|Programs Started (Coach):||Emmaus (Bill Krebs)
Southern Lehigh (James Abbott)
Wilson (Al Zarbatany)
|Added to LVL:||Southern Lehigh|
|LVL League Champion:||Allentown (12-0)|
|District Champion:||Allentown (5 Champions, 1 Runner-up)
Russ Rohrbach wins 4th District Title
|Regionals:||Allentown (4 Champions)|
|State Championships:||Allentown – 1st (2 Champions, 2 Runners-up)|
|Individual State Champions:||Russ Rohrbach, 127, Allentown
Bill Trexler, 133, Allentown
The beginning of what would be a great expansion in wrestling in the Lehigh Valley, three schools – Emmaus, Southern Lehigh and Wilson, added programs.
Former Bellefonte wrestler Bill Krebs became the coach at Emmaus while 1952 District Champ, Al Zarbatany, began the Wilson wrestling program. For the first time, the Lehigh Valley League expanded from the original six schools to seven with Southern Lehigh joining.
Allentown returned a solid core led by district champs, Russ Rohrbach and Al Rushatz, and runners-ups, Bill Trexler and Tim Stauffer. Northampton lost ten varsity wrestlers, but did return district champ, Joe Recker, and runner-up Len Breitfeller.
Regular Season highlights
The Canaries opened up the defense of their title against Bethlehem by winning 8 of 11 bouts and dominating the Hurricanes 30-13. Per The Morning Call, Al “Rushatz, just out of an Allentown football uniform, closed the evening’s festivities, by pinning Bill Werst.”
Coach Glen Smith’s squad was equally as dominant in their second bout downing Easton 36-14. The match was still tight at 16-14 Allentown after Bill Trexler and John Borgenson tied at 138. The Canaries then ran off four straight pins with four different moves by Dick Sommons (by cradle), John Baker (half-nelson, crotch), Al Rushatz (headlock, arm bar) and Tim Stauffer (crucifix). By the way, you gotta love the descriptions of the pinning holds. The same night the Konkrete Kids welcomed Southern Lehigh to the Lehigh Valley League by setting a record for point scoring by a Northampton squad with a 59-0 whipping.
The big matches continued in Week 3 of the LVL season as Allentown visited Northampton and Bethlehem visited Easton. Northampton roared out to a 12-0 lead as Fred Heffelfinger and Joe
Recker both won by fall. Allentown narrowed the gap to 20-19 by winning four of the next six bouts. At 154 Lester Sutter won by fall over John Baker, and at 165, Al Rushatz downed Tom Keller 6-2 to make the score 25-22 Northampton. Tim Stauffer and Charley Kuntzelman took the mat at 185 to decide the dual meet. Stauffer caught Kuntzelman in an Oklahoma roll for a first period fall and to give Allentown the win 28-25.
The same night, after John Borgenson’s fall at 138, Easton had roared out to a 17-6 lead over the Hurricanes. Greg Ruth registered a pin at 145 then Wayne Klein and Bob Eckenrode won by decisions to tie the match at 17 all. Art Waltman pinned Bill Werst, and the Rovers triumphed 22-17.
The competitive bouts continued as a week later, Northampton and Bethlehem locked up in Bethlehem. Northampton won 4 of the first 5 bouts including falls by Joe Recker and Len Breitfeller and a key 5-3 win by Milan Billy over Bart Mosser at 133. The K-Kids led 17-3. The teams traded decisions over the next four bouts and the lead remained 14 at 23-9. Lester Sutter’s decision at 154 clinched the bout for the Kids; Bethlehem won the final two bouts by decision to make the final score 23-15.
The first half of the season ended with Allentown at 6-0, followed by Northampton (5-1), Easton (4-2) and Bethlehem (3-3). The second half of the season kicked off as the Canaries took their home mats at the Little Palestra to face Bethlehem and seek their 20th straight win. Allentown dominated the Hurricanes 36-5. Allentown collected their 21st straight win by coming from behind to down perennial District 2 power, Kingston, 25-19. Russ Rohrbach, Bill Trexler and Tim Stauffer (in the decisive bout) all won by fall to pace the Canaries.
In the ninth week of league competition, a rematch between Northampton and Allentown took place before over 900 fans at the Little Palestra. The K-Kids’ star lightweights were again able to pace Coach Harry Wall’s squad to an early 14-5 lead. Fred Heffelfinger and Joe Recker recorded falls and Len Breitfeller won by decision countered by Jim Schmoyer’s fall for the Canaries. Allentown’s middleweights began a comeback with Russ Rohrbach, Bill Trexler and Dick Sommons registering 3 straight wins to tie the match at 14. Northampton’s unbeaten Dick Santo won 8-3, but then John Baker reversed a prior loss by fall to Lester Sutter by registering a 4-0 win to tie the match at 17. The Canaries’ dynamic duo of Al Rushatz and Tim Stauffer each won decisively 7-1 and 8-0, respectively. Allentown had a 23-17 win and was on their way to a second league title.
A round robin of bouts between Northampton, Bethlehem, and Easton was still to follow to decide the second through fourth spots in the league standings. Bethlehem won a series of close bouts to reverse an earlier loss and top Northampton 23-9. Pinner Joe Recker was out with a virus, and Milan Billy was pinned by Bart Mosser reversing a prior win by decision in the earlier dual. This resulted in a 16 point turnaround giving the Hurricanes the opportunity to avenge their earlier loss.
Bethlehem continued their momentum by handling Easton 26-12 at Memorial Gymnasium. Bethlehem won 7 of the 11 bouts with Rick Cabrera registering the only fall at 112 and Greg Ruth moving all the way from his normal 145 to 165 to claim a decision over Bill Bachman. Northampton bounced back to defeat the Red Rovers and hold onto the 2nd spot in the league standings winning by a 28-12 score. The big news of the night were two upsets early in the match. At 103, ninth grader Charles Stettler dealt Ted Easton’s Ted Sulkin his first loss of the year by a 5-0 decision. The Kids’ Joe Recker, who had pinned 23 straight opponents moved up to 112 and lost to Charles Snyder 5-0. Registering pins for the winners were Len Breitfeller, Gordon Bartholemew, and Lester Sutter.
Allentown wrapped up their year by whipping Southern Lehigh 53-5 to win the league title, go unbeaten at 13-0 and claim their 26th straight win. The final league standings were as follows:
|Compiled LVL Standings 1956-57||Place||W-L|
District XI Tournament
With the brackets now expanded from 5 wrestlers per bracket to 8 as Emmaus, Southern Lehigh, and Wilson joined the district tournament. The district tourney was held at the Little Palestra with Allentown looking to defend its title. Four returning champs were in the field with Northampton’s Joe “The Wrecker” Recker at 112, Allentown’s Russ Rohrbach at 127, Bethlehem’s Greg Ruth at 145 and Allentown’s Al Rushatz at 165. All four returning champs were undefeated. In addition, there were many other unbeaten grapplers in the tourney: Allentown (Jim Schmoyer, Bill Trexler, Bob Simmons and Tim Stauffer) and Northampton (Fred Heffelfinger and Lee Breitfeller).
The quarterfinals kicked off on Friday, March 8, 1957. On the strength of numerous falls, Easton claimed a first-day lead. Easton and Bethlehem each moved 9 into the semi-finals while Allentown had 8, Northampton 7, Emmaus a surprising 5. After pulling a tendon in his left elbow, Allentown’s unbeaten Jim Schmoyer was again was heartbroken losing by fall to former teammate, Trent Holman from Emmaus. Schmoyer had to sit out districts in the prior year due to a broken right arm.
The semi-finals featured 9 falls in 22 bouts. The team standings were extremely tight after the semi-finals. Scores and number of finalists for the top four teams were – Bethlehem (22 and 6), Easton (21 and 5), Northampton (19 and 4) and Allentown (18 and 6). Emmaus had one finalist.
Both Northampton and Easton would lead in the team title race early in the evening. The K-Kids pulled ahead as Fred Heffelfinger downed Easton’s Paul Goden 3-0 at 95. Easton’s Ted Sulkin then downed Bethlehem’s Harry Hollinger 7-5 to move the Rovers into the lead.
Northampton’s title hopes were dealt a big blow at 112 when Emmaus crowned the first champion in their first year of wrestling. Trent Holman pinned previously unbeaten Joe Recker with a cradle. Northampton led briefly again when Len Breitfeller won by decision at 120. Breitfeller, a three-time finalist, won his first title having lost the prior two years to Russ Rohrbach.
Allentown then began to show its strength winning three consecutive titles by decision. Russ Rohrbach (127) won his fourth title at four different weights to become the district’s first four-timer champion. Bill Trexler (133) followed with a 5-2 decision and then Bob Sommons (138) was a 9-8 winner over Easton’s John Borgenson. Bethlehem won the next two bouts with Greg Ruth earning his second district title and Stan Carreras gaining his first. Bethlehem led with two bouts to go. Al Rushatz was dominant at 165 winning his second title 13-0. This set up a final bout at 185 of Allentown’s unbeaten, unscored upon (all year) Tim Stauffer versus Bethlehem’s Bill Werst with the winner crowning their team as champion. Stauffer decked Werst in the second period with a “front stretcher” to give the Canaries their second straight district title. Coach Glen Smith collected the team trophy and commented that he had ever seen a high school team “with such spirit and fight.”
Northeast Regional Tournament
On March 16th, it was off to Wilkes-Barre for the annual Northeast Regional Tourney. Four Lehigh Valley wrestlers (Heffelfinger, Rohrbach as a defending champ, Simmons and Stauffer) drew byes in the semi-finals. Bill Trexler, Greg Ruth and Al Rushatz all registered semi-final wins to remain unbeaten while Ted Sulkin, Trent Holman, Len Breitfeller and Stan Carreras lost.
In the finals, Allentown led the way by crowning four unbeaten champions, including three by fall. Russ Rohrbach (127), Bill Trexler (133) and Tim Stauffer (185) all registered pins. Al Rushatz (165) won by a score listed at 12-12 over Muncy’s Allen. The fifth Canary finalist, Bob Simmons had his season ended by fall at 138. Other winners from District XI included Northampton’s Fred Heffelfinger (95) and Bethlehem’s Greg Ruth (145). While District XI didn’t quite match the success of 1956 (8 champions), they did crown the most titlists with 6 to District 2’s 2 and District 4’s 3 champions.
PIAA State Tournament
The following week, the six unbeaten District XI grapplers traveled to University Park to compete in the state championships. An outstanding semi-final round had the Lehigh Valley contingent going 5 for 6. Allentown moved four grapplers into the finals with three wrestlers winning by solid decisions (Rohrbach, Trexler and Stauffer). Al Rushatz was extended to overtime and a referee’s decision. Bethlehem’s Greg Ruth won by fall at 145.
After a ten year drought, Allentown crowned two champions, back-to-back, at 127 and 133. Russ Rohrbach won by fall, and Bill Trexler pitched a 3-0 shut out to claim the Canaries first titles since 1947! Greg Ruth dropped a 6-3 decision. Coach Glen Smith was hoping to repeat the feat of back-to-back champs at 165 and 185, but Al Rushatz was nipped 6-5 and Tim Stauffer ran into defending state champion Art Baker of Erie Academy and was defeated 6-2. Allentown claimed the mythical state title with 2 champions and 2 runners-up to cap a truly outstanding year!
Phillipsburg Post Season
Robert Hart won his 2nd district title moving up one weight to 112; Dave Osmun (120) joined him on the top step. Osmun was 2nd and Hart 3rd in the NJ state tourney.