|Programs Started (Coach):||East Stroudsburg (M. Martz)|
|Stroudsburg (Dick Merring)|
|Notable Coaching Changes:||Walt Miller --> Thad Turner (Phillipsburg)|
|Added to LVL:||Hellertown, Palisades & Slatington|
|LVL Eastern League Champion:||Easton (7-0)|
|LVL Western League Champion:||Northampton (7-0)|
|District Champion:||Easton (4 Champions, 2 Runners-up)|
|Regionals:||Easton (3 Champions) & Bethlehem Liberty (2 Champions)|
|State Championships:||Easton Tie for 2nd (2 Champions)|
|Individual State Champion:||Alton Bowyer, 95, Easton|
|Dick DeWalt, 133, Easton|
With the addition of Hellertown, Palisades and Slatington to the Lehigh Valley League, the league’s ranks swelled to sixteen teams. The prior format of wrestling each team once was not feasible as it would require each team to wrestle a fifteen match league schedule. Per The Morning Call a “PIAA ruling which limits scheduling to 12 dual meets per season” resulted in the league being divided into two divisions of eight teams as outlined below.
|Eastern Division||Western Division|
The big four were split between the two divisions. Bethlehem and Easton headed the Eastern Division and were expected to be challenged by Wilson and Phillipsburg. The Stateliners had a new head coach in Thad Turner, newly graduated and accomplished Lehigh wrestler. Allen and Northampton topped the Western division. Dieruff, Emmaus and Notre Dame were expected to be the top challengers.
In the Eastern division, Bethlehem Liberty was hit hard by graduation losing five of its seven district finalists; they did return champs Bob Taylor and Dave Clery and two other letterman. As a result Easton was expected to be the favorite. The Rovers returned talented lightweights Alton Bowyer, Jim Blasco and Dick DeWalt along with four additional letterman.
In the Eastern division, Northampton had Dave Wall, the Micio twins and one other starter returning while Allen countered with Tom Schleicher and six returning letterman. Emmaus and Dieruff had seven and eight returning wrestlers, respectively, setting up what was expected to be a tight race.
Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg joined the ranks of area programs with wrestling squads.
Regular Season Highlights
On December 7th the new format debuted with mostly lopsided matches. Easton, Phillipsburg and Wilson easily scored Eastern Division wins while Allen, Northampton and Whitehall had big wins in the Western Division. The one exception was a match up between Dieruff and Emmaus at the Hornets’ home gym.
Dieruff won the first three bouts as John Piper and Marv Wright had pins and John Sterner won by decision. The Huskies led 13-0 before Bruce Yeack got a quick 23 second fall over sophomore Dave Halulko who would win a state title a little over 2 years later. Controversy ensued at 127 where per The Morning Call “Frank Frederick of Emmaus downed Denny Evans” with an apparent pin; “however referred Archie Leigh declared Frederick’s hold illegal…Evans…was forced to quit because of an injury and the victory was awarded to Evans because the injury came on an illegal hold.” So instead of trailing by only 2 points, Emmaus trailed by an 18-6 score. Emmaus came back to win 4 of the next 6 bouts and were within reach at 24-20 heading into the final bout. Dieruff’s Tom Traud decisioned Doug Reeder 5-1, and the Huskies claimed a 27-20 win in a battle of top challengers.
A week later a full card of matches was set with Wilson at Bethlehem and Emmaus at Northampton expected to be the top bouts. Still trying to break through against the top squads, Wilson jumped out to a 6-0 lead after two bouts but then saw Bob Taylor and Ron Szabo both score falls. Wilson countered with wins by Bob Guzzo and Jim Purdy at 127 and 133, and the Warriors again led 15-11. That would be the last time of the night that they led as Liberty strung together 4 straight wins and ended with a 33-17 triumph.
In the Western division, Northampton never trailed against Emmaus dealing the Hornets their 2nd straight close defeat 28-18. Jack Suranofsky (95) and Dan Schlagel(112) scored pins for the Kids and the Micio twins both won. In another match, Allen defeated Notre Dame 30-17, but Don Bauer lost his first dual meet in 14 bouts as he was upset by Tony Liberati 5-2 at 120.
Another team that was beginning to make some noise was Southern Lehigh. The Spartans under Coach Gross jumped out to a 17-5 lead and held a 20-19 lead after a Jeff Gibbs’ decision against Dieruff heading into the last bout. Woody Marcks used a body press and half nelson to pin Gene Benner and give the Huskies a closer than expected 25-20 win.
The next week saw some interdivisional matchups. Allen and Phillipsburg were locked in a 16-16 tie after the 145 bout, but saw rookie coach Thad Turner’s team run off 4 straight wins to for the upset win 28-16. It was the Stateliners’ first win against the Canaries in nine seasons. Bethlehem Liberty won all but 4 bouts against Dieruff on their way to a 27-15 win. Easton won an easier than expected 35-8 win over Northampton giving the Kids their first defeat of the year. Jim Blasco edged Dave Wall 4-2 on a late takedown in a key match up at 103.
Easton would again compete in the Boiling Springs Holiday tournament. The Rovers advanced eight wrestlers to the semi-finals, but Jim Blasco lost his first bout by a close 6-5 decision. Easton repeated as tournament champions 63-59 over Manheim Central. Alton Bowyer (95) and Dick DeWalt (133) both won titles, and Ray Ferraro (112), Rod Martz (120), Willie Falwell (154) and Wally Goffredo (165) placed 2nd.
Northampton, Emmaus and Whitehall participated in the Washington NJ tourney. The Kids advanced six men to the finals on their way to winning the title. Jack Suranofsky (95), Dave Micio (133), Jeff Cole (154) and Bill Gogle (Unl) all won titles for the Kids along with Emmaus’ Mike Johnson (145) and Brooke March (180). Finishing as runners-up were Dave Wall (103) and George Reenock (165) for Northampton.
The divisional match-ups were off to a fast start after the holidays. Bethlehem Liberty carried a 29 match unbeaten streak into the match up with Easton in front of 1,300 wrestling fans at Easton. Alton Bowyer and Jim Blasco delivered decisions to give the Rovers a 6-0 lead. The teams traded decisions at the next two weights with the Hurricanes’ Bob Taylor edging Ray Ferraro 3-2 and then Ron Martz downing Ron Szabo 5-0. At 127, Easton’s Drew Montague decisioned Hercules Busky 8-6, and Easton led 12-3. Dave Clery dropped a weight to challenge Dick DeWalt in a bout that ended in a 3-3 draw between returning district champs. The teams traded falls at the next two weights. After an Easton decision, Dave Mucka had a fall at 165, and Bob Check tallied a 5-2 decision at 180. Easton led 22-19 when Marc Greenberg took the mat. Greenburg came through with an 8-0 shut out over Ed Mengel, and the Rovers had a 25-19 victory. Easton and Phillipsburg were now the only two undefeated teams in the Eastern division at 3-0.
The Western division was also down two only two unbeatens after Emmaus pulled off a huge upset 28-17 over Allen. Bruce Yaeck nipped Don Bauer 2-0 at 120 while Mike Johnson (145) and Ben Martin (165) both added falls for Coach Bill Krebs’ team. Allen only won 4 of the night’s 12 bouts, and one of the “Big 4” had fallen to a “new” team. Dieruff and Northampton stood tied in the Western Division as the only undefeated teams.
Wilson trailed Easton 20-9 after the 145 pound match. John Petrosky upset Wally Goffredo 5-2 and then both Tony Verenna (165) and Gordon Smith (180) scored falls putting Wilson into the lead 22-20 over a stunned 1,200 fans in Easton. Marc Greenberg again came through for the Rovers with a first period fall to give Easton the 26-22 win, but Coach Al Zarbatany’s team certainly gave his alma mater all they could handle.
The same night Phillipsburg dealt Bethlehem Liberty is 2nd loss in a row keeping pace with the Rovers in the Eastern division. P-Burg won the first three bouts including Jim Knath giving Bob Taylor his first defeat of the year 6-3 at 112. The Stateliners led 9-0, but Liberty then won 4 decisions in a row punctuated by Dave Clery’s 13-0 win over Les Kish at 138. Liberty led 12-9. P-Burg bounced back with a fall by Ed Fry at 145 and two more decisions to lead 20-12 with two bouts to go. Bob Check defeated Jim Dick 5-0 to pull the Hurricanes within reach at 20-15, but Bob Herring iced the “W” with a 4-2 decision over Dave Mengel to make the final score 23-15.
Dieruff and Northampton continued their winning ways, and Emmaus edged Notre Dame 25-23 in Western Division action. In non-league matches, Dieruff dropped a 27-20 match to Shamokin which featured Dieruff’s Denny Evans battling defending district champ Charles Carpenter before dropping a tight 8-7 bout. Easton took their annual trek to Pottstown to match up with Hill School. Easton moved out to a 15-0 lead after 4 bouts and still held a 21-16 lead heading into the 180 pound match. With regular starter Ted Sales out, sub Art Saylor was injured and head to default tieing the match at 21 each. Marc Greenberg battled Ed Fenstermaker to a 2-2 draw, and the match ended in a 23-23 tie.
Some great interdivisional matches followed. Easton hammered Dieruff 30-9 as the Huskies only managed three wins. Bethlehem Liberty bounced back from their two defeats by handling Allen 27-15. Bob Taylor and Bob Raines battled to a 0-0 draw at 112. Ron Szabo had a huge pin for the Hurricanes over Don Bauer at 120. Liberty dominated the upper weights winning five of the final six bouts. Finally, Northampton dealt Phillipsburg it first defeat of the year 32-16. P-Burg was only able to win three and tie two bouts. The Kids got two pins from Jack Suranofsky (95) and Dan Laury (138).
Match-ups of the divisional leaders in both divisions headlined the subsequent week’s bouts, and both bouts would be worth the price of admission! Sixteen hundred fans turned out at Phillipsburg to watch Easton battle the Stateliners. After the teams traded decisions in the first two bouts, Ray Ferraro and Jim Hnath locked up for a 2-2 draw. After three bouts the team score stood at 5-5. Easton picked up falls in two of the next three bouts as Rod Martz (120) and Dick DeWalt (133) both delivered. Les Kish got a tight 2-1 decision over Pete Keyser at 138 to pull P-Burg within 16-11. Willie Falwell picked up a decision before the Stateliners reeled off three straight decisions to lead for the first time all evening, 20-19, heading into the final bout. As he had done numerous times already this year, Marc Greenberg again delivered the clutch win; this time a 4-2 decision over Bob Herring. Easton won 22-20 and stood alone atop the Eastern division at 5-0.
Across the Lehigh Valley, Dieruff was visiting Northampton. The Kids’ tough lightweights dominated the early going with four wins in the first six bouts. Dave Halulko had a pin for Dieruff to keep things fairly close at 12-8. From 138 to 154, the Huskies won three close decisions to take a 17-12 lead. Rusty D’Arconte, Barry Chamberlain and John Piper each won by two points or less. Coach Wall’s upperweights came through as George Reenock, Russ Mikovitch and Bill Gogle scored decisions to move the Kids into sole possession of first place in the Western division 21-17.
Hot off moving into first place in their respective divisions, Easton and Northampton both met tough non-league foes. Easton dropped a hearbreaking 30-24 bout to Kingston when undefeated anchor, Marc Greenburg injured his left knee and had to default. Northampton traveled to Pottstown and was only able to win four of twelve bouts in dropping a 27-18 nod to Hill School.
Easton easily beat Hellertown 53-2, but did not expect it to be the clinching bout for the divisional title, but earned the title a week early when Wilson upset Phillipsburg 20-19. The Stateliners won three of the first four bouts to lead 9-3. The Warriors then strung together four wins in a row by Bob Guzzo, Jim Purdy, Bing Metz and John Petrosky to take a 15-9 lead. At 145 Herb Stecker won by default over Barry Werkheiser, and Jim Dick followed with a decision as P-Burg retook the lead 17-15. In the penultimate bout, Wilson’s “unbeaten Gordon Smith scored a 3-1 decision over Pat Russmana with a takedown in the final 15 seconds” per The Morning Call. Tony Verenna and Bob Haring battled to a 3-3 draw at Unlimited, and Wilson shocked P-Burg 20-19.
The same night, Allen and Dieruff continued their crosstown rivalry, but the Canaries went three for three with a close 20-19 win. Allen’s middleweights (Don Bauer, Bruce Raines, Bob Pychinka and Jim Hunter) won four consecutive decisions, and the Canaries led 17-10 with four bouts to go. John Piper and Len Herman delivered wins in the next two matches to cut Allen’s lead to one point, but Pete Mair topped Al Tretter 6-2. Woody Marcks needed a pin at Unlimited to give the Huskies a win, but had to settle for an 8-5 decision. Coach Glenn Smith had topped his former assistant for the third straight year 20-19.
Some tough interdivisional match-ups again followed. First, P-Burg bounced back to win nine of twelve bouts to down Dieruff 27-11. Bethlehem began to round into postseason form by handling Northampton 29-17. The Kids led 8-0 after two bouts after wins by Jack Suranofsky and Dave Wall. Bethelehem Liberty would win eight of the next nine matchups to take an insurmountable 29-11 lead. Bill Gogle pinned Ernie Schnoenberger in the final match.
Easton whipped Allen 33-12 in a match that was not close but featured some interesting individual results. Jim Blasco and Tom Schleicher locked up in a 1-1 draw at 103 before Bob Raines knocked off Ray Ferraro 4-1. Rod Martz stunned Don Bauer by pinning him with a headlock in the first period. At 133, Dick DeWalt and Bob Pychinka battled to a 0-0 draw followed by Chuck Amato and Jim Hunter tieing at 2-2.
In two other interesting match-ups, Wilson defeated Emmaus 28-14 as Bob Guzzo won his 34th consecutive dual victory. After Southern Lehigh held leads of 10-0, 21-8 and 24-20, Notre Dame’s Tom Velekei had a first period fall over Bob Morgan to give the Crusaders a 26-24 upset win.
On February 15th, Easton completed a dominant season in winning the Eastern division title with a 7-0 league record and 12-1-1 overall by trouncing Southern Lehigh 42-3. Bethlehem and Wilson each won easily over Nazareth 32-16 and Palisades 35-14, respectively to end in a three-way tie for 2nd place with Phillipsburg in the division at 5-2.
The same evening, Allen only trailed Western Division leading Northampton by one match as the teams faced off in a regular season finale at the Little Palestra. With a win, the Canaries would earn a tie for the divisional title. In a back and forth battle, Northampton took the lead on the strength of a Jack Suranofsky pin and Dave Wall’s 8- 0 shut out win over Tom Schleicher. Allen fired back with a Bob Raines win. The Micio brothers earned a draw and win. First, Don tied Don Bauer 0-0, and then Dave defeated Bruce Raines 11-2. The Kids led 14-5. Allen tried to battle back as Bob Pychinka, Jim Hunter and Dave Hunter won three of the next four bouts to narrow the lead to 17-16. The Northampton upperweights came through just as they had against Dieruff as George Reenock, Russ Milkovitch and Bill Gogle all won their bouts. With a 29-17 win, the Kids finished undefeated in the division and 9-2 overall, losing only to Easton and Bethlehem.
Emmaus, a 50-0 winner over Slatington, finished 7-3 overall and 5-2 in the division tied for 2nd place with Allen. Notre Dame trailed Dieruff 21-12 after a Jon Rushatz fall at 145, but had a draw and two wins to narrow the gap to 23-20. Tom Velekei took the mat against big Woody Marcks and flattened the Husky with a reverse body press to win the bout for Notre Dame 25-23. The Crusaders and Huskies finished tied for 4th place in the Western division at 4-3. Final divisional standings were as follows:
Compiled LVL Standings 1961-62 Place W-L
Eastern Easton 1 7-0
Bethlehem Liberty 2T 5-2
Phillipsburg 2T 5-2
Wilson 2T 5-2
Southern Lehigh 5 3-4
Nazareth 6 2-5
Palisades 7 1-6
Hellertown 8 0-7
Western Northampton 1 7-0
Emmaus 2T 5-2
William Allen 2T 5-2
Dieruff 4T 4-3
Notre Dame 4T 4-3
Whitehall 6 2-5
Parkland 7 1-6
Slatington 8 0-7
Divisional Sectional Tournaments
As the post season began, Pottsville joined the Western division squads in competing in the divisional tournament at Northampton High School. The Eastern division tourney was held at Wilson High School and the division teams were joined by Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg.
Bethlehem Liberty, Easton and Wilson were tied for the lead coming out the Eastern divisional tournament with 11 points apiece. The Hurricanes and Rovers each advanced six wrestlers to next week’s districts followed by Wilson (5), Nazareth (4), Southern Lehigh (2) and Palisades (1).
Coach Bill Krebs’ Emmaus Green Hornets surprised in the Western divisional tournament by advancing the most wrestlers, seven, to the following week’s district tournament. Tied for the lead with Emmaus at 14 points was Northampton who advanced six wrestlers. Allen and Dieruff each advanced four wrestlers while Parkland had 2 and Whitehall 1.
Each divisional tourney saw upsets of several top-seeded wrestlers. In the Eastern division, Liberty’s district champ, Bob Taylor, was upset in the first round at 112 by Nazareth’s Glenn Newhard 2-0. At 180, Southern Lehigh’s Jeff Gibbs dumped top-seeded and undefeated Gordon Smith of Wilson 7-4. Wilson was hit hard by upsets as three #2 seeded Warriors also lost.
In the Western Division, Allen’s #1 seed, Dave Hunter was pinned by Dieruff’s Jon Rushatz at 157. Northampton and Whitehall each lost two #2 seeds and Parkland lost one.
District XI Championships
On Saturday, March 3rd, the remaining 48 wrestlers descended upon Easton High School to compete in the District semi-finals. The semi’s featured four upsets of top-seeded wrestlers. Allen’s Tom Schleicher had lost to Northampton’s Dave Wall by an 8-0 score in the final dual meet of the season, avenged the defeat by upsetting Wall 5-3 at 103. The Kids’ Dave Micio turned the tables on Allen by upsetting undefeated Bob Pychinka at 133 3-1. Jon Rushatz of Dieruff shut out John Petrosky of Wilson 10-0, and Jeff Gibbs of Southern Lehigh continued his streak of upsets by downing Liberty’s Bob Check 3-1 at 180.
At the end of the afternoon’s competition, Northampton held a slim 20-18 lead over Easton, but the Rovers had the edge in finalists six to the Kids’ four. Bethlehem Liberty had five finalists while no other team had more than two wrestlers move on to the evening’s final round.
Easton had wrestlers in the first three weights and had two come out on top. Alton Bowyer shut out Wilson’s Joe Martino 5-0 at 95. Jim Blasco (105) ended up on the right side of 4-4, 2-2, referee’s decision over Allen senior, Tom Schleicher, but Ray Ferraro (112) ended up on the wrong side of a 3-3, 1-1, referee’s decision to Nazareth’s Gene Newhard. Liberty and Wilson each picked up their first champions of the night with Ron Szabo winning 6-3 and Bob Guzzo winning his 2nd district title 10-0.
A key match in the team race took place at 133 as Easton’s Dick DeWalt, a four-time finalist faced defending runner-up Dave Micio of Northampton. DeWalt blanked Micio 4-0. Bethlehem Liberty, Easton and Dieruff would each have winners in the next three weights with Dave Clery, William Falwell pinning top seeded Mike Johnson from Emmaus and Jon Rushatz adding another fall.
While the team title was out of reach, Northampton still had three finalists left in the final three weights. The Kids won them all. George Reenok, Russ Mikovitch and Bill Gogle all won titles, downing three tough opponents in Liberty’s Dave Mucka, Southern Lehigh’s Jeff Gibbs and Easton’s Marc Greenberg, for Coach Harry Wall. Northampton finished with three champions on the night which was second only to Easton’s four champions.
Team Scores Easton 73
Bethlehem Liberty 58
William Allen 23
Southern Lehigh 14
Northeast Regional Championships
Wilkes College was again the venue for the Northeast Regional championships. District XI got off to a flying start by advanced 11 of 12 wrestlers into the finals. Only Nazareth’s Glenn Newhard dropped a decision at 112. Easton had entrants in the first two weights at the final and had a split decision. At 95, Alton Bowyer blanked Kingston’s Shannon Allen 5-0, but Jim Blasco was edged 5-4 at 103.
Bethlehem crowned two champions at 120 and 138 with Ron Szabo winning 7-3, and Dave Clery winning 4-2. Easton was able to add two more individual titles both over Kingston wrestlers as Dick DeWalt won his 2nd regional title 6-4 while undefeated Willie Falwell won the 145 by a 9-4 decision. Dieruff’s Jon Rushatz dropped a 7-2 decision.
Northampton had finalists in each of the final three weights but lost two close decisions (George Reenock at 165 and Russ Milkovich at 180) and one by fall (Bill Gogle at Unl.).
District 4 led the way with 6 champions. District 11 had five, District 2 one and District 12 continued to struggle with none.
PIAA Wrestling Championships
Five Lehigh Valley grapplers traveled to University Park to compete in the 25th PIAA State Wrestling Championships. In the semi-finals, Easton went two for three. Alton Bowyer won easily at 95 with an 8-3 decision while Dick DeWalt at 133 advanced with a tighter 5-3 victory. Willy Falwell (145) lost a close 2-0 bout to eventual state champ, Joe Eremus of Boiling Springs. Bethlehem Liberty was able to go one for two in their semi-final bouts. Dave Clery (138) edged Bob Sanders of Pennsbury 6-5 at 138, but Ron Szabo (120) lost 3-1 to eventual state champ, Drew Bachman of Mt. Lebanon.
In the finals, Alton Bowyer won by a 3-0 shut out to capture Easton’s first state title since 1949 and only the 2nd title in school history. Bower finished an undefeated 25-0 campaign. Next up was undefeated Dick DeWalt. DeWalt won by a solid 5-1 score to give the Rovers their 2nd champ of the night. Bethlehem’s Dave Clery lost a hard fought 5-4 decision and settled for a 2nd place finish.
With two state champions, Coach John Maitland’s team finished tied for 2nd with Boiling Springs behind Greenville for the mythical state title. District 6 had four state champions, while Districts 3,7, 10 and 11 had two each.
Phillipsburg Post Season
Gerry Miller won a district title for Phillipsburg at 120.