|Notable Coaching Changes:||Bill Young --> Tom Best (Parkland)|
|John Marfia --> Larry Gasda (Allentown Central Catholic)|
|Angelo Konstas --> Jack Steber (Jim Thorpe)|
|Changes in Structure:||PIAA approves split into two classes Class A&B based upon male enrollment. In Class A, three wrestlers would now advance to Northeast Regional. As a result, a consolation round was added to the District XI Class A Tournament. Northeast Regional Will Now Advance Top 3 wrestlers to State Tournament which will now have 16 qualifiers at each weight. PCIAA Tournament is no longer held, and Notre Dame now participates in PIAA Tournaments. First Class A vs. Class B Pennsylvania Wrestling Classic is held.|
|East Penn League Champion:||Easton (9-0)|
|LVIAA League Champion:||Lehighton (7-0)|
|Lehigh-Northampton League Champions:|
|North Division:||Saucon Valley (6-0)|
|South Division:||Salisbury (5-0-1)|
|Class A:||Easton (5 Champions)|
|Class B:||North Schuylkill (2 Champions)|
|Class A:||District XI 10 Total Champs - Easton (4 Champions)|
|Class B:||District XI 10 Total Champs|
|Class A:||Easton wins mythical state title with 2 champions, 1-3rd & 1-4th|
|Individual State Champions:|
|Class A:||Curt Stanley, 132, Easton and Darwin Brodt, 167, Easton|
|Class B:||Joe Butto, 126, Wilson and Nick DeLong, Hwt, Slatington|
The 1972-73 season would be the final season where all PA schools participated in one combined PIAA tournament. As the 1973-74 season began, schools were split into “Class A” and “Class B”. Larger schools participated in Class A and smaller schools participated in Class B. The Class A tournament place winners were expanded as the top three placers advanced to the Northeast Regional which included Districts II and IV with District XII shifting to the Southeast Regional. Class B advanced two wrestlers to the Southeast Regional tournament which included District I. Other structural changes included expansion of the Class A bracket to 16 wrestlers at each weight, and the Northeast Regional gained an additional state qualifier.
Bill Young was the only coach Parkland’s wrestling team had ever known, and Angelo “Angie” Konstas was a pioneer of Jim Thorpe wrestling. Both stepped down prior to the 1973-74 season. The new coaches were Parkland alumnus, Tom Best, and Jack Steber, respectively.
Freedom had defeated Saucon Valley 30-19 during the prior season, and an independent dual between these two rivals would help to kick off the season on December 6th. The Panthers roared out of the gate with a dominating 42-8 win over the Patriots. Don Severn (119) and Rick Rodriguez (126) both scored falls. Bethlehem Catholic’s Brown brothers, Charlie and Mike, led the Hawks to a come-from-behind 33-24 win over Northampton. Other non-league matches saw Liberty crush Allentown Central Catholic 42-11, and Pen Argyl clipped Catasauqua 33-27. Emmaus, Nazareth, Northern Lehigh, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Pocono Mountain and Southern Lehigh also won their openers.
On December 8th, Phillipsburg traveled to Nazareth. The Blue Eagles had not beaten the Stateliners since the 1958-59 season and trailed 17-0 after the first five bouts. The Eagles used a middleweight rally to close the gap to 20-15 after the 167 pound bout. Don Schmeltzley’s 3rd period takedown and 3-0 win at 185 clinched the bout for P-Burg. Lynn Morris’ fall at heavyweight cut the final margin to 23-21.
Several other extremely close matches took place the same night. Freedom, on the strength of falls from Rich McIntyre, Bruce Altemose and Ed Klesh, staged a comeback win over Northampton 30-24. Note Dame’s Larry Golden (105) and Joe Holva (112) scored falls, and the Crusaders held off a Wilson rally to hold on for a 26-23 win. Pen Argyl trailed Stroudsburg 28-20 but had a fall from Bob Edwards and decision from Bubba Ede in the final two bouts to win 29-28. Easton roared past Emmaus 50-0 in their opening match.
Salisbury had three falls and opened up a 25-0 lead over Allentown Central Catholic only to see that lead evaporate as the Vikings won six straight bouts including falls by Steve Ganser, Larry Cash and Joe Adams. The Vikings led 27-25 and earned a draw at heavyweight for a final score of 29-27.
East Penn League action commenced on December 12th with two matches. The Dieruff-Neshaminy match featured eight bouts that ended in falls as the Huskies outslugged the Redskins 40-24. Bethlehem Catholic’s Mike Dominguez (119) had a fall, and sophomore Mike Brown had a 6-2 win at 167 as the Hawks nipped Pennsbury 23-20.
One night later, two more EPL matches were on the schedule. Easton had three falls and won all but one bout to crush Notre Dame 46-3. Phillipsburg held a slim 23-20 lead over Allen with two bouts to go. As he had done against Nazareth, Bob Schmeltzly had a key decision and Steve Ellis had a fall to lead the ‘Liners to a 32-20 win. In non-league bouts Freedom defeated Allentown Central Catholic 43-12 while Liberty had late pins by Brian Statum (155) and Gary Martinez (185) to top Northampton 30-18.
The same evening, the LNL opened up with some interleague bouts. Saucon Valley cruised past Salisbury 39-6; Nazareth beat Southern Lehigh 38-18; Pocono Mountain defeated East Stroudsburg 44-8; Northwestern downed Pen Argyl 31-18; and Bangor edged Pleasant Valley 28-21. Wilson had three late wins to beat Palisades 29-21.
On December 15th, more EPL action took place. Dieruff continued their winning ways as Dan Hall (105), Mike Marks (167) and Roger Young (Hwt) scored falls to lead the Huskies to a 36-18 win over Pennsbury. Liberty had two early falls from Doug Heimbach (98) and Bill Rodriguez (105) as they built a 15-0 lead. Pennsbury came back and was able to tie the match at 24-24 on a fall by Don Hibbs in the final bout.
Easton extended their unbeaten streak to 23 by defeating Nazareth 35-10. The Rovers showed their strength but not allowing a solid Nazareth team to score a takedown per The Morning Call. In a key individual match-up, Curt Stanley decisioned Greg Skutches 4-2 at 132. Steve Clemons 13-3 win at heavyweight was the deciding bout in Northampton’s 27-26 victory over Wilson. Pocono Mountain won six straight bouts to top Slatington 30-25; Bethlehem Catholic and Lehighton also won non-league bouts.
Neshaminy had lost nine straight EPL matches to Phillipsburg, including the prior year’s 66-0 shutout. However, on December 19th, the Redskins shocked the Stateliners 28-15 before their home crowd in Langhorne. Jim Gillick pinned tough Mike Rossetti at 112 in a key bout.
On December 20th, Dieruff and Notre Dame were knotted at 15 after eight matches. The Huskies ran the table in the last four bouts to win their third straight match 31-15. Easton continued their domination by dominating Pennsbury 41-3. Freedom’s Mike Zito (112) and Rich McIntyre (138) scored falls to lead the Patriots to a 28-18 win over Allen. Bethlehem Catholic and Liberty locked up in an intracity rivalry. Becahi built an early 10-3 only to see Liberty bounce back to close the gap to 12-11. After BC’s Pat Lawler and Liberty’s Brian Statum traded decisions, Mike Brown scored a fall at 167 as Becahi went on to win 23-19.
Non-league bouts would see Emmaus defeat Allentown Central Catholic 30-17; Nazareth triumph over Salisbury 37-14 after trailing 14-5; Southern Lehigh pound Parkland 36-11; and Northwestern defeat Wilson for the first time 33-23.
Dieruff closed out pre-holiday action by staying unbeaten 46-12 over Catasauqua. Allen picked up their first win 54-3 over Pottsville. Phillipsburg bounced back to beat Warren Hills 35-17 while Lehighton beat Pennridge 24-15. Finally, Pleasant Valley and East Stroudsburg battled to a 27-27 tie.
Holiday mat tournaments continued to expand with no fewer than ten different tournaments during the 1973-74 season. Liberty traveled to Wilkes Barre and won the team title for the 2nd straight year. John Unangst (132), John Bittenbender (138) and Brian Statum (155) won individual titles. Dieruff competed in the Wall Township Invitational Tourney and placed 3rd. The Huskies’ Dave Pizarro (98), Dexter Burton (112) and Jody McMullin (126) won individual titles.
Easton hosted its 8th annual holiday wrestling tournament and advanced all 12 of its wrestlers to the semi-finals while Saucon Valley advanced ten. The next day the Rovers set two records – most champions ever – 7 and most team points scored. Henry Callie (98), Greg Shoemaker (103), Curt Stanley (132), Russ Grifo (145), Steve Jordan (155), Darwin Brodt (167) and Lee Guzzo (185) all won titles for Easton. Dan Severn (119), Rick Rodriguez (126) and Tom Giordani (Hwt) won for 2nd place Saucon Valley.
Bethlehem Catholic had dominated the Christmas City Tournament since the tourney started but faced increased competition as Nazareth and Freedom joined the teams competing. With five individual champions, Coach Ray Nunamaker’s squad dethroned the Golden Hawks. Dave Tripp (88), Greg Skutches (132), Terry Reese (145), Bob Bastian (185) and Lynn Morris (Hwt) all won for Nazareth. Host Becahi had Scott McCoach (105) as their lone champion; Freedom had two champions in Mike Zito (112) and Rich McIntyre (138). Allentown Central Catholic’s Larry Cash (155) and Southern Lehigh’s Len Sheptock (167) defeated the Brown brothers to win their titles.
Across state lines, Phillipsburg won their own tournament with seven finalists and three champions, Mike Rossetti (105), Don Miller (126) and Scott Merritt (155). Northwestern advanced six wrestlers to the finals of the Jim Thorpe tournament and had three champions to win the team title in their first appearance. Chris Wentz (98), Randy Betz (126) and Rich Fritzinger (Hwt) claimed titles for the Tigers.
The Lehigh Valley League held its first holiday tournament with Lehighton edging Northampton and Catasauqua for team honors. Rick Brownmiller (126), Tom Newton (145) and Charles Bachert (185) won crowns for the champion Indians. Keith Baatz (119) and Mark Case (167) were champions for Catty while Rick Billy (105) and Don Arndt (138) won for the K-Kids. Slatington’s Nick Delong denied Northampton the team title when he pinned Steve Clemons.
On January 3rd, the LNL and LVL started began their league seasons, and the schedules were immediately affected by inclement weather. In the LNL North, Saucon Valley scored five falls as they defeated Wilson 42-9. Pocono Mountain also scored five falls and beat Pleasant Valley 41-11. Palisades upset Northwestern 31-24 as Ron Jesilowski (98), Dave Bauman (155) and Steve Chambers (167) had pins.
Lehighton visited Emmaus in a key LVL match up. The Indians won the first two bouts to lead 7-0. The Hornets roared back with five decisions and a draw to lead 17-9 entering the 155 pound match. Lehighton then won the next three bouts, but the match was still up for grabs entering the final bout. Dave Pollock (L) reversed Kevin Smith (E) in the 3rd period to earn a 2-2 draw, and Lehighton won the match 20-19. Catasauqua easily beat Whitehall 43-16.
On January 5th, Dieruff remained unbeaten as they tallied a big win over Freedom 29-24. The Huskies trailed 24-17 with only two bouts to go but Joe Atiyeh and Roger Young scored falls. Easton shut out Allen 52-0 and had five falls. Liberty’s strong middle weights made the difference as they easily beat Pennsbury 29-11.
Phillipsburg trailed NJ rival, Hunterdon Central, 21-18 before 3,000 fans in the Red Devils’ home gym. Scott Merritt and Burt Brewer won late decisions as the ‘Liners triumphed 26-23. In other independent league action, Bethlehem Catholic stayed unbeaten by defeating Allentown C.C. 40-9; Stroudsburg nipped East Stroudsburg 33-30; Salisbury had a last bout fall by Joe Solesnke to beat Catasauqua 24-21; Southern Lehigh rallied in the middle and upper weights to down Pen Argyl 29-20; and Saucon Valley topped Northampton 45-3.
On January 10th, weather again wreaked havoc on the schedule, but several meets went on as planned. Liberty and Dieruff was the top match up in the EPL. The Hurricanes held a 9-8 lead after five bouts, but won four of the next five bouts including a fall by John Bittenbender (138). Kyle Wescoe’s first period fall at heavyweight put an exclamation point on a 30-14 win. Allen led Bethlehem Catholic 12-9 at the halfway point – thanks in part to Greg Wolfe’s opening bout fall. The Hawks fought back to win the next three bouts before Bob Hersh edged Mike Brown at 167 to narrow Becahi’s lead to 18-15. The teams split the final two bouts as Becahi triumphed 21-18.
In the LNL, Nazareth had falls in the final five bouts as they bashed Bangor 55-2, and Northwestern had falls in the last two bouts from Rick Fritzinger and Ed Zucal to beat Parkland 36-21. Slatington beat Whitehall 36-17 in the only LVL match held. The next night, Wilson whipped East Stroudsburg 51-12 in an LNL North match up.
Mike Rossetti’s fall at 105 helped Phillipsburg jump out to a 15-6 lead over Freedom through six bouts. Rich McIntyre scored a decision and Craig Bittenbender had a fall as Freedom tied the match at 15-15. After the teams traded decisions, Bob Schmeltzly’s 2-1 win and Steve Ellis’ fall gave the ‘Liners a 28-18 victory in EPL action. In LNL South action, Salisbury rallied with decisions by Joe Reichard and Joe Solenskie in the final tie bouts to tie Southern Lehigh 23-23.
The balance of the schedule on January 12th featured non-league matches. Dieruff and Allen both bounced back from EPL losses to beat Quakertown 44-9 and Hill School 41-7, respectively. On the strength of pins by Bill Sandbrook (119), Greg Skutches (132), Terry Reese (145), Bob Bastian (185) and Lynn Morris (Hwt), Nazareth doubled up Northampton 36-18. In an interdivisional LNL battle of unbeatens, Saucon Valley crushed Pocono Mountain 44-5 as Don Severn (119), Rich Rodriguez (126), Gary Albright (167) and Tom Giordani (Hwt) had falls.
Easton kept their winning streak intact at 26 by defeating Wilson 46-6. The Rovers had five falls. Pen Argyl came back to tie Palmerton 30-30.
Some make-up matches were on tap the early part of the next week. Saucon Valley rolled past Pen Argyl 52-2 in LNL North action while Slatington came back to beat Northwestern 25-22 in LNL South action. Chris Wentz’s fall started off the bout in this tightly contested match. Slatington answered back to win the next few bouts, but a Northwestern rally in the middleweights had the Tigers ahead 22-13 with three bouts to go. Mike Marcucci, Tom Babyak and Nick Delong (by fall) won three bouts straight to ice the match for the Bulldogs. In another LNL South match, Southern Lehigh easily topped Jim Thorpe 34-14. Noted Dame opened up a 20-0 lead and then held on to defeat Allentown Central Catholic 26-22 in a non-league match.
On January 17th, Scott McCoach’s superior decision gave Bethlehem Catholic a brief 4-0 lead over Phillipsburg, but the Stateliners would win five matches and tie the other two to take a 21-8 lead after eight bouts. Charlie Brown’s decision and Mike Brown’s pin narrowed the lead to 21-17, but Bob Schmeltzly and Steve Ellis came through again and P-Burg triumphed 27-17. Easton continued their dominance by beating Freedom 40-7. Mike Zito decisioned Greg Shoemaker 9-3 in a battle of defending district champions. Liberty had three falls as they topped Allen 39-9.
In LVL action, Nick Delong’s fall in the final bout gave Slatington a win for the 2nd match in a row – this time over Catasauqua 29-26. Northampton easily defeated Whitehall 46-3 in their LVL opener while Lehighton topped Palmerton 47-5. Emmaus trailed Stroudsburg 21-20 entering the final bout, but Kevin Smith scored a 13-2 superior decision to win 24-21.
The LNL largely featured a series of lopsided wins. The closest match saw Wilson trailing early but topping Parkland 33-18. In other Northern Division action, Saucon Valley shut out Bangor 61-0, and Nazareth eased by East Stroudsburg 52-3. In the Southern Division, Southern Lehigh had four falls in beating Pleasant Valley 45-9; Pocono Mountain beat Jim Thorpe 39-9; and Salisbury defeated Northwestern 31-16.
Two nights later, Phillipsburg beat Pennsbury 41-7, and Neshaminy came back to beat Notre Dame 27-18 in EPL matches. Palisades had come close but never beaten Pocono Mountain in six tries, but when the referee’s hand hit the mat to signal Mike Minder’s fall at heavyweight, the Pirates had a 24-21 win in the LNL South. In non-league action, Lehighton, Catasauqua and Slatington (on another deciding Nick Delong fall) all won. Council Rock staged a late comeback to beat Dieruff 24-21 while William Allen won the first five bouts and last three to top Emmaus 26-12. Liberty beat Wilson 42-11; Allentown Central Catholic lost 27-25 to Phillipsburg C.C; and Palmerton clipped Bangor 30-23.
On January 23rd, Neshaminy won three of the final four bouts to defeat Freedom 28-21, and Liberty beat Notre Dame 31-12 in EPL action.
The annual Saucon Valley-Nazareth match up was the highlight bout on January 24th. Nazareth had stopped Saucon Valley’s 50 match LNL unbeaten streak last year. The Panthers immediately showed that this year would be different as they reeled wins in the first five bouts to take an 18-0 lead. Gary Albright’s win at 167 clinched the bout for the Panthers. Lynn Morris and Tom Giordani battled to a 5-5 draw in the night’s featured bout at heavyweight. Saucon Valley moved to 9-0 with a 28-14 win. In other LNL North action, Parkland edged Pen Argyl 30-25, and Bangor nipped East Stroudsburg 31-27.
1974 Saucon Valley Team Photo with Autographs (Photos Courtesy of Cathy Leibensperger):
In the LNL South, Southern Lehigh did some lineup shuffling in the upper weights and it paid dividends as Mike Harned, Ken Smith and Len Sheptock all won as the Spartans edged Palisades 24-23. Salisbury kept pace by defeating Jim Thorpe 41-14, and Pocono Mountain rode a strong finish to defeat Northwestern 26-14.
Easton continued their domination of very solid EPL teams by rapping Bethlehem Catholic 37-9. Scott McCoach beat Henry Callie 5-3 and George Macasevich beat Mark Bierei 6-4 to open the match. The Rovers then won six bouts in a row including falls by Curt Stanley (132) and Russ Snyder (138) to take a 25-6 lead. Allen’s Jim Karapelou scored a first period fall to give the Canaries their first EPL win of the year 24-18 over Pennsbury. Phillipsburg crushed Dieruff 43-3.
In the LVL, Rick Billy (98) and Don Arndt (138) scored falls to lead Northampton to a 31-18 win over Slatington. Lehighton defeated Stroudsburg 49-6; Emmaus whipped Whitehall 45-12; and Catasauqua won the final four bouts to rally past Palmerton 34-19.
On January 26th, Freedom won the first five bouts, including falls from Rich Fiore (98) and Neal Harrington (112), to lead 21-0 and then held off Notre Dame to win 31-18. In non-league action, Saucon Valley’s lightweights proved to be a bit stronger than Bethlehem Catholic’s as the Panthers won the first seven bouts on their way to a 26-11 victory. Allentown Central Catholic broke a six match losing streak and downed Slatington 34-21; Catasauqua beat Northwestern 33-18; Pocono Mountain pounded Stroudsburg 43-10; and Pen Argyl clipped Jim Thorpe 30-21.
Stroudsburg’s Cohlman won a key 8-4 decision at 185 to clinch a 27-21 win over Palmerton in an LVL match up. In an LNL North match, Parkland had six pins as they topped East Stroudsburg 48-10.
As January ended, Liberty visited Phillipsburg in a match between one loss EPL teams at The Pit. The ‘Liners won four of the first five bouts, including Steve Lear’s fall at 119, to lead 15-3. Bernie Fritz, John Bittenbender (by a 13-10 score) and Brian Statum won to narrow the gap to 15-12. P-Burg’s Scott Merritt nipped John Wrabel 3-2 and then Liberty’s Gary Martinez scored a fall to tie the match at 18-18. Once again, Phillipsburg got the wins they needed in the last two weights as Burt Brewer and Steve Ellis won to clinch a 24-18 victory for P-Burg.
In other EPL action, Easton’s unbeaten streak reached 30 as they hammered Dieruff 42-1. The Huskies could only manage one draw as Easton won the close bouts (4 by two points or less) and had two falls as well. Rich McIntyre and Craig Bittenbender gave Freedom a 15-12 lead over Bethlehem Catholic. Charlie and Mike Brown scored a fall and superior decision as Becahi moved ahead 22-15 and ultimately triumphed 24-20. William Allen moved past Notre Dame 30-15.
In the LVL, Lehighton won its 8th match in a row and stayed unbeaten in the league by topping Whitehall 38-25. Northampton also remained unbeaten in the league by beating Palmerton 39-21. Emmaus easily defeated Slatington 51-8 while Catasauqua closed strong to clip Stroudsburg 29-20.
In the LNL North, Saucon Valley hammered East Stroudsburg 58-3; Nazareth pounded Parkland 43-6; and Wilson won four of the last five bouts to close out Pen Argyl 37-17. Salisbury stayed unbeaten in the LNL South by downing Palisades 27-18. Southern Lehigh trailed Northwestern 23-16 and scored 16 points in the final three bouts as Ken Smith, Len Sheptock and Dan Kniffer won big as the Spartans won 32-23 to stay tied with Salisbury for the league lead. Jim Thorpe nipped Pleasant Valley 30-27, and Pocono Mountain shut out Bangor 51-0.
Northampton won a key LVL dual against Emmaus to kick off the February schedule. The Kids led early on Rick Billy’s fall and Joe Liskanich’s decision. Emmaus came back and Ron Krebs’ fall at 132 narrowed the lead to 14-12. After the teams traded decisions, the Kids won on a default but Dave Holmes late pin and Jeff Smith’s 1-0 gave the Hornets the lead. Steve Clemons 3rd period pin gave Northampton the 29-25 victory.
In non-league action, Nazareth and Liberty faced off in Bethlehem. In a match the featured three draws and several very close decisions, the Hurricanes led 18-15 with only two bouts to go. Bob Bastian and Lynn Morris both scored falls to give Coach Nunamaker a 27-18 win. In individual match-ups, Greg Skutches and Bernie Fritz battled to a 2-2 draw at 135, and Terry Reese beat Brian Statum 6-0 at 145.
The same evening, Easton traveled to Lock Haven with their unbeaten streak on the line against Tom Elling’s tough Lock Haven team. According to Jack Logic, a conversation at a coaches’ summer clinic between Bob Zarbatany and Tom Elling was the impetus for the match as both coaches knew they had strong teams coming into the season. The Rovers went 3-1-2 in the first six bouts to build a 13-8 lead knowing that Lock Haven’s strong upperweights waited in the wings (Lock Haven would crown four District 6 champions in these weights the following month). John Eichenlaub edged Russ Snyder 4-3, but Easton’s Russ Grito and Steve Jordan both scored decisions. Darwin Brodt’s fall at 167 clinched the match, and Lock Haven won the final two bouts to make the final score 25-17 Easton. Easton held on to their #1 state ranking.
In other non-league bouts, Bethlehem Catholic crushed Whitehall 34-8; Dieruff clobbered Allentown Central Catholic 34-15; and Slatington won three of the final four bouts to beat Bangor 27-21.
A few nights later, Salisbury stayed unbeaten in the LNL South by easily beating Pleasant Valley 46-6. Northampton won the close matches and had falls from Rich Kutzler (145) and Steve Clemons (Hwt) to defeat Pocono Mountain 29-23 in a non-league match.
On February 6th, Easton continued their march towards the EPL title by whipping Liberty 30-11. Curt Stanley beat Bernie Fritz 6-0 at 132 to begin a four match winning streak to put Easton ahead 25-6. Meanwhile, Neshaminy continued their strong season by winning their 6th EPL match by defeating William Allen 31-13.
The following night, there were matches in all three leagues. Lehighton moved into sole possession of first place in the LVL as they beat Slatington 36-14. Coach Alger’s Indians won nine bouts, including falls by George Strohl (98) and Todd Newton (138). In the other key match, Catasauqua visited Northampton. The Rough Riders had strung together four wins in a row in the lower weights to lead 19-9. Don Arndt’s win and Rich Kutzler’s pin tied the match at 19-19. Catty then won the next two bouts to lead 28-19. Andy Pisulak nipped Jeff Peters 10-8 and then Steve Clemons had a quick fall to salvage a 28-28 tie the Kids. Despite the tie, the Kids fell behind Lehighton who was now in the driver’s seat to win the league title. Emmaus handled Palmerton 41-20, and Stroudsburg beat Whitehall 30-18.
In the LNL North, Saucon Valley wrapped up the league title as they cruised past Parkland 50-0. Wilson beat Bangor 35-11, and Nazareth defeated Pen Argyl 59-2. In the LNL South, Pocono Mountain knocked Southern Lehigh from the division’s unbeaten ranks 25-15. Palisades beat Jim Thorpe 38-17 as Warren Hope picked up his 16th win on the season. Northwestern handled Pleasant Valley 34-15.
In the EPL, Bethlehem Catholic won eight of twelve bouts in a match against Dieruff. Mike Brown’s and Dave Brooks’ falls punctuated the 33-12 win. Phillipsburg easily beat Notre Dame 46-6 to stay within striking distance of Easton.
On February 9th, both Lehighton and Northampton did what they needed to do in anticipation of their upcoming LVL showdown. Lehighton cruised past Catasauqua 33-12 while Northampton handled Stroudsburg 37-9.
Neshaminy had Bethlehem Catholic on the ropes after sweeping five straight bouts from 126 to 155 to lead 22-15 with only three bouts to go. Becahi was able to tie the match on Mike Brown’s superior decision and Stan Majewski’s decision. Dave Brooks and Dan Hibbs were locked in a tight match when Brooks took down Hibbs and Hibbs had to default. The Hawks beat upstart Neshaminy 28-22.
Saucon Valley and Liberty had evenly split their last eight match-ups in this competitive rivalry. The Panthers did not give the Hurricanes much of a chance as they won the first five bouts including falls by Don Severn and Rick Rodriguez to lead 21-0. Bernie Fritz nipped Jerry Rodriguez 4-3 at 132 and John Bittenbender battled Dan Lechner to a 2-2 draw at 138. The Panthers were able to hold their own the rest of the way as they defeated Liberty 31-16.
A few nights later, Pen Argyl whipped Bangor 45-15 in an LNL North. Slatington had a fall from Tom Babayak at 185, and Nick Delong won by forfeit at heavyweight as the Bulldogs defeated Palmerton 34-24 in an LVL match. In a non-league match Larry Cash set an Allentown Central Catholic dual meet pin record and Tim Miller add a fall in the final bout as the Vikings beat Hazleton 27-22.
With the EPL title on the line, Phillipsburg visited Easton in a match that had been sold out for over three weeks per The Morning Call. Henry Callie and Bill Mack battled to a 4-4 draw in the opening bout. Mike Rossetti had a superior decision, and Greg Shoemaker got Easton’s first win. The ‘Liners led 6-5 after three bouts. P-Burg got wins from Steve Lear and Don Miller, but the Rovers’ Curt Stanley, Russ Snyder and Russ Grito all won by decision to give Easton their first lead on the night 15-12. Scott Merritt’s decision at 155 tied the bout, but Darwin Brodt, who would win the Brad Weaver Memorial Trophy, pinned Burt Brewer at 167 and Lee Guzzo’s decision at 185 clinched the match for Easton. The final score was 26-18, and Easton was primed to win another EPL title.
As the dual meet season wound down, Northampton traveled to Lehighton in a match to decide the LVL League title. George Strohl and Rick Billy fought to a 1-1 draw opening bout. The Kids then ran off three straight decisions to take an 11-2 lead. Lehighton won the next two bouts and then Tom Newton and Don Arndt drew 1-1; the Kids still held a 13-10 lead. The teams split the next four bouts but Bob Rhyder’s fall at 155 was key in knotting the team score at 19-19 entering the final bout. Lehighton sophomore Rick Koch pinned Steve Clemons in the 3rd period as the Indians won 25-19 and clinched their 2nd LVL title. Emmaus lead all the way in beating Catasauqua 30-17, and Stroudsburg rallied to beat Slatington 30-22.
The EPL featured intracity match-ups between Allen and Dieruff and Liberty and Freedom. The Huskies led 19-3 at the halfway point thanks to consecutive wins by Dan Hall, Dex Burton, Rick Phillippe, Jody McMullin and Clarence Riddick. The teams split the final six bouts as the Huskies won 27-13 before 1,300 fans at the East Side Gym. Riddick was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler. Brian Statum and Gary Martinez scored back-to-back decisions to pace Liberty to a 22-18 win over Freedom. The match featured no falls and one default win by Bernie Fritz at 132. Bethlehem Catholic had three falls as they defeated Notre Dame 37-10.
Salisbury was trying to wrap up their 3rd LNL South title in a row but found themselves trailing Pocono Mountain 18-15 with three bouts remaining. John Roncolata, Joe Reichard and Joe Solenske all won close decisions to give the Falcons a 24-18 victory. Palisades pounded Pleasant Valley 41-13, and Northwestern clipped Jim Thorpe 24-16. In the LNL North, Nazareth had four pins as they beat Wilson 43-9 to clinch 2nd place. Parkland beat Bangor 38-19, and Pen Argyl rode an early lead to beat East Stroudsburg 29-22.
Easton was expected to easily finish an unbeaten season when they visited Neshaminy on February 16th. Neshaminy had other ideas as Dexter Derr upset Greg Shoemaker at 112; Dave Adams nipped Brian Lutz 1-0 at 119 and Gary Jones held Darwin Brodt to a draw at 167. Neshaminy was still within range down only 23-17, but Lee Guzzo and Chris Bartholomew scored falls for the Rovers as they finished undefeated and won 35-17. Easton had ridden a twenty match unbeaten streak coming into the year and did not disappoint their fans as they had a dominant 14-0 season. The young sophomores on the 1971-72 season had grown into leaders and accomplished grapplers under Coach Bob Zarbatany. At season’s end, Easton was ranked #1 in the state by Lock Haven H.S. coach Tom Elling and had a 34 match unbeaten streak.
The same evening, LVL champ Lehighton beat Allentown Central Catholic 30-20 to finish 12-2 thus tieing their record for most wins in a dual season.
Other teams with at least 10 wins included Phillipsburg 12-2, Bethlehem Catholic 11-3 and Nazareth 11-3.
Final league standings were as follows:
|Compiled Standings 1973-74||Place||W-L-D|
|Notre Dame (2)||10||0-8|
|Lehigh-Northampton Northern Division|
|Lehigh Northampton Southern Division|
- (1) The Freedom-Pennsbury Dual was canceled due to inclement weather.
- (2) The Notre Dame-Pennsbury Dual may also have been canceled due to inclement weather. We are attempting to confirm.
With teams realigned into Sections based upon the newly formed Class A and Class B, there were significant changes in the Sectionals, as follows:
|Class A-Eastern||Class A Western||Class B - Northeast||Class B Northwest||Class B Southeast||Class B Southwest|
|Dieruff||Allentown CC||Bishop Hafey||Blue Mountain||Bangor||East Stroudsburg|
|Easton||Bethlehem Catholic||Minersville||Jim Thorpe||Catasauqua||Notre Dame|
|Emmaus||Liberty||North Schuylkill||Lehighton||Northwestern||Pen Argyl|
|Hazleton||Pottsville||Panther Valley||Pine Grove||Pleasant Valley||Southern Lehigh|
|Nazareth||Saucon Valley||Shenandoah||Schuylkill Haven||Pocono Mountain||Stroudsburg|
Undefeated Easton and Saucon Valley were in separate sections and expected to dominate – they did not disappoint. A somewhat odd format, at least to this author, was that two rounds were wrestled in each sectional with winners of Round 1 advancing to the next week and Round 2 being held for “placement purposes”. In the Eastern Section, Easton advanced all but one wrestler to the District tourney while Nazareth claimed eleven and Dieruff and Freedom each had 7. In the Western Section, Saucon Valley advanced all their wrestlers while Bethlehem Catholic had 9, and Liberty and Northampton 8 each.
The Class B sectionals were broken down into four separate tourneys with seven teams each and the top two wrestlers moving on to the District tourney.
The Northeast Sectional was dominated by host North Schuylkill who advanced eight wrestlers. The Northwest Sectional was dominated in LVL champ and host Lehighton who sent ten men to the Districts. Pocono Mountain and Catasauqua led a very competitive Southeast Section and moved six men each to the following week. Wilson led the way in the Southwest by advancing seven while LNL South champ Salisbury had five.
District XI Wrestling Championships
The Class A tournament was held at Liberty’s familiar Memorial Gymnasium. Place winners were expanded as the top three placers advanced to the Northeast Regional which included Districts II and IV with District XII shifting to the Southeast Regional. Regular season unbeaten Easton and Saucon Valley each had seven men seeded #1 and #2 and were expected to battle it out for the team title.
Regular season unbeaten, Easton and Saucon Valley, battled it out in the Class A District Tournament. The teams were tied after the quarterfinal round in points but the Panthers had 11 semi-finalists while the Rovers had eight. All top-seeded wrestlers won their bouts and only one 2nd seed was upset as Liberty’s Ron Cope upended Northampton’s Rick Billy.
In the semi-finals, Henry Callie pinned upsetter Cope beginning an amazing 8 for 8 run for the Rovers in the semi-finals. In the process, Easton wrestlers defeated three Saucon Valley wrestlers.
The first consolation round in the District history was held in order to determine 3rd place and the final district qualifier for regionals. Bethlehem Catholic had three consolation round winners while Freedom had two. In a bout that would prove to be a preview of a great series of bouts the following year, Saucon Valley’s Gary Albright decisioned Becahi’s Mike Brown 6-6, 3-1.
Normally, the 88 Pound Exhibition weight class would not be an exciting weight class, but this year was an exception as Dieruff’s Jim Britt battled future stars Bobby Weaver and Jim Zenz. Britt had edged Zenz 7-5 in the semi’s and was trailing Weaver 7-4 when he converted a takedown and scored a 3 point nearfall to beat Weaver 9-7. The prior year’s 88 Pound winner Dave Quier got Saucon Valley off to a flying start by nipping Easton’s Henry Callie 2-1.
The Rovers Greg Shoemaker pinned Rusty Chunko at 105, and Freedom’s Mike Zito beat Barry Cambiotti 7-1 as both winners won their 2nd District titles. Easton’s Brian Lutz then followed with a 5-4 decision over Dan Severn. Despite dropping three straight bouts in the finals, Saucon Valley was still mathematically alive after Rick Rodriguez downed Dieruff’s Jody McMullen 10-2. The Panthers’ title hopes were further boosted when Nazareth’s Greg Skutches defeated Easton’s Curt Stanley 8-4, but Easton’s Russ Snyder again dashed those hopes as he decisioned Dan Lechner 7-1.
Terry Reese gave Nazareth their 2nd champ with an 11-3 decision, and Larry Cash became Allentown Central Catholic’s 1st District champ ever with a 4-2 decision over Liberty’s Brian Statum. In the next two weight classes, Easton’s hammers, Darwin Brodt and Lee Guzzo, both won titles and wrapped up the team title for the Rovers. At heavyweight, Lynn Morris edged Tom Giordano 1-0, and Coach Ray Nunamaker had a 3rd titlist.
In the end, Easton crowned five champions to clip Saucon Valley 108-102.5 in the team score. Final Class A team scores were as follows:
|District Class A - Team Scores|
|Saucon Valley||102.5||Allentown C.C.||17|
The first Class B tournament was held at Pottsville and advanced two wrestlers to the Southeast Regional tournament which included District I. North Schuylkill was perfect in the quarterfinals winning all eight of their bouts, but Lehighton stumbled by only winning three of nine. The Spartans would win six of their eight bouts in the semi-finals to lock up the team title.
While the Spartans were outstanding in the first two rounds, they were disappointed in the finals as only two of their wrestlers won titles. Bob Harris had a fall at 132, and Carl Bernosky won a 5-3 decision. Dave Hoffman finished as a District runner-up for the 4th time dropping a 5-4 decision to Slatington’s John Miller at 105; Catty’s Keith Baatz decisioned Larry Stein 4-2 at 119; Palmerton’s Bill Graver won his 2nd title with a 5-4 win over Don Zimmerman at 155; and at heavyweight Skip Hubler dropped a 1-1, 5-1 OT decision to Slatington’s Nick Delong.
At 88, Northwestern’s Chris Wentz won the exhibition weight class; other winners included Lehighton’s George Strohl (95), Palisades’ Warren Hope (112), Wilson’s Joe Butto (126) who won by fall to claim his 2nd title; Lehighton’s 5th seeded Dennis Rhyder (145); Tri-Valley’s Steve Scheib who nipped Southern Lehigh’s Len Sheptock 1-0 at 167; and Minersville’s Tim Walsh at 185.
Final Class B team scores were as follows:
|District Class B - Team Scores|
After the Districts, The Morning Call’s John Kunda reported that Easton was rated #1 in the state by Lock Haven’s Tom Elling. Saucon Valley was 5th; North Schuylkill 19th and Nazareth 21st.
Class A Northeast Regionals
With additional qualifiers now advancing the Regionals, District 12 was no longer included in the Northeast Regional which was being wrestled in Williamsport. In an odd seeding twist, 11 District XI wrestlers were seeded first, and in those weight classes the #2 finished from District XI was seeded 4th meaning that if they both won, they would meet in the semi-finals. With the expansion of the Class A, bracket to 16 wrestlers at each weight, and the Northeast Regional gained an additional state qualifier. As a result, a consolation round would be wrestled to determine the 3rd qualifier. This format would be in place for many years to come and often would be one of the most exciting rounds of the year as winners went on to the state tourney while losers were done for the year.
District XI was dominant in the quarterfinals as 31 of 39 wrestlers won their bouts. Six D XI 3rd place finishers knocked off district champs from either t II or IV. As a result, the semi-finals would see nine rematches of the District XI finals. Seven of those nine had the same winner as the prior week, but Dan Severn turned the tables on Brian Lutz 7-2 at 119 and Curt Stanley shut out Greg Skutches 5-0 at 132. District XI was able to advance one wrestler to the finals at each weight plus two in the 88 pound exhibition and 138 classes. Easton had six finalists while Saucon Valley had four.
In the all-important consolation round, Easton’s Henry Callie (98) and Brian Lutz (119) won their bouts along with Dave Billig (126) of Parkland and Saucon Valley’s Dan Lechner (138) and Tom Giordano (Hwt). Nazareth’s Skutches defeated Saucon Valley’s Jerry Rodriguez 2-2, 2-2, referee’s decision.
In the finals, two future state champs clashed in the 88 pound exhibition class with Saucon Valley’s Jim Zenz topping Easton’s Bobby Weaver 2-2, 0-0, referee’s decision. Nine of twelve remaining District XI finalists triumphed. Easton went five for five – Greg Shoemaker (105) by default, Curt Stanley (132), Russ Snyder by fall (138), Darwin Brodt (167) and Lee Guzzo (185) all winning. Saucon Valley’s Dan Severn (119) and Rick Rodriguez (126) both won their bouts by decision. Larry Cash (155) from Allentown Central Catholic and Nazareth’s Lynn Morris (Hwt) were the other District XI winners. Freedom’s Mike Zito was upset by Jersey Shore’s Mike Portanova at 112 while Dave Quier (98), Rich McIntyre (138) and Terry Reese (145) all lost by decision. District XI advanced 21 wrestlers to the state tournament.
Class B Southeast Regionals
Liberty High School was the host for Districts I and XI in the Class B Southeast Regionals. This marked another shift in which districts were competing against each other in the regional round. District XI boasted seven undefeated wrestlers – Warren Hope, Keith Baatz, Joe Butto, Bob Harris, Steve Scheib, Tim Walsh and Nick Delong.
District XI’s Class B wrestlers had an outstanding performance in the semi-finals by winning 18 of 24 bouts. In fact 8 of the 13 final bouts were rematches from the prior week. Northwestern’s Chris Wentz (88), Wilson’s Joe Butto (126), North Schuylkill’s Bob Harris (132), Lehighton’s Bob Rhyder (145), Palmerton’s Bill Graver (155), Tri-Valley’s Steve Scheib (167), Minersville’s Tony Walsh (185) and Slatington’s Nick Delong (Hwt) all won their final bouts and were crowned regional champions. Three finals resulted in reversals of winners from the week before. Stroudsburg’s Scott Delong beat Lehighton’s George Strohl 2-0 at 98; N. Schuylkill’s Larry Stein upended Catty’s Keith Baatz 5-2 at 119; and N. Schuylkill’s Bernie Bernosky defeated Catty’s Rich Smida 5-1 at 138.
N. Schuylkill’s Dave Hoffman, Palisades Warren Hope, Pleasant Valley’s Eric Winkler and Southern Lehigh’s Len Sheptock won their consolation bouts and also advanced.
PIAA Class A State Championship
With sixteen wrestlers in each weight class, competition was keen on Day 1 of the Class A tournament at Penn State’s Rec. Hall. While thirteen District XI wrestlers won their first round bouts, only six were able to advance to the semi-finals. Easton wrestlers made up four of the six as Greg Shoemaker (105), Curt Stanley (132), Russ Snyder (138) and Darwin Brodt (167) all advanced. They were joined by Saucon Valley’s Rick Rodriguez (126) and Nazareth’s Lynn Morris (Hwt) who scored two falls. Defending state runner-up, Mike Zito dropped a 9-6 decision.
Greg Shoemaker met Shaler’s Kevin Nellis and dropped a 6-3 decision and finished 4th. Rick Rodriguez was pinned by Dave Coleman of Carlynton, and Russ Snyder went into overtime but dropped 3-1 decision. Both grapplers came back to place 3rd.
The Rovers’ Curt Stanley and Darwin Brodt both won their semi-final bouts by fall to advance to the finals. Coach Bob Zarbatany crowned two more state champs when both triumphed. Stanley (25-1) beat undefeated Tim Mousetis of Washington 7-5. Brodt (26-0-1) cradled another unbeaten wrestler in Jim Lohman of Mount Lebanon for a first period fall. Easton finished a perfect season by winning the mythical state title with 2 champions, a 3rd place finished & a 4th place finisher.
District XI’s other finalist was Nazareth’s Lynn Morris lost to State College’s John Sefter 2-0 and finished as a state runner-up.
PIAA Class B State Championship
In what The Morning Call dubbed “a frustrating day for District 11”, eleven wrestlers won their first bout, but only five were able to win both matches. Wilson’s Joe Butto (126), N. Schuylkill’s Bob Harris (132) and Slatington’s Nick Delong (Hwt) all advanced along with both Tri-Valley’s Steve Scheib and Southern Lehigh’s Len Sheptock at 167.
Butto won his semi-final and final bouts by 8-3 and 11-6 scores to become Wilson’s and Coach Ray Walters’ 1st state champion. North Schuylkill’s Harris and Southern Lehigh’s Sheptock dropped close decisions in the semi’s and ended up finishing 4th. Sheptock dropped a 4-2 decision to Tri-Valley’s Scheib (26-0), who then went on to win 9-8 in the finals to become his team’s first state champion.
District XI’s 3rd champion was Slatington’s Delong who had to go into overtime in the semi-finals, but registered a pin in overtime. In the finals, he was leading 8-0, got caught on his back for a 5 point move and went on to win 13-5.
Phillipsburg Post Season
Phillipsburg won the District 12 team title for the 8th consecutive year. Mike Rossetti (105) and Steve Ellis (Hwt) both defended their titles while Steve Lear (119), Don Miller (126) and Jack Yost (132) also won district titles. Bill Mack (112), Scott Merritt and Burt Brewer (167) were runner-ups and also advanced to regionals.
The NJ Region 3 Tourney saw Phillipsburg again wrestle very well and win the unofficial team title. Mike Rossetti, Don Miller and Steve Ellis were all crowned champions while Bill Mack and Steve Lear placed 2nd. Jack Yost and Burt Brewer were 3rd.
In the NJ State Tournament, Mike Rossetti, Bill Mack, Don Miller and Steve Ellis all won their first round matches with Ellis upsetting the defending state champ by a 4-1 decision. Miller and Ellis lost in the quarterfinal round. Rossetti would go on to finish as a state runner-up, and Mack finished 3rd.