Coaching Changes:         

Allentown Central CatholicJack PressmanTon Clifford
Bethlehem CatholicTony Iasiello Sr.Moss Grays
DieruffBilly BurchTom Derhammer
EmmausThad SmithJeff Arbushites
LehightonB.J. NalesnikFloyd Brown
NazarethRex LutzDave Crowell
PalisadesBryan KlassBruce Wallace
ParklandJim BestScott Hovan
PhillipsburgGreg TroxellRick Thompson
SalisburyJoe BillyCory Kuncio
WilsonDave CrowellRick Krieger
Jeff Arbushites & Emmaus’ Coaching Staff (Photo Courtesy of Emmaus HS Yearbook)

With no fewer than eleven coaching changes, the local wrestling scene looked quite different despite no changes in the league structure.  Moss Grays became only the 2nd head coach ever at Bethlehem Catholic since wrestling became an official sport after Tony Iasiello Sr. retired after 38 years.  Dave Crowell’s move from Wilson to Nazareth after a dozen years and great success as the Warriors’ head coach was huge news!  Rick Krieger took the helm at Wilson.  With Greg Troxell moving up on the administrative side at Phillipsburg, Rick Thompson began his 3rd stint for the Sateliners.  After a one year absence, Jeff Arbushites moved from ACC to Emmaus.

Rick Thompson Was Back Behind the P-Burg Bench (Photo Courtesy of Phillipsburg HS Yearbook)

Entering its 2nd year, it was the same story in the Lehigh Valley Conference as Easton and Northampton were the prohibitive favorites to battle for the league title.  While 2x champ Jeff Ecklof graduated, Northampton returned 3 of 4 state champions (Joey Ecklof, Josh Haines & Jon Oplinger) for the new season.  In addition, six other starters and two key transfers (Steve Mytych and Mike Parisi) joined Coach Terry Daubert’s squad.  Easton returned six state qualifiers, including ’02 state champ Mike Rogers, along with four other starters for Coach Steve Powell’s 20th season as head coach.  Nine returning starters put Jody Karam’s Liberty squad in a strong position to finish in the top 3.  Nazareth, Parkland and improving Emmaus were also expected to finish in the upper half of the league standings. 

Mike Parisi Bolstered an Already Potent Konkrete Kid Line Up (Photo Courtesy of Northampton HS Yearbook)

For the 2nd year in a row, Wilson lost quite a bit of talent as 4 of their 6 state placers graduated.  Still the Warriors returned a solid group of starters, including 2 state place winners. New Coach Rick Krieger’s team was still a slight favorite for the top spot but was expected to face increased competition from Catasauqua, Northern Lehigh and Northwestern.  Catasauqua returned 10 wrestlers who won at least 20 bouts the prior year, including 4 district placers.  Northern Lehigh lost state champ, Ryan Hluschak and several other starters, but returned a solid core and some talented underclassmen.  Northwestern returned 11 starters and was looking to make a jump in the league standings.  Notre Dame was also looking to stay in the mix in the upper half of the league despite losing a number of starters to graduation and state runner-up, Mike Parisi, to a transfer.

Pleasant Valley, Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg South were again expected to battle for the Mountain Valley Conference title.   

As the 2003-04 season started would change prevail or the status quo or some of both…

November / December

The season kicked off on November 29th with the Wilson Tournament following Coach Dave Crowell by moving to Nazareth.  Liberty’s Mike Pena was a 3-time Wilson Tourney champ and the change in scenery made no difference.  Pena won the 119-pound title and the OW award as he led Liberty to a 2.25-point margin over Nazareth.  Dan Horwath (145) and Devin Derrico (275) also won titles for the Hurricanes with Derrico’s fall clinching the team title.  Nazareth was 2nd with 4 champs – Andrew Flegler (103), Kevin Vinh (125), Joe Caramanica (140) and Thad Frick (160).  Wilson was 5th as Russell Souder (112) and Joe Kushnerick (125) won titles for new coach, Rick Krieger.

Sean Farley was 1 of 3 Champs for the Bears in the Bullet Invitational (Photo Courtesy of Pleasant Valley HS Yearbook)

Emmaus’ Mike DeBellis (140), Steve Brynildsden (152) and Matt Reiss (275) won individual titles in the Bullet Invitational.  The Hornets, who also had three runner-ups and three 3rd place finishers, claimed the team title.  Host Brandywine (with 4 champs) was 2nd while Northern Lehigh was 3rd.  Pleasant Valley had 3 champs – Eric Pritchard (103), Shane Everett (119) and Sean Farley (125) – while Lehighton had one in Andy Tyahla (215).  

The same weekend, Northwestern went 5-0 to win the Salisbury Falcon Duals.  Whitehall participated in Big Spring’s 2nd annual Dog Duals.  Whitehall went undefeated (3-0) in pool play but lost 43-18 to Big Spring in the championship match.  In non-league action Governor Mifflin defeated Parkland 39-29.

Whitehall Was 2nd in the Big Spring Duals (Photo Courtesy of Whitehall HS Yearboo)

League action began on December 2nd primarily in the Colonial League which saw Wilson defeat Southern Lehigh 40-24 while Northwestern topped Palmerton 46-18. In the Lehigh Valley Conference, Liberty reeled off seven straight wins from 112 to 145 as the Hurricanes clipped Parkland 30-24.  Snow wiped out the following weekend’s schedule.

In non-league action, Stroudsburg defeated Freedom 44-27.  In the LVC, Nazareth had 5 falls to defeating Freedom 54-7 and Emmaus clipped Whitehall 33-23.  In the Colonial League, Wilson topped Saucon Valley 45-28. 

On December 13th, Emmaus hosted Parkland fell behind 15-6 after the first four bouts.  The Hornets then reeled off four straight wins including three falls to lead 28-15.  The Trojans won two of the next three bouts before Emmaus’ Coach Jeff Arbushites forfeited to Nick Guida to make the score 31-27.  Scott Hunter bumped up and scored a first period fall over Pete Grodziak at 189 to clinch the match as the Hornets had a bid 37-31 win over one of their top rivals. 

Wilson Coach Dave Crowell took his Nazareth squad to face off against his old squad at Wilson.  The Blue Eagles won all but two bouts in a 52-9 rout.  In the Bethlehem Duals, both Liberty and Freedom went 3-0.

Upper Perkiomen and Easton traveled out to Las Vegas early to participate in the inaugural Las Vegas 100.  Upper Perk won the tournament with five champions (Chris Sheetz, Brandon Clemmer, Darren Kern, Jake Engle and Derek Bennett) while Easton finished 2nd.  Red Lion’s Eric Albright edged Easton’s Seth Ciasulli 7-6 in a featured match up at 119. No further results could be located.

On December 17th, Wilson rebounded from its loss to Nazareth by winning the final 10 bouts against Catasauqua on their way to a 48-15 win in Colonial League.  Southern Lehigh edged Bangor 36-30 and Saucon Valley beat Notre Dame 52-21.  Northern Lehigh had easily defeated Northwestern the year before, but this year was a much different story.  Northwestern had more falls, but Northern Lehigh won almost all the close bouts – Adam Hluschak over Clymer 6-3 at 103; Ed Boyle over Vermeulev 5-3 at 145 and Grosch over Betz 6-5 at heavyweight.  The final score was 30-30, but the Bulldogs won on criteria as they won 8 of the 14 bouts to maintain a share of the Colonial League lead. 

Northern Lehigh Had a Big Win Over Wilson to Claim a Share of the Colonial League Title (Photo Courtesy of Northern Lehigh HS Yearbook)

The same night in LVC action, Nazareth had six 6-point wins to top Parkland 48-18; Liberty edged Emmaus 29-22; and Allen beat crosstown rival, Dieruff, 52-28.

Allen Beat Rival Dieruff (Photo Courtesy of William Allen HS Yearbook)
Groller 1 of 3 RTOC Champs (Photo Courtesy of Easton HS Yearbook)

In the Reno Tournament of Champions, Easton again had 3 champs – Josh Oliver, Seth Ciasulli and Jason Groller – as they finished 3rd in the team race.  Alex Krom was 2nd.  Wasatch was 1st to end the Rovers’ 2-year reign as team champs and Bakersfield was 2nd.

In the Beast of the East, Northampton’s Josh Haines was the only local wrestler to make the finals and he finished 2nd to Agsegami’s Ryan Goodman on a fall with 11 seconds remaining.   The Kids had 5 other placers, including three 3rd’s – John Paukovits, Joey Ecklof and John Oplinger – as they finished 3rd in the team race behind Blair Academy and St. Edward’s Ohio.  Nazareth was 13th with two fourth-place finishers while Wilson was 19th and had two placers in Russ Souders (3rd) and Joe Kushnerick (5th). Parkland and Whitehall each had one medalist. 

Several teams traveled north to the Times-Leader Invitational. Spring-Ford edged Wyalusing for the team title in a 42-team field.  The top District 11 team was Blue Mountain at 11th.  Stroudsburg’s Jed Henry was 2nd at 171 while Ray Ward was 3rd at 103.  There were some great finals bouts, and Dave Morgan again was in the center of the action as he pinned defending state champ Charles Griffin of Reading at 130.  Catasauqua won the Garnet Valley Tournament with 10 medalists including three champs – Dave Rusnok (103), Jon Molchany (160) and John Holenda (189).

Emmaus had a solid performance in the King of the Mountain Tournament as they finished 2nd by only 1.5 points behind Penn Trafford.  Bryan Reiss won the heavyweight title while Mike DeBellis (140), Eric Bauder (152) and Scott Hunter (171) all took 3rd.  In a key MVC match, Pleasant Valley started with five straight bonus-point wins to defeat East Stroudsburg South 49-18. 

Liberty had 8 falls / tech falls as they defeated Stroudsburg 52-17 in a non-league match.

Holiday Tournaments

Northampton had the most champions with six but Blair Academy regained the team title 271.5-265.  The Kids’ Steve Mytych edged Council Rock South’s Mike Rappo 3-2 at 112.  Joey Ecklof beat 3-time Tennessee state champ, Ryan Scott 8-2 at 145.  Also winning titles for Northampton were John Paukovits (135), Billy Haydt (160), Josh Haines (189) and Jon Oplinger (215).  Nazareth was 3rd without registering a champion.  Host Liberty was 4th and had three champs in Mike Pena (119), Ricci Bass (125) and Devin Derrico (Hwt).   

Joey Ecklof Was 1 of 6 Bethlehem Holiday Classic Champs (Photo Courtesy of Northampton HS Yearbook)

Quakertown was in 3rd place after Day 1 action in the Christmas City Tournament, but rallied by going 5-for-5 in the finals to surpass Schuylkill Valley and Catasauqua in the team standings.  For the Quakers, Eric Rosencrantz (103), Nate Neuroth (125), Alex Bimes (140), Pat Flynn (171) and Kevin Orr (by fall over Catty’s previously unbeaten John Holenda at 189) won titles. Schuylkill Valley’s Steve Fehnel (135) won his 4th title and was named OW.  Pius X was 5th with two titlists – Mike Goffredo (119) and Rich Kessler (130).

Easton had 5 champions to take their 5th title in a row over Cumberland Valley.  Josh Oliver was named OW at 112 after edging CV’s Morgan Baublitz 4-2 in OT.  Seth Ciasulli (119), Mike Rogers (152), Sean Richmond (160) and Jason Groller (Hwt) all won titles.

Sean Richmond Was 1 of 5 Champs for teh Rovers (Photo Courtesy of Easton HS Yearbook)

With 11 finalists & 6 champs, Wyalusing was again on top of the team standings in the Tunkhannock Tournament; PM East & West again participated.  Northwestern finished 3rd while Danville won the team title in the Jim Thorpe tourney.  Catasauqua had seven champs and two runner-ups to win the Pottstown Tournament.  Northwestern went 5-0 in the Elco Tournament. 


Easton’s Marcus Millen broke his wrist during football season, but on January 2nd he made his debut as the Rovers faced off against crosstown rival, Wilson.  Millen scored a fall as Easton opened up a 16-3 lead.  The Warriors bounced back with wins from Weston Loxley and Russell Souders who scored a 6-4 victory over Josh Oliver to cut the lead to 16-12.  Wilson could get no closer as the Rovers swept all but two of the remaining bouts to win 46-22.

Getting Marcus Millen Back from a Football Injury Was a Big Boost for Easton (Photo Courtesy of Easton HS Yearbook)

One day later in the Colonial League, Northern Lehigh hosted Catasauqua in a key match.  The Rough Riders won three of the first four bouts to open up a 13-4 lead.  Northern Lehigh with three straight wins of their own including Scott Snyder’s 4-3 win over Jon Holenda at 215 to take a 16-13 lead.  A fall by Eric Valesquez at 275 was followed by the teams trading decisions, and Catty led 22-19.  Northern Lehigh swept all but one of the remaining bouts to clinch a big 37-22 league win.

In the Easton Duals Invitational, the host Rovers had two lopsided wins.  Pleasant Valley went 3-0 while Wilson wrestled two competitive bouts but fell to Phillipsburg 34-31 and Kittatinny 38-30.  Northampton easily won three duals to win the Cedar Cliff Duals. 

With the match beginning at 189, Easton won the first three bouts against Nazareth including Jason Groller’s fall to lead 13-0.  Nazareth won 4 of the next 5 bouts including Justin Kohen’s 4-2 win over Alex Krom at 125.  Josh Oliver’s 6-4 win over Tim Darling at 112 was the only Rover victory, and Easton led 16-15.  Braylin Williams held off Joe Caramanica 7-5 at 135.  The Blue Eagles tied the bout after the next bout, but Eason won the final four bouts to pull away 37-19. 

Steve Mytych Had a Big Win Against Liberty (Photo Courtesy of Northampton HS Yearbook)

The Northampton-Liberty match started at 275, and the Kids bumped Jon Oplinger up to 275 to face Devin Derrico.  Oplinger responded with a 10-4 win, and the Kids won the next two bouts including Steve Mytych’s 4-3 win over Willy Horwath at 112 to lead 10-0.  The teams would go back and forth over the next seven bouts with Liberty holding a 4-3 edge to narrow the score to 20-13.  The Kids won the final four bouts to finish a 39-13 victory.  Parkland had seven falls to top Whitehall 49-27. 

In the Colonial League, league leaders Wilson, Northern Lehigh and Northwestern easily won their matches.  Southern Lehigh nipped Saucon Valley 34-31; Catasauqua clipped Notre Dame 54-13; and Pen Argyl defeated Salisbury 48-21. 

Southern Lehigh Had Some High-Scoring Matches During the Season (Photo Courtesy of Southern Lehigh HS Yearbook)

There was plenty of action on the schedule for the weekend of January 9-11 as the Virginia Duals, Zephyr Duals, Octorora Duals and Cumberland Valley Duals.

In the Virginia Duals, Northampton, Nazareth & Liberty were all in the National bracket.  The Kids won their first 3 matches easily and then beat Great Bridge 37-23 in the finals.  Nazareth dropped their semi-final match against Great Bridge 41-22, but came back to take 4th.  Liberty who lost to Great Bridge in the quarters finished 2-2 and did not place.

Bryan Reiss’ Falls Led the Hornets (Photo Courtesy of Emmaus HS Yearbook)

In the Zephyr Duals, Emmaus’ Bryan Reiss had falls in the quarter and semi-finals to help the Hornets top Northern Lehigh 33-31 and Big Spring 34-30.  In the finals, Emmaus fell 39-20 to Wyalusing.  Other local placers were Whitehall – 4th, Northern Lehigh – 5th and Stroudsburg – 7th.  Notre Dame & Pius X participated in the Octorora Duals while Pleasant Valley was in the Cumberland Valley Duals  and went 4-1 losing to Bald Eagle Area 42-13 in the finals.

On January 13th in a non-league match, Upper Perkiomen remained unbeaten by defeating Nazareth 38-15.  One day later the most competitive league bouts saw Northern Lehigh nip Saucon Valley 36-33 in the Colonial League, and East Stroudsburg South edge Lehighton 39-35 in the MVC.

Easton hosted the Final Four of Wrestling on January 17th and went 2-1.  The Rovers opened with a 36-33 win over St. Paris Graham and then topped Apple Valley 41-23.  Easton faced Blair Academy in the nightcap’s feature match and led 10-0 after three bouts.  Ultimately, the Bucs had too much firepower and topped the Rovers 46-20.  Eight teams faced off in five rounds of action in the Parkland Duals. 

Parkland Hosted Their Annual Dual Event (Photo Courtesy of Parkland HS Yearbook)

In Colonial League on January 17th Wilson kept a four-year, 54-match league win streak alive as they won the first 10 bouts to cruise past Northern Lehigh 47-21.  In other league action, Catasauqua clipped Saucon Valley 51-17, and Pen Argyl defeated Notre Dame 43-22.

The same evening, Northampton won 10 of 14 bouts to defeat the Stateliners 51-18.  Parkland lost a non-league bout against Connelsville 41-27.  In the LVC, Liberty defeated cross-town rival, Freedom, 40-16.

Mike Rogers Helped the Rovers Top Tough Upper Perk (Photo Courtesy of Easton HS Yearbook)

Two days after wrestling three tough duals in the Final Four, PA #2 ranked Easton traveled to Red Hill to battle #3 Upper Perkiomen.  The bout began at 119 and the Rovers won the first three bouts – Seth Ciasulli (fall), Alex Krom (major) & Andrew Goldstein (decision) – to lead 13-0.  Upper Perk won 2 of the next 3 bouts to cut the lead to 16-9.  Mike Rogers and Sean Richmond won the next two bouts to extend the lead to 23-9.  Once again, the Indians countered with three straight wins including Derek Bennett’s fall over Marcus Millen and the Rovers’ lead was cut to 23-22.  The teams traded decisions at the next two weights and then Josh Oliver made a 3rd period escape hold up for a 1-0 win over Zach Kemmerer at 112.  Easton won the highly competitive match 29-25.

Top-ranked Northampton improved to 15-0 on January 21st as they won 11 of 14 bouts to rout Parkland 46-9.  Nick Guida bumped up from his normal 171-pound slot to face Josh Haines with Haines winning the bout 17-7.  Billy Haydt won his 100th career bout at 160.

100-Match Winner Billy Haydt (Photo Courtesy of Northampton HS Yearbook)

In the Colonial League , Northwestern surprised Wilson and broke the Warriors’ four-year league winning streak with a 37-26 upset.  The match started at 171 with the Tigers getting a forfeit win and then stringing together four more wins, including another forfeit, to open a 24-0 lead.  Russ Souders won by major decision at 112, but Northwestern then won the next two bouts to lead 31-4.  The Warriors won five of the final six bouts, but it was too late as Northwestern pulled into a three-way tie for first place in the league.  Catasauqua beat Bangor 42-24, and Pen Argyl defeated Southern Lehigh 40-28.

The same evening, Pleasant Valley stayed unbeaten in the MVC by topping Lehighton 56-15.

Rick Thompson was back behind the Phillipsburg bench, but the result was the same in the annual Easton-Phillipsburg match at Lafayette’s Kirby Sports Center.  The Rovers won 12 of 14 bouts including five falls to win 59-5.  Seth Ciasulli won the Brad Weaver Memorial Award by topping previously unbeaten Robert Au 9-0 at 119.  In addition, Thompson’s return ended early as he was ejected after questioning several calls.

Jon Oplinger Had a Key Win for the 2nd Year in a Row Against the Rovers (Photo Courtesy of Northampton HS Yearbook)

On January 23rd the LVC title and the #1 seed in the District Duals was on the line as Easton and Northampton met at Liberty’s Memorial Gym.  The match started at 103 and Easton got off to a great start by winning three close bouts and gaining a fall.  Chris Corona was awarded a stalling point to nip Tim Dogmanits 11-0 at 103; Josh Oliver rode out Steve Mytych at 112; and Alex Krom, as he had last year, edged Billy Stenack 3-1 at 125.  At 119, Matt Ciasulli had a tech over Marcus Wilson.  The Rovers led 14-0 after four bouts.  The Kids roared back to win four straight bouts of their own.  Dave Gilio and John Paukovits scored decisions over Andrew Goldstein (4-2) and Braylin Williams (6-4).  Northampton then pulled into the lead as Mike Parisi scored a tech fall over Nick Burgey and Joey Ecklof has a fall at 145 over Jordan Nettuno to lead 17-14.  Mike Rogers pinned Mike Wolfer at 152 to put Easton back in the lead 20-17.  An anticipated match between Sean Richmond and Billy Haydt did not take place as Coach Terry Daubert bumped Haydt up to 171.  Richmond scored a major decision win over Brett Wandler while Haydt answered with a fall over Kyle Dailey.  Easton led 24-23, but Josh Haines and Jon Oplinger scored identical 12-3 major decisions over Zach Pizarro and Marcus Millen to clinch the win.  Jason Groller pinned Matt Snyder, but Northampton triumphed 31-30. 

The same day, Nazareth and Liberty wrestled at Lehigh’s Grace Hall.  The match started at 135.  Thad Frick and Matt Janisch won back-to-back overtime bouts at 152 and 160.  After 9 bouts, Nazareth led 21-14, but then won four straight bouts to put the match away 38-17.  In two key bouts in the final run, Kevin Vinh nipped Mike Pena 5-4 at 112, and frosh Justin Cohen defeated Ricci Bass 7-2

In the Colonial League, Northern Lehigh, Northwestern and Wilson all won to remain tied at the top of the standings.  In non-league action, Pleasant Valley continued their winning ways with a 45-22 victory over Blue Mountain.

Alex Krom – Shown Here Against Emmaus – Was an Award Winner (Photo – Easton HS Yearbook)

On January 28th, Easton bounced back from its close loss to Northampton by winning all but two bouts to defeat Liberty 44-6. The Rovers won almost all the toss-up bouts.  Alex Krom won his 2nd straight Chuck Leiderman Memorial Award by defeating Ricci Bass 10-1.  Jason Groller nipped Devin Derrico 2-1 in OT in a battle between top-ranked heavyweights.  Coach Steve Powell cited Liberty’s fight for the Rovers only being able to manage one fall on the night in what was none-the-less an impressive win.

Pen Argyl edged Bangor 34-28 in Colonial League action.  Stroudsburg had seven bonus-point wins to defeat East Stroudsburg South in a key MVC match.

District Duals

Northampton was again the top seed in AAA thanks to a slim dual victory over Easton.  Meanwhile in AA, Northwestern, apparently in the AA District Duals field for the first time, was the #1 seed in AA.  In AAA, #1 Northampton had eleven bonus point wins as defeated Freedom 64-6; #2 Easton again rolled over Parkland 50-7; #3 Nazareth easily topped MVC-power Stroudsburg 50-18; and #4 Liberty held off a rally by a feisty Emmaus squad to win 30-28.  Liberty’s strong lower weights built a 27-3 lead.  Emmaus’ Bryan Reiss pinned Devin Derrico in a match of two of the area’s toughest heavyweights.

In AA, the top three seeds all won their matches easily.  #1 Northwestern had six falls to beat Lehighton 56-16; #2 Wilson had a closer than expected 44-25 win over Mahoney Area; #3 North Lehigh topped Northern Schuylkill 57-10.  #5 Tri-Valley was able to prevent an all-Colonial League semi-final by edging #4 Catasauqua 35-33 as they rallied with three straight wins from 171-215. 

Easton’s Talented Senior Class Won Their 4th District Duals Title (Photo Courtesy of Easton HS Yearbook)

In the AAA semi-finals, half the bouts in the Northampton and Liberty match were decided by five points or fewer, but the Kids scored bonus points in six of the seven remaining bouts on their way to a 45-12 victory.  Nazareth kept pace with Easton in the lighter weights, but the Rovers pulled away by winning seven of the final eight bouts in a 39-12 win.  In the finals, Easton started quickly just as they had in their dual against Northampton.  Ju-Ju Drummond and Josh Oliver both won in OT.  Seth Ciasulli again had a fall at 119, and Alex Krom won a close bout against Billy Stenack as Easton led 15-0.  Northampton again answered back with four straight wins of their own including three bonus point wins to lead 19-15.  Rovers’ Coach Steve Powell bumped up his wrestlers from 152-171, and it paid off.  Jordan Nettuno decisioned Mike Wolfer 8-5; Mike Rogers scored a tech fall over Brett Wandler and then Sean Richmond nipped Billy Haydt 3-1 in OT.  Easton led 26-19 with three bouts to go.  Northampton needed to sweep the final three bouts or score big bonus points in winning two of three.  Josh Haines defeated Zach Pizarro 5-0 at 189, and Jon Oplinger, as he had last year, bumped up and edged Jason Groller 3-2, but Marcus Millen defeated Matt Snyder 8-6 at 215.  Easton won 29-25 and won their 4th straight District Duals’ title.

In AA, Tri-Valley jumped out to a 25-6 lead over Northwestern, but the Tigers roared back to win the final six bouts to advance 33-25.  In the other semi-final, Wilson put together win streaks from 135-160 to open the match and 103-125 to clinch the win ad they defeated Northern Lehigh 38-22. With the finals match starting at 135, Northwestern built a 30-17 lead over Wilson after Scott Clymer defeated Wilson Loxley 5-2.  The Warriors were able to rally to win the final four bouts – Russell Souders (by tech fall at 112), Cody Streunig (7-6 over Dan Konno at 119), Zach Misero (by decision at 125) and Joe Kushnerick (by major decision at 130).  Wilson again matched Easton to win their 4th straight District Duals’ championship by a 32-30 count and gain revenge over Northwestern who had beaten them during the regular season. 

PIAA Team Dual Championships

In the AAA quarterfinals, with nine bonus point wins, Easton again defeated Clearfield 50-12. The Rovers had five falls in the semi-finals to defeat Cathedral Prep 43-16.  In the finals, Easton won the first ten bouts including four bonus point wins to defeat Connellsville 39-18 to win their 4th straight AAA state dual title.

Easton Won Their 4th Straight State Duals’ Title (Photo Courtesy of Easton HS Yearbook)

The AA quarterfinals, Wilson won 10 of 14 bouts to defeat Tyrone 50-20.  In the semi-finals four early falls by Bloomsburg doomed Wilson’s hopes of a state dual title 41-22. 

Other February Duals

On February 4th, Northwestern almost doubled up Saucon Valley 43-22; Northern Lehigh cruised by Bangor 63-9; and Wilson defeated Notre Dame 60-15 to stay tied atop the Colonial League.  In the LVC, Freedom nipped Parkland 33-32 as the Patriots dominated the lower weights and the Trojans came back in the upper weights.  Mike Lovett’s 7-6 win over Shane Schneider at 275 was a key to the victory. 

The same night, Pleasant Valley and Stroudsburg again faced off for the MVC title.  Shane Everitt (125), Tim McGoldrick (135) and Matt Todd (189) all had falls for the Bears.  Ryan Farley won a one-point decision at 140 as Pleasant Valley triumphed 34-29 to win their 2nd straight title.

Shane Everitt Had 1 of 3 Falls as the Bears Beat Stroudsburg for the MVC Title (Photo Courtesy of Pleasant Valley HS Yearbook)

On February 5th, Southern Lehigh and Salisbury had 12 combined falls or forfeits in a match that ended 39-39 with the Spartans winning on criteria.  Northwestern kept a share of the Colonial League lead by clipping Catasauqua 33-26.  Both teams won 7 bouts but bonus points made the difference.

In the MVC Championships, Pleasant Valley again topped Stroudsburg 242.5-206.5. Pleasant Valley had seven individual league champs including six straight from 119-145.  Stroudsburg had four first place finishers. 

John Paukovits Led a K-Kid Comeback (Photo Courtesy Northampton HS Yearbook)

On February 11th with its bout against Nazareth starting at 160, the Northampton upper weights came through winning 4 of the first 5 bouts to stake the Kids to a 21-3. Andrew Fleger’s OT win at 103 and Tim Darling’s 3-1 win over Steve Mytych at 112 started a Nazareth run of five straight wins.  The streak was punctuated by Joe Caramanica’s pin at 135 to give the Blue Eagles a 24-21 lead.  Coach Terry Daubert bumped John Paukovits, Mike Parisi and Joey Ecklof each up a weight, and it paid off as they all won.  Northampton had a 36-24 victory to close out its dual season.

In non-league action, Liberty won 10 of 14 bouts to top Pleasant Valley 41-18.

Final league standings were as follows:

Northern Lehigh1T10-1
Pen Argyl5T6-5
Saucon Valley5T6-5
Southern Lehigh75-6
Notre Dame8T4-7
Lehigh Valley Conference
Bethlehem Catholic9T1-6
William Allen9T1-6
Allentown Central Catholic120-7
Mountain Valley
Pleasant Valley16-0
East Stroudsburg South34-2
East Stroudsburg North43-3
Pocono Mountain East5T1-5
Pocono Mountain West5T1-5

Note: LVC standings are not fully accurate / official.

League champions overall records were:  Northern Lehigh (15-3), Northwestern (26-2), Wilson (14-6), Northampton (20-1) and Pleasant Valley (11-10).  Other teams with very good records were Easton (19-2), Stroudsburg (17-5), Emmaus (15-5), Catasauqua (10-5), Freedom (21-6), Liberty (15-6), Nazareth (13-6).

Northampton – LVC Champs (Photo Courtesy of Northampton HS Yearbook)
Pleasant Valley – MVC Champs (Photo Courtesy of Pleasant Valley HS Yearbook)

District Tournaments

After the first day of the 2004 District XI AAA tourney, Northampton and Easton were engaged in a two-way battle as each advanced 11 wrestlers to the semi-finals.  The Kids led 118.5-115 while Nazareth was 3rd with seven semi-finalists and 88 points.  Three wrestlers – Liberty’s Ricci Bass, Northampton’s Joey Ecklof and Easton’s Sean Richmond – all gained their 100th career wins.      

In the semi-finals, Northampton had eight winners and ultimately crowned six champions as they set a record for the most team points ever at 281 to win the team title.  Easton was able to advance five wrestlers to the finals and went on to finish 2nd with three champs and 233 points.  Nazareth, Liberty and Parkland rounded out the top 5.

Steve Mytych got the Kids off to a good start in the finals as he reversed a prior loss to Nazareth’s Tim Darling to win the 112-pound title 5-1.  Dave Gilio and John Paukovits each won close bouts at 130 and 135 to top Nazareth’s Justin Cohen 6-5 and Pleasant Valley’s Tim McGoldrick 4-1 in OT, respectively.  Whitehall’s Jay Morrison repeated at 140 by edging the Kids’ Mike Parisi 3-2 while Joey Ecklof majored Liberty’s Dan Horwath 19-7 at 145.  The final two champs for Northampton were Josh Haines and Jon Oplinger who defeated Parkland’s Pete Grodziak 17-4 at 189 and Easton’s Marcus Millen 6-1 at 215, respectively.

For Easton, Mike Rogers repeated by defeating Parkland’s A.J. Papa 13-3 at 152.  Sean Richmond reversed last year’s district final result by nipping Northampton’s Billy Haydt 3-2.  Easton’s final champ was Jason Groller who handed Emmaus’ Bryan Reiss his 1st loss of the year 5-3.

Liberty had two champs as Mike Pena clipped Whitehall’s Sean Carr 3-2 at 119, and Ricci Bass topped Easton’s Alex Krom 7-5 in OT at 125.  Nazateth’s Andrew Flegler won the 103-pound crown while Parkland’s Nick Guida repeated at 171.  Liberty’s Bass was named OW, and Northampton’s Terry Daubert was named Coach of the Year.

Parkland’s Guida Repeated his District Title & Went on to Win a State Title (Photo Courtesy of Parkland HS Yearbook)

In AA, just as they had battled in the Colonial League and the District Duals, Northern Lehigh, Northwestern and Wilson again battled for the lead on Day 1.  The Warriors took the lead as they moved seven wrestlers to the semi’s and had 103.5 points.  Northern Lehigh was a close 2nd with seven in the semi’s and 101 points while Northwestern had four semi-finalists and was in 3rd.  During the regular season Northwestern’s top-seeded Dan Konno had defeated Lehighton’s Corey Frey 15-1.  However, Frey turned the tables on Konno with an 8-4 upset in the quarters.  In addition, three #2 seeds were upset in the quarterfinals.

Wilson advanced six wrestlers to the finals, and Northern Lehigh advanced four, but due to a great performance by Northwestern in the consolations, it was still a three-way race heading into the finals.  Wilson went 3-for-6 in the finals, and each of their winners – Russ Souders (112), Joe Kushnerick (130) and Jon Hoagland (135) –   scored technical falls.  Northern Lehigh had two champions in Jack Gill decisioned Tri-Valley’s Kurt Kline 10-4, and Scott Snyder edged Mahoney Area’s John Cambra 3-1.  For Northwestern, frosh Scott Clymer downed Wilson’s Weston Loxley 10-0 at 103.  The final standings had Wilson winning its 5th straight team title with 207.5 points just outdistancing Northern Lehigh (204) and Northwestern (2020).  Wilson’s Souders was named OW while Northern Lehigh’s Todd Herzog was named Coach of the Year.

Northern Lehigh’s Scott Snyder Won the 1st of His 3 District Titles (Photo Courtesy of Northern Lehigh HS Yearbook)

Saucon Valley had back-to-back champs as Adam Fuderer decisioned Pius X’s Mike Goffredo 9-0 at 119, and Eric Grida defeated Northern Lehigh’s Peter George 9-1 at 125.  Six other schools each crowned one champion – Pen Argyl’s Ryan Heard (140), Palisades Kris Holzworth (145), Pine Grove’s Cody Miller (152), Catasauqua’s Jon Molchany (160), Tri-Valley’s Brock Troutman (215) and Lehighton’s Joe Tartar (275).  Gill, Tartar, Souders and Kushnerick all won their 2nd district titles.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Regional Tournaments

Pleasant Valley was one of the big winners Friday night in the AAA Northeast Regional tourney.  The Bears advanced four wrestlers – Sean Farley (125), Evan Pritchard (130), Tim McGoldrick (135) and Bryan Farley (145) – to the semi-finals.  Northampton and Easton again led the way with ten and eight advancers, respectively.  The Rovers Josh Oliver upset undefeated Justin Accordino of W.B. Coughlin 9-4 at 112.  Northampton’s Steve Mytych (112) and Stroudsburg’s Jed Henry (171) each picked up their 100th wins. 

Northampton cruised on Day 2 as they earned four gold medals and qualified eleven wrestlers for the state tournament.  John Paukovits scored seven points in the 3rd period to top Nazareth’s Joe Caramanica 9-4 at 135 while Joey Ecklof majored Liberty’s Dan Horwath 19-8 at 145.  The dynamic duo of Josh Haines and Jon Oplinger each won their 3rd regional title by knocking off previously undefeated opponents.  Haines defeated Honesdale’s Josh Arnone 2-0 at 189, and Oplinger edged Pittston Area’s John Laboranti 3-1. 

Josh Haines Won Another Regional Title (Photo Courtesy of Northampton HS Yearbook)

At the first two weights, all District 11 finals had opposite results from the prior week.  At 103, Stroudsburg’s Ray Ward beat Nazareth’s Andrew Flegler 5-3, and Nazareth’s Tim Darling defeated Mytych 5-2.  Crestwood’s Joe Kemmerer edged Easton’s Seth Ciasulli 5-2 at 119 while Liberty’s Ricci Bass used a last second reversal to again defeat Eason’s Alex Krom 4-3 at 125.  At 130, West Scranton’s Dave Morgan was the 2nd of only two non-District 11 champs as high topped the Kid’s Dave Gillio 11-3 at 130. 

Richmond Battled Bill Haydt Throughout the Season (Photo – Easton HS Yearbook)

Easton’s Mike Rogers (152) and Sean Richmond (160) both repeated regional titles as Rogers scored a fall and Richmond beat rival Billy Haydt 3-2.  Parkalnd’s Nick Guida also repeated at 171 with a dominate performance while Easton’s Jason Groller (275) repeated as well with an impressive 9-4 win over Emmaus’ Bryan Reiss.  In the team standings, Northampton, Easton and Nazareth were the top three teams. 

2004 Northeast AAA Regional Champs [Heading is Incorrect} (Photo from PIAA Program Courtesy of Tom Elling)

Fifteen area wrestlers advanced to the semi-finals in the AA Southeast Regionals.  Wilson led the local grapplers as they advanced four wrestlers and was in 3rd place overall as they trailed Bermudian Springs and fellow District 11 team, Tri-Valley which had three in the semi’s.  The Warriors advanced four wrestlers to the finals while Bermudian Springs only had one giving Wilson a realistic change to close the gap in the team score.  Wilson was able to crown two champs but fell just short 108.5-106 while Tri-Valley finished 3rd.

District 11 got off to a good start in the first two weights.  Northwestern’s Scott Clymer upended previously undefeated Damien DeStafano of Harriton 3-2 in OT at 103, and Wilson’s Russ Souders scored a late 5-point move to top two-time defending regional champ, Gary Mayfield of Hanover, 7-1 at 112.  Saucon Valley’s Eric Grida (125) and Wilson’s Jon Hoagland (135) both won in OT.  Wilson then had a chance to take the team lead as their last finalist, Brian Nicholas took the mat to face Pen Argyl’s Ryan Heard at 140.  Heard repeated his win but this time by just a 2-1 score.  Pine Grove’s Cody Miller (152), Williams Valley’s Justin Bender (189) and Tri-Valley’s Brock Troutman (215) were the remaining District 11 champs. 

2004 Southeast AA Regional Champs [Heading is Incorrect] (Photo from PIAA Program Courtesy of Tom Elling)

PIAA State Championships

Northampton and Easton roared out of the gate in round 1 as 7 of 11 Konkrete Kids won while the Rovers went 6-for-6 to lead all teams.  Eight other District 11 wrestlers advanced to the quarterfinals.  The train kept rolling for the locals in the quarterfinals.  Northampton moved five wrestlers into the semi-finals as Steve Mytych, John Paukovits, Joey Ecklof, Josh Haines and Jon Oplinger all won their matches with Ecklof and Oplinger scoring falls.  Five more Kids clinched medals.  Easton had an impressive quarterfinal round as well.  Josh Oliver (112) won by tech fall; Seth Ciasulli (119) dealt Norristown’s Tim Harner his first loss 9-4; while Mike Rogers (152) and Sean Richmond (160) both won by decision.  Nazareth super frosh Tim Darling made it 3-for-3 at 112 with a major decision. Liberty’s Ricci Bass (125), Nazareth’s Joe Caramanica (135), Whitehall’s Jay Morrison (140) and Parkland’s Nick Guida (171) also won their bouts.

Joey Ecklof Scored Falls in 3 of His Wins at the State Tourney (Photo Courtesy of Northampton HS Yearbook)

In the semi-finals, the local wrestlers were able to win 9 of 14 bouts.  At 112, Josh Oliver topped Tim Darling 3-1 while Steve Mytych lost to Clearfield’s Brad Pataky 10-2.  For the Rovers, Seth Ciasulli had a fall; Mike Rogers defeated previously unbeaten Jason Hollar from Red Lion 10-2; but Sean Richmond drpped a 1-0 decision to Connellsville’s Jarrod King. Nazareth’s Joe Caramanica, Whitehall’s Jay Morrison and Parkland’s Nick Guida all won their semi-final bouts.  Northampton won their remaining three bouts.  Joey Ecklof scored his third straight fall.   Josh Haines also scored a fall, and Jon Oplinger won handily 7-2.    

In the finals, Josh Oliver wrestled a more competitive bout against Brad Pataky than in the state duals, but dropped a 6-3 decision. 

AAA 112 Podium (Josh Oliver – Tim Darling – Steve Mytych Go 2-3-4) (Photo Courtesy of Tom Elling)

Seth Ciasulli took his 2nd straight silver medal as he lost 5-3 to Crestwoods’s Joe Kemmerer for the 2nd straight week. 

AAA 119 Pound Podium (Seth Ciasulii 2nd) (Photo Courtesy of Tom Elling)

Nazareth’s Joe Caramanica got the local’s first gold medal as won an exciting 9-8 match over Upper Perkiomen’s Darren Kern at 135. 

AAA 135 Pound Podium (Champ Joe Caramanica & John Paukovits 5th) (Photo Courtesy of Tom Elling)

Whitehall’s Jay Morrison lost a 3-2 heartbreaker to Greensburg-Salem’s defending state champ, Donnie Jones.  Northampton’s Joey Ecklof matched brother Jeff with his 2nd state title as he defeated Pittsburgh Central Catholic’s Andrew Sherry 7-3.  Also winning his 2nd title was Easton’s Mike Rogers who rallied with a takedown and tight waist tilt to defeat Pennridge’s Dan Geib 5-3.  After two 5th place finishes, Parkland junior, Nick Guida, captured the gold 7-3 with an overtime cradle to decision Ephrata’s Nate Rock.

Mike Rogers Won His 2nd State Title (Photo Courtesy of Easton HS Yearbook)

Northampton’s Josh Haines and Jon Oplinger completed the Kids’ dominant team performance by both repeating their state titles at 189 and 215.  Haines again defeated Honesdale’s Josh Arnone, who he had beat in the regionals, 3-1.  Oplinger scored a takedown with 14 seconds to go to defeat Kiski’s Scott McKillop 6-4.  Northampton repeated their state team title with 10 total placers.  In addition to their three champions, Billy Haydt (160) was 3rd, Steve Mytych (112) was 4th, John Paukovits (135) was 5th, Billy Stenack (125) was 7th, and Dave Gilio (130), Mike Parisi (140) & Matt Snyder (275) were 8th.  Terry Daubert was named PIAA Coach of the Year.  Subsequently, he was also named the National Wrestling Coach of the Year by the NHSCA.

Below Gallery Photos Courtesy of Tom Elling: Northampton Team Champs (2 Photos), Terry Daubert Coach of the Year & Steve Powell – inducted into PAWC HOF.

Northampton scored 132.5 points in running away with the team title.  Easton was 2nd with 83.5 points.  In addition to their three finalists, Sean Richmond (160) was 4th.  Other placers from District XI included Nazareth’s Tim Darling (112 – 3rd), Liberty’s Ricci Bass (125 – 3rd), Parkland’s Mazen Kholi (145 – 7th), Emmaus’ Scott Hunter (171 – 7th), and Emmaus’s Bryan Reiss (275 – 5th).

(Photo Courtesy of Tom Elling)

Wilson again led the District 11 AA grapplers with three first round winners.  Freshmen Scott Clymer of Northwestern and Adam Hluschak of Northern Lehigh both won their bouts at 103.  Six additional District 11 wrestlers won their first round bouts.  It was a tough morning quarterfinal round as only five District XI wrestlers won their bouts.  Three District 11 wrestlers were able to win their semi-final bouts by wide margins to advance to the finals.  Wilson’s Russ Souders and Lehighton’s Joe Tartar (275) both had falls will Tri-Valley’s Brock Troutman (215) won by a 10-3 decision.  Northwestern’s Clymer lost a 4-3 decision at 103. 

In the finals, Russ Souders faced Gary Mayfield who he had upended in the Regional finals the week before, but this time Mayfield won 6-2 to take the state title.  Tri-Valley’s Troutman edged Valley View’s Kyle Davis 9-8 to win the 215-pound gold medal.  Lehighton’s Tartar led early but dropped a 7-6 deicsion to Marian Center’s Jon Neese.  Additional local place winners included Northern Lehigh’s Adam Hluschak (103 – 4th), Northwestern’s Scott Clymer (103 – 5th), Saucon Valley’s Adam Fuderer (119 – 8th), Saucon Valley’s Eric Grida (125 – 4th), Wilson’s Jon Hoagland (135 – 7th), Pen Argyl’s Ryan Heard (140 – 7th), Pine Grove’s Cody Miller (152 – 5th) and Williams Valley’s Justin Bender (189 – 7th). 

(Photo Courtesy of Tom Elling)

Phillipsburg Post-Season

Phillipsburg defeated Roxbury 48-19 and Kingsway 41-21 to win the Group 3 State Duals.

P-Burg Finished 13-5 & Won the NJ Group 3 State Duals (Photo Courtesy of Phillipsburg HS Yearbook)

Phillipsburg won its 11th straight NJ District 1 team title with 7 champions – Jon Gregory (103), John Todd (112), Robert Au (119), Brandon Stillo (125), A.J. Varga (130), Jared Duffy (171) and Walt Pierson (Hwt).

In the Region 1 Championships, Stillo was the only Stateliner to win a title.  In the NJ state championships, Robert Au placed 8th

(Photos Courtesy of Phillipsburg HS Yearbook)

The US Team again routed the PA squad in the Dapper Dan Classic 35-9.  Two Northampton wrestlers competed with Josh Haines earning a 1-0 win and Jon Oplinger dropping a 9-6 decision. 

In the Easton Lions Classic, the Pennsylvania Team defeated the New Jersey Team 29-12.  Easton’s Mike Rogers defeated two-time state runner-up, Kody Hamrah, 6-1.  Two Northampton (Billy Haydt and Billy Stenack) and two Parkland (Pete Grodziak and Adam Atiyeh) wrestlers won their bout to help lead the PA team to their victory. 

As it turns out despite all the coaching changes and graduation of many talented wrestlers, many things stayed the same in the Lehigh Valley as Northampton had three repeat state champs and ran away with the post season individual honors.  The Kids and Easton split their duals with Northampton winning the LVC and Easton winning the District Duals and ultimately the state duals for the 4th straight time.  Pleasant Valley won the MVC again, and Wilson, despite a coaching change won a share of the Colonial League title, the District Duals and the District titles.  The More Things Change, The More They Stay Same..