Recap 
Programs Started (Coach):Palmerton (Unknown)
Added to LVIAA:Palmerton
East Penn League Champion:Phillipsburg (8-0-1)
LVIAA League Champion:Emmaus, Northampton & Stroudsburg Tie (6-1)
Lehigh-Northampton League Champion:Hellertown (10-0-1)
District Champion:Easton (5 Champions, 2 Runners-up)
Regionals:District XI – 7 Total Champs; Easton (5 Champions)
State Championships:Easton – 1st (1 Champion & 2 Runners-Up)
Bob Zarbatany named 1st PWCA Coach of the Year
Individual State Champions:Chico Lutes, 112, Easton
Dan Howard, 133, Dieruff
Easton Wrestling
Coach Bob Zarbatany Had a Strong Group of Returning Seniors for the Rovers (Photo Courtesy of Easton H.S. Yearbook)

In the East Penn League, the prior year’s top 4 teams came back loaded and ready to compete again.  Phillpsburg had two returning state champs in Bob Jiorle and Bob Zaro and also returned defending or former district champs, Mike Bateman, Jim Mangino and Jack Thompson.  Easton entered Bob Zarbatany’s second year looking to move to the top spot.  The Rovers returned regional champs Bob Pratt and Barry Snyder, District runner-up Ed Gigliotti as well as Chico Lutes, Bob Holmes and others.  The Dieruff Huskies had knocked on the door last year and had state champ Dan Newhard, district runner-up Dan Howard and three other starters.  Finally, Tony Iasiello’s team returned no fewer than five Catholic League (PCIAA) state champs (Tom Sculley, George Fidmik, Larry Gasda, Greg Karabin and Bill Farrell) to his Bethlehem Catholic squad.  District Champs Stan Benton & Tony Franco (Allen), Randy Biggs (Freedom + State Champ in 1967), Jeff Duelly (Nazareth) also returned.

Speaking of Nazareth, the Blue Eagles returned seven lettermen while Hellertown lost 10 of its twelve starters from a year ago.  In the LVL, both Northampton and Emmaus returned a number of starters.

Regular Season Highlights

On December 2nd this season kicked off with Tony I.’s Golden Hawks taking to the mat and proceeding to rout Allentown Central Catholic 53-2. A few nights later proved they were going to be a force in the East Penn League as they visited Allen and downed the Canaries 25-17.  After splitting the first two bouts, Tom Sculley downed Stan Benton 5-2 in a key bout.  Two of the next four matches ended in falls with Mike Foley (BC) and Tony Franco (A) gaining falls bookended by George Fidmick’s and Pat Fenton’s decisions, which gave the Hawks a 17-8 lead.  Jim Thomas upset Larry Gasda 4-3 at 145 and Wayne Hoffman won at 154 to give the Canaries hope at 17-14.  Carl Segatti, who would go on to win a district title, matched up against 2-time PCIAA champ Greg Karabin.  Karabin scored a third period fall, and the teams traded decisions in the last two bouts.

Hellertown won eight of twelve bouts on the way to a 32-11 win over Northampton.  Frank Klotz (120), Bob Nagy (138) and Rich Sesulka (145) had falls for Coach Charlie Bartolet who triumphed over the Kids for the 3rd straight year.  In another non-league bout, Wilson routed Notre Dame 50-6.

LIberty Wrestling
Liberty Coach Frank Gutierrez Watches the Action (Photo Courtesy of Liberty H.S. Yearbook)

On December 7th, several more teams had their EPL openers.  Powerful Easton rolled over Neshaminy 41-3 as Chico Lutes (112), Robert Holmes (154) and Watkins (165) all had falls.  Dieruff hosted Liberty but fell behind after five bouts 9-6.  That’s when Dan Howard, Willie Brickhouse, Barry Trexler and Rich Corazza strung together four straight decisions to give the Huskies an 18-9 lead.  The Huskies won two of the last three including Gary Ward’s fall at heavyweight to give Coach Dick King a 27-12 win over his college teammate Frank Gutierrez.

A few nights later, Freedom easily won their EPL owner 43-6 over Notre Dame, including five pins – George Wolle (95), Brian Easterday (120), Ralph Zito (127), Denis Bittenbender (138) and Mark Andrejco (Hwt).  In non-league action, Emmaus pulled away from Parkland in the middleweights to win 29-18, and Northampton bounced back to down Allentown Central Catholic 48-9.  Bethlehem Catholic won their third bout of the young season by shutting out Whitehall 56-0.

Both the Lehigh-Northampton and Lehigh Valley Leagues held their openers on December 12th.  In the LNL, defending champion Nazareth won 10 of 12 bouts to top Pen Argyl 35-6.  Hellertown and Parkland traded pins in the first two bouts and had draws in the next two, and the Panthers led 10-9.  That’s when Parkland’s Bob Plarr had a fall at 127 and Michael won a 4-1 decision over Danyluk at 133 to give the Trojans a 17-10 lead.  Hellertown roared back with four straight wins including pins by Andy Danyluk (154) and Scott Arner (165) for a seemingly comfortable 26-17 lead.  Earl Kunkel scored a first period fall and Frank Wirth won 8-1, and the match ended in a 26-26 tie.  In other matches Pocono Mountain topped Palisades 29-16, and Salisbury defeated Southern Lehigh 32-18.

The Lehigh Valley League saw the three defending tri-champions easily win as Northampton beat Catasauqua 40-5, and Stroudsburg easily moved by Whitehall 38-13.  Stroudsburg got falls in the first four bouts as they easily beat newcomer Palmerton 44-11, and Lehighton edged Slatington 28-20.  Anchoring the Lehighton lineup was freshman George Barkanic.

In EPL action, Dieruff had nine falls in shutting out Notre Dame 60-0, and Becahi, led by falls from Tom Sculley (112) and Greg Karabin (165), dumped Neshaminy 37-7.  Per The Morning Call, Dieruff state champ, “Dan Newhard turned in the fastest pin in Dieruff history …in only 13 seconds.”   In a very competitive bout, Liberty led Allen 14-9 at the halfway point in part thanks to John Filipos’ pin.  The Canaries rallied by reeling off five decisions in a row from Bob Litzenberger, Jim Thomas, Wayne Hoffman, Carl Segatti and John Bartges.  Bob McCosky’s fall at heavyweight narrowed the final score to Allen 24 Liberty 19.

Liberty Wrestling
Liberty’s John Filipos Goes for the Fall (Photo Courtesy of Liberty H.S. Yearbook)

On December 14th, powerful Phillipsburg saw Mike Bateman lose 4-3 to Nazareth’s Rich Albert, but then won 10 of the remaining 11 bouts to win by an impressive 34-5 score.  Defending NJ state champ, Bob Zaro had the only fall of the night at 165.  In another non-league bout, Hellertown’s Tom Lechner won by fall to open a 6-0 lead over Liberty.  The Hurricanes won three in a row including John Filipos’ fall to lead 11-6.  Hellertown won four of the next five bouts, including Rich Sesulka’s unbelievable 23-0 win to retake the lead 18-14.  The Hurricanes were not to be denied as they won the final three bouts punctuated by Bob McKusky’s fall to win 25-18.

In an LNL opener for both teams, Wilson scored five falls and clobbered East Stroudsburg 45-7. In another LNL bout, Northwestern beat Bangor 39-20.

On December 18th, Easton roared out to a big 18-6 lead over Freedom by winning six of the first eight bouts.  Randy Biggs nipped Ed Gigliotti 2-0 at 103 in the night’s most competitive bout.  Al Snellman defeated Robert Holmes by a lopsided 15-4 margin to try to spark a Freedom comeback, but Joe Parsons 7-1 decision at 180 proved to be the clincher as the Rovers triumphed 21-15.

One night later, Phillipsburg traveled to the East Side Gym to battle Dieruff before an incredible 1,800 fans.  The Huskies hung with the Liners as Doug Young drew with Mike Bateman at 103 and Spencer Bauer (112) and Dan Howard (133) also triumphed.  After 6 bouts, P-Burg only led 11-8 before Jack Thompson, Don Jessamine, Henry Kels and Bob Zaro outscored their opponents 33-4 for a 23-8 lead.  Dan Newhard and Gary Ward were able to narrow the final score to 23-17.  Liberty dominated Notre Dame by scoring 8 falls in route to a 52-5 win.

Allen Wrestling
Carl Segatti Trips His Opponent (Photo Courtesy of Allen H.S. Yearbook)

After eight bouts, Allen trailed Pennsbury 16-11.  Wayne Hoffman (154), Carl Segatti (165) and Chris Nagle (Hwt) scored decisions and John Bartges (180) had a draw as the Canaries won a close 22-18 decision.

The same night, the league leaders in the LNL all scored victories as Hellertown, Nazareth, Parkland and Wilson all easily won.  Pen Argyl and Southern Lehigh also triumphed.

Following the close loss to Allen, Pennsbury led Bethlehem Catholic 16-12 after seven bouts, but Tony Iasiello’s Golden Hawks rallied by winning four the final five bouts, including Greg Karabin’s fall at 165, to win a hard fought 26-18 EPL bout.  The same night, Northampton traveled to Wilson for a non-league bout.  The Kids, who had only lost to Hellertown, had falls by Bill Fechtel (103) and Bill Heist (112) plus Jeff Kline’s 8-7 decision at 120 to lead 13-3 after four matches. Wilson answered back by winning three in a row to take a 14-13 lead.  The teams split the next four bouts as Wilson clung to a 20-19 lead heading into the final bout.  Randy Moats defeated Skip Dalrymple 7-1 to give the Kids a 22-20 win.

The same night, Easton, Freedom and Phillipsburg were among teams winning non-league bouts.  Easton rode a strong start to down Hunterdon Central 24-16 while Freedom’s strong middleweight performance topped Wyoming Valley West 24-14.  Phillipsburg was in control throughout beating Warren Hills 30-13.

Easton, Dieruff and Freedom were all competitive, but it was Manheim who won the 3rd annual Easton Invitational Wrestling Tournament on the strength of six finalists.  The host Rovers had three champions in Chico Lutes (112), Bob Pratt (127) and Barry Snyder (138).  Dieruff and Freedom each had two champs in Dan Newhard (180) & Gary Ward (Hwt) and Randy Biggs (103) and Al Snellman (154), respectively.  Wilson’s Mike O’Brein (95) was the other local champion.

Phillipsburg held their first holiday wrestling tournament and had eight champs to easily win their title.  The same day, The Morning Call reported that in February Bethlehem Catholic was going to be attending a national tournament – the National Catholic Interscholastic Wrestling Championships – in Loyola, Ill in February.  The Hawks qualified to compete based upon their win in the PCIAA the year before.

As action got underway after the holidays, Parkland continued to stay in the LNL hunt by beating Southern Lehigh 40-11.  On January 4th, Wilson built a 9-5 lead by winning three of the first four bouts against Hellertown (including Sampson’s 2-1 win over freshman Don Rohn).  Hellertown’s Dan Danyluk (133), Bob Nagy (138), Andy Danyluk (145) and Scott Arner (165) helped the Panthers rally in the middleweights, but Rich Sesulka dropped his first dual meet in two years losing to Rich Eckert.  With two bouts remaining, Hellertown led 19-14. Wilson’s Tom Azzalina stayed unbeaten at 180 to cut the lead to 19-17, but a riding time point for Dick Leith clinched the bout and the match for Hellertown 22-17.

Nazareth Wrestling
Returning District Champ, Jeff Duelley, Registers the Fall (Photo Courtesy of Nazareth H.S. Yearbook)

Nazareth now held sole possession of first place in the LNL but was facing a tough non-league foe in Northampton.  Northampton again started quickly to lead 11-2 before Nazareth’s Jeff Duelley scored a fall at 120 sparking a five bout winning streak as the Blue Eagles took a 17-11 lead on their way to a 25-19 win.  Phillipsburg clobbered Hunterdon Central 33-8.

Ed Gigliotti Defeats Doug Young for 2nd Year in a Row (Photo Courtesy of Ed Gigliotti)

On January 8th, Easton and Dieruff locked up in a battle to stay within one match of the lead in the EPL, but the match was no contest.  Easton won six of the first seven bouts, but Chico Lutes was upset by Spencer Bauer 6-5.  Lutes had dominated Bauer 14-2 only eleven days earlier in a holiday tournament.  Facing a 23-3 deficit and with heavyweight Gary Ward out with an injury, Coach Dick King gambled bumping everyone up a weight the rest of the way.  While Willie Brickhouse defeated previously unbeaten Mike Capobianco 10-0, Easton gained draws at both 165 and 180 on their way to a 31-15 triumph.

On night later, league leaders Phillipsburg and Bethlehem Catholic both won competitive matches with the Liners defeating Liberty 28-14 and Becahi tripping Freedom 28-20.  P-Burg trailed early and was missing several starters but still came out on top.  Freedom had three falls – Randy Biggs (112), Roger Washburn (133) and Al Snellman (154), but the Golden Hawks still had too much fire power.  Cassidy, Joe Pearl and Bill Farrell won the last three bouts to give the Hawks a come from behind win.  Allen shut out Notre Dame 47-0.

Nazareth faced a key LNL test in Parkland but never let the Trojans in the match as they won seven of the first eight bouts including a fall by Joe Laurito (103) to lead 21-3. Parkland had falls in the final two bouts, but it was too late as Nazareth won 31-18.  Hellertown stayed in the hunt by hammering Pen Argyl 43-2.  Wilson bounced back shutting out Northwestern 39-0, and surprising Pocono Mountain won their third league bout  22-19 over Salisbury.

In the Lehigh Valley League, Northampton won a key match over Stroudsburg.  Charlie Zellers pin at 165 gave Stroudsburg an 18-17 lead over the Kids.  Jerry Hinkle won a decision at 180 and then Randy Moats’ fall at heavyweight gave Coach Harry Wall a 25-18 win.  Emmaus kept pace by doubling Lehighton 28-14.  Coach Bill Krebs’ squad featured seven wrestlers who remained unbeaten.  Catasauqua had a nice 31-25 win over Whitehall, and Palmerton defeated Slatington 28-18 in other league action.

Dieruff Wrestling
Gary Ward Provided a Strong Finish for the Huskies (Photo Courtesy of Dieruff H.S. Yearbook)

January 11th featured some interesting non-league action.  Dieruff rallied from an 18-11 deficit as John Corazza, Dan Newhard and Gary Ward all won to give the Huskies a 22-18 over Hunterdon Central.  Down in Pottstown, Hellertown jumped out to an early 18-0 lead at the halfway point and held on for dear life to win 21-19 over Hill School.  Andy Danyluk’s 4-0 win at 145 proved to be the deciding bout.  Easton easily defeated Wilson 32-10.  The opening bout featured Ed Ferraro and Mike O’Brein battling to a 1-1 draw.

Dieruff Wrestling
Defending State Champ, Dan Newhard, Was an Imposing Figure. (Photo Courtesy of Dieruff H.S. Yearbook)

Bethlehem Catholic wanted to stay unbeaten in the EPL but Dieruff had other ideas.  Spencer Bauer (112) got another big win as he downed PCIAA champ George Fidmik 6-5, and Mike Weigand was trailing Don Lonegran at 127 when he pinned him to give the Huskies a 13-6 lead.  Dan Howard and Willie Brickhouse both beat tough opponents in Mike Foley and Pat Fenton to stretch the lead to 19-6.  Becahi rallied but Dan Newhard scored a fall at 180 to clinch the win.  Bill Ferrell edged Gary Ward 5-2 in the final bout, and the Huskies had won 27-15.  The same night Easton easily defeated Liberty 29-14 with a strong middleweight performance.  In a featured bout, John Filipos defeated Chico Lutes 4-1.

In a back and forth match, Allen rode a five bout rally from 145-180 to defeat Neshaminy 24-19.  Jim Thomas (145), Wayne Hoffman (154) and John Bartges (180) stayed unbeaten.  Freedom easily defeated Pennsbury 28-12 as Randy Biggs and Al Snellman both scored falls.

Emmaus Wrestling
Emmaus Would Once Again End in a 3-Way Tie for 1st in the LVL (Photo Courtesy of Emmaus H.S. Yearbook)

In the Lehigh Valley League, Emmaus gained sole possession of first place by defeating Northampton 27-18.  Bill Fechtel’s fall at 103 briefly gave the Kids a 5-3 lead, but Jack Nonnemacher had a huge pin over previously unbeaten Bill Heist at 112.  Emmaus would not lose the lead again as Keith Shafer (120), Phil Weida (133) and George Meyers (138) all remained unbeaten as Coach Bill Krebs’ team moved to 4-0 in the league and 6-0 overall.  Stroudsburg stayed one match back by beating Palmerton 43-7.  Slatington downed Whitehall 27-22, and Lehighton defeated Catasauqua 25-18.

The league leaders again easily won their bouts in the LNL, as follows:  Nazareth 51-0 over Palisades, Hellertown 30-14 over Salisbury, Parkland 42-13 over East Stroudsburg, Pocono Mountain 51-3 over Bangor and Wilson 41-9 over Southern Lehigh.

Northampton bounced back in the LVL to beat Lehighton 34-6.  Phillipsburg ran their win streak to 32 by easily defeating Notre Dame 41-8.

The last nine days of January 1969 featured some of the most exciting wrestling matches in the Lehigh Valley in the decade of the 1960’s.  Phillipsburg would be involved in three of them, and there were championship deciding matches in the LVL and LNL as well.

Phillipsburg Wrestling
Jack Thompson Rides His Opponent (Photo Courtesy of Phillipsburg H.S. Yearbook)

Another standing room only crowd packed The Pit on January 23rd, once beaten Allen visited Phillipsburg in a key EPL match.  The teams alternated wins in the first six bouts, but unbeaten Jack Thompson scored a fall at 133 over Chuck Alley to give the Liners an 11-9 lead.  Sam Farina and Don Jessamine also remain unbeaten and stretched the lead to 17-9.  The Canaries’ unbeaten Wayne Hoffman defeats Henry Kels 10-2, but Bob Zaro scores a 17-0 win over Carl Segatti to extend the lead again to eight.  Allen’s John Bartges and Chris Nagle both win by healthy margins but neither can gain the fall needed, and Phillipsburg holds on 20-18 for win #33 in a row.

The same night, Dieruff’s Dan Newhard adds to his 34-match unbeaten streak as Dieruff defeats Neshaminy 27-19 despite missing several starters.  Bethlehem Catholic remained within one match of P-Burg by edging Liberty 26-18; Liberty’s John Filipos decisioned George Fidmik 6-2 at 112.

Stroudsburg Wrestling
Stroudsburg Shocked Emmaus Forcing Another LVL League Title Split (Photo Courtesy of Stroudsburg H.S. Yearbook)

The Lehigh Valley League looked headed for another three-way tie for the title after Stroudsburg shocked Emmaus 22-18.  Emmaus opened with Reid Derr’s fall and led 8-3 after Jack Nonnemaker’s win at 112.  Stroudsburg would win four of the next five matches including two one point wins to lead 15-11.  Emmaus needed wins but saw unbeaten Gary Sell and Clewell held to identical 2-2 draws and still trailed 19-15.  Steiner’s win at 180 cut Stroudsburg’s lead to one point, but Gary Raymond’s 3-0 win gave Stroudsburg a 22-18 win.  Northampton defeated Whitehall 38-8 to tie Stroudsburg and Emmaus at 4-1 with each team having one match remaining.

In the LNL, Nazareth cleared another hurdle to remain unbeaten in league competition by beating Wilson 22-16.   The match featured some great individual match-ups as Rich Albert knocked Wilson’s Mike O’Brein from the unbeaten ranks 6-5, and John Pulli defeated Jeff Duelley 9-2 at 112.  Wilson led 8-5 after four bouts, but Nazareth strung together five straight wins to open a 20-8 lead.  Wilson would add two decisions, but needed a first period fall for the tie.  The heavyweight bout ended in a draw, and Coach Ray Nunamaker’s squad had the “W”.  Hellertown hammered Bangor 45-8, and Parkland beat upstart Pocono Mountain 31-16.

On January 25, Phillipsburg visited Freedom High School in another EPL battle.  Mike Bateman got the Liners off to a good start with a 13-0 decision.  In a match-up of previous state champions, Randy Biggs decisioned Bob Jiorle 8-2 to even the team score at 3-3.  P-Burg opened a 9-3 lead as Gary De Almo and Jim Mangino won their bouts.  Freedom’s Ralph Zito downed Charlie Frinzi at 127 to cut the lead to 9-6.  That’s when Jack Thompson pinned Roger Washburn with a “figure-four head scissors” per The Morning Call to extend the lead to 14-6.  The teams traded decisions over each of the next four bouts.  Freedom’s Dennis Bittenbender edged Sam Farina on “a last second takedown” per The Morning Call, but Don Jessamine answered back with a 6-3 win.  Al Snellman beat Henry Kels 15-3, and Bob Zaro answered back with a 13-1 win.  The team score stood at P’Burg 20 Freedom 13 as Dave Miers and Mike Hancz took to the mat for the 180 pound bout.  Hancz cradled Miers in the 3rd period to score the fall and cut the lead to 20-17.  Freedom’s Mark Andrejco and Brian Shields were in a “4-4 deadlock at the end of the first period” when Andrejco rode out “the entire second period and scored a quick reversal at the start of the third to pull out an 8-4 win… and tie the match” per The Morning Call.  Freedom had broken the Stateliners winning streak at 33, but the unbeaten streak stood at 34 and a match with Easton loomed only five days away – a match that would decide the 1968-69 team title and a match that may be one of the best ever wrestled.

Gigliotti Takes Down Jiorle On Way to 6-4 Win (Photo Courtesy of Ed Gigliotti)

On January 30th Easton (8-0) visited Phillipsburg (8-0-1) in a match to decide the EPL title, and Nazareth (8-1) and undefeated in the league traveled to Hellertown (7-1-1) in a match to decide the LNL title.  The Easton-Phillipsburg match featured nine unbeaten wrestlers, eleven 1969 District Champions (six for Phillipsburg and five for Easton) and no fewer than five wrestlers who won state titles during their careers (and two runner-ups).  Nazareth had not lost to anyone not named “Phillipsburg” since early in the 1965-66 season when they were beaten by, you guessed it, Hellertown.

Phillipsburg Wresting
Mike Bateman Gave the ‘Liners a Strong Start (Photo Courtesy of Phillipsburg H.S. Yearbook)

Phillipsburg hosted Easton before an overflow crowd at The Pit.  In a battle of unbeaten Mike Bateman scored an 8-4 win over Ed Ferraro.  Easton came right back as Ed Gigliotti and Chico Lutes defeated Bob Jiorle and Gary DeAlmo, respectively.  The Rovers led 6-3 before the teams traded wins in the next four bouts.  Phillipsburg won at 120 and 133 as Jim Mangino and Jack Thompson won close decisions over Kurt Weaver (6-4 score) and Bob Pratt (8-5 score).  Easton countered with two one point decisions by Larry Davis at 127 and Barry Snyder at 138 by a 2-1 count over Sam Farina.  The team score stood at 12-9 Easton.  That’s when Thad Turner inserted Bob Pruznick into the lineup at 145 and bumped his next three wrestlers up a weight.  While Don Jessamine lost 2-1 to Bob Holmes at 154, Pruznick and Henry Kels won by identical 5-4 scores.  The match was tied at 15-15, when defending state champ Bob Zaro took the mat, and Bob Zarbatany sent out Dave Iobst.  Zaro used a half nelson and body press for the pin in a mere 37 seconds.  Joe Parsons won another one point decision at heavyweight, 2-1, but it was not enough, and Coach Thad Turner’s squad had an epic 21-18 win.  See Dave Leone’s Feature Story on 1969 P-Burg vs. Easton Dual.

Freedom and Allen met in another competitive EPL match the same night.  Allen’s Stan Benton had a fall at 112, but Freedom was able to win five of the other six early bouts including falls by Randy Biggs (103) and Roger Washburn (133) to lead 19-8.  Allen was able to win three of the next four bouts, but Al Snellman’s fall at 154 provided Freedom with an insurmountable lead as they went on to win 27-17.  Liberty defeated Neshaminy 27-18 while Dieruff topped Pennsbury 28-12.  Bethlehem Catholic easily defeated Notre Dame 40-6 to move into a tie for second place with Easton in the EPL.

Hellertown Wrestling
Andy Danyluk Had a Key Win in the Panthers’ Match with Nazareth (Photo Courtesy of Hellertown H.S. Yearbook)

Nazareth sported a 26-match LNL unbeaten streak when they visited Hellertown in a match that would decide the league title.  The teams split the first four bouts as two freshmen, Dan Santoro and Don Rohn, defeated previously unbeaten Rich Albert and Keith Fehr.  Nazareth’s Joe Laurito edged Mike Staffieri 3-2 at 103, and Jeff Duelly blanked Frank Klotz 15-0 at 120.  Biff Stannard scored a fall at 127 to give Nazareth the lead at 11-6.  After Bill Danyluk and Elwood Faust drew at 4-4 at 133, the Panthers reeled off four straight decisions by Rich Sesulka (138), Andy Danyluk (145), Mike Knappenberger (154) and Scott Arner (165).  Sesulka and Danyluk beat Nazareth wrestlers, Craig Reimer and Jack Yeakel, who previously had only lost one bout each.  Hellertown led 20-13, and the Blue Eagles would need a fall and a decision in the final two bouts to gain the win.  Carmen Cortez and Herman Peterson won by decisions in the final two bouts, and the Hellertown win was preserved at 20-19.  Parkland stayed in the LNL race by defeating Pen Argyl 32-12 as Bob Plarr, Earl Kunkel and Frank Wirth stayed unbeaten in league action.

In the Lehigh Valley League, Emmaus and Stroudsburg both won league match-ups 37-9 over Whitehall and 23-19 over Lehighton, respectively, to end the year at 5-1.  Catasauqua beat Palmerton 50-5.  The next day, Northampton had four falls as they easily beat Slatington 42-5 to also end with a 5-1 league record.

A week after edging Easton, Phillipsburg had another challenge in Bethlehem Catholic, but the Liners won easily 38-7.  Mike Bateman and Bob Jiorle got P-Burg off to a fast start with a 7-0 decision and fall for an 8-0 lead.  Unbeaten Tom Sculley and Gary DeAlmo battled to a 4-4 draw at 112.  Jim Mangino downed George Fidmik 6-2 before Mike Foley and Mark Olivi battled to another draw.  Phillipsburg led 15-4 and then strung together four straight decisions to extend the lead to 27-4.  Bob Zaro and Dave Miers both had falls, and then Bill Farrell finally got the Hawks only win 6-2 at heavyweight.  Neshaminy defeated winless Notre Dame 44-10.

In the LNL, Hellertown and Nazareth both had shutout wins.  The Panthers beat Southern Lehigh 48-0, and the Blue Eagles defeated Northwestern 43-0.  Wilson, Pocono Mountain and Pen Argyl also easily won.  Parkland led Salisbury 17-11 with only four matches to go and still had two of their undefeated anchors at the end of the lineup.  Salisbury got two one point wins from Krieg and Doug Roncolato to tie the score at 17.  Currie then tied Earl Kunkel 1-1, and the score was tied 19-19.  Frank Wirth won 4-0 at heavyweight to give the Trojans a 22-19 win.

Dieruff Wrestling
Dan Howard Battled Injuries but Had Great Success for the Huskies (Photo Courtesy of Dieruff H.S. Yearbook)

Randy Biggs’ fall at 103 along with wins by Ralph Zito and Roger Washburn, had Freedom leading Dieruff 11-6 after five bouts.  Dan Howard, Willie Brickhouse and Don Pryor all won by decision and the Huskies led 15-11.  Freedom’s Al Snellman and Mike Hancz won by decision, and the Patriots again led 17-15.  Dieruff’s Dan Newhard and Gary Ward scored falls to wrap the match up 25-17 as the Huskies improved to 8-2.  Easton won a much easier than expected 35-8 win over Allen.  The Rovers won the first nine matches with Chico Lutes topping Stan Benton 7-1at 112 and Bob Holmes doubling up Wayne Hoffman 10-5 at 154.  Don Danser had a fall at 133 while the Canaries only won two bouts.

The same night, Emmaus, Northampton and Stroudsburg all won their final LVL bouts to once again end in a three-way tie for the league title.  Emmaus and Northampton each won easily over Slatington 43-9 and Palmerton 47-3, respectively.  Stroudsburg held off Catasauqua 24-19, and Lehighton won the final three bouts against Whitehall to win 27-15.

On February 7th, Pennsbury held a 15-11 lead over Liberty with four bouts to go.  The Hurricanes were able to win three of the final four including Bob McCosky’s 12-0 shut out win at heavyweight for a 20-18 victory.  Phillipsburg won a non-league bout against North Hunterdon 35-9.

The next night, LNL action was in full swing.  Hellertown scored a 44-0 shut out over Northwestern.  There were no falls in either match as Nazareth topped Pocono Mountain and Wilson defeated Salisbury by identical 27-9 scores.  Southern Lehigh downed East Stroudsburg 31-17.

In a match that featured three draws, Hill School led Dieruff 14-9 before Willie Brickhouse’s 9-0 decision at 138 and Don Pryor’s come-from-behind fall at 145 put the Huskies ahead 17-14.  Hill School had back to back wins at 154 and 165 to retake a 20-17 lead.  Defending state champ, Dan Newhard defeated Anthony DeBon, who “had not lost a bout in two seasons” per The Morning Call, by a 12-4 score.  Gary Ward’s 5-2 decision gave Coach Dick King a 23-20 win.  Easton won eight straight matches from 103 to 154 on the way to doubling up Wyoming Valley West 30-15 to improve to 10-1 on the year.  Emmaus won their 9th match in ten bouts by routing Allentown Central Catholic 38-6.

On February 13th, Allen won all the close bouts (four by two points or less) to upset Dieruff 20-17 in both teams’ final bouts of the season.  Allen went 3-1-1 in the first five bouts to lead 11-5.  Dan Howard and Willie Brickhouse scored decisions to tie the match at 11-11.  Jim Thomas, Wayne Hoffman and Carl Segatti all won decisions as Allen retook the lead at 20-11.  Segatti nipped Jon Corazza 3-2 which meant Dieruff would need at least one pin from Dan Newhard or Gary Ward to tie or win the match.  While Newhard and Ward outscored their opponents by a combined 26-7 count, neither could gain the fall needed.

Freedom Wrestling
Randy Biggs Defeats His Liberty Opponent (Photo Courtesy of Freedom H.S. Yearbook)

The same night, Easton had falls from Ed Gigliotti (103) and Bob Pratt (127) plus five more decisions to defeat Bethlehem Catholic 26-15.  Chico Lutes scored an 11-2 win over Tom Sculley in a key matchup.  Freedom won six straight bouts from 120 to 154 punctuated by Al Snellman’s fall as they beat Liberty 28-12 in an intracity rivalry.  Freedom’s Randy Biggs (103) and Liberty’s John Filipos (112) remained unbeaten.

Hellertown registered another shut out – this time 43-0 over East Stroudsburg to move another step closer to the LNL title.  Nazareth had six falls in a 43-6 rout of Southern Lehigh.  Wilson won nine of twelve bouts in handling Parkland 29-21.  Pen Argyl edged Salisbury 25-21 while Pocono Mountain won the last two bouts to nip Northwestern 22-20.  Finally, Palisades downed Bangor 44-8.

Phillipsburg came within one bout of running the table against Neshaminy on their way to a 38-3 EPL title clinching victory over Neshaminy.  Pennsbury defeated Notre Dame 30-12 in the only other EPL match on the schedule.  The season wound down with several non-league matches.  Bethlehem Catholic topped Northampton after trailing 9-0 and 12-6.  The Golden Hawks did not lose another bout in registering a 26-14 win.

Hellertown Wrestling
Hellertown Won the LNL Title Outright (Photo Courtesy of Hellertown H.S. Yearbook)

Hellertown won ten of twelve bouts to topple Pocono Mountain 30-6 and wrap up their first outright Lehigh-Northampton League title.  Southern Lehigh led 15-3 and then held on to beat Northwestern 24-21.  Nazareth, Wilson, Parkland and Salisbury also won.

Final league standings were as follows:

Compiled Standings 1968-69PlaceW-L-D
East Penn
Phillipsburg18-0-1
Easton28-1
Dieruff3T6-3
Bethlehem Catholic3T6-3
Bethlehem Freedom55-3-1
William Allen65-4
Liberty73-6
Pennsbury82-7
Neshaminy91-8
Notre Dame100-9
Lehigh-Northampton
Hellertown110-0-1
Nazareth210-1
Wilson39-2
Parkland48-2-1
Pocono Mountain57-4
Pen Argyl66-5
Salisbury75-6
East Stroudsburg8T3-8
Southern Lehigh8T3-8
Northwestern10T2-9
Palisades10T2-9
Bangor120-11
Lehigh Valley
Emmaus1T6-1
Northampton1T6-1
Stroudsburg1T6-1
Lehighton44-3
Catasauqua53-4
Palmerton6T1-6
Slatington6T1-6
Whitehall6T1-6

 

 

Phillipsburg Wrestling
Phillipsburg Extended “The Streak” to 38 (Photo Courtesy of Phillipsburg H.S. Yearbook)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coach Thad Turner’s Phillipsburg squad once again led the way at 12-0-1.  Easton (only losing to P-Burg) was 11-1 while LNL champion Hellertown was 12-1-1.  LVL tri-champion Emmaus finished 10-1.  Other teams with at least nine wins were Nazareth 12-2, Lehighton 10-2-1, Bethlehem Catholic 11-3, Pocono Mountain 10-4, Stroudsburg 10-4, Wilson 10-4, Dieruff 9-3 and Northampton 9-5.

Sectionals

On Friday, February 21st the post-season began with sectional tournaments being held for each league with the Lehigh-Northampton League at Parkland, Lehigh Valley League at Lehighton and Tri-Valley League at North Schuylkill.

Nazareth dominated the LNL action and advanced seven wrestlers to the District XI Tournament while league champion Hellertown advanced five.  Wilson and Parkland each advanced four wrestlers with the Trojans scoring numerous falls to score team points.  Parkland’s Sam Raub (165) pinned #1 seed, Doug Roncolato from Salisbury.  Two of Nazareth’s advancers included Joe Laurito, 88 lb. exhibition winner, and Jeff Duelley, the 112 lb. winner, last year.

In the LVL, Emmaus and Stroudsburg excelled by advancing eight and seven wrestlers, respectively.  Things went largely as planned with most of the #1 and #2 seeds advancing, but at heavyweight “the top two seeds – Randy Moats of Northampton and George Barkanic of Lehighton – were upset Friday night” per The Morning Call.

Easton Wrestling
Easton’s Bob Pratt and Barry Snyder Watch the Action (Photo Courtesy of Easton H.S. Yearbook)

The East Penn League sectional featured five returning District champs and all of them advanced to the next weekend.  Freedom’s Randy Biggs (103), Allen’s Stan Benton (112), Easton’s Bob Pratt (127) and Barry Snyder (138) and Dieruff’s Dan Newhard (180) all won.  Easton dominated the EPL with nine wrestlers advancing while Freedom had five, Allen and Dieruff four each and Liberty two.

In the Tri-Valley League, North Schuylkill and Tri-Valley led the way with seven and five each advancing to Districts.

North Schuylkill Wrestling
North Schuylkill Was Again Strong in the Tri-Valley League (Photo Courtesy of N. Schuylkill H.S. Yearbook)

District XI Championships

Easton and Nazareth were again back in the top spots after the quarterfinal round, tied at 20 points each, before a sell-out crowd in Easton.  The Rovers advanced eight of nine wrestlers to the semi-finals while Nazareth advanced five of seven.  Allen, Dieruff, Emmaus and Freedom advanced four wrestlers each.  At 103, two defending District Runners-up battled as Easton’s Ed Gigliotti came from behind to give Northampton’s Bill Feichtl a 4-2 loss.

Easton Locked Up the Team Title During the Semi-Finals (Photo Courtesy of Easton H.S. Yearbook)

The district semi-finals were dominated by wrestlers from the East Penn League who garnered 20 of the 24 winners.  The Lehigh-Northampton league had four semi winners (2 each from Nazareth and Wilson) while the LVL and Tri-Valley league were shut out.  Easton wrapped up the team title by winning seven of eight bouts.  Allen and Dieruff also had a very successful semi-final round by each going four for four.

The finals got off to an exciting start with the first two bouts ending in overtime.  Wilson’s Mike O’Brein had a last second reversal in overtime to defeat Easton’s Ed Ferraro 2-1.  At 103, two-time District champ Randy Biggs faced Easton’s Ed Gigliotti, whom he had edged 2-0 in a December dual meet.  Gigliotti won on a 0-0, 1-1 referee’s decision in overtime.  The Rovers picked up another win at 112 as Chico Lutes downed returning district champ Stan Benton from Allen 4-1.  Nazareth’s Jeff Duelley repeated with a come from behind third period fall over previously unbeaten John Pulli of Wilson.

Easton wrestlers won three of the next four weights as Bob Pratt (127) and Barry Snyder (138) each won their second district titles over Freedom’s Roger Washburn and Dieruff’s Willie Brickhouse, respectively.  At 145 Mike Capobianco won the Rovers fifth title of the night 5-2 over Allen’s Wayne Hoffman.  Dan Howard (133) from Dieruff was the only non-Rover winner in the middleweights as he downed Nazareth’s Elwood Faust 4-1.

Al Snellman (154) from Freedom and Carl Segatti (165) from Allen won the next two weights defeating fellow EPL wrestlers Bob Holmes (Easton) and Don Cooper (Liberty).  Dieruff wrestlers, Dan Newhard (180) and Gary Ward (Hwt) won the final two bouts convincingly to pull Coach Dick King’s Huskies into a tie for 2nd place with Ray Nunamaker’s Blue Eagles.  Newhard extended his unbeaten streak to 42 with a 12-0 win over Allen’s John Bartges while Ward pinned Freedom’s Mark Andrejco (who had pinned Ward in the dual meet about a month earlier).

No team could compete with Coach Bob Zarbartany’s Rovers before an overflow crowd in their home gym as they racked up 98 points and moved five wrestlers on to the Northeast Regionals.

Easton Dominated the 1969 Districts with 5 Champions & 2 Runners-Up. Dieruff and Nazareth Tied for 2nd Place.

Team scores were as follows:

Team Scores   
Easton98Blue Mountain7
Dieruff52Northampton7
Nazareth52West Hazleton7
Freedom49Lehighton5
Allen44Pocono Mountain5
Wilson39Hazleton4
Emmaus30Salisbury4
North Schuylkill28Southern Lehigh4
Parkland24Schuylkill Haven3
Stroudsburg23Jim Thorpe2
Hellertown22Minersville2
Tri-Valley17Whitehall1
Liberty11
Pottsville10
Catasauqua8

Northeast Regional Tournament

The Northeast Regional Tournament was held at the Scranton Catholic Youth Center and featured to defending state champions – West Snyder’s Ken Hess (112) and Dieruff’s Dan Newhard (180).  Both grapplers were upset in the semi-finals. Easton’s Chico Lutes scored two 2nd period takedowns and held on for a 5-4 win over Hess.  Newhard was caught with a fireman’s carry in the first period to trail 5-0 and was unable to close the gap in an 8-2 loss to Mifflinsburg’s Scott Moyer.  District XI grapplers were 6-4 in the remaining semi-final matchups.  Easton advanced all five of their wrestlers.  In addition to Lutes, Ed Gigliotti (103), Bob Pratt (127), Barry Snyder (138) and Mike Capobianco (145) all won their semi-final bouts.  Dieruff’s Dan Howard (133) and Freedom’s Al Snellman (154) both won easily.  The other District XI grapplers all lost close bouts.  Wilson’s Mike O’Brein (95) lost in overtime.  Nazareth’s Jeff Duelly (120) and Allen’s Carl Segatti (165) both lost by 4-2 scores, and Dieruff’s Gary Ward dropped a close 7-6 decision to favorite Joel Kisslin.

The finals saw the Lehigh Valley wrestlers go seven for seven.  The Rovers continued their domination by winning five individual regional titles.  Dan Howard and Al Snellman both won by impressive scores.  Pen Argyl’s Steve Detweiler dropped a decision in the 88 lb. exhibition weight class.

PIAA State Championships

Coach Bob Zarbatany took five wrestlers to University Park and three advanced to the finals.  Chico Lutes, Bob Pratt and Barry Snyder all won their semi-final bouts with Pratt and Snyder winning by one point each.  Ed Gigliotti and Mike Capobianco lost their bids for a state championship.  Lutes caught Al Andrews of Johnstown in a cradle and pinned him in 1:20 to win the 112 pound state title.  Pratt lost to West York’s Bill Luckenbill 8-2 while Barry Snyder was nipped 4-3 by Carnegie’s Kevin Love.

Dieruff’s Dan Howard continued his strong post-season performance with 10-5 and 6-0 wins to claim the Huskies’ 4th state title in six years.  Freedom’s Al Snellman was beaten by Hollidaysburg Wade Schalles 7-3.  In the finals, Schalles, in what some have called the greatest match ever at States, was trailing defending state champ John Chatman 5-0 by “elevating him completely over his own head and decking him with a  half nelson and body press” per The Morning Call.  See the match on  You Tube.

Bob Zarbatany, Dan Howard, Chico Lutes
Coach of the Year, Bob Zarbatany, and State Champs – Dan Howard and Chico Lutes (Photo Courtesy of The Morning Call)

It was another good year for the Valley contingent.  Easton won the mythical state title over West York, and Coach Bob Zarbatany was named the first “Coach of the Year.”

Phillipsburg Post Season

Phillipsburg Wrestling
Bob Jiorle Repeated as District 16 Champ (Photo Courtesy of Phillipsburg H.S. Yearbook)

After another incredibly successful dual meet season, Coach Thad Turner’s team continued their success in the District 16 championships.  Phillipsburg had ten wrestlers in the finals with Bob Jiorle (103), Jim Mangino (120), Jack Thompson (133), Sam Farina (138), Don Jessamine (145) and Bob Zaro (165) winning titles.  Jiorle and Zaro each won their third district titles.  Mike Bateman (95), Gary De Almo (112), Henry Kels (165) and Dave Miers (175) lost in the finals and placed 2nd.  The Stateliners easily won the team title with 100 points to Warren Hills 68.

Phillipsburg advanced all six of its grapplers to the finals in the following weekend’s Region 2 tournament at Rutgers University.  In the finals, Jack Thompson had a fall while Sam Farina, Don Jessamine and Bob Zaro all won by decision to advance to the NJ states.  Last year’s 95 lb. state champ, Bob Jiorle lost a close 3-2 decision and Jim Mangino all dropped a decision in the regional finals.

P-Burg sent three wrestlers into the NJ state finals at Asbury Park.  Two were successful as Don Jessamine triumphed 2-0, and Bob Zaro won his 2nd state title by fall.  Jack Thompson lost an overtime referee’s decision and finished 2nd.  Sam Farina finished 3rd.

Phillipsburg Wrestling
Bob Zaro – 2 Time State Champ (Photo Courtesy of Phillipsburg H.S. Yearbook)
Phillipsburg Wrestling
Don Jessamine – NJ State Champion 145 (Photo Courtesy of Phillipsburg H.S. Yearbook)

PCIAA’s

The Eastern Regional was held at Notre Dame High School.  Bethlehem Catholic took an insurmountable lead by advancing ten wrestlers to the finals.  All four defending state champs won their final bouts – Tom Sculley (112), George Fidmik (120), Greg Karabin (165) and Bill Farrell (Hwt).  In addition, Marty Lynn (103), Dave Kametz (127), Don Lonergan (133), Pat Fenton (138) and Tim Cassidy (154) won titles while Larry Gasda (145) finished 2nd and Mike Kozo (88) won the exhibition title.  Don Calderelli (180) won a title for Allentown Central Catholic.  Becahi cruised to the team title with 129 points.

Coach Tony Iasiello and the Golden Hawks looked to defend their title at Lehigh University and easily succeeded!  Two Hawks were able to defend their titles in Tom Sculley (112) and Greg Karabin (165).  Also winning for Becahi were Don Lonergan (133) and Tim Cassidy (154).  Finishing 2nd were Tom Kozo (88), Marty Lynn (103), George Fidmik (120), Pat Fenton (138) and Bill Farrell (Hwt).  Dave Kametz took a 3rd at 127.  Allentown Central Catholic’s Don Calderelli won the 180 pound title.