|Programs Started (Coach):||Pleasant Valley (Unknown)|
|Notable Coaching Change:||Jim McIntyre --> Bill Deibler (Freedom)|
|East Penn League Champion:||Phillipsburg (9-0)|
|LVIAA League Champion:||Emmaus (7-0)|
|Lehigh-Northampton League Champion:||Hellertown (11-0)|
|District Champion:||Hellertown (2 Champions, 2 Runners-up)|
|Regionals:||District XI 5 Total Champs from Different Schools|
|Individual State Champions:||Don Rohn, 112, Hellertown|
With eleven out of twelve District champions graduating, the 1969-70 season appeared to be shaping up as a competitive one. There were no major coaching changes other than Bill Deibler succeeding Jim McIntyre as Freedom’s coach.
The EPC found Phillipsburg riding a 38 match unbeaten streak and locked and loaded for another big year. Bethlehem Catholic had multiple state and regional PCIAA champs back and looked to move up in the standings, while Easton and Dieruff suffered heavy losses to graduation. Freedom had made some noise the prior year including tieing Phillipsburg and also looked to challenge for the top spot.
In the Lehigh-Northampton League, Hellertown returned experienced grapplers in Bill Danyluk, Bob Nagy and Rich Sesulka and had a talented group of sophomores as they looked to repeat.
The Lehigh Valley League saw Emmaus, Northampton and Stroudsburg tie for the league championship each of the past three years. The league competition was expected to again be fierce.
Regular Season Highlights
The 1969 Season opened primarily with non-league action on December 5th. There was one league bout on tap in the EPC. Liberty jumped out to a 9-3 lead after four bouts before Ralph Zito’s 4-1 win spurred a five match winning streak to give Freedom an 18-9 lead. After a draw and decision, Liberty was within range to tie the bout with a fall. Bob McCosky had Rob Schoener on his back in the first period, but had to settle for a 10-5 win. Coach Bill Deibler had a huge win over crosstown rival, Liberty, in his debut 20-17.
Hellertown unveiled a quartet of sophomores in the first four weights as Rocky Chunko, Tom Lechner, Don Rohn and Dan Santoro. The won the first nine weights on the way to a 33-6 rout of Hellertown. Emmaus flexed their muscles by winning eight of twelve bouts in defeating Parkland 28-14.
Dieruff graduated three District Champs and faced off against archrival Allen the next night. In a match that featured four draws, a default and a disqualification, Allen held a 20-11 advantage after seven bouts. Willie Brickhouse edged Bob Alpha 5-4 at 145 and Jim Gaycheck and Scott Barker battled to a draw at 180. Dieruff held a slim 25-22 lead when Guy Gillette scored a fall to give the Huskies a 31-22 win. Wilson whipped Notre Dame 36-10, Southern Lehigh handled Whitehall 32-19 and Pen Argyl dumped Stroudsburg 28-15 in other non-league action.
Bethlehem Catholic debuted by winning nine of twelve bouts to easily beat Allentown Central Catholic 36-13.
The following week saw the remaining teams open their league schedules. In the EPC, Freedom won ten bouts and cruised past Notre Dame 45-8. Liberty won five of the first seven bouts to lead Dieruff 15-6. The Huskies bounced back with a decision by Willie Brickhouse, but after a draw Nemchick decisioned Bob Freer 6-0. Bob McCosky pinned Guy Gillette at heavyweight, and the Hurricanes won 27-14. Easton won their first five bouts including falls by Brad Weaver (103) and Ed Gigliotti (112) to lead Neshaminy 19-0, but had to hold on for a 27-21 win.
Allen got pins from Jay Meron (103) and Smokey Ringer (120) on their way to a 13-3 lead by George Fidmick, Tom Sculley and Bill Kametz won three in a row to pull Beachi into the lead at 14-13. The teams traded decisions in the next two bouts before Jack Sculley rallied from a 7-0 deficit to beat Dave Worsley 8-7. Scott Barker won at 180 to pull Allen within one, but Frank Seier iced the match for Coach Tony Iasiello with an 11-3 win. The Hawks had a 23-19 win.
Hellertown opened their LNL schedule by winning their 13th match in a row defeating Pocono Mountain 52-2. The Panthers had six falls. Nazareth also easily won 41-6 over East Stroudsburg as they tallied four falls. Wilson handled Pen Argyl 37-10. In the feature bout at 103, Mike O’Brein defeated Steve Detweiler 6-0. Northwestern rallied from a 23-9 deficit to win the final three bouts and gain a 23-23 tie with Southern Lehigh. In other bouts, Parkland whipped Palisades 40-14, and Salisbury defeated Bangor 35-16.
Much remained the same in the LVL as both Emmaus and Northampton opened up with easy wins over Slatington 41-12 and Palmerton 57-0, respectively. What did change was defending tri-champion Stroudsburg was dumped by Catasauqua 32-14. Lehighton scored a victory over Whitehall 35-18.
On December 13th, there were several more non-league bouts in the schedule. Phillipsburg flexed their formidable muscles by winning all but one bout against a tough Nazareth squad to win 44-3. Dieruff jumped out to a 14-5 lead then won three straight bouts in the middleweights on their way to a 26-14 win over Emmaus. Bethlehem Catholic cruised past Whitehall 36-11.
In an EPC match, Pennsbury scored six falls to easily defeat Notre Dame 42-11. On December 17th, a key EPC match took place between Easton and Freedom. Easton won three of the first five bouts including a fall by Chico Lutes at 127 to lead 11-6. After trading decisions in the next two bouts, the Patriots would not lose in the final five bouts scoring three decisions, a draw and a fall by Bob Schoener at heavyweight. Freedom had a 25-16 win to remain unbeaten.
On December 18th, another LVL powerhouse fell to Catasauqua. The Rough Riders scored six falls to beat Northampton for the first time ever 30-21. Emmaus and Lehighton both also stayed unbeaten in the league by beating Palmerton 57-0 and Slatington 46-3, respectively. Stroudsburg bounced back to down Whitehall 31-15.
Liberty and Allen battled in a seesaw battle. The Hurricanes led 12-9 after seven bouts. Allen went 3-0-1 in the next four bouts including a key win by Baum who defeated Gottwald, who had dropped to 165, 4-0. Scott Baker added a win at 180, but with the Canaries forced to forfeit at heavyweight, the bout ended in a 20-20 tie. Dieruff got falls from Tony Molinatti (95), Dan Boskett (103) and Willie Brickhouse (145) as they doubled up Notre Dame 32-16. Bethlehem Catholic had falls from Mike Kozo (95), George Fidmik (127) and Tom Sculley (133) easily defeated Neshaminy 34-11.
The same night, the Lehigh-Northampton League featured the three league favorites scoring lopsided wins. Hellertown whipped Parkland 37-5. Wilson crushed East Stroudsburg 36-7, and Nazareth handled Pen Argyl 37-18. Northwestern had six falls in route to a 35-23 win over Bangor. Southern Lehigh dashed out to a 24-10 lead over Salisbury and then hung on to win 24-23. Palisades’ heavyweight Ken Ritter scored a first period fall to gain a 23-23 tie with Pocono Mountain.
In Pre-Holiday action, Easton and Nazareth matched up in a non-league bout. As they had all year, the Rover lightweights roared out of the gate. The middleweights followed suit, and the Rovers led 25-2 after eight bouts. Brad Weaver won 20-2 at 103 while Chico Lutes had a fall at 120. The Blue Eagles rallied winning the final four bouts including two by fall but Easton triumphed 25-19. Dieruff hosted Hunterdon Central the same night. The Brickhouse brothers helped stake the Huskies to a 14-12 lead after the 145 match. The Red Devils won the next two matches by decision to retake the lead 18-14. Jim Gaycheck pitched a 4-0 shut out at 180, and Guy Gillette “used a bar and head chancery to score the fall” per The Morning Call. Coach Dick King’s Huskies had a 23-18 win.
Wilson visited Northampton and were locked in a close bout early on. The Warriors went 4-0 by winning seven of the last eight bouts to win 29-13. Freedom remained unbeaten by easily beating Wyoming Valley West 38-6. Phillipsburg ran their unbeaten streak to 40 by whipping Warren Hills 41-3.
Bethlehem Catholic visited Yardley in a battle of the unbeatens against Pennsbury. The Hawks had their way early on leading 19-5 after eight bouts. Pennsbury reeled off four straight wins to stun Becahi 28-19.
The very first Christmas City Invitational hosted by Bethlehem Catholic had to be postponed a day due to bad weather. Ultimately, three of nine scheduled teams couldn’t make it due to the weather. The original participants were comprised of Allentown Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Delaware Valley NJ, Kingston Catholic, Norfolk Catholic and Notre Dame. The host Hawks dominated outscoring Delaware Valley 92-58 to win the tourney. Pat Sculley (88-Exh), Mike Kozo (95), George Fidmik (127), Tom Sculley (133), Bill Kametz (138) and Rick Ressler (180) won for Becahi; Notre Dame’s Bernie Spirk (165) and Allentown Central Catholic’s Jack Edwards (Hwt) won crowns for their teams.
Phillipsburg ran away with their own tournament with nine finalists and seven champions. Winners for Coach Thad Turner were Rick Thompson (95), Jim Mangino (127), Bill Cavanaugh (133), Sam Farina (138), Jack Thompson (145), Don Jessamine (154) and Ken Osbourne (175).
Emmaus and Palisades traveled to Warren Hills, NJ and finished tied for fourth place. Mark Derr of Emmaus won a title at 103 while Palisades’ Phil Youngkin (120) and Rand Gutshall (154) were runner-ups.
On December 30th, Catasauqua trailed 25-12, but thanks to a fierce rally topped Southern Lehigh 26-25. Dave Carl (165) and Gary Hein (Hwt) scored falls while Ed Kutz (180) won 20-7 to complete the comeback.
North Schuylkill hosted a holiday tournament for the third year and again dominated. After crowning nine and seven champs in the first two years, Coach Joe Cesari’s Spartans had nine champions to run away with the team title. With only four teams in the tournament, it was practically a North Schuylkill vs. Lehighton dual meet with 23 of 26 finalists from the two schools. Bruce Barry (154) and George Barkanic (Hwt) were the Indians’ two winners.
Defending champion Manheim jumped out to a lead on the first day of the Easton Area Holiday Wrestling Tournament. Led by Coach Kenneth Whisler, Manheim had compiled a 120-18 dual record over Whisler’s ten years coaching. With Dieruff, Easton, Freedom, Hellertown and Wilson competing the tourney featured much local talent. Several Easton wrestlers dropped a weight class for this meet.
Manheim would again claim the team title, crowning three champs, and clipped Hellertown (competing for the first time in the tournament) 65-56. The remaining team scores were Easton (49), Freedom (45), Dieruff (37), Hanover (19) and Wilson (16). Hellertown had five finalists and saw Don Rohn (112) and Rich Sesulka (154) claim titles. Rohn used a “half-nelson and arm bar” per The Morning Call to pin Easton’s Ed Ferraro. The host Rovers crowned Brad Weaver (95) and Chico Lutes (120) as champions. Lutes won his third consecutive title by fall and was named outstanding wrestler. Easton’s Ed Gigliotti (103) faced fellow regional champ, Don Blakinger, of Mainheim and dropped an 8-2 decision. Dieruff and Freedom each crowned two champions in Willie Brickhouse (145) & Jim Gaycheck (180) and Ralph Zito (127) & Dennis Bittenbender (138). Wilson’s Skip Dalrymple (Hwt) was also a champion.
Phillipsburg had seven wrestlers remain unbeaten in their first post-holiday action as they topped Hunterdon Central 36-6.
The LNL held several league bouts on January 3rd with Nazareth, Parkland and Southern Lehigh winning fairly easily over Salisbury, Northwestern and Bangor, respectively. The Trojans had four pins in their win.
Last season Freedom fought Phillipsburg to a 20-20 draw ruining the ‘Liners winning streak. Looking for revenge, powerful P-Burg ran their unbeaten streak to 42 matches by crushing previously unbeaten Freedom 33-3. All twelve matches went the distance with Ralph Zito being the Patriots’ only winner at 127. Easton found themselves in the odd position of splitting the first six bouts with Bethlehem Catholic. The Rovers still led 13-9 thanks to falls by Brad Weaver over Mike Kozo at 95 and Ed Gigliotti over Jim Fink at 103. Marty Lynn nipped Ed Ferraro in a key bout at 112. Easton’s middleweights – Larry Davis (with a big 6-4 win over Bill Kametz), Greg Chrin and Tom Heilman – scored decisions. Heavyweight Mike Daley cinched the bout by pinning Rick Ressler to give the Rovers a 27-18 win.
Allen’s struggles continued as they dropped a 26-24 bout to undefeated Pennsbury. The Canaries gave up three falls and a forfeit at 112 but still had a chance to win heading into the final two bouts. Needing falls in both matches, Scott Barker bumped up to heavyweight. While Trostle was able to score a decision at 180, it was not quite enough. Liberty had three falls and two wins by forfeit to rout Notre Dame 42-6.
In the LVL, Lehighton and Emmaus kept their league unbeaten records intact against key opponents. The Indians trailed Northampton 18-12 but rallied winning two decisions to tie the match. George Ahner (180) and George Barkanic (Hwt) both scored falls, and Lehighton won 28-18 to go 6-0 on the year (3-0 league). Emmaus’ cruised past Catasaqua, previously unbeaten in the league, 30-9. The Hornets won 10 of 12 bouts. Stroudsburg won 35-19 over Slatington, and Whitehall rallied to beat Palmerton 34-18.
Hellertown won by an easier than expected 32-8 score over Wilson in LNL competition. The Panthers won the close bouts with four matches being decided by three points or less. Sophomore Tom Lechner fought defending District Champ, Mike O’Brein, to a 5-5 draw. Meanwhile, Nazareth kept pace by bashing Bangor 50-5. The Blue Eagles had four pins a row to open the match by Dave Schreck, Jerry Leh, Rich Albert and Rich Gross. In other matches, Salisbury topped East Stroudsburg 32-13; Northwestern beat Palisades 25-20; Parkland defeated Southern Lehigh 33-18 and Pen Argyl downed Pocono Mountain 35-16.
On January 10th, Phillipsburg continued their assault on EPL competition by crushing Dieruff 36-3. The Stateliners cruised winning most bouts by lopsided scores. Willie Brickhouse twisted his ankle and had to default to Jack Thompson in the marquee bout of the night. The Huskies avoided a shut with Jim Gaycheck’s decision at 180. Freedom easily defeated Neshaminy 41-3. Ralph Zito (133) stayed unbeaten while Gary Rhiel (154) and Bob Schoener (Hwt) scored falls for the Patriots.
Easton held off previously unbeaten Pennsbury 23-20 in another EPL bout. The Rovers won the first five bouts to lead 17-0, but saw Pennsbury rally to win five of the next six bouts, including two by fall, to tie the match at 20-20. Mike Dailey nipped Loger 7-5 to give the Rovers a 23-20 win.
Nazareth doubled up Northampton 30-15 as the Kids dropped their 4th straight match. Rich Albert (112) and Jack Miller (165) scored falls for the winners. Allen’s tough year continued as they dropped a 21-19 bout to Hanover Township.
Hellertown traveled to Pottstown to battle Hill School. The Panthers started quickly getting falls from Rocky Chunko and Tom Lechner and a 13-0 win from Don Rohn to lead 14-0. The Hill rallied, but Rich Sesulka’s 6-1 win at 165 gave Hellertown a 23-12 lead with two bouts to go. Hill School got falls in the final two bouts, but Steve Bissell, son of legendary coach Frank Bissell, could not pull off the first period fall needed for a tie. Hellertown had a 23-22 victory.
Stroudsburg easily defeated rival East Stroudsburg 31-14 while West Hazleton dealt Lehighton their first loss of the year 26-17.
On January 15th, Emmaus moved into sole possession of first place in the Lehigh Valley League by defeating Lehighton 25-19. After Lehighton’s Tom Eisenhower scored a fall to start the match, the Hornets turned the tide as Mark Derr beat Tom Serfass 4-0 in a battle of unbeaten wrestlers. Emmaus then strung together five more wins including falls by Barry Balliet (127) and Bob Ashcroft (133) to build a 22-5 lead. The teams traded decisions in the next two bouts. The Indians won the final three bouts, but it wasn’t enough. Northampton defeated rival Stroudsburg 28-15, and Palmerton nipped Slatington 26-25. The heroics of Catasauqua’s heavyweight Gary Hein gave the Rough Riders a 25-20 victory over Whitehall.
In the EPL, Phillipsburg triumphed over Liberty 29-9. Jack Thompson (138) scored the only fall of the night as five Liners’ wrestlers remained unbeaten. John Fritz dealt Jim Mangino his first lost at 120 by a 7-4 count, and Bob McCosky clipped Dave Miers 4-1 at heavyweight. Easton faced a Dieruff squad which was missing four starters. The Rovers won the first eight bouts in a row to open up an insurmountable 29-0 lead. The Huskies would win three of the final four bouts to narrow the gap to 31-15. Allen routed Notre Dame 44-6. Bernie Spirk bumped up to 180 to challenge Scott Barker and won a close 11-8 bout.
Freedom battled Bethlehem Catholic, and Becahi Coach Tony Iasiello had several of his top wrestlers drop a weight. The strategy worked early on as George Fidmik had a win at 120 and Tom Sculley had a fall at 127, but Bill Kametz lost to Ralph Zito at 133 by an 8-1 score. Still, the Hawks led 14-6 at the halfway point, but they would not win another bout. The Patriots won the final six bouts in a row including one, two and three point decisions. Bob Schoener scored a fall at heavyweight, and the final score was 26-14. Freedom, Easton and Pennsbury each had one league loss while Phillipsburg was the lone undefeated squad.
In the LNL, Nazareth and Hellertown both remained unbeaten and on a collision course to battle again for the league title. The Blue Eagles won the first four bouts to lead 12-0. Dan Beitler scored a fall for the Trojans at 127, and the next five bouts saw the teams each win two and tie one. The score stood at 20-13 with two bouts to go, but Gerhard and Bastian scored shut out wins to give Coach Ray Nunamaker a 26-13 victory. Hellertown win the first ten bouts against Pen Argyl before surrounding two first period falls to win easily 35-12. Tom Lechner continued his stellar season by defeating tough Bob Detweiler 6-2. Other league bouts saw East Stroudsburg beat Bangor 32-15; Wilson shut out Northwestern 41-0; Southern Lehigh down Palisades 34-15 and Salisbury cruise past Pocono Mountain 30-11.
Two nights later, Phillipsburg continued pounding the competition by defeating Pennsbury 36-6 to run their unbeaten streak to 45. Bob Jiorle (103), Jack Thompson (138) and Don Jessamine (145) all scored falls. Pennsbury was only able to manage wins at 112 and 165. In non-league action, Allen cruised by Pottsville 41-9, and Easton handled rival Wilson 35-11. Brad Weaver (95), Chico Lutes (120), Greg Chrin (145) and Brian Stage (180) scored falls. Ed Gigliotti won a match up at 103 with Mike O’Brein by a 6-1 count.
A sparse schedule over the next few days saw Hellertown shutting out Palisades 54-0 for another league victory; Emmaus whip Allentown Central Catholic 34-8 and Allen score an EPL victory over Neshaminy 34-6.
Emmaus was poised to win the LVL title, but still had to beat past nemesis Northampton. The Green Hornets left little doubt as they jumped out to a 21-4 lead after seven matches and went on to win 27-15. Lehighton stayed within range by upending upstart Catasauqua 28-12 in a match that was saw Catty leading 12-11 after seven bouts. The Indian upper weights won five bouts in a row punctuated by George Barkanic’s fall at heavyweight. On a final bout fall by Earl Snyder, Slatington nipped Whitehall 26-25, and Stroudsburg pounded Palmerton 34-12.
The EPL had two matches on the schedule including Easton visiting Memorial Gym to face the Liberty. Easton’s Brad Weaver opened with a 19-0 win, but McCandless and Hammer posted decisions to give the Hurricanes a 6-3 league. Chico Lutes shut out John Fritz 6-0 at 120, and Piro nipped Richie 7-6 at 127. The Rovers led 9-6, but Liberty would counter by winning the next two bouts to again lead 12-9. Easton would counter again by winning three close decisions (Greg Chrin, Tom Heilman and Golden) to lead 18-12. Lance Gottwald won a 5-1 decision over Brian Stage at 180 to make the score 18-15. Bob McCosky’s second period fall at heavyweight gave Coach Frank Gutierrez his first win over Easton in five years, 20-18.
Dieruff hosted Bethlehem Catholic in what was expected to be a tale of two matches with Becahi dominating early and then trying to hold off the Huskies’ rally late. Tony Molinatti, Dan Bosket and Doug Young had other ideas as they won 3-2, 6-5 and 4-0, respectively, to give the Huskies a 9-0 lead. The Hawks would win the next four weights (Gaydos, George Fidmik, Tom Sculley and Bill Kametz) to lead 12-9, but it wouldn’t be nearly enough. A healthy Husky squad won the final five bouts including pins by Jon Corazza (154), Jim Doster (165) and Guy Gillette (Hwt) to give Coach Dick King a 30-12 win.
The LNL saw a series of largely one-sided bouts. Hellertown beat Salisbury 34-15, and Nazareth topped Palisades 37-15 to stay unbeaten in the league. Parkland shut out East Stroudsburg 44-0; Wilson shut out Southern Lehigh by an identical score; Pen Argyl downed Northwestern 40-15; and Pocono Mountain beat winless Bangor 30-22.
On January 24th, EPL league leaders, Phillipsburg and Freedom, hammered Bucks County competitors, Neshaminy and Pennsbury, by 51-3 and 31-9 scores, respectively. Wilson romped over Pocono Mountain 38-3 in an LNL match. In non-league action, Dieruff easily beat Stroudsburg 48-6 on the strength of seven pins. Allen lost to Hunterdon Central 25-17, and Northampton was tied with Hill School at 13 before losing five of the six five bouts to drop a 33-18 match. Two nights later, Bangor defeated Pleasant Valley 33-13 to garner its first win in two years.
Phillipsburg continued its march to another EPL title as they won all but two bouts in defeating Allen 42-6. Jay Meron nipped Bob Jiorle 5-4 at 103, and Robin Blum edged Gary DeAlmo 4-3 at 112. In another key matchup, Don Jessamine remained undefeated and beat Chuck Alley 10-6. Easton won all but two bouts to beat Notre Dame 43-8.
Bethlehem Catholic started strong enough and came through in the final two bouts to pick up a 23-14 win over Liberty. There were plenty of close bouts with six bouts decided by only one or two points. The teams split the first six bouts with Marty Lynn dealing Dave Hammer his first loss 6-4 at 112, and Tom Sculley picking up a fall at 133 to give the Hawks an 11-9 lead. When Nemchik nipped Jack Sculley 5-4 at 165, Liberty was within three points. Glenn Ressler edged Lance Gottwald 3-2, and Frank Seier decisioned Mike Bartek 5-2 to give the Hawks the win.
Emmaus continued its march to its first outright Lehigh Valley League title as they defeated Stroudsburg 28-15. Sam Fedman and Mark Derr started the Green Hornets off with falls, and Tom Snyder had a fall in the final bout. Lehighton stayed one match behind in the standings as they routed Palmerton 44-6; Catasauqua clipped Slatington 32-13; and Northampton beat Whitehall 37-10.
The same night, Wilson visited Nazareth and became the “spoiler” as they upset Nazareth 25-18. The Blue Eagles had taken an expected early lead of 9-3 after four bouts, but the Wilson squad won the next four bouts as Seiple, Bertolino and Lutri scored decisions and Crivellaro scored a fall. Then Leo Wismer nipped Craig Lawrence at 154 by a 2-1 score, and Wilson had an 20-9 lead. Nazareth would rally as Jack Miller (165) had a fall and Ron Gerhard scored a decision to close to 20-18. Coach Al Zarbatany had Skip Dalrymple waiting in the wings, and the Warrior heavyweight did not disappoint scoring his 5th fall of the year to clinch the “W.”
Hellertown registered another shut out 54-0 over Bangor to take sole possession of first place in the LNL. Palisades got a fall from Ken Ritter to top East Stroudsburg 24-23; Parkland beat Pocono Mountain 30-6; Salisbury came back with falls by Mark Currie and Dick Strauss to win 24-17 over Northwestern; and Pen Argyl tripped Southern Lehigh 37-13.
As January ended, Dieruff picked up an EPL win over Neshaminy 31-9 as Charlie Brickhouse (127) and Guy Gillette (Hwt) had falls. Bethlehem Catholic shut out Southern Lehigh 42-0; Liberty fell to Hill School 28-16; and Allentown Central Catholic evened its record at 5-5-1 with a 42-11 win over Slatington.
Nazareth was looking to create a 3-way tie for the Lehigh-Northampton League title on February 4th as they hosted Hellertown. Rusty Chunko, Tom Lechner and Don Rohn won decisions to start the match. After two draws, Nazareth’s Ken Steward won at 133 to make the score Hellertown 13-7. From there, it was pretty much all Hellertown as Bruce Danyluk, Bob Nagy and Rich Sesulka strung together three wins. The Panthers would win 33-10 for their 23rd straight LNL victory – all but assuring another league title. Wilson crushed Bangor 49-2; Salisbury defeated Palisades 30-14; East Stroudsburg handled Northwestern 33-16; and Parkland downed Pen Argyl 31-18. Pocono Mountain trailed Southern Lehigh 18-3, but won the final five bouts including falls by Reddicks (145) and DePue (180) to triumph 22-18.
In the EPL, Liberty easily beat Neshaminy 32-11, and Bethlehem Catholic cruised past Notre Dame 44-5.
On February 5th, Phillipsburg visited Easton. Unfortunately, the Rovers were without three starters as Larry Davis (133) had mononucleosis, and Ed Gigliotti (103) and Chico Lutes (120) were recovering from injuries suffered in an auto accident. The Rovers were able to win two of the first bouts including Joe Piro’s 4-2 win over Jim Mangino at 120 to forge a 6-6 tie. After that, Coach Thad Turner’s Stateliners ran away with the match. P-Burg’s four unbeaten wrestlers then began pulling away. Bill Cavanaugh scored a fall at 127 followed by decisions by Sam Farina, Jack Thompson and Don Jessamine. The Liners would go on to win three more bouts before Dave Miers and Mike Daley battled to a draw at heavyweight. Phillipsburg won easily 36-8 – their 48th straight match without a loss.
The same night, Freedom and Allen faced off. Allen hung in the match as Jay Meron beat Lance Lenhart 4-2 at 106, Simonelli’s win at 133 and two draws. After Chuck Alley nipped Dennis Bittenbender 7-6 at 145, the team score was tied 13-13. Freedom would win the next two bouts as Gary Rhiel (154) and Santos Morales (165) scored identical 4-0 decisions. Scott Barker kept the Canaries in it with a 4-0 decision of his own, but Bob Schoener scored a fall to clinch a 24-16 victory for Freedom.
Emmaus won their first outright Lehigh Valley League title as they walloped Whitehall 31-14. Mark Derr (103) and Keith Shafer (120) stayed unbeaten for the Green Hornets. Lehighton (24-15 over Stroudsburg), Catasauqua (44-5 over Palmerton) and Northampton (49-5 over Slatington) all won to finish 2nd-3rd-4th in the league.
In the Northern Division of the Tri-County League, Jim Thorpe clinched the division title winning their ninth straight match.
On February 7th, after trailing 15-3, favored Parkland rallied to gain a 15-15 tie with Salisbury after ten bouts. The Falcons unbeaten Mark Currie and once beaten Rich Strauss each won 8-0 decisions for a 21-15 upset over the Trojans. Meanwhile, league leaders Hellertown (50-0 over Southern Lehigh), Wilson (42-7 over Palisades) and Nazareth (45-3 over Northwestern) all won easily. Also, Pocono Mountain defeated East Stroudsburg 33-15, and Pen Argyl beat Bangor 50-9.
In the EPL, Dieruff hosted Pennsbury and roared out to a 17-0 lead as Doug Young (103) and Dave Benson (112) scored falls. Pennsbury would win four straight bouts to take an 18-17 lead. The teams traded decisions in the next two bouts, and then Jim Gaycheck put the Huskies back ahead 23-21 with one bout to go. Guy Gillette’s 5-3 win gave the Huskies a 26-21 victory.
In non-league action, Phillipsburg continued to roll up big wins as they downed NJ rival, Hunterdon Central, 33-8. Bethlehem Catholic handled LVL champ, Emmaus, 28-14; Easton won 28-12 over Wyoming Valley West; and Allentown Central Catholic topped Whitehall 28-16.
Hellertown had last lost 23 bouts ago to Liberty, and the Panthers were seeking revenge. As they had done all year, Hellertown roared out of the gates as the trio of Rocky Chunko, Tom Lechner and Don Rohn (by fall over Dave Hammer) won to build an 11-0 lead. Liberty would answer back as John Fritz downed Dan Santoro 7-2 and Jim Richie defeated Underkoffler 6-1. Hellertown pulled away by winning the next four bouts as Frank Klotz, Bill Danyluk, Bob Nagy and Rich Sesulka (by fall) all scored for the Panthers on the way to a 27-17 triumph.
Lehighton continued their winning ways as they easily beat Tamaqua 43-9.
On February 11th and 12th, it was back to league action. In the EPL, Neshaminy won ten bouts to defeat Notre Dame 34-10 while Liberty handled Pennsbury 29-9. Easton was too much for Allen as they won four of their first five bouts as they welcomed Chico Lutes back to the lineup. The Rovers led 12-3 and then largely traded decisions with the Canaries the rest of the way to triumph by the same 9 point margin, 23-14.
Phillipsburg hosted Bethlehem Catholic, stayed unbeaten for the 50th straight match and clinched a tie for the EPL title by defeating Bethlehem Catholic 37-11. Becahi won a number of the toss-up bouts as George Fidmik beat Jim Mangino 6-2. Tom Sculley and Bill Kametz knocked Bill Cavanaugh and Sam Farina from the unbeaten ranks by winning 6-4 and 6-1, respectively. Phillipsburg had too much firepower up top as Jack Thompson (138), Don Jessamine (145), Ken Osbourne (180) and Dave Miers (Hwt) all won by fall. A few nights later, the Stateliners crushed winless Notre Dame 46-6 to win the EPL title for the 4th straight year and 6th title in the 7 year history of the East Penn League.
Freedom was looking to clinch 2nd place in the EPL against Dieruff. The Huskies jumped out to an 8-2 lead after three bouts, but Freedom won four matches in a row including pins by Easterday (120) and Dennis Bittenbender (138) to take an 18-8 lead. Willie Brickhouse (145), Jim Doster (165) and Jim Gaycheck (180) would win to pull the Huskies within four. Bob Schoener again came through for Freedom beating Guy Gillette 11-5, and Freedom won 24-17 to clinch 2nd place.
In the LNL, Hellertown handled Northwestern 43-3; Parkland topped Bangor 38-8; and Wilson handled Salisbury 30-6. In the final match Wilson’s heavyweight, Skip Dalrymple, nipped once beaten Rich Strauss 2-1. East Stoudsburg clipped Southern Lehigh 27-23; Nazareth defeated Pocono Mountain 29-15; and Pen Argyl whipped Palisades 43-12.
Bethlehem Catholic doubled up Northampton 26-13 as George Fidmik and Tom Sculley each won “their 14th dual meet bouts of the season, which is a school record. Overall this year, they are both 17-0,” per The Morning Call.
On February 18th, the Lehigh-Northampton League wrapped up its schedule for the year. Hellertown won their 25th straight dual meet and 3rd league title by beating East Stroudsburg 52-2 to finish unbeaten at 14-0. Wilson claimed 2nd in the league by walloping Parkland 33-8, and Nazareth finished 3rd by handling Southern Lehigh 42-3. Pen Argyl got a huge fall from Keith Miller over Salisbury’s Rich Strauss in the final bout to edge the Falcons 25-21. Northwestern clipped Pocono Mountain 25-18 and Palisades kept Bangor winless in the league with a 36-12 defeat.
Allentown Central Catholic closed out the dual season by winning five of the final six bouts to defeat Notre Dame 25-18 and finish with their first winning season ever.
League Standings were as follows:
|Compiled Standings 1969-70||Place||W-L-D|
Phillipsburg finished an incredible dual meet season 13-0 with a 51 meet unbeaten streak intact. The Stateliners outscored their opponents 499-75 during the season. Only one team got into double digits (Becahi at 13) and their lowest margin of victory was 20 (Liberty). Phillipsburg was truly dominant in what would be Coach Thad Turner’s final year as he would become the Lehigh head coach for fall 1970.
Hellertown was 14-0 with a 25 meet win streak in place. The Panthers outscored opponents 562-102. They nipped Hill School by one point and beat Liberty by 10 points, but won their league bouts by an average of 39 points.
Other teams with very good records for the season: LNL runner-up Wilson (12-2), LVL runner-up Lehighton 11-2, Jim Thorpe 10-2, Nazareth and Pen Argyl 10-4, EPL runner=up Freedom 9-1, LVL champ Emmaus 9-2 and Easton 9-3.
The four sectional tournaments had expanded to include a total of 39 schools competing for District XI honors. The breakdown of the individual sectional tournaments were as follows:
|East Penn||Lehigh-Northampton||Lehigh Valley||Tri-Valley|
|Williams Valley||Palisades||Slatington||North Schuylkill|
|Pocono Mountain||Schuylkill Valley|
The East Penn League sectional was held at Allen’s Little Palestra and had four Easton wrestlers seeded first followed by Dieruff (3), Freedom (3) and Liberty (2). Easton lived up to expectations by advancing eight wrestlers to the Districts while Freedom had 6, Dieruff and Liberty had 5 each and Allen had 2 men advancing. Dieruff’s Doug Young upset unbeaten Jay Meron from Allen 10-4 at 103. Easton’s returning state champ, Chico Lutes, returned follow an auto accident and won 8-1 to advance.
The Tri-County league sectional expanded to thirteen teams and was hosted by Blue Mountain. Unbeaten North Schuylkill had five wrestlers seeded first, and Tri-Valley had three. The preliminary round featured 21 pins, which scored one point each for their respective teams. North Schuylkill was dominant advancing all 12 wrestlers to the semi-finals on their way to romping to the team title. The Spartans had seven champs and advanced 9 wrestlers to Districts.
Parkland High School was host to the Lehigh-Northampton League sectional. League champ, Hellertown had seven #1 seeds; Parkland had 2; and Nazareth, Wilson and Salisbury each had one. The first round featured one upset as Northwestern’s Lee McCollough dropped to 95 and upset #2 seed Dave Schreck of Nazareth 4-1. The Panthers were dominant and advanced nine wrestlers to the following week. Wilson had six qualifiers while Nazareth had three, Pen Argyl two and four other teams had one each. Two top-seeded wrestlers, Al Magniarini (133) from Hellertown and Rich Michael (145) from Parkland were upset.
Slatington was the site for the Lehigh Valley League sectional. League champ, Emmaus, and Northampton each advanced 11 wrestlers to the semi-finals. Catasauqua’s Wayne Stofko upended top-seeded Harry Eisenhower of Lehighton 5-2 at 95 pounds. Emmaus had won their regular season title and won the LVL tournament title as well with 74 points to Northampton’s 65 points. Emmaus and Northampton matched up head-to-head in the first three weights, and the Hornets won all three to pretty much clinch the title. Overall, Emmaus four champions and advanced 7 men to the Districts. Northampton only had one champ but advanced eight men. Lehighton wrestlers won the last four weights and moved five on to the Districts.
District XI Wrestling Championships
The 1970 District XI Wrestling Championship was held at Liberty High School. Three defending champs returned – Mike O’Brein from Wilson and Ed Gigliotti from Easton who were set to meet each other in a quarterfinal match up at 103 along with Chico Lutes from Easton at 120.
The quarterfinals saw Hellertown move six men advance while Easton and North Schuylkill each had six winners. At 103, Wilson’s O’Brein and Easton’s Gigliotti battled to a 1-1, 1-1 deadlock with O’Brein getting the nod from the officials to advance. Dieruff’s Doug Young upset Hellertown’s once beaten Tom Lechner 10-1 at the same weight. At 120, Liberty’s John Fritz dealt Emmaus’ Keith Shafer his first loss 8-3. A battle of unbeatens took place at 127 with Freedom’s Ralph Zito triumphing over Tri-Valley’s Steve Paul 12-4. Stroudsburg’s Bob Stetler edged previously unbeaten Jim Laubenstein from Blue Mountain 3-0. At heavyweight another battle of unbeatens took place with Wilson’s Skip Dalrymple downing Lehighton’s George Barkanic 6-2.
The semi-finals featured many exciting bouts. The very first bout at 95 featured two wrestlers with a combined 39-1 record. Hellertown’s Rocky Chunko won a 6-6, 1-0 overtime decision over North Schuylkill’s Rick Edwards. At 103, Mike O’Brein pinned Emmaus’ previously unbeaten Mark Derr and North Schuylkill was on the right side of an overtime decision as Bill Hoffman beat Doug Young. Hellertown’s Bill Danyluk edged Freedom’s Dennis Bittenbender 1-1, 1-0 at 138. Easton’s Brad Weaver (95) and Stroudsburg’s Bob Stetler (138) also registered falls to advance. Easton, Hellertown and North Schuylkill continued to battle as each advanced four wrestlers to the finals.
Easton’s Weaver got the finals off to an exciting start with a fall over Chunko. Mike O’Brein won his 2nd district title for Wilson by beating Hoffman 3-1. Two future NCAA champions would win the next two bouts. Hellertown’s Don Rohn won by fall while Liberty’s John Fritz upset defending state champ Chico Lutes from Easton 11-5. Fritz had lost to Lutes 6-0 in a dual meet, but had four takedowns in his win.
The next eight weights would feature wrestlers from eight different schools win titles in an incredibly balanced tournament. Ralph Zito (Freedom), Larry Davis (Easton), Bob Stetler (Stroudsburg), Willie Brickhouse (Dieruff), Rich Sesulka (Hellertown), Earl Kunkel (Parkland), Scott Barker (Allen) and Skip Dalrymple (Wilson) would all win titles for their schools. Sesulka trailed Dieruff’s Jon Corazza 5-2 per The Morning Call but came back to win 8-5 at 154. When the dust settled, no team had won more than two individual titles, and Hellertown continued their successful season winning the team title.
Team scores were as follows:
North Schuylkill Finished 2nd with 4 District Runner-Ups (From North Schuylkill H.S. Yearbook)
1970 District XI Champions – Front L-R: Greg Filipos (Liberty), Brad Weaver (Easton), Mike O’Brien (Wilson), Don Rohn (Hellertown), John Fritz (Liberty), Ralph Zito (Freedom), Larry Davis (Easton)
Back: L-R: Bob Stetler (Stroudsburg), Willie Brickhouse (Dieruff), Rich Sesulka (Hellertown), Earl Kunkle (Parkland), Scott Barker (Allen), Skip Dalrymple (Wilson) (Photo Courtesy of Tom Elling)
Northeast Regional Wrestling Championhips
With no returning champions, the Northeast Regionals were wide open as they returned to Muhlenberg College’s Memorial Hall. In the semi-finals the District XI contingent roared out of the gate to win their matches in eight of the first nine weights. Wilson’s Mike O’Brein (103), Stroudsburg’s Bob Stetler (138) and Hellertown’s Rich Sesulka scored falls. Unfortunately, the District XI wrestlers (Earl Kunkel, Scott Hursh and Skip Dalrymple) in the final three weights lost close matches. Liberty’s John Fritz won a high scoring bout 10-7 at 120.
In the finals, Liberty’s Greg Filipos won the 88 pound exhibition class by a 7-0 score. At 95 Easton’s Brad Weaver suffered a stunning upset 10-4 to Tom Davis of Hanover, Weaver had beaten Davis 16-2 in the Easton Holiday Tourney finals. District XI wrestlers would win the next four weights as Mike O’Brein, Hellertown’s Don Rohn, John Fritz and Freedom’s Ralph Zito, despite battling bronchitis, all won by decisions. At 138, Bob Stetler was locked in a tight match when he was caught and pinned in a non-control fall. Dieruff’s Willie Brickhouse won handily 8-2, but previously undefeated Rich Sesulka dropped a 10-5 decision.
Districts XI and IV tied for the most champions with five each while District 2 had two champions.
PIAA State Wrestling Championships
The 1970 state tournament was held in the Harrisburg Farm show Arena for the first time ever. The brackets were not kind to two District XI competitors – Mike O’Brein (103) and Willie Brickhouse (145) who drew the only defending state champs in the field – Tom Teagarden of McGuffey and Kevin Love of Carnegie, respectively. Morning Call writer, Paul Reinhard, reported that the 48 contestants in the tourney had a combined record of 999-44-6 with 466 falls- an incredibly accomplished group of wrestlers!
Hellertown’s Don Rohn won his team’s first state title ever and finished his sophomore season 26-0. Rohn topped unbeaten Dave Yohn of Manheim Central 7-2 in the semi-finals, and then won in the finals 5-5, 2-0 in overtime after trailing 5-2. Liberty’s John Fritz won his semi-final bout by a 7-5 score, but then dropped an 11-8 decision in the finals. Freedom’s Ralph Zito won easily to advance to the finals but was nipped 5-4 in the finals.
Mike O’Brein lost 14-4 in the semi-finals to Teagarden, and Willie Brickhouse was pinned by Kevin Love, who pinned 22 of 25 opponents during the year according to The Morning Call.
It was a solid year for District XI, but District 7 was truly dominant advancing all twelve of their champions to the finals and winning an incredible eight titles. Trinity won the mythical state title.
PCIAA Wrestling Championships
Bethlehem Catholic, Allentown Central Catholic and Notre Dame joined eight other teams to compete at Lourdes Regional High School in Shamokin for the PCIAA Eastern Regional Championship. Becahi sported five defending champs and #1 seeds including unbeaten George Fidmik (127) and Tom Sculley (133). Notre Dame’s Bernie Spirk (180) and ACC’s Jack Edwards (Hwt) were also top seeded. The Hawks advanced 11 men through to the semi-finals while Notre Dame had seven and ACC had four men advancing.
Becahi went 10 for 11 in the semi-finals to wrap up the team championship before the round was even completed. In the finals, Pat Sculley (88), Mike Kozo (95), Jim Gaydos (120), George Fidmik (127, 3rd title), Tom Sculley (133, 4th title), Bill Kametz (138) and Dave Cech (145) all won titles. Coach Tony Iasiello’s squad finished with an incredible 115 points to run away with the title. Allentown Central Catholic had two champs and two runner-ups to finish 2nd with 46 points; Notre Dame had 1 champ and finished 4th with 39 points. For ACC, Bob Corkery (154) and Jack Edwards (Hwt) and for Notre Dame, Bernie Spirk (180) won titles.
The PCIAA Championships were held in Pittsburgh. Bethlehem Catholic continued their winning ways as 10 of their 12 entries won their quarterfinal bouts to take an early lead. Allentown Central Catholic and Notre Dame advanced four and three wrestlers, respectively. Bethlehem Catholic and Bishop Canevin were locked in a tight team race – 83-80 Canevin after the semi’s. Both teams advanced seven wrestlers to the finals.
In the finals, Bethlehem Catholic would go four for four in bouts against Bishop Canevin. The Hawks started strong as Pat Sculley (88) pinned his Bishop Canevin opponent. George Fidmik (127), Tom Sculley (133) and Bill Kametz (138) also scored decisions over Canevin grapplers. Mike Kozo also won a title while Marty Lynn and Dave Cech finished second. The final team score saw Becahi edge Bishop Canevin 100-97. Jack Edwards won the heavyweight title for Allentown Central Catholic leading them to a 5th place finish in the team score.
Phillipsburg Post Season
After one of the most dominating regular season performances ever, Coach Thad Turner’s Phillipsburg team hosted the District 16 championship. The Stateliners had another dominant performance scoring 110 points and crowing eight champions to easily beat runner-up Warren Hills with 47 points. Winning titles for P-Burg were Rick Thompson (95), Bob Jiorle (103), Gary DeAlmo (112), Jim Mangino (120), Bill Cavanaugh (127), Jack Thompson (138), Don Jessamine (145) and Dave Miers (Hwt).
Phillipsburg moved seven wrestlers into the semi-finals and all but one advanced to the finals in the Region 2 New Jersey championships. In the finals, Rick Thompson (95), Bill Cavanaugh (127) and Jack Thompson (138) won titles to advance to the state tournament. Jiorle (103) lost a 6-2 decision to defending state champ (and future Lehigh national champion) Mike Frick. Last year’s state champ, Don Jessamine (145) dropped a 4-2 decision. Jim Mangino (120) also finished 2nd while Gary DeAlmo took 3rd at 112.
In the NJ State Finals, Rick Thompson finished 4th competing despite having the flu per The Morning Call. Bill Cavanaugh finished 2nd at 127. Jack Thompson made the top of the podium after finishing a runner-up in the prior season. Thompson won 7-2 and 18-5 to finish the season at 22-0 and 70-5 in his career per “Welcome to the Pit.”
Epilogue: After the 1970 season, Coach Thad Turner would become the wrestling coach at his alma mater, Lehigh University. Turner left a tremendous legacy at Phillipsburg crowning 37 District champions, 16 Regional champions and 8 NJ State champions in nine years. He had a career record of 98-14-4 winning East Penn League titles in six of the league’s first seven years of existence. He left with a 51 match unbeaten streak intact along with a streak of eight straight wins against Easton. His 1969-70 team may be one of the most dominant dual meet teams of all-time. Over the years, his wrestlers competed against sold-out crowds in The Pit and at many opponents’ gymnasiums. Coach Turner was a truly incredible coach with a lasting legacy and tradition!