|Bangor||Tom Mort||Ken Brewer|
|Palmerton||Earl Loch||Rick Peterson|
|Pleasant Valley||Dan McIntyre||Mark Getz|
|Pocono Mountain East||Kevin Lesoine||Tom Mertz|
|Stroudsburg||Ron Spinner||Matt Kleinle|
Nazareth lost two-time state champ Joe Caramanica to graduation but returned state champ Tim Darling, seven other starters and had three transfers – Bobby and Ray Ward from Stroudsburg and Dave Crowell Jr from Easton. As a result, the loaded Blue Eagles were the clear favorite in the LVC and the state. Easton graduated eight starters including Seth Ciasulli, Alex Krom and Josh Oliver but did return state runner-up Jordan Oliver. In addition, Russ Souders and Kegan Handlovic transferred from neighboring Wilson. Northampton lost three-time state champ Joey Ecklof and big contributors, Steve Mytych, John Paukovits and Dave Gilio. They did return five starters and would be starting a young team. Freedom, Liberty, Parkland and Whitehall were expected to compete for the 4th-7th slots.
Northern Lehigh was the consensus favorite to repeat in the Colonial League. Northwestern was expected to challenge the Bulldogs with Wilson, Saucon Valley and Pen Argyl also expected to contend. The Bulldogs returned ten starters and eight District placers from last year’s talented team. Nothwestern and Wilson returned nine and eight starters, respectively, but the Warriors did lose two starters to transfer to Easton. Saucon Valley and Pen Argyl, under 2nd year coaches Chad Shirk and Scott Kupec, both had solid returnees from teams with winning records the year before.
After thirty-three years, coach Ron Spinner retired from coaching at Stroudsburg and former Nazareth wrestler, Matt Kleinle, took the reins. Unfortunately, their two most winning wrestlers from the prior year transferred to Nazareth, but they did return ten seniors. Pleasant Valley was looking to repeat in the Mountain Valley Conference and would also have a former Blue Eagle in Mark Getz as their new coach. The Bears returned ten starters and had a very challenging dual schedule. Tom Mertz was the new coach at Pocono Mountain East and was the 3rd new coach out of seven teams in the MVC.
Freedom won all but one bout in routing Stroudsburg 66-6 in the first local dual of the season. Nazareth again dominated the action in its own tournament with 335 points and seven champions – Andrew Flegler (119), Mario Giordano (125), Ray Ward (130), Mike Greck (135), Tim Darling (152), David Crowell (171) and Mike Mutch (275). Northwestern was 2nd with 266.5 points and 4 champs – Evan Yenolevich (103), Ben Marich (140 who upended Andrew Ritchie), Dan Konno (145) and Garrett Sukanick (189). Pleasant Valley took 3rd in the Wilson Invitational Tournament with thirteen place winners. Parkland topped Wilson West Lawn 51-9. Bethlehem Catholic swept four duals to win the Falcon Dual Invitational while host Salisbury was 2nd, and Dieruff was 3rd. Liberty was 3-2 in the Boyertown Duals.
Bobby & Ray Ward Both Were 4-0 in the Nazareth Invitational (Photos Courtesy of Jackie & Dave Crowell).
Pius X finished 2nd in the DKI Tournament at Bloomsburg as Tony Communale (112), George Lobb (152) and James Sciascia (171) won titles. With 8 finalists and 5 champs, the Bulldogs repeated as team champion; host Brandywine was 2nd. Notre Dame was 3-1 in the Knight Duals. Whitehall won the Dog Duals and beat Erie McDowell 36-22 in the finals.
In an early Colonial League showdown on December 7th, Pen Argyl visited Northern Lehigh. There were several forfeits in the early weights between a wrestler not making weight and several wrestlers banged up from the Bullet Invitational. As a result, the Bulldogs led 15-11 after five bouts with the teams splitting the two contested bouts. Northern Lehigh then strung together six straight wins and two more forfeits to lead 58-11. Richie Smith repeated his win over Mark Grosch at 275 by a 9-4 decision, and the final score was 58-14. All the other contenders had big wins – Northwestern defeated Palmerton 53-15; Saucon Valley downed Salisbury 49-21 and Wilson whipped Southern Lehigh 60-15.
In the LVC, there were five lopsided, there were five lopsided wins as Easton, Nazareth, Northampton, Parkland (a surprising 72-3 over rival Emmaus) and Whitehall all easily won. In non-league action, Liberty topped Stroudsburg 60-13.
On December 9th, Easton, Freedom and Parkland traveled to Holland, PA for the Council Rock South Dual Tourney. This was the first year as a dual meet tourney before switching to January and an individual tournament now known as Escape the Rock the following season. Easton easily won their first four bouts and then topped Council Rock South 37-24 in the final. The very exciting final featured wrestlers with 10 PA state titles including future NCAA 2x Champ Jordan Oliver, NCAA qualifiers Mark & Mike Rappo, Kegan Handlovic and Austin Carter. Parkland took 3rd 42-24 over a State College squad who had advanced to the 3/4 match with a thrilling come from behind criteria win over Fox Chapel with back-to-back pin in the final two matches. The Trojans also topped Freedom 36-30.
In the Nazareth Duals, the hosts defeated Cumberland Valley 35-16 and Milton 63-8. Northampton topped Milton 52-9, but dropped a 32-24 decision to Cumberland Valley. Saucon Valley went 5-0 in the Middleburg Tourney; Bethlehem Catholic beat Mount Carmel 47-27 to win the 3rd annual Jim Thorpe Duals. Northwestern had two champs – Evan Yenelovich (103) and Scott Clymer (125) – along with nine other medalists to win the Penn Manor Tournament title.
In each of the two prior years, Northern Lehigh topped Northwestern on criteria. As the two Colonial League favorites battled on December 12th, the match would again by competitive and exciting, but it would not be decided on criteria. The Tigers led 12-0 after Evan Yenolevich won by forfeit and Victor Konno scored a fall. Andrew Arnold and Adam Hluschak both scored falls to tie the score 12-12. Scott Clymer had a fall over Rob Marlatt at 130, but Zach Marlatt answered with a fall at 135 to tie the score 18-18. That’s when the Tigers went on a three-match run. Ben Marich won by a major decision at 140; Dan Konno scored a decision at 145; and Brandon Williams nipped Scott Sechler 2-1 in OT in the most exciting bout of the night. Northwestern led 28-18 with five bouts to go. The Bulldogs quickly rallied as Frank Heffernan had a fall at 160; Nick Hosford had a tech fall at 171; and Scott Snyder (who dropped a weight) scored a major a 189. Northern Lehigh led 33-28. Casey Hedash nipped Brian Barr 4-3 at 215 to clinch the win. Tony Culp had a fall at 275, but Northern Lehigh had a huge 36-34 victory.
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, Northampton traveled to Liberty. With the match starting at 145, the Hurricanes got a fall but from there it was almost all K-Kids. Northampton won the next four bouts punctuated by Justin Wieller’s tech fall to lead 17-6. The teams split the next two bouts, but then the Kids’ Josh Yurasits, Shane Fenningham, Jimmy Sheptock and Chris Wieller all won their matches. Northampton triumphed 45-15. Parkland won 11 of 14 bouts to top Bethlehem Catholic 50-14.
In the Colonial League, Northwestern rebounded from their loss to Northern Lehigh by defeating Pen Argyl 44-20. The Tigers won seven bouts by tech fall, fall or forfeit. Nick Polly upset Scott Clymer 5-4 in OT at 125. Wilson had six falls as they clipped Saucon Valley 44-27.
In the MVC, Pleasant Valley defeated East Stroudsburg North 58-12, and Pocono Mountain West upended Stroudsburg 52-18.
In the 3rd annual Bethlehem Duals, Pennsbury dealt all the local teams a defeat. Host Liberty and Freedom both went 2-1 while Northwestern was 1-3. With eight local teams participating in the Times-Leader Invitational at the College Misericodia, the tourney took on a bit of a District 11 flavor, but it was Manheim Central who edged Pittston Area, Council Rock North and Abington Heights for the team title. Pen Argyl was the top local finisher at 11th with Richie Smith winning the 275-pound title. Southern Lehigh’s Braden Turner was 2nd at 140.
With future national champions, David Taylor, Lance Palmer and Bubba Jenkins, dominating the action national powerhouses, Blair Academy and St. Edward’s, finished 1st and 2nd in the team race in the Beast of the East. Nazareth placed 8th with four medalists. Tim Darling lost 10-7 to Jenkins, who was named OW, at 145 in the semi’s. Northampton was 18th and Whitehall was 31st. Parkland was 7th in the King of the Mountain Tournament while other local participants were Pleasant Valley (14th), Pius X (19th) and Wilson (24th). Runner-ups included Tony Communale (Pius X 112), George Lobb (Pius X 152) and Maher Kholi (Parkland 189).
Just a day later, Parkland strung together three straight wins from 171-215 to top Wilson 36-30. Easton finished 2nd in the Reno Tournament of Champions as Alamosa CO outdistanced them 159.5-151.5. Jordan Oliver won the 103-pound title.
Whitehall visited Liberty for a competitive dual four days before Christmas. The Zephyrs’ Josh Ballan topped Daryl Klotz 17-14 at 160 in a bout that set the tone for the dual. Liberty’s Chris Ramos scored a fall in the next bout, but Whitehall then strung together three straight wins to lead 12-9. Liberty answered with a win in another high-scoring bout (15-13) to tie the score. The teams traded decisions before Liberty took the lead 24-15 after Willy Howath’s fall at 130. Whitehall answered again by winning three of the final four bouts including Bobby Relyea’s 3-2 win at 152 to clinch an exciting 28-27 victory. In Colonial League action Wilson defeated Pen Argyl 38-25. In the MVC, Pleasant Valley defeated East Stroudsburg South 48-18 in a match that ultimately decided the league title, and Lehighton downed Stroudsburg 45-32.
On December 23rd, two exciting duals were on tap as Easton visited Upper Perkiomen, and Northampton hosted Caesar Rodney DE. Upper Perk jumped out to an 18-3 lead thanks to three falls and the match starting at 171. Jordan Oliver scored a fall at 103, but Shane Smith pinned Kegan Handlovic and Chris Scheetz topped Brandon Veres 11-3. Russ Souders scored a fall at 125 to cut the lead to 28-15, but Upper Perk then reeled off three straight wins to pretty much end any chance the Rovers had on their way to a 49-26 win. Northampton led Caeser Rodney 17-10 after six bouts (189-119). Caesar Rodney then won five of the next six bouts to open a 30-20. Marcus Wilson had a fall at 160, and Mike Wolfer won be decision at 171 to narrow the final score to 30-29.
Two days after Christmas, Phillipsburg gained revenge against Absegami with a 36-28 win. In another holiday dual, Nazareth defeated Pleasant Valley 55-9.
With four champions, Blair Academy won its 8th Bethlehem Holiday Classic team title while Nazareth and Northampton were able to finish 2nd and 3rd while Northern Lehigh was 6th. There were some very competitive matches in the finals. At 112, Nazareth’s Bobby Ward lost a controversial 6-4 decision in OT to Blair’s Anthony Valles. At 119, Nazareth’s Andrew Flegler scored a fall over Northern Lehigh’s Andrew Arnold. Northampton’s Wieller’s both won titles with Chris topping Nazareth’s Mario Giordano 3-2 at 125, and Justin edging Whitehall’s P.J. DiStefano 2-1 at 189. Nazareth’s Tim Darling (152) was edged by Blair’s Eric Medina 3-2 while Thad Frick nipped Northern Lehigh’s Frank Heffernan 5-4 at 160. The Bulldogs did get a champ in Scott Snyder who defeated Saucon Valley’s Brandon Boyer 3-2 at 215. Pen Argyl’s Richie Smith defeated Blair’s Jim Powers 4-2 at 275.
Port Jervis easily outdistanced East Stroudsburg South to win the Christmas City title. Host Bethlehem Catholic was 4th followed by East Stroudsburg North and Notre Dame. Local champs included Notre Dame’s Matt Rodriguez (103), East Stroudsburg North’s Ray Rodriguez (112) & Brian Calazzo (171), Pocono Mt. West’s Chris Hernandez (125), Becahi’s Kyle John (130), and East Stroudsburg South’s Max Bergen (189).
Easton edged Reynolds 171-160 to win their 7th straight Manheim title with four champions. Jordan Oliver (103), Russ Souders (125), JuJu Drummond (130) and Braylin Williams (145) won titles. Berwick won the Jim Thorpe Tourney while Tamaqua (3 champs) was 2nd and Lehighton (1 champ) was 4th. Jim Thorpe went 5-0 including a 37-36 victory over Upper Dublin in the finals of the Delco Duals; Pittston Area won the Tunkhannock Kiwanis Tourney; Pocono Mountain East was in the field.
Right after the holidays on January 4th, Northampton visited Nazareth for a big LVC meet. The match started at 112, and Nazareth won the first two bouts as expected. The Blue Eagles then saw Mario Giordano score a late takedown and then an OT takedown to reverse his loss to Chris Wieller from the Bethlehem Holiday Classic. Ray Ward (130) and Phil Santee (145) both scored falls, and the Blue Eagles won all the close bouts to build a 37-0 lead. The Kids won the final four bouts to narrow the score to 37-15. Easton and Whitehall faced off in a match that got interesting along the way. After the Rovers won the first four bouts from 130-145 to open an 18-0 lead, Whitehall rallied to win four of the next six bouts to close the deficit to five at 24-19. However, Easton had Jordan Oliver, Kegan Handlovic, Brandon Veres and Russ Souders who all won their bouts to wrap up the match for the Rovers 42-19. Handlovic nipped Gary Atiyeh 5-4 at 112.
In other LVC action, Parkland had five falls or tech falls and got their other four wins by 3 points or less to top Liberty 41-21. Bethlehem Catholic dominated the lower weights as the outdistanced Dieruff 41-30. In Colonial League action, the league leaders all easily won their bouts. Notre Dame got five falls in clipping Catasauqua 39-34 in the league’s most competitive match.
Just one day later, Easton was back on the mats to face rival Phillipsburg at the 25th Street Gym. The Rovers dominated the action in winning 10 of 14 bouts to win their 8th straight match against the Stateliners. Mike Varju (275), JuJu Drummond (125) and Colin Dailey (145) all scored falls for Easton which won 45-15.
The following evening, Easton continued their busy week by kicking off their Invitational with a 42-30 win over Wilson. Easton dominated the action early with their strong lightweights but Cody Struening used a cement job for a fall over Colin Hershey at 135. The Rovers won three straight bouts before the Warriors scored three falls in the upper weights to narrow the final score.
In the Zephyr Duals, High Point NJ opened a 10-0 lead over Northern Lehigh, but the Bulldogs went on a 36-6 run to win the Duals’ title 36-22. Host Whitehall lost to High Point in the semi-finals, but defeated Jersey Shore 48-24 to take 3rd place. Northampton won the Cedar Cliff Duals and defeated Mount St. Joseph’s MD 49-12 in the final. In a Colonial League match, Northwestern beat Saucon Valley 50-21; in a non-league match, Pocono Mt. West topped Dieruff 35-33. In non-league action between LVC teams, Freedom beat Becahi 45-29, and Nazareth won all but two bouts to defeat Liberty 53-6.
As the Easton Invitational continued, the hosts defeated State College 42-16 and then matched up against Caesar Rodney DE. With the match starting at 275, Easton hoped to get into its lightweights and open up a lead. However, Caesar Rodney led 19-10 after the 130-pound match. Easton countered with two wins, but a major decision kept CR in the lead 23-19. Jules Knighton scored a fall at 152, but CR answered with a fall. The Rovers got wins from Joe Piro and Cory Rutt and led 31-29 with one bout to go and CR’s three-time state champ Craig Koch taking the mat. The result was a first period fall and Caesar Rodney 35-31 win. In other action, Pleasant Valley defeated Wilson 39-29.
On January 11th, Freedom jumped out to a 15-6 lead over Easton, but the Rovers won all but one of the remaining bouts to win 54-18. Nazareth won 11 of 14 bouts to defeat Parkland 48-12. In the Colonial League, Northern Lehigh had five falls, and Scott Snyder repeated his win over Brandon Palik as the Bulldogs topped Saucon Valley 49-15. Pen Argyl edged Catasauqua 37-34. In the MVC, Lehighton stayed unbeaten in the league by defeating East Stroudsburg North 54-27.
Phillipsburg defeated Warren Hills 41-23. Nazareth, Liberty, Freedom & Whitehall were all in the main bracket at the Virginia Duals. Nazareth advanced to the semi-finals but lost to Great Bridge 30-18. They came back to beat St. Mark’s to finish 3rd. Great Bridge again defeated Christiansburg in the final 34-32. Pleasant Valley took first place in the Parkland Duals by defeating Connelsville 43-27, and Parkland was 5th. In the NHSCA Festival at Salisbury, Catasauqua defeated Dieruff 44-30, and Northampton defeated Brick NJ 43-17. The same night in the Colonial League, Northern Lehigh stayed unbeaten by defeating Wilson 41-26.
On January 18th, Parkland won the first two bouts against Whitehall but the Zephyrs won the next three, including P.J. DiStefano’s major decision over Maher Kholi at 189 to lead 13-9. The teams traded falls and a forfeit in the next four bouts and the score stood at Whitehall 25-21. After Drew Silfies 5-2 win over Matt Bogusz at 125, Whitehall led 28-25. The Trojans won the next two bouts, and then Jon Peden upset Brandon Salinas 9-4 at 140 to clinch the win 35-28. The same night, Easton topped Liberty 52-12, and Northampton cruised past Freedom 51-13.
In the Colonial League, Northwestern won 9 of 14 bouts to defeat Wilson 31-21. Catasauqua nipped Bangor 38-33. In the MVC, Pleasant Valley defeated Pocono Mt. West 50-22, but Lehighton lost to East Stroudsburg South 42-34. This derailed a battle of the unbeaten in the MVC the following week.
Two days later, Easton was wrestling in the NHSCA Final Four. The Rovers defeated Bishop Lynch 51-18 and Sidney MT 40-24 but lost to #1-ranked Blair Academy 49-20. Easton’s Russ Souders (119) went 3-0 and knocked off the #1-ranked wrestler in the country, Ben Ashmore of Bishop Lynch, 9-6. Jordan Oliver (103) and Cory Rutt (189) also won all their bouts for the day.
In LVC action, Parkland beat a short-handed Freedom squad 49-13; Allen topped Dieruff 50-23. In the Colonial League, Northwestern had nine bonus point wins to beat Notre Dame 57-15. Northern Lehigh went 2-2 in the Brookville Ultimate Duals.
On January 25th, Easton hosted Northampton at the 25th Street Gym, and the match started at 130. The teams alternated wins in the first six weights, but the Rovers scored more bonus points to lead 13-10. Northampton then strung together four wins in a row including falls by Mike Wolfer, Aaron Chamberlain and Justin Oplinger as well as a key 3-1 win by Justin Wieller over Cory Rutt at 189. The K-Kids led 31-13. Easton rallied back by winning three bouts in a row to narrow the lead to 31-25. Chris Wieller, who had previously lost twice to Russ Souders by one point, topped Souders 1-0 to close out a 34-25 victory for the Kids.
In other LVC action, Freedom scored five falls to defeat Dieruff 41-25 while Nazareth continued their winning ways by whipping Whitehall 55-9. In the Colonial League, Wilson clipped Notre Dame 40-32, and Pen Argyl beat Bangor 49-22; Northern Lehigh and Northwestern easily won their bouts.
In a match which would decide the Mountain Valley Conference title, Pleasant Valley defeated Lehighton 41-25. The Bears won 9 of 14 bouts, including five falls
On January 28th, Northampton hosted the Konkrete Duals and defeated Pittston Area 51-18 before facing off with Council Rock South in a tightly contested match. Chris Wieller won a 3-2 decision to kick the match off at 125, but the Golden Hawks won four bouts in a row, including three by three points or less, to lead 13-3. The teams traded one-point decisions with Marcus Wilson winning for the K-Kids. Mike Wolfer then scored a tech fall at 171 before Pat Gilmore had a fall for Council Rock South to lead 22-11. Justin Wieller and Justin Oplinger both scored falls but Mark Rappo scored a major decision. The Kids trailed 26-23, but pulled the match out when Shane Fenningham and Jimmy Sheptock scored decisions to make the final score 29-26.
Freedom had three falls and also got close wins from Jake Finocchio (125) and Sean Searfoss (215) to defeat crosstown rival Liberty 35-30.
On February 1st, Nazareth traveled to Easton looking for their first dual win over the Rovers since 1997. Adam Counterman, Phil Santee, David Crowell and Thad Frick (who bumped up to 189) to build a 19-0 advantage. Cory Rutt got the Rovers on the board with a 2-1 double OT decision, and then Mike Mutch scored a fall to extend the lead to 25-3. Each time the Rovers tried to get something going Nazareth answered back. Jordan Oliver had a fall at 103, and Bobby Ward nipped Kegan Handlovic 1-0 at 112. Russ Souders topped Andrew Flegler 5-0 at 119, and Mario Giordano defeated JuJu Drummond 10-4 at 125. Nazareth would win 3 of the final 4 bouts to win by bigger than expected margin 44-15. The Blue Eagles won the LVC title and earned the #1 seed in the District Duals.
In the MVC, Lehighton edged Pocono Mountain West 36-34, and East Stroudsburg South defeated Stroudsburg 62-13 to clinch at least 2nd place in the league. Saucon Valley nipped Bethlehem Catholic 37-36 in non-league action.
Nazareth was the top seed in AAA while Northern Lehigh claimed the top spot in AA in the District Duals. In AAA, #1 Nazareth won all but two bouts as they easily defeated East Stroudsburg South 62-9; #2 Northampton whipped Freedom 51-13 while #3 Easton had a bit more of a challenge from Whitehall but triumphed 41-22. #4 Pleasant Valley and #5 Parkland were tied 28-28 with three bouts remaining. Brandon Christman defeated Shane Everett 2-1 at 135 to give the Trojans a 31-28 lead. Derek Hinger and Eric Pritchard won the final two bouts to give the Bears a 34-31 victory.
In AA, #1 Northern Lehigh and #2 Northwestern easily won their matches as the Bulldogs beat Mahoney Area 68-9 and the Tigers defeated Tamaqua 48-21. #3 Saucon Valley scored six falls to clip Notre Dame 47-24. In another excellent #4-#5 seed match, Bethlehem Catholic got a 7-6 win by Cory McFadden at 171 and a fall from Ziad Haddad at 189 as the Golden Hawks topped Lehighton 37-32.
In the AAA semi-finals, Easton and Northampton met for the 2nd time in ten days. Jimmy Sheptock and Chris Wieller each bumped up a weight and scored one-point victories to give the Kids a 6 to -1 lead. Easton countered with four wins in a row including Jules Knighton’s fall at 152 as the Rovers took a 14-6 lead. Marcus Wilson defeated Joe Piro 6-3 at 160, and Mike Wolfer followed with a major decision at 171 to narrow the lead to 14-13. At 189, Aaron Chamberlain led Chris Wilson 8-5 but was disqualified on a biting call with one second left in the bout. Coach Terry Daubert commented “We took a shot and they cross faced us….our guy has braces…that’s not to say that he bit him.” The referee felt that he had and with six points added for the DQ and three points subtracted from Northampton, the score stood at 20-10 instead of 16-14 had Chamberlain won a decision. Cory Rutt nipped Justin Wieller 2-1 on a ride out. After a Justin Oplinger fall, Easton won the final three bouts to triumph 38-16. In the 2nd semi-final,
Nazareth won 12 of 14 bouts as they defeated Pleasant Valley 58-10.
In the finals, Nazareth was able to repeat their win over Easton just three days after winning the LVC dual. With the match starting at 130, Easton won 3 of the first 4 bouts to lead 9-4. Phil Santee defeated Jules Knighton 8-2 at 152 before the Rovers forfeited at 160 and bumped Joe Piro up to face Thad Frick. However, Frick scored a fall to give the Blue Eagles a 19-9 lead. David Crowell, Jim Mutch and Mike Mutch all had wins to expand the lead to 34-9. Easton won 3 of the final 4 bouts to narrow the final score to 37-21. In the span of four days, the Blue Eagles won the LVC and District Duals titles and denied Easton their 6th straight District Duals’ victory.
In the AA semi-finals, Northern Lehigh had eight bonus point victories to defeat Bethlehem Catholic 49-13. After losing the opening bout, Northwestern won the next six bouts on their way to defeating Saucon Valley 42-24. In the finals, Northern Lehigh won 3 of the first 4 bouts to lead 13-3. Three of the next four bouts were decided in OT with Ben Clymer (171) and Tony Culp (275) winning for Northwestern, and Casey Hedash (215) winning for Northern Lehigh. Scott Snyder also won for the Bulldogs at 189 was nearly pinned by Brian Barr but was able to pull out a 14-12 win. After Evan Yenolevich’s fall at 103, Northwestern pulled within four points at 19-15. Northern Lehigh proceeded to win the final five bouts including falls by Andrew Arnold (112), Adam Hluschak (125) and Rob Marlatt (135) while Zach Heller decisioned Victor Konno 8-5 at 119, and Zach Maratt upset Scott Clymer 7-4 at 130. It was Adam Hluschak’s 100th win as he became the 3rd Hluschak brother to achieve the milestone. Northern Lehigh won their 2nd straight District Duals title 43-15.
PIAA Team Dual Championships
In the opening round of the AAA state duals, Easton won 10 of 14 bouts in defeating Council Rock North 43-18 as Braylin Williams won his 100th career bout. In the 2nd round, the Rovers won the first three bouts and then strung together wins at 189 and 215 and four in aa row from 103-125 to defeat General McLane 41-25. In the quarterfinals, Easton again started quickly and then relied on strong lower weights to beat Cumberland Valley 35-15. Nazareth won the first four bouts and three-in-a-row from 112-125 to upend Bald Eagle Area 36-19.
In the semi-finals, Upper Perkiomen won three of the first four bouts to lead Nazareth 11-3. The Blue Eagles got wins from Adam Counterman, Phil Santee and Tim Darling to lead 14-11. Brent Fiorito defeated Thad Frick 3-1 at 171 to tie the match at 14-14. David Crowell had a fall at 189, and the teams traded decisions in the next two bouts as Nazareth led 23-17. An Upper Perkiomen fall at 103 tied the match. Bobby Ward decisioned Shane Smith 2-0, but Chris Sheetz used a flying headlock to score a takedown for a 13-5 major decision at 112 to give Upper Perk a 27-26 win. Nazareth came back in the consolations to beat Dallastown 37-19. In the 3rd place bout, they trailed State College 25-13, but Bobby Ward, Travis Torcivia, Mario Giordano and Ray Ward all won their bouts to deliver a 28-25 victory for Nazareth.
In the other semi-final, Easton faced Penn Trafford and won the first six bouts to lead 23-0 on their way to a 38-19 win. In the final for the sixth straight year, Easton met an inspired Upper Perkiomen squad. Upper Perk got falls from Zach Kemmerer , Brent Fiorito, Derek Bennett, Bruce Augustine, Shane Smith and Chris Scheetz to surprise the Rovers with a 46-19 victory. The Rovers were only able to register four wins including Jordan Oliver’s fall and had to settle for a silver medal for the 2nd year in a row.
In a back and forth match in the AA first round, Northwestern got falls from Evan Yenolevich (103), Victor Konno (112) and Scott Clymer (125) to lead 21-10 at the halfway point. Towanda rallied to and tied the match at 31-31 with only the 171-pound bout to go. Garrett Sukanick scored a 6-2 decision at 171 to clinch the 34-31 win as the Tigers advanced. relied on bonus points to top Lewisburg 41-22. Northern Lehigh defeated Greenville 33-26 and Line Mountain 44-26 to advance to the semi-finals. However, Northwestern again lost to Reynolds in the quarters 42-12, but won two consolation matches to stay alive for 3rd place.
In the semi-finals Northern Lehigh had three falls and two tech falls as they beat Boiling Springs 45-12. Scott Snyder got his 100th career win at 215. In the finals, the Bulldogs again met Reynolds. Reynolds won the first three bouts to lead 15-0. Northern Lehigh won four of the next five bouts to cut the lead to 18-15. However, Reynolds reeled off four straight wins to clinch the state dual title and repeating an early season win over the Bulldogs 38-19.
Other February Duals
On February 8th, Pleasant Valley defeated Stroudsburg to win their 4th straight MVC title. East Stroudsburg South downed East Stroudsburg North 54-16 to clinch 2nd place. Liberty beat Bethlehem Catholic 44-17 in a non-league match between LVC teams. In the Colonial League, Saucon Valley clipped Catasauqua 44-27.
A few days later in non-league action, Notre Dame edged Dieruff 40-33, and Freedom defeated Pen Argyl 49-25. In the MVC tournament, Pleasant Valley outdistanced East Stroudsburg South 234-210. The Bears had five champs – Kyle Cramer (112), Kevin Olswfsi (130), Shane Everett (135), Derek Hinger (140), Chris Servian (152),
On February 15th, Liberty nipped Pleasant Valley 25-22 while Bethlehem Catholic defeated Lake Lehman 44-21.
Final league standings were as follows:
|Lehigh Valley Conference|
|Allentown Central Catholic||12||0-7|
|East Stroudsburg South||2||5-1|
|Pocono Mountain West||4||3-3|
|Pocono Mountain East||6||1-5|
|East Stroudsburg North||7||0-6|
League champions overall records were: Northern Lehigh (25-3), Nazareth (22-2) and Pleasant Valley (12-4). Other teams with very good records were Saucon Valley (21-4), Northampton (16-4), Parkland (17-5), Notre Dame (15-6), Wilson (9-6), Easton (21-7), Northwestern (21-7), Bethlehem Catholic (17-7) and Whitehall (14-7).
The LVC and MVC wrestlers dominated the first day of District action as they claimed 54 of 56 semi-final slots. Only Blue Mountain’s Jordan Pflueger (125) and Southern Lehigh’s Braden Turner (140) broke through. Nazareth took the lead in the AAA tourney by advancing ten wrestlers into the semi-finals while both Easton and Northampton moved eight forward. #7 seed Kegan Handlovic upset #2 seed Kyle Cramer from Pleasant Valley 6-1 at 112.
In the semi-finals, Nazareth pulled away from the competition as they had nine wrestlers advance to the finals while Easton had six. The Blue Eagles easily won the team title with 273.5 points. Easton was 2nd with 218.5 followed by Northampton with 164 points. Nazareth and Easton also had the most champions with seven and four titlists, respectively. The finals featured five overtime bouts, including four in the first six bouts of the evening.
Easton had finalists in each of the first four weight classes and crowned three champions. Jordan Oliver won his 2nd District title with a 2-0 win over Emmaus’ Taylor Brown at 103. Nazareth’s Bobby Ward, who had lost to Oliver at 103 the year before, topped Kegan Handlovic 2-1 on an OT rideout at 112. Russ Souders shut out Parkland’s Matt Bogusz 4-0 at 119 while JuJu Drummond scored a 3-2 ride out victory over Nazareth’s Mario Giordano at 125. Drummond was named OW, and teammate Braylin Williams became the Rovers’ 4th champ with a 20-8 victory over Braden Turner at 140.
Liberty’s Willy Horwath became his team’s most winningest wrestler as he defeated Ray Ward 3-1 in OT at 130. From there it was almost all Nazareth the rest of the night as the Blue Eagles crowned champs in 5 of the next 6 bouts. Mike Greck defeated Parkland’s Brandon Christman 3-1 in OT at 135; Tim Darling scored a tech fall over Easton’s Colin Dailey at 145; while Phil Santee and Chad Frick each scored 3-2 victories over Pleasant Valley’s Chris Servian and Freedom’s Zach Rabenold at 152 and 160, respectively. At 171, 5th seeded David Crowell upset top-seeded Kyle Crouthemal from Freedom 6-4 in the semi’s and then beat Whitehall’s Josh Ballan 11-3 in the finals.
Two 2005 runner-ups made it to the top stop in the next two weights. Northampton’s Justin Weiller decisioned Easton’s Cory Rutt 3-2 at 189, and Whitehall’s P.J. DiStefano had the only fall of the finals over East Stroudsburg South’s Justin Halterman at 215. Nazareth got their 7th champ of the night at 275 as Mike Mutch scored a 2-1 OT rideout win over the Kids’ Justin Oplinger. Dieruff’s Tom Derhammer was named Coach of the Year.
In AA, as they had all year long, Northern Lehigh and Northwestern were “nip and tuck after quarters” per The Morning Call as each team advanced nine wrestlers to the semi-finals. There were an incredible 101 pins in the first three rounds of action – 18 in the pigtails, 63 in the first round and 20 in quarterfinals! Saucon Valley’s #12 seeded Jarid Solosky upset both the 4th and 5th seeds to advance to the semi’s at 103.
Northern Lehigh had the edge in finalists 7-5 over rival Northwestern, but the District team title was in doubt all the way up to the 2nd last bout of the night. Northwestern’s frosh Evan Yenolevich got the Tigers off to a great start with a 5-0 win at 103. At 112 Pius X’s Tony Communale was locked in a tight 6-4 bout with Pen Argyl’s Austin Williams before scoring a fall. The Pirates crowned two more champs in George Lobb (152) and James Sciascia (160) on their way to a solid 4th place finish. The also almost played a spoiler role as both Lobb and Sciascia defeated Northern Lehigh wrestlers, Scott Sechler and Frank Heffernan.
At 119, Northern Lehigh’s Andrew Arnold won 9-4 on a big 5-point barrel roll over Wilson’s Dan Pacchioli to claim his first title. Teammate Adam Hluschak followed with a first period cement job fall over two-time District champ Scott Clymer of Northwestern at 125. Clymer bad beaten Hluschak 6-2 in Hurricane Classic and the fall was huge for the Bulldogs’ title hopes. Bethlehem Catholic’s Kyle John and Wilson’s Rob Struenig each won their 2nd titles at 130 and 135. Salaisbury’s Josh Hunsberger scored an escape at the buzzer to nip Northwestern’s Ben Marich 10-9 at 140. The Tigers kept their team title hopes alive with Danny Konno’s 3-2 win over Lehighton’s Derek Brownmiller at 145 and then received an assist from Pius X at 152 and 160.
This set up the 2nd head-to-head match-up between the Bulldogs and Tigers, and Nick Hosford delivered for Northern Lehigh with a 5-3 victory over Ben Clymer. Scott Snyder again battled Saucon Valley’s Brandon Boyer and emerged with a 3-1 win, his 3rd District title and clinching the team title for Northern Lehigh. North Schuylkill’s Kevin Bolinsky (189) and Pen Argyl’s Richie Smith (275) claimed the final two titles with decisons over Palmerton’s Justin Petersen and Lehighton’s Levi Stern, respectively. Northern Lehigh’s Todd Herzog was named Coach of the Year, and Adam Hluschak was the OW.
Nazareth had a great first night in the AAA Northeast Regional Tournament and advanced 11 wrestlers to the semi-finals while Easton had seven and Northampton had five wrestlers advance. The Blue Eagles took a commanding lead in the team race. The next morning 8 of 11 Blue Eagles’ wrestlers moved on the finals while the Rovers had five winners.
After a tight match the prior week, Easton’s Jordan Oliver scored a 2nd period fall over Emmaus’ Taylor Brown at 103. Bobby Ward followed with the first of five regional titles for Nazareth as he decisioned Whitehall’s Gary Atiyeh 6-1. At 119, Easton’s Russ Souders scored a fall over Matt Bogusz from Parkland.
The Blue Eagles Mario Giordano avenged a loss to Easton’s Ju Ju Drummond with four takedowns for an 11-3 win at 125. Three more Nazareth wrestlers won regional titles over District 2 or 4 wrestlers – Mike Greck by decision at 135, Tim Darling with a technical fall at 145 and Thad Frick by default at 160 over Pittston Area’s Dave Woodell. Three more Nazareth wrestlers lost close decisions. Ray Ward lost to Liberty’s Willy Howarth 4-2 in OT at 130; David Crowell dropped an 8-6 decision to Jersey Shore’s Sam Eck at 171; and Mike Mutch was upended by Wyoming Valley West’s Trevin Cowman 4-2 at 275.
Easton’s Braylin Williams edged Coughlin’s Justin Accordino 3-2 at 140 while Parkland’s A.J. Papa avenged several prior week losses and topped Northampton’s Marcus Wilson 3-1 in OT at 152. The final two champs with Northampton’s Justin Wieller (9-5 over Easton’s Cory Rutt at 189) and Whitehall’s P.J. DiStefano (6-3 over Coughlin’s Victor Cruz). In the team standings, Nazareth with 10 state qualifiers and Easton with 7 qualifiers finished 1-2 well ahead of the rest of the field.
Northern Lehigh’s Scott Snyder and Pen Argyl’s Richie Smith were the only remaining undefeated District 11 wrestlers as the AA Southeast Regionals kicked off. Smith and Snyder made a pact to stay undefeated which they certainly did on the first night of competition. Twenty-two local wrestlers advanced to the semi-finals including six wrestlers from Northern Lehigh and five from Northwestern. The Bulldogs took a six-point lead in the team standings and then pulled away in the semi-finals as they went 5-for-6.
In the finals, Northwestern’s Evan Yenolevich got things off to a great start for the locals with a 2nd period fall at 103. At 112, Pen Argyl’s Austin Williams turned the tables on Pius X’s Tony Communale 7-3. Bulldog teammates, Andrew Arnold and Adam Hluschak 1-0 had back-to-back wins at 119 and 125. Arnold scored a fall and Hluschak edged Hamburg’s Brad Kummerer 4-3. Bethlehem Catholic’s Kyle John continued the District 11 winning streak with an 8-5 decision over Hamburg’s Nick Sanko at 130. Hamburg got a titlist at 135 as Nick Stabile clipped Wilson’s Cody Streunig for the 2nd year in a row 6-3 at 135. At 145, Northwestern’s Dan Konno won by decision to give the Tigers their 2nd champ. Pius X’s James Sciascia (160) defeated Northern Lehigh’s Frank Heffernan 3-1 for his 2nd regional title. District 11 was not so fortunate at the next two weights as Northern Lehigh’s Nick Hosford and North Schuylkill’s Kevin Bolinsky dropped their finals’ bouts.
Scott Snyder & Richie Smith kept their pact, stayed unbeaten and each won their finals bouts. Snyder nipped rival Brandon Boyer from Saucon Valley 3-2 at 215, and Richie Smith decisioned Wyomissing’s Tim Katzaman 9-3 at 275. Northern Lehigh and Northwestern finished 1st and 2nd as they each advanced six wrestlers to States.
PIAA State Championships
The first round saw District 11 wrestlers bat .500 as they won 15 of 30 bouts. Nazareth led the way with six winners followed by Easton with three. The quarterfinals brought similar results as the locals advanced not quite half of its grapplers. Easton’s Jordan Oliver continued his dominate performance with a technical fall. Hopes for a 3rd Giordano-Drummond final were nixed. Mario Giordano advanced with a 4-3 win, but Ju Ju Drummond lost to Spring Grove’s Brian Polashuk 5-3. Easton lost another close bout as Shaler’s Nick Shaler rode out Braylin Williams at 140. The upper weights fared better as Nazareth’s Tim Darling (145), Thad Frick (160) and David Crowell (171) all advanced along with Freedom’s Zach Rabenold (160) and Whitehall’s P.J. DiStefano won their bouts. Nazareth took a commanding lead in the team race with four in the semi’s and four in the consolations.
In the semi-finals, Jordan Oliver had a 13-4 win over Lewistown’s Matt Snyder to again move to the finals. Nazareth was able to go 3-for-4. Mario Giordano lost a tough match to Middletown’s Tyler Nauman 8-6. Tim Darling cruised past Red Lion’s Chris Dahlheimer 13-2. Thad Frick and David Crowell both won nail biters as Frick nipped Bald Eagle Area’s Landis Wright 11-10, and Crowell downed Kittannig’s Josh Serene 9-7 in OT. Freedom’s Zach Rabenold and Whitehall’s P.J. DiStefano both lost decisions.
In the finals, Jordan Oliver finished a undefeated season and made it to the top of the podium with a 6-2 win over Greensburg CC’s Nico Cortese. Tim Darling matched up with future NCAA champ Quentin Wright from Bald Eagle Area and registered an 8-5 victory to claim his 2nd state title. Thad Frick lost a heartbreaker as he almost kicked out of Upper Perk’s Brent Fiorito’s ride in OT but lost 2-1 on a ride out. David Crowell lost for the 2nd week in a row to Jersey Shore’s Sam Eck on a 3rd period fall.
With eight placers, Nazareth won the team title outdistancing Bald Eagle Area. For the Blue Eagles, Mario Giordano (125) and Mike Mutch (275) were 3rd, Bobby Ward (112) was 4th, Mike Greck (135) was 7th, and Andrew Flegler (119) was 8th. Other District 11 placewinners included Emmaus’ Taylor Brown (103 – 8th), Easton’s Ju Ju Drummond (125 – 6th), Liberty’s Willy Horwath (130 – 7th), Southern Lehigh’s Braden Turner (140 – 7th), Easton’s Colin Dailey (145 – 8th), Freedom’s Zach Rabenold (160 – 6th), Northampton’s Justin Wieller (189 – 5th) and Whitehall’s P.J. DiStefano (215 – 3rd).
Both Northern Lehigh and Northwestern had excellent first rounds as the Bulldogs had five winners (Andrew Arnold, Adam Hluschak, Zach Marlatt, Frank Heffernan and Scott Snyder) while the Tigers had four (Evan Yenolevich, Scott Clymer, Ben Marich and Dan Konno). Six additional District 11 wrestlers won their first round bouts. In the quarterfinal round, District XI wrestlers went 8-for-15. Northwestern’s Scott Clymer had a tech fall. Dan Konno advanced at 145, but Evan Yenolevich and Frank Heffernan dropped close decisions. Northern Lehigh’s Adam Hluschak (125) scored his 2nd straight fall and Scott Snyder (215), but their other three semi-finalists lost decisions. In addition, Wilson’s Cody Stuenig (135), Pius X’s James Scascia (160), Saucon Valley’s Brandon Boyer (215) and Pen Argyl’s Richie Smith (275) also won.
Overall, it was a pretty good semi-final round for District 11 as five wrestlers won compared to only one in the prior year. Northern Lehigh and Northwestern were both able to advance two wrestlers to the finals. At 125, Adam Hluschak won 6-2, and Scott Clymer won 3-2 to set up an all-District 11 finale. Dano Konno won a 4-3 decision while Scott Snyder won 11-6. James Scascia made a return trip to the finals with a 4-2 win. Cody Struenig, Brandon Boyer and Richie Smith (2-1 OT RO) all lost close decisions.
In the finals, Clymer and Hluschak faced off for the 3rd time during the season with Clymer winning the rubber match and the state title 8-2. James Scascia became Pius X’s first state champ ever by scoring a takedown 15 seconds into overtime to beat Burrell’s Josh Shields 6-4. Konno ran into Reynolds Matt Dunn who beat his by technical fall while Snyder lost for the first time during the season 13-6 to Fort LeBoeuf’s Adam Farrell. Northern Lehigh had three additional placers – Andrew Arnold (119 – 6th), Zach Marlatt (135 – 8th) and Frank Heffernan (160 – 8th) as they placed 2nd in the team race behind Reynolds who ran away with the team title with four champs and four additional placers. Northwestern finished 4th and Pius X was 5th in the team race. Other local place winners included Pius X’s Tony Communale (112 – 3rd), Wilson’s Cody Struenig (135 – 4th), Tamaqua’s Andy Snyder (140 – 8th), Lehighton’s Derek Brownmiller (145 – 6th), Saucon Valley’s Bandon Boyer (215 – 3rd) and Pen Argyl’s Richie Smith (275 – 4th).
Phillipsburg defeated Watchung Hills 33-23 to win the New Jersey 2 Group 4 championship. It was their 15th straight sectional title. The Stateliners lost 32-25 in the semi’s to Southern Regional in the Group 4 State Duals.
Phillipsburg was denied the NJ District 1 team title for the first time in 13 years by Hackettstown. The Stateliners still crowned the most district champions with four – Jon Gregory (112), Luke Grassi (119), Jon Stillo (125) and Chris Norelli (152).
In the Region 1 Championships, Jon Gregory, Jon Stillo and Chris Norelli were all able to win regional title. In the state championships, Gregory finished 4th and Norelli was 5th.
The 26th annual Easton Lions Classic was held at Easton’s 25th Street Gym. The Pennsylvania Team nipped the New Jersey Team 19-18 to take a 17-9 lead in the overall series. In the marquee match-up, 3-time NJ state champ, Darrion Caldwell and PA state champ James Scascia of Pius X took the mats. Caldwell scored a takedown, Scascia quickly reversed before Caldwell scored a fall with a cradle at 0:21 to win the OW award. Ten bouts were contested and PA won six of them with wrestlers from five different schools winning – Dieruff’s Jared Glass, Whitehall’s Josh Ballan, Easton’s Ross Souders, Liberty’s Willy Horwath (who scored the key bonus point), Nazareth’s Mario Giordano and Whitehall’s P.J. DiStefano.
The US Team All-Stars defeated the PA squad 31-15 in the Dapper Dan Classic. District 11 did not have any participants, but Quakertown’s Pat Flynn won a decision at 189.
Nazareth had not won a league title in 10 years, a District Dual or Team Title in 9 years, but during the 2005-06 season that all changed as the Blue Eagles claimed the LVC, District Duals, District Team and State Team titles. They fell one-point short against Upper Perkiomen of competing for a State Duals title. The State Team title in the individual tournament was their first after seven runner-up performance. It truly was an incredible year for the Blue & Black and Coach Dave Crowell!
The other “Blues” team – the Northern Lehigh Bulldogs –had a very impressive year as well as they won the Colonial League crown and swept through the District Duals, Districts and Regionals all while be challenged by a strong Northwestern squad. Coach Todd Herzog’s team finished 25-3. Their nemesis was a talent laden Reynolds which defeated them in an early season dual, the State Duals and the State Team title.
At the end of the season, long-time and accomplished referee, Gene Waas, retired after 26 years of officiating. During his time on the mat, Waas was part of numerous epic dual meets, tournaments and post season match-ups and was widely recognized as one of the best! His fellow officials recognized and celebrated his career at their annual banquet. The Morning Call quoted Gene as sharing this advice that he received from Easton state champ and official Dick Rutt before officiating his first big meet– “Just remember to blow the whistle, watch what happens and make sure the right person wins. That’s what you’re there for. It’s as simple as that.”