Coaching Changes:         

Bethlehem CatholicMoss GraysBrian Nesfeder
CatasauquaTom RiegelMike Conner
North SchuylkillRick EdwardsDave Brown
PalisadesBruce WallaceJason Gilligan
PalmertonRick AndersonEarl Loch
ParklandScott HovanRyan Nunamaker
Pen ArgylVic StanleyScott Kupec
Saucon ValleyAndy KochChad Shirk

After eleven coaching changes during the prior off-season, there were eight more coaching changes heading into the 2004-05 season.  Several schools turned over for the 2nd straight year.  Ryan Nunamaker and Chad Shirk, who would both go on to very successful runs at their respective schools, took the top spots at Parkland and Saucon Valley, Mike Conner returned for a 2nd stint at Catasauqua.

Easton was the favorite in the Lehigh Valley Conference as they returned two state runner-ups in Seth Ciasulli and Josh Oliver along with a talented senior class and a number of very strong underclassmen including frosh Jordan Oliver.  Nazareth and Northampton were expected to challenge the Rovers.  The Blue Eagles were led by state champ Joe Caramanica along with four other regional placers.  Northampton graduated two state champs and four state placers.  They still returned state champ Joey Ecklof and three more state place winners.  Parkland, under new Coach Ryan Nunamaker, returned seven starters, including state champ, Nick Guida.  Emmaus, Freedom, Liberty and Whitehall also returned plenty of talent from winning line-ups the previous season. 

Northern Lehigh, Northwestern and Wilson finished in a dead heat tied for the Colonial League title in 2003-04.  Wilson won the AA District Duals title.  The current season was shaping up as a battle between the same three teams as they each returned no fewer than 10 starters each.  Catasauqua, Pen Argyl and Saucon Valley were all looking to make a break into the top three in the standings with new head coaches.  Mike Conner entered his 2nd stint for the Rough Riders while Scott Kupec and Chad Shirk took over for the Green Knights and Panthers, respectively.

Pleasant Valley was looking to repeat in the Mountain Valley Conference.  The Bears returned ten starters but did lose Tim McGoldrick in a transfer to Whitehall.  Stroudsburg under Coach Ron Spinner was again looking to challenge the Bears for the top spot with its strong lower weights.  East Stroudsburg North was looking to break into the top two spots.


The first weekend of December was the start of the 2004-05 season which saw the local teams in action in tournaments throughout the state and even as far as Florida.  Nazareth dominated the action in its own tournament with six champions – Andrew Flegler (112), Andrew Ritchie (119), Mike Greck (125), Tim Darling (135), Joe Caramanica (145) and Thad Frick (152).  Dallas was 2nd while Northwestern was 3rd with Dan Billig (160) taking a crown.  Wilson invited Blair Academy, Caesar Rodney and several other Delaware teams to challenge the local teams.  Blair’s A squad had 8 finalists as they easily won the team title over Caesar Rodney.  The host Warriors were 3rd as Bill Shook (215) was the only local titlist; Pleasant Valley was 4th with 12 place winners.

Northern Lehigh had five champions – Andrew Arnold (103), Pete George (130), Ed Boyle (145), Frank Heffernan (152) and Scott Snyder (215) – to win the Bullet Invitational team title with 280 points.  Emmaus was 2nd as Scott Hunter (171) and Bryan Reiss (275) won individual titles.  Host Brandywine (with 3 champs) was 3rd while Parkland was 4th.  Pen Argyl’s Chris Merwine (160) also won a title.

Frank Heffernan Was 1 of 5 Champs for the Bulldogs (Photo Courtesy of Todd Herzog)

Easton traveled to Pembroke Pines, Florida to wrestle in the Amando Soto Memorial Invitational.  The Rovers finished 2nd behind Florida powerhouse, Brandon, 287-278.5.  Josh Oliver (130) won the OW as one of five Easton wrestlers to win titles.  Jordan Oliver (103), JuJu Drummond (112), Seth Ciasulli (125) and Andrew Goldstein (140) also placed 1st.    

Josh Oliver Was OW in Florida (Photo Courtesy of Easton HS Yearbook)

The same weekend, the 2nd annual Salisbury Falcon Duals were held.  Bethlehem Catholic 2nd while Dieruff was 4th and the hosts 6th in the 8-team field.  Whitehall was 3-0 in the Big Spring Dog Duals.  Liberty was 5-0 as they won the Boyertown Duals.  Pius X was 3rd in the Darren Klingerman Invitational Tournament at Bloomsburg H.S.  George Lobb (140), James Sciascia (152) and Matt Hemshauser (171) all won titles.

The first meaningful dual action took place on December 8th.   In the Lehigh Valley Conference, Parkland won 8 of 14 bouts, but it still was not enough to top Liberty.  The Hurricanes had five falls to defeat the Trojans 33-28 to repeat a close win for the 2nd straight season.   Eric Valesquez’s pin at heavyweight spoiled Parkland Coach Ryan Nunamaker’s debut.  In other LVC action, Freedom’s middleweights led the charge as they topped Whitehall 39-29.

The same evening in the Colonial League, Saucon Valley easily defeated Salisbury 68-9 to give new coach, Chad Shirk, his first win.  Northern Lehigh downed Pen Argyl 63-9 and co-favorites Northwestern and Wilson also easily won.  In non-league action, Pleasant Valley defeated Blue Mountain 44-16.

K-Kid Coaches Look On (Photo Courtesy of Northampton HS Yearbook)

On December 11th, Northampton hosted the inaugural Cement Town Duals. Northampton and Nazareth both defeated Milton (60-8 and 56-12) and Cumberland Valley (37-23 and 40-18).  Upper Perkiomen visited Easton, and the Rovers built a 28-9 lead before holding on for a 38-24 victory.  Freedom was 2nd and Wilson was 5th in the Southeast PA Classic which was won by Boyertown by one point.  Zach Rabenold (160) and Rodney Sigley (275) won titles for the 2nd place Patriots.  Pius X was 4-0 in the Arctic Cap Duals.  Notre Dame was 2nd at the Fort Meade Invitational as Pete Wilke (125), Scott Arcury (130) and Nate Kranich (215) won titles. 

December 15th East Stroudsburg North was hoping to challenge Pleasant Valley in the Mountain Valley Conference.  The match began at 119, and the Bears won five straight bouts from 130 to 152 to open a 26-3 lead on their way to a 56-12 win.  Stroudsburg had eight bonus-point wins to defeat Pocono Mountain West 49-17.  In the Colonial League, Wilson proved too much for Saucon Valley as they topped the Panthers 46-16 while Northwestern clipped Pen Argyl 52-17.

In LVC action, Emmaus visited Freedom and with the match starting at 171, the Hornets took an early 15-3 lead after four bouts.  Freedom won 6 of the next 8 bouts to take a 27-22 lead.  Alex Iaccoca nipped Kyle Crouthamel 3-0 at 152, and Eric Bauder scored a fall at 160 to give the Hornets a 31-27 victory.  In other action, Liberty led Nazareth 15-7 after the 189-pound bout in a match that started at 140.  Liberty picked up big wins from Eric Velasquez (9-6 over Mike Mutch at 275) and Shane Hutchinson (7-6 over Mike Greck at 130) to lead 28-27.  But the Blue Eagles had Tim Darling take the mat at 135 to score a major decision to claim a 31-28 win. 

Pennridge upended Emmaus 31-23 in a non-league dual.  In the 2nd annual Bethlehem Duals, both Liberty and Freedom went 4-0 in dominate fashion.  Liberty defeated Southern Lehigh 68-8 for the 700th win the storied history of the school’s program.  Northwestern and East Stroudsburg South each went 2-2 while Southern Lehigh was 0-4.

Tim McGoldrick Upset Joey Ecklof & Took 2nd in The Beast (Photo Courtesy of Whitehall HS Yearbook)

Three local wrestlers made the finals in the Beast of the East, but unfortunately none of them were able to win in the finals.  Whitehall’s Tim McGoldrick upended two-time state champ Joey Ecklof 2-1 in the semi-finals before falling 3-2 in the finals at 152.  Nazareth’s Tim Darling (130) and Joe Caramanica (145) both placed 2nd as well.  Blair Academy again won the team title while Nazareth was 10th and Northampton 19th

In a 47-team Times New Leader tourney which was loaded with talent, Council Rock North topped Pittston Area (participating for the 1st time) to win the team title.  Stroudsburg was the top District 11 team at 5th

Easton won their 3rd title in 4 years in the Reno Tournament of Champions by edging Wasatch by 4 points as Seth Ciasulli and Alex Krom won titles and Jordan Oliver was 2nd.  Ciasulli was named OW, and three other Easton wrestlers earned medals.  Emmaus had 3 place winners in a solid showing.

On December 20th, Northern Lehigh and Northwestern faced off in a key Colonial League dual.  The bout started at 215 with the Bulldogs getting falls in 2 of the first 3 bouts to lead 12-6. Northwestern ran off a string of three straight wins including Justin Shorts’ 9-4 win over Adam Hluschak at 119. The Tigers led 19-12 after six bouts.  Northern Lehigh bounced back with two decisions before Dan Konno’s major decision at 140 and Matt Vermuelen’s overtime decision at 152 opened a 26-18 lead.  Northern Lehigh rallied with two decisions to cut the lead to 26-25, but Dan Billig’s decision at 171 kept the Tigers ahead 29-25.  Joey Papay’s 18-7 major decision tied the team score at 29-29 causing everyone to rush to the tiebreakers.  Tiebreaker #6 “first points scored in each bout” was the difference, and for the 2nd year in a row Northern Lehigh had the win on a tiebreaker. 

Liberty jumped out to an 8-0 lead over Northampton in an LVC dual three days before Christmas.  The Kids won 5 of the next 7 bouts to open up a 23-14 lead.  The Hurricanes stormed back to win the next three bouts to tie the score 23-23.  At 215, Justin Wieller nipped Sherman Compton 5-4, and at 275 Justin Oplinger scored the winning takedown with 18 seconds to go for a 4-2 win.  The Kids had a 29-23 win heading into the holidays. 

Justin Oplinger Got a Late TD to Clinch the Match (Photo Courtesy of Northampton HS Yearbook)

In the Colonial League, Wilson knocked off Pen Argyl 44-21while East Stroudsburg North defeated Pocono Mountain West 41-27 in a battle for likely the #3 spot in the MVC.

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. 

Pleasant Valley Flexed its Muscles Early in the MVC (Photo Courtesy of Pleasant Valley HS Yearbook)

One day later, Easton dominated the lower weights with five pins and a tech fall as they cruised by Freedom 47-19.  Two days after Christmas, Phillipsburg found themselves in an unlikely spot with a 1-2 record after losing 36-28 to Absegami, which maintained a 94-bout unbeaten streak.

Holiday Tournaments

Andrew Arnold Won a Beth. Classic Title (Photo Courtesy of Todd Herzog)

With five champions, Blair Academy won its 7th Bethlehem Holiday Classic team title.  Tim Darling (130) and Joe Caramanica (145) led Nazareth to a 2nd place finish over Northampton.  The Kids’ Steve Mytych (125) won his 3rd title while teammate John Paukovits (140) won his 2nd by edging Saucon Valley’s Eric Grida 9-7.  Northern Lehigh was 5th and also had two champs in Andrew Arnold (103) and Scott Snyder (215) who defeated the Kids’ Justin Wieller 7-4.  The last local champ, Freedom’s Rodney Sigley came off his back for a first period fall over Blair’s Jim Powes at 275.   

Schuylkill Valley was overtaken by Quakertown last year, but had six finalists in winning the 2004 Christmas City title over Port Jervis NY.  Host Bethlehem Catholic was 3rd as they crowned champs in the first four weights – Evan Kolb, Ryan Cressman, Kyle John and Larry Unger.  Notre Dame has 4th as Scott Arcury won at 130. 

OW Seth Ciasulli led the Rovers to another Manheim title with 8 champions. Won their 6th title in a row over Kiski Area. Jordan Oliver, Brad Gentzle, Josh Oliver, Alex Krom, Andrew Goldstein, Braylin Williams and Zach Pizarro also won titles as Easton broke their own record for the most individual champs.

Frosh Jordan Oliver Was 1 of 8 Rover Mainheim Champs (Photo Courtesy of Easton HS Yearbook)

North Schuylkill was 2nd in the Selinsgrove Tournament; Jim Thorpe was 3-2 in the Delco Duals.  After 9 straight years, Wyalusing was unseated by Delaware Valley for the team title; PM East & West were both in the tourney field.  Northwestern (with 5 finalists) topped Berwick (which had 4 champs) by 13 points for the team title.  Phillipsburg had six finalists in the Mustang Classic at Brick Memorial.

On December 30th, Nazareth bumped everyone up from 119 to 152 as they rolled past Pleasant Valley 48-9 in a non-league match.  Saucon Valley was 3-1 in the SnackTwon Duals.


Right after the holidays on January 5th, Nazareth traveled to Northampton for a critical LVC meet between two unbeaten squads.  Unfortunately, a wintry mix caused the entire slate of matches to be postponed.  The big Nazareth-Northampton match was rescheduled for January 31st.

After progressively better 4-3-2 finishes, Emmaus’ senior class finished 1st in the Zephyr Duals.  High Point NJ upset Northern Lehigh 28-28 on criteria to advance to the finals against the Hornets.  Emmaus’ Bryan Reiss scored a fall to clinch a 30-28 victory and the title.  Northern Lehigh bounced back to take 3rd.    In the Easton Duals, the Rovers defeated Caesar Rodney 36-25 and Wilson 36-20.  Nazareth also defeated Caesar Rodney 30-25.  In Colonial League action, Northwestern defeated Saucon Valley 54-18, and Notre Dame clipped Catasauqua 47-26.

Emmaus Won the Zerphyr Duals’ Title (Photo Courtesy of Emmaus HS Yearbook)

A few days later, Emmaus was back on the mats to face Brandywine Heights.  The match started at 125, and the Bullets took a 16-8 lead.  Emmaus bounced back in the upper weights but Brandywine broke through with a forfeit and fall.  Matt and Nick Yocco’s falls clinched the bout for the Bullets 40-35.

Whitehall visited Northampton and sent shockwaves through the Valley as they upset the Kids 31-30 on criteria.  The Kids were missing several wrestlers due to injuries, but take nothing away from the Zephyrs coming up with a huge win!  The match started at 112, and the Kids took a 17-3 lead, but Whitehall came back Robbie Kern, Brandon Salinas and Tim McGoldrick all won to narrow the lead to 17-15.  Josh Ballan and P.J. DiStefano had key wins to allow the Zephyrs to be within striking distance as Gary Atiyeh took the mat in the final bout at 103.  Atiyeh’s fall tied the match at 30-30 with Whitehall winning on criteria.  It was the Zephyrs first win over the Kids in 22 years. Meanwhile, Easton remained unbeaten at 7-0 on January 12th with a 52-14 win over Parkland. 

Whitehall Upset Northampton 31-30 (Photo Courtesy of Whitehall HS Yearbook)

The same night in the Colonial League, Northern Lehigh routed Saucon Valley 58-7, and Pen Argyl edged Catasauqua 39-31.  In the MVC, Lehighton had four falls to down East Stroudsburg North 38-34.

In a mid-January Colonial League showdown, Wilson opened a 15-3 lead over Northern Lehigh after five bouts in a match that started at 125.  The Bulldogs upper weights roared back to win the next five bouts, including three with bonus points, to lead 25-15.  Frank Heffernan’s fall at 152 got the streak rolling.  J.T. Shook’s win at heavyweight narrowed the gap to 25-18.  Andrew Arnold trailed Kegan Handlovic 3-0 at 103, but used a headlock to score a fall and clinch the match for the Bulldogs who went on to win 31-26.  Saucon Valley defeated Catasauqua 47-25, and Pen Argyl topped Notre Dame 45-18.

Blair Academy easily won the Parkland Duals by tallying four dual wins including a 41-22 win over Connellsville in the finals.  Pleasant Valley took 4th – the best finish for the local schools.  In the LVC, Easton won eight straight bouts from 103-145 as they defeated Emmaus 44-23.  Josh Oliver edged Taylor Brown 5-3 at 103, and Sal Crivellaro nipped Eric Bauder 7-6 at 160.

In the Virginia Duals, Northampton, Nazareth & Freedom all participated in the National Bracket but none were able to place.  Great Bridge defeated Christiansburg 42-16 to win their 3rd title in 4 years.  In the American Division, Liberty beat Canon-McMillan 27-24 in the final to take the top spot.

On January 17th, the competitive Colonial League bouts continued as Notre Dame scored five six-point bout victories in topping Saucon Valley 37-36.

Two days later, there were two bouts with significant league implications.  In the LVC, Easton visited Nazareth in a battle for the top spot while in the Colonial League Wilson traveled to Northwestern to determine the #2 spot in the Colonial League.  Once again Mother Nature intervened as snow cancelled the scheduled matches. 

The following evening, Northwestern was too much for Wilson as they registered a 43-16 win.  Easton was back on the mats but not against Nazareth.  Whitehall won 9 of 14 bouts to top Parkland 41-19 in the LVC.

Seth Ciasulli Battles Against P-Burg (Photo Courtesy of Easton HS Yearbook)

Instead the heavily-favored Rovers were in The Pit wrestling Phillipsburg.  The match started at 215, and P-Burg won several key bouts as Jon Gregory nipped Jordan Oliver 4-3 at 103; Luke Grassi edged Brandon Veres 3-2 at 112 and Brandon Stillo topped Josh Oliver 5-4 at 130.  The Stateliners led 15-11, but Alex Krom and Andrew Goldstein scored quick falls to stifle any thoughts of an upset.  Easton won 4 of 5 remaining bouts to prevail 39-18.  In the MVC, Pleasant Valley outpaced Pocono Mountain West 61-15.

Two days later, Easton wrestled in the NHSCA Final Four.  The Rovers defeated Rio Rancho NM 46-19 and then won 9 of 14 bouts to top Virginia powerhouse, Great Bridge, 33-24.  In the final session, Easton jumped out to a 10-3 lead over Blair Academy highlighted by Alex Krom’s 10-7 upset of #1 nationally-ranked Adam Frey.  Blair, who has not lost a dual in five years, won 7 of 10 remaining bouts to win 39-23.  Liberty cruised past intra-city rival, Freedom, 40-13. 

Northern Lehigh placed 2nd in the Brookville Ultimate Duals as they lost 36-26 in the finals to Reynolds after winning four other matches.  Northwestern also lost to Reynolds, but came back to take 3rd also going 4-1.

On January 24th, Easton was back on the mat wrestling Nazareth.  The Rovers was very strong in the lower weights by winning 5 of 7 bouts from 103-140.  Tim Darling won an impressive 11-0 decision over Josh Oliver at 130.  Easton held their own in the upper weights as some line up maneuvering resulted in three more wins.  Nazareth earned two falls from Joe Caramanica (145) and Tim Frey (275), but it was not enough as the Rovers won 30-25 to take sole possession of 1st place in the LVC.

John Paukovits Had a Fall (Photo Courtesy of Northampton HS Yearbook)

Several more big LVC bouts were on tap just two days later.  Northampton was back at full strength with Joey Ecklof, John Paukovits and Dave Gilio returning from injuries.  The injury bug bit Freedom which was missing three starters.  With the match starting at 140, Paukovits took the mat first and scored a fall as did Ecklof; Gilio would win by forfeit.  Freedom won four close bouts and was within 16-12 at the halfway point.  The Kids cruised from there as they won all but one of the remaining bouts and racked up the bonus points to win 49-15.  Easton won 11 of 14 bouts to topple Liberty 41-11; Nazareth was impressive and defeating Parkland 48-12 with Thad Frick nipping A.J. Papa 3-2 at 152; and Dieruff clipped Allen 42-36 in a pin fest. 

Scott Hunter Had a Fall Against the Zephyrs (Photo Courtesy of Emmaus HS Yearbook)

Whitehall and Emmaus faced off in a very competitive match which started at 171.  Scott Hunter and Bryan Reiss both had falls to book end Zephyr wins to open a 12-7 lead.  It was back and forth with Emmaus getting a little better of the action to lead 28-16 after 130.  Robbie Kern, Brandon Salinas and Tim McGoldrick all scored bonus points as Whitehall took a 32-28 lead.  Alex Iacocca won at 152 to pull Emmaus within one point, but Josh Ballan nipped Eric Bauder 4-3 to clinch a 35-31 win for the Zephyrs.

In the MVC, East Stroudsburg North surprised Stroudsburg 33-31 ruining the Mounties anticipated showdown for the title with Pleasant Valley. 

One day later, Nazareth ran the table against Emmaus from 112-160, including Thad Frick’s 8-6 OT win over Eric Bauder.  Emmaus won the final four bouts to narrow the final score to Nazareth 49-19.  The Blue Eagles were back on the mat a few days later hosting Dave Crowell’s former team, Wilson, in Nunamaker Gym.  The match started at 189, and after an initial Nazareth fall, Wilson roared back with two falls, Chris Labatch’s 3-2 win over Mike Mutch and a major decision; the Warriors led 19-6.  After a Nazareth win, Russ Souders and Rob Streunig scored decisions over Andrew Ritchie and Mike Greck, respectively, as the Warrior lead expanded to 25-10.  Tim Darling’s fall started a 3-bout Nazareth streak  which was interrupted by a Wilson decision before Joe Caramanica’s fall started another 3-bout streak.  Coach Crowell had his 300th career win as the Warriors triumphed 39-22.

Troy Wasser Had a “W” to Start the Match (Photo Courtesy of Northampton HS Yearbook)

The same night, Easton was looking to close out the LVC title against Northampton, a team that had beaten them during the regular season each of the last two years.  Troy Wasser edged Cory Rutt 3-2 to start the bout at 189.  Zach Pizarro had a big win over Justin Wieller 4-2 at 215 to even the score.  After Justin Oplinger’s fall at 275; Jordan Oliver scored a major decision at 103.  The Kids led 9-7.  The teams traded decisions at the next two weights with Louis Schwartz winning for the Kids and Brad Gentzle winning for the Rovers.  That set up the marquee bout of the night at 125.  With the bout tied 2-2, Steve Mytych scored a reversal to led Seth Ciasulli 4-2, but a Ciasulli escape and takedown gave the Rover a 5-4 win and a 13-12 dual lead.  Josh Oliver and Alex Krom (ride out OT win over Dave Gilio) followed with wins to stretch the lead to 19-10.  After John Paukovits’ decision, Andrew Goldstein and Braylin Williams scored identical 3-2 decisions over Marcus Wilson and Mike Wolfer.  Easton led 25-15.  Joey Ecklof scored a tech fall at 160, and then Sal Crivellaro had a decision at 171 to close out a 28-20 win for Easton. 

In the Colonial League, Saucon Valley defeated Catasauqua 47-25.  Emmaus, Stoudsburg and Whitehall all competed in the Altoona Duals.  Emmaus defeated Stroudsburg 44-33 and avenged an earlier loss to Whitehall 42-31.  Emmaus defeated Dubois 34-29 to win the dual title while Whitehall placed 3rd.

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 1-2-3 in the team standings.  In non-league action, Pleasant Valley continued their winning ways with a 45-22 victory over Blue Mountain.

On January 31st, Nazareth faced a much-improved Northampton team.  Mike Mutch got the Blue Eagles off to a good start by edging Justin Oplinger 2-1 in OT.  Nazareth also won the next two bouts, and then Andrew Ritchie edged Chris Wieller 5-4 to lead 14-0 in the team score.  With the coaches choosing what was best for the team vs. going for marquee match-ups, Darling-Gilio and Caramanica-Ecklof matches did not materialize.  All four wrestlers won their bouts.  Thad Frick’s 12-2 decision at 160 iced the match for the Blue Eagles which won 31-24.  Parkland scored five falls including Matt Bogusz’s in the final bout at 112 to upend Freedom 33-27. 

Parkland Had a Big Win Over Liberty (Photo Courtesy of Parkland HS Yearbook)


On February 2nd, Stroudsburg scored a decision and three falls in the final three bouts to come back to defeat East Stroudsburg South 33-32 in the MVC.  In other action Pocono Mountain West downed Lehighton 41-34. In non-league action, Bethlehem Catholic nipped Saucon Valley 34-32.

In the LVC, Liberty scored 15 bonus points in topping Emmaus 39-21, and Northampton defeated Parkland 38-24.

District Duals

Easton earned the top seed in AAA while Northern Lehigh claimed the top spot in AA in the District Duals.   In AAA, #1 Easton won 11 of 14 bouts as they cruised past Pleasant Valley 46-11; #7 Freedom jumped out to a 14-0 lead over #2 Nazareth, but the Blue Eagles won every bout from 112-140 on their way to a 44-21 victory; #3 Northampton had seven bonus-point wins to defeat Emmaus 50-12; and #4 Liberty had an impressive win over an upstart Whitehall squad 37-19. 

In AA, #1 Northern Lehigh and #2 Northwestern easily won their matches as the Bulldogs beat Tamaqua 74-0 and the Tigers defeated Lehighton 52-15.  #6 Pen Argyl had an early lead then saw #3 North Schuylkill come back before the Green Knights won the final two bouts to tie the match at 34-34.  Pen Argyl won on the 7th criteria to advance to the semi-finals.  #5 Pius X raced out to a 32-10 lead over #4 Wilson.  The Warriors won 5 of the final 6 bouts, but Tony Communale edged Weston Loxely 5-4 at 112.  This decision was enough to give Pius X a 35-34 upset win. 

In the AAA semi-finals, Easton won 10 of 14 bouts as they defeated Liberty 42-19.  On the ‘other’ semi-final, Nazareth and Northampton squared off for the 2nd time in less than a week.  After Steve Mytych’s fall to start the match, Nazareth cam bask with two wins, including Tim Darling’s 3-1 win over Dave Gilio to tie the score at 6-6.  The Kids won three decisions to take a 15-6 lead before Joe Caramanica who had bumped up to 160 scored a major decision.  Joey Ecklof bumped up to 171 and nipped Thad Frick 6-4.  After two more Northampton wins, The Kids led 24-10.  Nazareth won the final four matches including two close decisions, a fall by Andrew Flegler and a 7-2 decision by Andrew Ritchie at 119.  Nazareth triumphed 25-24 to advance to the finals.

In the finals, Easton won 4 of the first 5 bouts against Nazareth with Tim Darling breaking through with a 3-0 win over Josh Oliver at 135.  Easton led 17-3, but Nazareth won the next four bouts to cut the lead to 17-16.  Zach Pizarro scored a major decision but Tim Frey then scored a fall at 275 to give Nazareth their first lead of the match 22-21.  Jordan Oliver won by major decision at 103 before Andrew Flegler edged Brandon Veres 3-1 at 112 to tie the match at 25-25.  Brad Gentzle defeated Andrew Ritchie 8-2 at 125, and Easton won 28-25 for their 5th straight District Duals’ title.

Adam Hluschak Gained Revenge from Dual (Photo Courtesy of Todd Herzog)

In AA, Northern Lehigh had seven falls or tech falls to top Pius X 46-19.  Northwestern opened up a 35-7 lead over Pen Argyl, but the Knights rallied in the final five bouts to cut the final score to 35-28.    Andrew Arnold’s fall at 103 got Northern Lehigh off to a good start in the finals.  After Scott Clymer’s win at 112, the Bulldogs had two huge wins that reversed results from the dual meet.  Adam Hluschak defeated Justin Shorts 6-3 at 119, and Rob Marlatt decisioned Brad Snyder 16-3.  Northern Lehigh led 13-3; Northwestern won the next three bouts to narrow the score to 13-12.  The Bulldogs then strung together six wins in a row to put the match away 38-18.    

Northern Lehigh – AA District Duals’ Champs (Photo Courtesy of Todd Herzog)

With the PIAA expanding the field from 10 to 16 teams, both 2nd place finishers also advanced to the state duals.

PIAA Team Dual Championships

In the opening round of the AAA duals, Nazareth won all but three bouts in beating Boyertown 37-15 to advance to Hershey.  In the 2nd round, the Blue Eagles whipped Warren 49-6.  In the quarterfinals, they had a back-and-forth match with Cumberland Valley which was tied five different times.  Nazareth won 4 of the final 5 bouts with Mike Greck, Tim Darling, Phil Santee and Joe Caramanica posting wins to triumph 30-18.  Easton had a much more difficult time in the quarters as they fell behind Central Dauphin 29-6 with only six bouts left.  The Rovers won all six with pins by Seth Ciasulli, Jordan Oliver and Andrew Goldstein to win 34-29. 

Ashtin Primus Helped Lead Connelsville to a State Dual Title (Photo Courtesy of Connelsville HS Yearbook)

Nazareth led Connelsville 14-11 at the halfway point, but Connelsville was able to win 6 of the remaining bouts including Ashtin Primus’ fall over Tim Darling to down the Blue Eagles 35-19.  Nazareth then lost to Kiski Area 32-29 in the consolations.  Easton matched up against Upper Perkiomen and won a hard fought 35-20 match to set up a rematch of the ’04 final.  The Rovers led 16-15 at the halfway point and the 2nd half promised to be a strength vs. strength battle.  Brad Gentzle and Seth Ciasulli won their bouts to extend the lead to 25-15, but Connellsville then ran the table to win the final five bouts to defeat the Rovers 34-25.

The AA first round, Northwestern relied on bonus points to top Lewisburg 41-22.  The Tigers won their 2nd round bout 51-6 over Tyrone but then lost to Reynolds 42-12 in the quarterfinals and Burrell 31-27 in the consolations.  Northern Lehigh defeated Burrell 47-15.   In the semi-finals the Bulldogs had four falls to top Brandywine 37-30.  In the finals, they met perennial AA powerhouse, Reynolds.  Northern Lehigh got falls from Andrew Arnold and Zach Marlatt to open a 23-6 lead.  The Bulldogs won several close decisions, including Rob Marlatt’s ride out upset over Steve Nestor, and minimized Reynolds’ bonus points.  Frank Heffernan’s fall in the final bout at 152 to add an exclamation point to a 35-22 win and state dual title.    

Northern Lehigh – AA Team Champs (Photo Courtesy of Todd Herzog)

Other February Duals

On February 9th, Pleasant Valley visited Stroudsburg to try to secure the MVC title.  The Bears scored four straight falls by Bud Gougher, Brian Farley, Nick Klingel and Chris Swan as Pleasant Valley triumphed 45-18 to win their 3rd straight title.

Two days later, Freedom defeated Pen Argyl 54-24 in a pinfest.  Whitehall and Liberty faced off in a very competitive LVC match-up.  The Zephyrs won 5 of 6 weights from 140-189 as Josh Ballan and Aziz Atiyeh had close wins to help lead the team to a 28-26 victory.

The MVC tournament was held at Pleasant Valley.  The hosts crowned four champions and won the team title 238.5 – 167.5 over Stroudsburg.

On February 16th, Parkland led Emmaus 10-9 after four bouts.  Nick Guida defeated Scott Hunter 7-3 in a key bout at 171.  After Bryant Moyer’s fall at 125, Emmaus had cut the Parkland lead to 25-24, but the Trojans won the final three bouts to triumph 40-24.  In a non-league match, Stroudsburg dropped a tough match to Wilkes-Barre Coughlin 38-35.

Final league standings were as follows:

Northern Lehigh111-0
Pen Argyl48-3
Notre Dame57-4
Saucon Valley66-5
Southern Lehigh111-10
Lehigh Valley Conference
Bethlehem Catholic9T2-5
William Allen9T2-5
Allentown Central Catholic120-7
Mountain Valley
Pleasant Valley16-0
East Stroudsburg North2T4-2
East Stroudsburg South43-3
Pocono Mountain West5T2-4
Pocono Mountain East70-6

League champions overall records were:  Northern Lehigh (26-2), Easton (19-2) and Pleasant Valley (11-6).  Other teams with very good records were Pius X (20-4), Emmaus (15-4), Liberty (22-5), Pen Argyl (12-5), Nazareth (18-6), Whitehall (18-6), Northampton (12-6), Northwestern (21-7), Notre Dame (17-10).

District Tournaments

Easton took a solid lead after the first day of AAA tourney by moving nine wrestlers into the semi-finals.  Liberty (7 in semi’s) was 2nd in the team standings followed closely by Nazareth (7 in semi’s), Northampton and Emmaus.  Two #7 seeds upset #2 seeded wrestlers – Nazareth’s Phil Santee decisioned Northampton’s Dave Gilio 5-3 in OT at 135, and Easton’s Braylin Williams topped Whitehall’s Tim McGoldrick 2-1 OT ride out.      

In the semi-finals, Easton had nine wrestlers advance to the finals to easily win the team title.  Northampton advanced five wrestlers to the finals and went on to finish 2nd with three champs and 233 points.  Nazareth and Emmaus were 3rd and 4th, respectively.

Easton Won the District Team Title (Photo Courtesy of Easton HS Yearbook)
Steve Mytych Won at 125 (Photo Courtesy of Northampton HS Yearbook)

Stroudsburg’s Ward brothers were in action at the first two weights but had mixed results.  Bobby lost to Easton frosh Jordan Oliver 2-1 at 103 while Ray nipped Parkland’s Matt Bogusz 3-2.  Easton had wrestlers in each of the next six weights but would only win two.  Brad Gentzle defeated Blue Mountain’s Jeremy Cresswell 7-4 at 119, and Alex Krom topped Nazareth’s Phil Santee 4-2 at 140.  Northampton’s Steve Mytych again was able to reverse a dual meet loss in the District Finals.  Mytych rode out Seth Ciasulli to win 3-2 in OT at 125 to get the Kids off to a good start in the finals as he reversed a dual loss.  Nazareth’s Tim Darling shut out Josh Oliver 8-0 at 130; Northampton’s John Paukovits won his 2nd title at 140 over Andrew Goldstein 3-2; and teammate Joe Caramanica defeated Braylin Williams 4-0.  At 152, Joey Ecklof rode out Nazareth’s Thad Frick for a 2-1 OT win. 

Eric Bauder Was 1 of 3 District Champs for Emmaus (Photo Courtesy of Emmaus HS Yearbook)

Emmaus was able to crown three champions in the upper weights.  Eric Bauder topped Easton’s Sal Crivellaro 9-4 at 160; Scott Hunter won by medical forfeit over Parkland’s Nick Guida at 171; and Bryan Reiss scored a fall at 275 over Freedom’s Rodney Sigley.  Sigley’s teammate Mike Lovett nipped the Kids’ Justin Weiller 3-2 at 215.  Easton’s Zach Pizarro won the Rovers’ 4th title with a 6-4 win over Whitehall’s P.J. DiStefano at 189.  Mytych was named OW, and Easton’s Steve Powell was named Coach of the Year.

In AA, Northern Lehigh dominated the action as they moved ten wrestlers into the semi-finals.  Besides the Bulldogs dominance, upsets were the story of the first day of AA competition.  Pius X Shawn Brice edged #3 Justin Peterson of Palmerton 8-6 and then pinned #6 Alex Franco of Jim Thorpe at 189.  Northern Lehigh’s #11 Mike Brogan pinned #3 Josh Buskirk of Notre Dame at 140.   Also, scoring upsets to advance were Pen Argyl’s #12 Nick Polly (112), Pen Argyl’s #7 Ryan Hess (130) and Pine Grove’s #8 Charles Aungst (140).

Northern Lehigh advanced five wrestlers to the finals and would advance nine in total to the regionals to easily win the District AA team title.  The Bulldogs’ Andrew Arnold led Becahi’s Evan Kolb 9-2, but Kolb scored a 2nd period fall to win the 103-pound title.  Northwestern’s Scott Clymer won his 2nd title by defeating Tri Valley’s Robbie Deibert 4-2 at 112.  Wilson’s Russ Sounders and Rob Struenig easily won back-to-back titles at 119 and 125.  Lehighton’s Derek Brownmiller scored a reversal with 5 seconds left to top Pen Argyl’s Ryan Hess 8-7 at 130.  Northwestern’s Ben Beitler had the only fall of the finals to win at 135 while Saucon Valley’s Eric Grida defeated Pius X’s George Lobb 3-1 at 140.

Northern Lehigh’s Ed Boyle (145) and Frank Heffernan (152) won back-to-back titles and then Scott Snyder won at 215. Three other schools crowned champions in the upper weights.  Pen Argyl’s Chris Merwine (160) and Richie Smith (275) both easily won their bouts.  Pius X’s Matt Hemhauser won at 171 and led 7 Pirates to advance to regionals.  At 189, Schuylkill Haven’s Jordan Barket defeated Pius X upsetter Shawn Price 5-3 at 189.

Scott Snyder Was 1 of 3 Champs for Team Champ Bulldogs (Photo Courtesy of Todd Herzog)

Regional Tournaments

With six wrestlers advancing to a 12-man bracket at each weight, District 11 had half the entries in the AAA Northeast Regional Tournament.  By the time the first night ended District 11 had 75% of the semi-finalists.  Easton advanced 10 out of its 11 entrants to the semi’s while Northampton had seven wrestlers advance.  Eighteen local wrestlers upset District 2 or 4 wrestlers who were seeded in the top 4 including the Kids’ Chris Wieller’s upset of #1 seeded Denny Wertz of Shikellamy.  Easton had a clear margin for the District team title, but Northampton was in the title hunt this week as each team advanced six wrestlers to the finals.  Twenty-three of 28 finalists overall were from District 11 including some wrestlers who had disappointing District tourneys but fared much better at the regionals.

The first two weights saw the same match-ups as the prior week.  Easton’s Jordan Oliver won by medical forfeit over Stroudsburg’s Bobby Ward who suffered a hip injury.  Ray Ward again beat Matt Bogusz from Parkland 3-2.  At 119, Berwick’s Roland Singletary was too much for Northampton’s Chris Wieller 6-1.  In Mytych-Ciasulli III, Steve Mytych had two takedowns for a 4-3 win in the rubber match at 125.  Nazareth Tim Darling won his 2nd regional title by downing Easton’s Josh Oliver 3-1 at 130.  Alex Krom and Andrew Goldstein both won close bouts over Northampton opponents, Dave Gilio and John Paukovits, respectively, to wrap up the team title for the Rovers.  For Krom it was also his 157th win – the most ever for a District 11 wrestler.

Alex Krom Set a New Record for the Most Wins by a District XI Wrestler (Photo Courtesy of Easton HS Yearbook)

Nazareth’s Joe Caramanica made a 3rd period escape stand up to top Whitehall’s Tim McGoldrick 1-0.  Joey Ecklof again defeated Travis Frick but this time the margin was wider at 12-6.  Delaware Valley’s Frankie Colletta (160) and Honesdale’s Josh Arnone (189) won to give District 2 its 2nd and 3rd titlists. Parkland’s Nick Guida won his 3rd regional title at 171 by clipping Emmaus’ Scott Hunter 3-1; Justin Wieller reversed the result of the district final by beating Mike Lovett 4-1.  Emmaus’ Bryan Reiss got to the top step at 275 with a dominant win.  In the team standings, Easton, Northampton and Nazareth were the top three teams. 

Nick Guida Won His 3rd Regional Title (Photo Courtesy of Parkland HS Yearbook)
(Photo Courtesy of Tom Elling)

An even twenty District 11 wrestlers advanced to the semi-finals in the AA Southeast Regionals.  Brandywine, Northern Lehigh and Pius X each advanced four wrestlers to the semi-finals while Wilson had three semi-finalists.  A baker’s dozen of District 11 wrestlers, including four from Northern Lehigh, made their way to the finals including several all District 11 match ups in the finals.  The Bulldogs were able to continue their strong team performance in winning the team title while Pius X came in 4th.

Northern Lehigh’s Andrew Arnold got the first takedown, but Brandywine’s Matt Yocco scored a 2nd period fall at 103.  Northwestern’s Scott Clymer defeated Nick Yocco 1-0 in the semi’s but fell 5-4 to Hamburg’s Brad Kummerer in the finals at 112.  Wilson’s Russ Souders edged the Bulldog’s Adam Hluschak 1-0 at 119, but teammate Cody Streunig fell 6-2 to Hamburg’s Nick Stabile.  Saucon Valley’s Eric Grida (140) clipped Pius X’s George Loeb to win his 2nd regional title.  Pius X’s two other finalists fared better as James Sciascia (152) won by injury default over Northern Lehigh’s Frank Heffernan and Matt Hemhasuer won at 171.  Pen Argyl had split results as Chris Merwine was 2nd at 160, but Richie Smith won at 275.   Scott Snyder dropped a one-point decision at 215 in what was a tough final round for the Bulldogs which did have eight wrestlers advance to states. 

(Photo Courtesy of Tom Elling)
Northern Lehigh State Qualifiers (Photo Courtesy of Todd Herzog)

PIAA State Championships

Northampton had four first round winners while Easton and Nazareth each advanced three.  Emmaus, Parkland and Whitehall each brought two wrestlers to Hershey, and they all won their first round bouts, including Whitehall’s Tim McGoldrick and P.J. DiStefano who both scored falls.  Steve Mytych and Seth Ciasulli were hoping to meet for the 3rd week in a row in the state finals, but both were upset in the first round.  Easton’s Jordan Oliver got the locals off to a good start in the quarterfinals with a 6-5 win over Quakertown’s John Weibel.  It was mixed results after that as Stroudsburg’s Ray Ward (112) and Nazareth’s Tim Darling (130) were the only other winners through 140.  Defending state champs, Joe Caramanica and Joey Ecklof, survived tight OT matches to advance.  Emmaus’ Scott Hunter (171) and Bryan Reiss (275), Whitehall’s Tim McGoldrick (145) and Parkland’s Nick Guida (171) also won their bouts.

In the semi-finals, the local wrestlers were able to win 7 of 9 bouts.  At 103, Jordan Oliver topped Indian Valley’s Nic Bedelyon 8-4, and at 112 Stroudsburg’s Ray Ward was edged 1-0 by Upper Perk’s Chris Sheetz.   For Nazareth, Tim Darling and Joe Caramanica both won their bouts to advance to the finals.  Caramanica would face Tim McGoldrick who defeated Hempfield’s Archie McConnell 6-2.  Joey Ecklof defeated Upper Perk’s Brett Fiorito 5-2 to advance to face Greensburg-Salem’s Donnie Jones.  At 171, Parkland’s Nick Guida earned a chance to repeat, but Scott Hunter lost 4-0 to Waynesburg’s Corbin Semple.  Hunter’s teammate, Bryan Reiss continued his solid wins with a 12-3 major decision.    

Joey Ecklof Would Go on to Win His 3rd State Title (Photo Courtesy of Northampton HS Yearbook)
Bryan Reiss Won Emmaus’ First State Title (Photo Courtesy of Emmaus HS Yearbook)

In the finals, Jordan Oliver lost a 5-0 decision to Clearfield’s Matt Kyler.  Tim Darling and Joe Caramanica both won gold medals as Darling topped Quakertown’s Nate Nauroth 5-2 and Caramanica defeated McGoldrick 5-0 to win his 2nd title.  In the battle of two-time state champs, Ecklof got an early takedown and tilt against Donnie Jones and rolled to a 10-3 victory.  Parkland’s Guida was not able to repeat as Waynesburg’s Sample won 5-2.  Bryan Reiss closed out a great state tourney with a 5-1 win to become Emmaus’ first state champion.

(Photo Courtesy of Tom Elling)

Connellsville and Council Rock South tied for the state team title at 68 points.  One point behind was Easton while Nazareth was 5th and Emmaus was 10th.  The Rovers had five additional placewinners in Seth Ciasulli (125 – 3rd), Josh Oliver (130 – 4th), Alex Krom (135 – 4th), Andrew Goldstein (140 – 7th) and Braylin Williams (145 – 7th).  Other placers from District XI included Stroudburg’s Ray Ward (112 – 4th), Nazareth’s Andrew Flegler (112 – 6th), Emmaus’ Scott Hunter (171 – 5th) and Whitehall’s P.J. DiStefano (189 – 5th).

Northern Lehigh was off to a good start as they advanced five wrestlers to the quarterfinals.  Rob Marlatt was trailing 12-3 and hit a concrete special at 125 to help the Bulldogs secure 2nd place in the team standings after Day 1.  Beyond the Bulldogs it was a tough first round as only six additional District 11 wrestlers won their first round bouts.  In the quarterfinal round, it took until 140 for District XI to get a win as Saucon Valley’s Eric Grida broke through with a 4-3 win.  Pius X’s James Scascia had a fall while Northern Lehigh’s Scott Snyder and Pen Argyl’s Richie Smith also won. In the semi’s only Scascia was able to the finals with a late reversal for a 5-4 win. 

Salisbury’s Josh Hunsberger was a State Placer (Photo Courtesy of Salisbury HS Yearbook)

In the finals, Scascia, who was Pius X’s first state finalist, wrestled Lake Lehman’s Matt Dragon and lost on a tech fall thanks to Dragon’s tilt.  Other local place winners included Pius X’s Tony Communale (112 – 7th), Wilson’s Russ Souders (119 – 3rd), Northern Lehigh’s Adam Hluschak (119 – 8th), Saucon Valley’s Eric Grida (140 – 3rd), Pius X’s George Loeb (140 – 7th), Salisbury’s Josh Hunsberger (145 – 8th), Northern Lehigh’s Frank Heffernan (152 – 7th), Northern Lehigh’s Scott Snyder (215 – 6th) and Pen Argyl’s Richie Smith (275 – 4th).  No District XI teams finished in the Top 10.  Northern Lehigh’s Todd Herzog was named AA Coach of the Year after an outstanding overall season.

(Photo Courtesy of Tom Elling)
(Photo Courtesy of Todd Herzog)

Phillipsburg Post-Season

Phillipsburg defeated Bridgewater-Raritan 37-23 to win the New Jersey 2 Group 4 championship.  It was their 14th straight and 25th overall sectional title.   The Stateliners upset title favorite, Jackson, 32-25 in the semi’s but lost to Southern Regional 30-25 in the Group 4 State Duals.

Phillipsburg won its 12th straight NJ District 1 team title with 6 champions – Jon Gregory (103), Luke Grassi (112), John Todd (119), Brandon Stillo (130), Chris Norelli (145) and Zach Crouse (171).

In the Region 1 Championships, Jon Gregory was the only Stateliner to win a title.  None of the wrestlers were able to place in the NJ state championships.

In the Easton Lions Classic, the Pennsylvania Team defeated the New Jersey Team 36-14.  Trios of wrestlers from Emmaus and Easton led the way for the PA Team.  For Emmaus, Eric Bauder, Scott Hunter and Bryan Reiss all won their matches while Easton’s winning trio was Brad Gentzle, Josh Oliver and Alex Krom.  Lakeland’s Tom Fazio upset Nazareth’s two-time state champ, Joe Caramanica 4-2 in OT to win the OW award for Team NJ.

The US Team won all but two bouts in defeating the PA squad in the Dapper Dan Classic 39-6.  Joe Caramanica and Joey Ecklof both competed but lost their bouts to Cyler Sanderson 13-4 and Dustin Schlatter 5-2, respectively.

This brought what was an interesting season to a close. Whitehall won for the first time in 22 seasons against Northampton, and Connelsville denied Easton winning its 5th straight AAA State Duals title. It was a year that saw brothers wrestling on several teams – the Oliver’s for Easton and the Ward’s for Stroudsburg. In addition, younger brothers of graduated wrestlers were on the mats achieving as Joey Ecklof won his 3rd state title and Seth Ciasulli had an excellent senior season. A Nunamaker was back in the coaching ranks as Ryan took over at Parkland and familial names with history like Frick, Hluschak and McGoldrick were on the local mat scene.