|Programs Started (Coach):||Allentown Dieruff (Larry Fornicola)|
|Parkland (Bill Young)|
|Slatington (Harry Smith)|
|Added to LVL:||Allentown Dieruff & Notre Dame|
|LVL League Champion:||Bethlehem Liberty (10-0-1)|
|District Champion:||Allentown (2 Champions, 3 Runners-up)|
|Individual State Champion:||Doug Koch, 133, Bethlehem Liberty|
|Other Milestones:||Allentown splits into two schools: Allentown & Dieruff|
|Name Change Bethlehem High School --> Liberty High School|
The 1959 school year would begin with Allentown splitting into two schools: Allentown High School and Louis E. Dieruff. Two notable developments occurred as a result of this split. Defending state champion, Dick Rushatz, along with his younger brother, John, would move from Allentown to Dieruff. In addition, during the 1957 season, Larry Fornicola had joined his high school coach, Glenn Smith, at Allentown as an assistant. Fornicola, a NCAA champ at Penn State, would move to Dieruff to become the first head wrestling coach. One other change for the new season is to change the 185 pound classification to 180 and add a new “Unlimited” or “Heavyweight” weight class.
The same year, Parkland High School began wrestling under Bill Young and Slatington began a wrestling program (coach unknown). Dieruff moved right into the Lehigh Valley league along with Notre Dame, coached by former two-time Easton District Champ Charles DeBellis, to bring the league’s ranks to twelve teams. This would result in an 11 match league schedule for each team.
Bethlehem Liberty returned eight letterman including District Champ, Doug Koch. Allentown, after losing Rushatz and fellow starter Jeff Newhard to Dieruff and a number of talented wrestlers to graduation, returned 5 letterman. State Champ Tom Schleicher (88 lb exhibition), Regional Champ Morgan Peters (145) along with District runner-up Terry DeLong (133) gave the Canaries hope. Easton returned district champ John Vicent and runner-up Malcolm Purdy along with three other letterman. Other than Bethlehem, the top teams all lost at least half their starting line-ups. The 1959-60 season was shaping up to be a competitive one.
Regular Season Highlights
In the opening night’s bouts, the favorites all won easily with Allentown downing Nazareth 40-12, Bethlehem Liberty over Phillipsburg 34-15, Easton routing Whitehall 49-5 and Northampton crushing Notre Dame 54-8. The Kids’ win represented their 20th in a row without a loss. Emmaus edged Dieruff in their debut 30-26.
Allentown visited Pennsbury in a non-league bout. Future Bloomsburg Coach, Roger Sanders had a fall at 154. Allentown led 25-21 after a falls by Morgan Peters and Dave Moyer, but Bob Volpe was pinned at Heavyweight and AHS dropped a close 26-25 decision.
After dropping 31 league bouts in a row, Southern Lehigh scored its first league win defeating Whitehall 40-17. The win would not be the only one this season for the improving Spartans. The same night, Dieruff won a battle of LVL newcomers by defeating Notre Dame 38-8. Allen won 6 of the first seven bouts en route to beating P-Burg 26-18.
The third week of the LVL season matched pre-season favorites Bethlehem Liberty and Northampton. The teams traded falls in the first two bouts with the Hurricanes’ Bernie Hart striking first at 95, and then Larry Suranofsky answering back at 103. Liberty would get another pin at 112 from Hugh Temos, and again the Kids fought back to tie the score at 11 with wins by Don Micio and Fred Heffelfinger. Liberty won the next two bouts by decision with Northampton countering back with wins of their own at 145 and 154 to again knot the score at 17. Liberty got pins at 165 and 180 from George Lake and John Mucka to clinch the win. The final score was 27-20, and Northampton’s 22 match unbeaten streak was gone.
The same night in the first battle of cross-town rivals Allentown and Dieruff, the Canaries won easily by a 29-15 score. Wilson flexed its muscles by downing one of the original six, Nazareth by a 43-11 count. Solehi got another win clipping Emmaus 34-25.
The Christmas break came and Coach John Maitland’s Red Rovers were on the road at the Boiling Springs holiday wrestling tourney. Easton was dominant in winning 11 of its 12 opening day bouts, but District Champ John Vincent was caught in a reverse cradle and pinned by Bellefonte’s Gary Poorman in overtime. Jim Blasco (95) and Dick DeWalt (103) took 2nd places in the tournament. Easton placed 3 wrestlers 3rd and five 4th while finishing 3rd in the team race.
Northampton (No), Wilson (Wi), Whitehall (Wh) and Notre Dame ND) competed in the Washington NJ Holiday Tournament. Northampton placed 2nd and Wilson 4th. Lehigh Valley finalists were: Larry Suranofsky (No) – 1st at 103, Joe Guzzo (Wi) 1st by 4-1 decision over Fred Heffelfinger (No) 2nd . Peter Gontar (No) – 1st by 5-1 decision over Roger Boger (Wi) 2nd, Bill Gantz (Wh) – 2nd at 165, Adolph Ebner (No) – 2nd at Unl.
On Thursday, January 5, 1960, the post-holiday dual meet season resumed. Northampton bounced back from their pre-holiday loss by crushing Allentown 35-11. The Kids had four falls. Southern Lehigh scored another win – 32-19 over Notre Dame and found themselves in unfamiliar territory – tied for 2nd place in the league standings with Allentown and Northampton at 3-1 behind unbeaten Bethlehem and Easton.
One week later, Northampton traveled to Northampton in a key bout to deciding the league champion. Easton’s strong lightweights roared out to a huge lead by winning six of the first seven bouts to lead 23-5. Only Larry Suranofsky’s pin over Dick DeWalt at 103 interrupted the Rovers. After Pete Gontar and Piscitello drew, it was all Northampton the rest of the way. Brian Brownmiller, Don Reenock and Joe Markulics all scored falls to cut the Easton lead to 25-22. The Kid’s Adolph Ebner, unbeaten in duals, took the mat against the Rover’s Larry Collair. Ebner won a 3-1 decision, and the match ended in a 25 all draw. The draw actually helped the Bethlehem Hurricanes more than anyone as they now held sole possession of first place. Bethlehem was downing Whitehall in their home gym 58-5 to go 5-0 on the year.
The same night, Dieruff brought Solehi back to reality using four early pins by the Rushatz brothers, Ron Rohrbach and Eric Svilana on their way to a 34-23 win. Allentown stayed within reach of the top spot handling Wilson 34-11. The Canaries Don Seng tied tough Bob Guzzo 2-2 at 127. Notre Dame stunned Nazareth 24-20 to gain their first win.
Allentown and Easton both had tough non-league bouts up next against Kingston and Hill School, respectively. Allentown got consecutive pins by Morgan Peters, Bob Volpe and Dave Moyer to rally from a deficit to win 26-18. Meanwhile, Easton suffered their first loss of the year as they managed only four wins from as they lost 30-16.
The Rovers and Huskies took the mats with some interesting matchups pending in the lower weights. At 103, defending state champ Dick Rushatz used an arm and headlock to pin Dick DeWalt. Two competitive bouts followed with John Vincent and John Rushatz as well as Malcom Purdy and Ron Rohrbach battling to 4-4 draws. Dieruff led briefly 15-13 after Ron Hanna cradled Hugh Daley for a fall at 133. From there, Easton pulled away winning 6 of the final 7 bouts to win 36-18.
The top teams continued winning and with 3 league bouts remaining Bethlehem Liberty was 8-0, Easton 7-0-1, Allentown 7-1 and Northampton 6-1-1. Liberty would test themselves in a non-league bout and knock off a very tough Hill School 23-17 to go 9-0. Bernie Hart, Doug Koch and Joe Mucka all remained unbeaten. Mucka hammered Prep School champion Wit Beebe 18-5.
A bout between 2nd and 3rd place, Allentown and Easton loomed on February 11th. Easton’s lightweights paced the Rovers to a fast start. Jim Blasco (5-4 over Tom Schleicher), John Vincent and Malcolm Purdy won decisions while Dick DeWalt won by fall. Easton led 15-0. The Canaries fought back with Don Seng, Hank Raines and Terry Delong winning decisions to cut the deficit to six. Carl Piscitello got a huge pin at 145, but Coach Glenn Smith’s squad again came back as Morgan Peters, Bill Freed and Dave Moyer reeled off three straight decisions. At 20-18, the Canaries were within reach, but Russ Amato pinned Ron Van Buskirk in the 2nd period and Easton had moved up to 2nd place with a 25-18 victory.
The same night after their typical quick start, Dieruff led P-Burg 16-0 and then got a decision from Jeff Newhard in the final bout to pull off the upset 24-18. Bethlehem shut out Southern Lehigh to remain in first place at 9-0.
On February 18th, Bethlehem Liberty and Easton squared off in the Rovers’ home gym to determine the league champion before more than 800 fans. Coach Jim Harkins’ squad struck first with Bernie Hart handling Jim Blasco 8-2 at 95. Easton’s tough lightweights would open up a lead as Dick DeWalt, John Vincent and Malcom Purdy each won decisions before Jack Corrier won by fall at 127. Coach John Maitland’s team led 13-3. Bethlehem’s middleweights answered back winning 3 of the next 4 bouts to cut the lead to 17-12 after the 154 pound bout. Mike Givins added a decision at 165 and then undefeated Joe Mucka pinned Tom Corona, and Liberty led 20-17. With that Russ Amato and Gary Richter took to the mat to decide the league championship. Richter led 1-0, “but with only 30 seconds remaining…earned a reversal to gain a 2-1 decision” per The Morning Call. Easton had earned a 20-20 tie with Liberty, but the Hurricanes still held a 1 point lead in the league standings.
One week later, Bethlehem Liberty wrapped up their first league title in six years by easily beating Allentown 26-12 at the Little Palestra. Four unbeaten wrestlers entered the dual meet, and three emerged still undefeated. Bernie Hart pinned Tom Schleicher with a bar and chancery at 95, but at 133 defending District Champ Doug Koch was upset by Hank Raines 5-2. Allentown’s Morgan Peters (154) won 5-2 and Liberty’s Joe Mucks (180) stayed unbeaten by downing Dave Moyer 6-2.
Further north, Northampton was fighting to stay in 3rd place against the upstart Dieruff. The Huskies started with 3 pins including Dick Rushatz pinning Larry Suranofsky at 103 with a cradle. Dieruff led 15-0, but then the Kids reeled off 6 straight wins to regain the lead at 23-15. Dieruff again came back with Tom Knuckles pin at 165 and Jeff Newhard’s decision at 180 to lead 24-23. Northampton had Adolph Ebner waiting in the wings, and he converted a pin to give the Kids a hard earned 28-24 win over the Huskies. Coach Larry Fornicola’s squad finished a respectable 5-5-1 in the league in its first year of competition. The year wrapped up and the final standings stood as follows:
|Compiled LVL Standings 1959-60||Place||W-L-D|
District XI Tournament
Twelve teams, comprising the largest contingent of teams ever, were set to compete in the 13th Annual District XI Mat Tournament on February 26th and 27th at Whitehall High School. With the expansion to twelve weight classes, 144 wrestlers will compete. For defending champions return – one each for Allentown, Bethlehem, Dieruff and Easton – Morgan Peters (154), Doug Koch (133), Dick Rushatz (103) and John Vincent (112), respectively. Peters and Rushatz are undefeated. Additional unbeaten wrestlers are Terry DeLong (Allentown 138), Bernie Hart and Joe Mucka (Liberty 95 & 180), Pete Gontar and Adolph Ebner (Northampton 145 & Unl.) and Bob Guzzo (Wilson 130).
After the first night of competition, the defending champion Canaries were in the lead with 18 points and 9 semi-finalists. LVL champ Liberty was second with 15 points followed by Northampton (14) and Easton (12). Dieruff (11) rounds out the top 5. Most seeds held to form, but there were two upsets of #2 seeds. Allentown’s Bob Freed pinned Don Reenock of Northampton at 165, and Easton’s Russ Amato decisioned Nazareth’s Bill Allen 4-0 at Hwt.
A spirited semi-final round kicked off the next afternoon. At 95, Allentown’s Tom Schleicher avenged a loss by decisioning Easton’s Jim Blasco 6-1. At 103, Northampton’s #1 seed Larry Suranofsky 8-7 was upended by Easton’s Dick DeWalt. The Kids lost a second top-seeded wrestler as Don Micio lost to Carl Nelson of Allentown 5-2. During the regular season Wilson’s Bob Guzzo and Allentown’s Don Seng had battled to a draw. Guzzo defeated Seng 4-1 in the rematch. At 138, top-seeded and unbeaten Terry DeLong from AHS was upended by Bethlehem’s John Eckenrode 6-2. Allentown, Liberty and Easton all advanced five wrestlers a piece to the finals. Northampton moved three wrestlers into the finals and Southern Lehigh and Whitehall placed their first wrestlers in the finals.
The battle between the contending teams kicked off at the first weight as Allentown’s Tom Schleicher easily beat Liberty’s Hart 10-4; Hart had pinned Schleicher during the dual meet. In a rematch of the prior’s years championship bout at 95, Dieruff’s Dick Rushatz delivered the same result defeating Easto’s Dick DeWalt 6-0. Easton won back-to-back titles at 112 and 119 as John Vincent and Malcolm Purdy decisioned John Rushatz and Carl Nelson, respectively. After Bob Guzzo of Wilson won a close 5-4 bout over Northampton’s Fred Heffelfinger on riding time, Bethlehem won back-to-back titles. Doug Koch “proceeded to massacre Henry Raines of Allentown 9-2” per The Morning Call. Koch’s only loss was by fall to Raines during the regular season. In a bout that featured five reversals, John Eckenrode downed Easton’s Jess Sobel 8-5. At 145, the Kids’ top-seeded Pete Gontar was champion and AHS’ Morgan Peters grabbed his 2nd title at 154. Whitehall’s Don Gantz scored the only fall of the night at 165 to become the Zephyr’s first district champion. Unbeatens Joe Mucka (Liberty) and Adolph Ebner (Northampton) were crowned in the final two bouts.
When the dust settled, despite going only two for five in the finals, the Canaries had claimed their 2nd title in a row and fourth in the past five years.
Northeast Regional Tournament
A diverse group of champions moved to the regional weekend. Only Liberty would have 3 wrestlers with 6 other schools comprising the other 9. With Philadelphia area’s District 12 joining the regional tourney, only John Vincent was awarded a bye so the other 11 grapplers all wrestled semi-final bouts. The tough semi round saw four of the District’s previous undefeated grapplers eliminated: Wilson’s Bob Guzzo was pinned with a cradle at 130, and Northampton’s Joe Mucka dropped a 9-4 decision at 180. Both of Northampton’s entrants also lost – Pete Gontar (145) by 2-1 and Adolph Ebner (Unl.) by 2-0 decisions.
AHS’ Tom Schleicher continued avenging earlier defeats as he shut out Kingston’s Ned McGinty 2-0. The Districts other champions were Easton’s John Vincent who won easily 6-1, and Liberty’s Doug Koch won 5-2. Two defending champs and former teammates, Dick Rushatz and Morgan Peters were upset. The Huskies’ Rushatz losing on a referee’s decision at 103, and Peters losing a 5-4 decision. Malcom Purdy (Easton), John Eckenrode (Bethlehem) and Don Gantz (Whitehall) also dropped decisions.
District 4 regained their dominance by winning 8 titles to District 11’s three and District 2’s one. While it certainly was not due to a lack of talent, 1960 represented the least number of state qualifiers by District 11 since 1953.
During the week between Regionals and States, Liberty’s Koch was picked as the Top District 11 Matman by a vote of the twelve coaches.
PIAA State Tournament
Five champions returned to University Park as the state championships were contested. AHS’ Schleicher and EHS’ Vincent dropped their semi-final bouts. Schleicher who was the exhibition champ at 88 pounds a year ago, lost to eventual champ Bob Bell 5-0. Vincent lost a heartbreaking 2-1 overtime decision after a 5-5 tie in regulation. Liberty’s Doug Koch became the District’s only finalist after winning 6-2 in the semis. In the finals, Koch became Bethlehem’s fourth champion by defeating Tom Bailey of Waynesburg 3-1. Hughesville edged Phillipsburg Osceola to capture the mythical state title.
Phillipsburg Post Season
Robert Sykos won Phillipsburg’s only district title in 1960 and was also a state runner-up at 133.