Summary of Lehigh Valley Wrestling 1960-1969
During the 1960’s, the Lehigh Valley Area experienced tremendous growth in its wrestling programs. The number of teams offering wrestling increased from just twelve to over thirty. The original Lehigh Valley League had grown from the “Original Six” teams to sixteen and then split into three separate leagues: East Penn, Lehigh-Northampton and Lehigh Valley (LVIAA).
Some rivalries continued as most of the “Original Six” teams continued to face each other (primarily in the East Penn League) on a regular basis. Some like Nazareth and Phillipsburg became much more competitive. In addition, new rivalries were established as both Allentown and Bethlehem split into two public high schools. As a result, there were immediate new rivalries between Allen & Dieruff and Liberty & Freedom. Easton and Phillipsburg had well established rivalries in many sports, especially football. With the arrival of Coach Thad Turner and P-Burg’s success, a strong wrestling rivalry with sold-out crowds quickly formed.
The Lehigh-Northampton League saw Hellertown, Nazareth and Wilson battling each other every year for the top spot. In the Lehigh Valley League, Emmaus, Northampton and Stroudsburg also challenged each other for the league title each year.
The 1960’s saw some legendary coaches retire such as Jim Harkins, John Maitland and Glenn Smith. Harry Wall began coaching the 1940’s and was still coaching as the decade ended. Four coaches who would go on to coach a combined 126 years and win over 1,450 matches. Hellertown’s/Saucon Valley’s Charles Bartolet Jr., Liberty’s Frank Gutierrez, Bethlehem Catholic’s Tony Iasiello and Nazareth’s Ray Nunamaker set incredible standards for success and excellence over an extended period of time. In addition, Phillipsburg’s Thad Turner won six league titles, had a 58 match unbeaten streak and coached eight state champions in nine years. Easton’s Bob Zarbatany began his coaching career in the 1960’s and had eight state champions and an incredible .884 winning percentage over ten years. North Schuylkill’s Joe Cesari began the school’s wrestling program, which competed in District XI, and had over 350 wins and a .918 winning percentage. Many other pioneers coached and established programs at their schools during the 1960’s. In addition, many of their wrestlers went on to be very successful coaches in the years that followed.
A summary of League Titles, District, Regional and State Champions in the 1960’s:
|Team||League Titles||Team District Titles||Individual District Titles||Individual Regional Titles||Individual State Titles||Individual State Runner-Ups|
|Totals - PA||24||10||123||56||13||8|
|Totals - NJ||inc. above||3||31||13||7||4|
The Lehigh Valley also became much more competitive at the state level in Pennsylvania. The number of regional titlists and state champions grew from 39 and 8, respectively, in the 1950’s to 56 and 13, respectively, in the 1960’s. In addition, Phillipsburg became a power at the state level in New Jersey. Individual state champions from the Lehigh Valley Area (District XI for PA and Phillipsburg only for NJ) are as follows:
|1960||133||Doug Koch||Liberty||Jim Harkins|
|1961||138||John Eckenrode||Liberty||Jim Harkins|
|1962||95||Alton Bowyer||Easton||John Maitland|
|1962||133||Dick DeWalt||Easton||John Maitland|
|1964||127||Dave Halulko||Dieruff||Larry Fornicola|
|1964||165||Charles Amato||Easton||John Maitland|
|1965||145||Charles Houser||Dieruff||Larry Fornicola|
|1967||95||Randy Biggs||Liberty||Frank Gutierrez|
|1967||180||Geoff Baum||William Allen||Dick Baker|
|1968||133||Craig Fox||Easton||Bob Zarbatany|
|1968||180||Dan Newhard||Dieruff||Dick King|
|1969||112||Chico Lutes||Easton||Bob Zarbatany|
|1969||133||Dan Howard||Dieruff||Dick King|
|NJ (P-Burg Only)|
|1963||98||Dick Lincoln||Phillipsburg||Thad Turner|
|1967||141||Bob Duckworth||Phillipsburg||Thad Turner|
|1967||148||Buddy Morris||Phillipsburg||Thad Turner|
|1968||98||Bob Jiorle||Phillipsburg||Thad Turner|
|1968||157||Bob Zaro||Phillipsburg||Thad Turner|
|1969||148||Don Jessamine||Phillipsburg||Thad Turner|
|1969||168||Bob Zaro||Phillipsburg||Thad Turner|
The 1960’s featured some outstanding wrestlers in the Lehigh Valley. A number of these wrestlers went on to win NCAA titles in the college ranks as well: Geoff Baum, Stan Dziedzic, John Fritz, Don Rohn and Tom Sculley. Dziedzic would also win a bronze medal in the 1976 Olympic Games. The Lehigh Valley was creating a presence and reputation on the ‘national wrestling map.’ The District XI Wrestling Hall of Fame includes an incredible number of coaches and wrestlers who competed during this decade of tremendous wrestling growth in the Lehigh Valley – the 1960’s!