 54-10, and Pine Grove beat Bethlehem Catholic 43-18. #6 Saucon Valley upset #3 Northern Lehigh 36-24. The Panthers got falls from Jon Severn (130), Justin Ziegler (140), Ryan Nowicki (171) and Steve Grida (Hwt). #5 Pen Argyl rallied to defeat North Schuylkill 32-27 as Justin Mutchler, Jeremy Savitz and Chad DeFelice all won from 160-189.
In the AAA semi-finals, Easton and Northampton had too much firepower for Liberty and Nazareth as they romped to 53-3 and 44-8 victories, respectively. In the finals, Chad Sportelli and Bryan Rizzo got the Rovers off to a good start with back-to-back wins and then the Ciasulli-Suranofsky rivalry was gain center stage. This time Matt Ciasulli was able to reverse last year’s District Duals’ result with a late takedown to nip Aaron Suranofsky 7-6. The Rovers led 10-0, but Jeff Ecklof and Seth Lisa won the next two bouts to cut the lead to 10-6. After Gino Fortebuono’s technical fall, Dan Brown edged Bobby Zuber 5-3, and Kyle Dailey defeated Ryan Wasser 18-7 in a toss-up bout. The Rovers extended their lead to 22-6. Northampton would win 4 of the final 5 bouts, but Brad Youwakim was forced to default to Ryan Kilpatrick at 160. Easton triumphed 28-21 and earned a berth in the state dual tournament.
In AA, Wilson defeated Pen Argyl 37-9 while Pine Grove topped Saucon Valley 43-15 in the semi-finals. This set up a final’s match-up between the Warriors (15-1 & #1 ranked in AA) and Pine Grove (undefeated at 11-0). Wilson started quickly with falls from Joe Kushernick and Jeremy Hartrum and followed with five more wins including Nick Krecker’s fall at 140 to take a commanding 30-0. Pine Grove won the next two bouts, but the Warriors reeled off another three wins on their way to a 42-9 win.
PIAA Team Dual Championships
In the AAA quarterfinals, Easton faced unbeaten Corry from District 10. The Rovers won 10 of 13 bouts, including falls from Chad Sportelli (103), Bryan Hart (130) & Justin McLennan (189), to win 45-12. Next up in the semi-finals was District 1 Champ, North Penn. The Easton lightweights again dominated the action as they won the first eight bouts as the Rovers won 49-12 to advance to the finals. State College was able to win two of the first five bouts to trail only 12-6. Gino Fortebuono and Dan Brown both scored technical falls to open the lead to 22-6. State College again battled back as defending state champ, Nathan Galloway, had a major decision, and Jeremy Hart nipped Matt Lear 4-3. The teams split the next two bouts, and Easton led 26-19. Justin McLennan and Jason Groller delivered wins as Easton won the state dual title 35-19 for Coach Steve Powell.
At the Brookville Ultimate Duals, #1-ranked Wilson and #2-ranked Reynolds had battled to a 21-21 stalemate which the Warriors won on criteria. The AA quarterfinals, would see a rematch between Wilson and the District 10 AA champ, Reynolds. This time, the Warriors left nothing to chance as they led from the first bout and scored bonus-point wins in six bouts to win 34-15. In the semi-finals, Wilson won the first eight bouts to cruise to a 46-17 win over Brandywine Heights. The finals were not much different as Coach Dave Crowell’s Warriors as they won the first seven bouts to triumph 49-15 and win the AA state dual title.
Other February Duals
On February 8th, Northampton defeated Parkland 40-16 in an MVC match. Two days later in a Colonial League match, Pen Argyl clipped Saucon Valley 30-21.
On February 13th, Pottsville visited Dieruff’s East Side Gym in a match to decide the EPC title. The Huskies’ Ricci Bass, Ryan Richard and Dan Odom all won decisions to build a 9-0 lead. Pottsville won the next three bouts including a fall to lead 13-9. The teams split the next two bouts, and then Andrew Mann and Brett Giandomenico scored falls. Pottsville answered back with a fall of its own and cut the lead to 24-22. Jesse Glass scored a 5-3 decision at 189 as Dieruff won 27-26. The same night, Bethlehem Catholic defeated Allen 48-12. As a result, the Hawks, Huskies and Crimson ended in a 3-way tie for the league title as they all finished 4-1.
As MVC action was winding down, Nazareth rallied to win the final four bouts against Liberty to win 32-19, and Parkland topped Whitehall 42-19.
On February 15th, Saucon Valley defeated Northern Lehigh 33-26 on falls by Ryan Nowicki (171) and Steve Grida (Hwt) to pull into a 3-way tie for 2nd place with the Bulldogs and Pen Argyl in the Colonial League.
Phillipsburg defeated Randolph for the 5th straight year 47-22 in the North 2 Group 4 finals. The Stateliners defeated Old Bridge 34-32 in the semi’s, but lost to Absegami 33-26 to finish 2nd in the NJ Group 4 state dual championship.
Final league standings were as follows:
|Allentown Central Catholic||6||0-5|
League champions overall records were: Bethlehem Catholic (9-10), Dieruff (14-7), Pottsville (8-7), Wilson (20-1) and Easton (22-2). Other teams with very good records were Northampton (18-3), Freedom (12-4), Pen Argyl (18-5), Parkland (13-6), Liberty (11-6), Northern Lehigh (10-6) and Stroudsburg (10-6).
The 2000 AAA Districts saw a number of first day upsets, but not so for the 2001 tourney. No #1 or #2 seeds lost and only 4 of 52 top 4 seeds lost. The surprise on Day 1 was that defending champion Northampton took a two-point lead over Easton and advanced nine wrestlers to the semi-finals vs. the Rovers’ eight. In a key head-to-head match, defending champion Jeff Ecklof nipped super frosh Mike Rogers 3-2.
In the semi-finals, five #1 seeds were upset. Parkland’s Shaun Lally defeated Easton’s Bryan Rizzo 3-2 at 112; Northampton’s Bobby Zuber topped Freedom’s Craig Kunsman 9-7 in OT at 140; Liberty’s Blaise Derrico decisioned Northampton’s Ryan Wasser 8-1 at 152; Easton’s Justin McLennan scored a 3-1 OT win over Northampton’s Phil Hard at 189; and Northampton’s Joe Lukachik edged Stroudsburg’s Mike Yetter 5-3 at 275. Easton advanced six wrestlers to the finals and did well in the consolations to pull away from Northampton in the team race.
There were three finals’ bout between the Rovers and K-Kids with Easton wrestlers going 2-1. At 119, Ciasulli-Suranofsky IX, Matt Ciasulli was able to defeat Aaron Suranofsky 5-2 at 119. On a reversal in the ride out, Seth Lisa defeated Gino Fortebuono 3-1 at 130. Dan Brown decisioned Bobby Zuber 3-2 at 140. Chad Sportelli (103), Ryan Kilpatrick (160) and Justin McLennan (189) also won titles for the team champion Rovers. McLennan scored a fall over Stroudsburg’s Andy Ludlow to win the Outstanding Wrestler award. Jeff Ecklof was the 2nd champ for the Kids as he edged Stroudsburg’s Joey Rivera 3-2 at 125.
At 275, Blue Mountain’s Matt Feast scored a fall over Joe Lukachik at 275 to become his school’s first ever District champ. Nazareth’s brother combo of Eric and Travis Frick won titles at 112 and 171, respectively. Whitehall’s Christian Franco (135), Freedom’s Dave Koehler (145) and Bangor’s Adam Kulak (152) won the balance of the titles. Coach Steve Powell was named Coach of the Year.
In AA, Wilson moved nine wrestlers to the semi-finals and opened a huge 30+ point lead over 2nd place Pine Grove. One of the Warriors advancing was 19th-seeded Tony Curto who just entered the line up at 112 when Jeremy Hartrum dropped to 103. Curto scored three pins to advance to the semi’s. At 130, Bethlehem Catholic’s Matt Millen, the #8 seed, pulled off perhaps the biggest upset by defeating top-seeded Justin Hartrum of Wilson 11-6. Defending champ Northern Lehigh saw #1 seed Jared Herzog get caught and pinned in a headlock by Saucon Valley’s Matt Gorkos but were still in 2nd place. North Schuylkill, Pen Argyl and Pius X rounded out the top five.
The Warriors went 7 for 9 in the semi-finals to run away in the team scoring and repeat as District champs. Jeremy Hartrum won his 2nd title at 103 by defeating Panther Valley’s Justin Kopp 7-3. Upsetter Tony Curto led early against Northern Lehigh’s Jared Herzog, but with the match tied 9-9 Herzog hit a five-point play with ten seconds to go to win 14-9. Twin brother, Justin Herzog decisoned Pen Argyl’s Jeff Santo 13-4 at 119. At 125, Wilson’s Cory Garis upended defending champ Matt Benza of Tamaqua 3-2 and was named Outstanding Wrestler. Pine Grove, runner-up in the team race, won titles in four of the next five weights. At 130, Kyle Cleary tripped up upsetter Matt Millen 11-7. Jacob Warner repeated at 135 by downing North Schuylkill’s Matt Edwards 5-2. At 145, Grant Brindle scored a fall, and at 152 Jeremiah Warner defeated Central Catholic’s David Rivera 7-0. Wilson’s Ed Johnson won his 2nd title at 171. Palmerton’s Trevor Bartholomew (140), Pius X’s Eric Rath (160), Panther Valley’s Tegan McKee (189) and North Schuylkill’s Mike Pahira (Hwt) were winners at the remaining weight classes.
Wilson’s Coach Dave Crowell was again named Coach of the Year.
District 11 again dominated the first day of regional action by advancing 40 wrestlers to the semi-finals for the 2nd year in a rows. Easton led the team race with nine semi-finalists while 2nd place Northampton advanced seven wrestlers. The Rovers advanced seven wrestlers to the finals and had eight state qualifiers to run away with the team title. District 11 had 24 of 26 finalists.
Chad Sportelli repeated as 103-pound regional champ by defeating Berwick’s Jeremy Griffith 3-2. Nazareth’s Eric Frick held off Parkland’s Sean Lally 8-7 at 112. The 119-pound weight class was expected to feature Ciasulli-Suranofsky X, but Pottsville’s Brian Burns nipped Suranofsky 3-2 in the semi’s. Matt Ciasulli was leading 8-0 when Burns had to default. The next three finals featured rematches from the prior week all with the same winners in Jeff Ecklof, Seth Lisa and Christian Franco. Dan Brown won the 140-pound title to give Easton their 3rd champion. Freedom’s Dave Koehler repeated his win over Liberty’s Blaise Derrico at 145. Bangor’s Adam Kulak and Blue Mountain’s John Carr both defeated Easton opponents – Matt Lear and Ryan Kilpatrick – at 152 and 160.
At 171, Nazareth’s Travis Frick nipped Liberty’s Mike Liberto 3-2. The Frick brothers had become the first brothers to win District titles on the same night since the Rodriguez brothers – John and Jerry – did in 1977. They became the first brothers to win regional titles in the same year since Sean & Derek Jenkins did three years ago. At 189, Northampton’s Phil Hard bounced back from an upset District loss to defeat Easton’s Justin McLennan 3-0. Blue Mountain’s Matt Feast won by medical forfeit over Stroudsburg’s Mike Yetter at 275.
In AA, District 11 returned to the South East regional to compete against wrestlers from Districts 1 and 3. Wilson led all teams with seven semi-finalists to take the team lead. While the Warriors were only able to crown one champion in Jeremy Hartrum at 103, they easily won the team title and qualified eight wrestlers for the state tournament.
Northern Lehigh’s Jared Herzog defeated Northern Lebanon’s previously unbeaten Jim Collins 3-2 at 112 while Justin Herzog downed Wilson’s Bob Frey 8-5 at 119. District 3 wrestlers won the next two weights. Pine Grove also crowned two champs in Jacob Werner at 135 and Jeremiah Warner at 152. Pius X’s Frank Giovinco won by a 16-10 count over Schuylkill Valley’s Eric Koller. Saucon Valley’s Steve Grida won by default over North Schuylkill’s Mike Pahira at 275 to win District 11’s 7th and final title of the night.
PIAA State Championships
Easton, Northampton, Nazareth, Blue Mountain and Stroudsburg wrestlers went an impressive 16-1 in the first round of the AAA tourney. Four additional District XI wrestlers were able to win their first round bouts and advance to the quarterfinals.
Sixteen wrestlers including all three at 130 (for the 2nd year in a row) advanced to the semi-finals. Easton took a huge lead in the team race as they advanced five to the semi’s. Northampton led the locals with three wrestlers advancing to the finals while Easton and Blue Mountain each advanced two wrestlers. For the Kids, Jeff Ecklof advanced on a 10-9 win in OT; Seth Lisa decisioned Pleasant Valley’s John Henry Zarzycki 7-0; and Phil Hard won a close 3-2 decision. For the Rovers, Matt Ciasulli and Gino Fortebuono won their bouts, while Chad Sportelli and Dan Borwn lost their bouts by two points and Ryan Kilpatrick lost to Shaler’s Taylor Letters. Blue Mountain’s John Carr and Matt Scheetz both won their bouts. In addition, Whitehall’s Christian Franco and Nazareth’s Travis Frick won their bouts.
In the finals, District 11 wrestlers were competing in the 119-135 bouts. Matt Ciasulli won his 2nd title with an 8-0 major decision and was named the Outstanding Wrestler after shutting out his four opponents. Jeff Ecklof won his first title 12-6. At 130. Gino Fortebuono reversed the prior two weeks’ results to defeat Seth Lisa on an overtime ride out. Christian Franco dropped an 8-4 decision to Connellsville’s DeWitt Driscoll. The remaining four local finalists split their bouts. Travis Frick beat Garden Spot’s Steve Borja 9-4 at 171 while Matt Feast topped Susquehannock’s Adam LoPiccolo 10-5. John Carr lost 12-1 to Letters, while Phil Hard dropped a 3-2 decision to Upper Darby’s Joel Edwards.
With seven place winners, Easton won the team title, and Coach Dave Crowell was named Coach of the Year. In addition to their two champions, the Rovers had Chad Sportelli (103) & Ryan Kilpatrick (160) place 3rd; Dan Brown (140) was 4th; Bryan Rizzo (112) was 5th; and Matt Lear (152) was 8th. With six finalists between them, Northampton finished 3rd while Blue Mountain was 6th and Nazareth 7th. The Blue Eagles’ Eric Frick placed 3rd at 112. Other placers from District XI included Pottsville’s Brian Burns (119 – 4th), Whitehall’s Michael Perinotti (119 – 7th), Stroudsburg’s Joey Rivera (125 – 4th), Pleasant Valley’s John Henry Zarzycki (130 – 4th), Stroudsburg’s Andy Ludlow (189 – 6th) & Mike Yetter (275 – 8th).
Fourteen District 11 wrestlers won to advance to the AA quarterfinals including five from Wilson. On Day 2, ten District XI wrestlers won their quarterfinal bouts. Six District 11 wrestlers were able to advance to the finals – Wilson’s Jeremy Hartum at 103, Northern Lehigh’s Jared Herzog at 112 setting up a rematch with Jim Collins, Tamaqua’s Matt Benza at 125, North Schuylkill’s Matt Edwards and Pine Grove’s Jacob Warner at 135, and Wilson’s Heath Lohrman who upset Brandywine’s Joey Lovello at 140. Wilson trailed Brandywine Heights by 6.5 points in the team race heading into the final day.
Unfortunately, in the finals, District 11 went 1-for-6. Only Pine Grove’s Jacob Warner who defeated Edwards 3-0 at 135 was able to win a championship. Hartrum dropped a 6-3 decision while Herzog lost his rematch with Jim Collins 6-2. Benza and Lorhman each lost close bouts. Wilson finished 4th in the team standings while Pine Grove was 5th, and Northern Lehigh was 6th. Place winners included Northern Lehigh’s Justin Herzog (119 – 3rd), Pen Argyl’s Jeff Santo (119 – 8th), Saucon Valley’s Jon Severn (125 – 5th), Wilson’s Justin Hartrum (130 – 6th), Northern Lehigh’s Ryan Hluschak (135 – 5th), Pine Grove’s Jeremiah Warner (152 – 3rd) and Northern Schuylkill’s Mark Knock (171 – 7th),
Wilson’s Coach Dave Crowell was named the PIAA AA Coach of the Year. In addition, the next week he was named National High School Wrestling Coach of the Year by the NHSCA. On Sunday, March 25th a joint celebration and parade was held to honor the Easton and Wilson wrestlers.
Phillipsburg won its 9th straight NJ District 1 team titles with an eight champions – Trevor Duddy (112), Dan Buss (119), Justin Koeller (130), Matt Lurig (135), Mike Fania (140), Dave Post (145), Dale Rissmiller (171) and Craig Kempinski (189).
In the Region 1 Championships, Dale Rissmiller finished 1st and then went on to finish 3rd in the NJ state championships.
After 18 years, the Challenge of Champions match between the best seniors from Class AA vs. AAA was discontinued.
In the Easton Lions Classic, the Pennsylvania Team defeated the New Jersey Team 35-15 as PA state champs Gino Fortebuono, Travis Frick and Matt Feast all won their bouts. Both Fortebuono and Frick defeated New Jersey state champions.
The Pennsylvania wrestlers lost by a 31-19 score to the US Team 34-12 in the Dapper Dan Classic. Two local wrestlers competed – Gino Fortebuono and Travis Frick – but both dropped decisions to their US Team opponents.