Programs Started (Coach):Bethlehem Catholic (Tony Iasello)
Lehighton (Bruce Trotter)
Notable Coaching Changes:Larry Fornicola --> Dick King (Dieruff)
League Notes:3 Leagues - East Penn, LVIAA and Lehigh-Northampton – have now expanded to include 24 teams
Neshaminy & Pennsbury are both competing in two leagues: Suburban One & East Penn League
Added to East Penn League:Bethlehem Catholic, Neshaminy & Pennsbury
Added to LVIAA:Lehighton
Added to Lehigh-Northampton:Bangor, Northwestern & Pen Argyl
East Penn League Champion:William Allen (7-1)
LVIAA League Champion:Northampton (6-0)
Lehigh-Northampton League Champion:Hellertown, Nazareth & Wilson Tie (8-1)
District Champion:William Allen (5 Champions, 2 Runners-up)
Regionals:District XI – 7 Champions Total / Hellertown (2 Champions)
Legendary Coach Joe Cesari (Photo Courtesy of Ashland H.S. Yearbook)
Legendary Coach Joe Cesari (Photo Courtesy of Ashland H.S. Yearbook)

As the 1965-66 season opened, all three primary leagues experienced expansion.  The East Penn League added Bethlehem Catholic along with Suburban One teams, Neshaminy and Pennsbury, who had wrestled many non-league bouts against Lehigh Valley squads over since the early 1960’s.  Lehighton joined the LVIAA while Bangor, Northwestern and Pen Argyl made the Lehigh-Northampton League a ten-team league.  The three local leagues now included twenty-six teams after beginning the decade with twelve, as follows:

East Penn LeagueLehigh Valley League (LVIAA)Lehigh-Northampton League
Bethlehem CatholicCatasauquaBangor
Bethlehem LibertyEmmausEast Stroudsburg
Notre DameStroudsburgPalisades
PhillipsburgPen Argyl
William AllenSouthern Lehigh

Regular Season

Several interesting non-league bouts were featured during December 1965 as the season got under way.  Emmaus was looking for revenge after losing to Parkland for the first time in four tries during the 1964-65 season.  The Hornets led 21-17 with three bouts to go, but Parkland’s tough Tom Field scored a fall over Bob Miller at 165.  After a draw at 180, Tom Muller’s shut out win at Heavyweight clinched the 27-23 win for the Trojans.

After several prior starts and stops, the official return of Bethlehem Catholic wrestling under Tony Iasello found 1,000 fans in the Bethlehem.  The host Golden Hawks crushed Allentown Central Catholic 37-13.

Becahi Head Coach Tony Iasiello (Photo Courtesy of Bethlehem Catholic H.S. Yearbook)
Becahi Head Coach Tony Iasiello (Photo Courtesy of Bethlehem Catholic H.S. Yearbook)
New Dieruff Head Coach Dick King (Photo Courtesy of The Evening Chronicle)
New Dieruff Head Coach Dick King (Photo Courtesy of The Evening Chronicle)

An early league East Penn League opener featured new Dieruff Coach Dick King’s squad traveling to Langhorne on December 4th to challenge Neshaminy in their first EPL bout.  The Huskies rode four pins from Dick Lentz (112), Dick Kruk (120), Mike Quier (133) and Dave Van Cott (165) to a 27-21 win for the Huskies on December 4th.

Nazareth Captains
Nazareth Captains (Photo Courtesy of Nazareth H.S. Yearbook)

Both Nazareth and Northampton were coming off of strong performances the prior year.   Nazareth had won eight matches in a row to finish the 1964-65 season, but had not beaten the Konkrete Kids since 1952 per The Morning Call.  After an opening bout draw, Nazareth was able to win four of the next five bouts to take a 16-8 lead.  The Kids would tie the match at 16 after a fall and decision at 138 and 145.  The Blue Eagles won three of the last four bouts including a fall by team captain, Ron Klein at 165 on their way to a 30-19 win.

On December 9th, visiting Notre Dame was locked in a 14-14 tie with Wilson after the Bob Scheetz defeated tough Larry Hoffman 4-2 in the 145 pound bout.  Wilson ran the table the rest of the way with the exception of Charlie Bickford’s disqualification loss against Jim Taviani at 180 which brought the Crusaders within four points entering the final bout.  Charlie Madson pinned John Correll in the first period to give the Warriors a 29-24 non-league win.

Newcomers to the EPL, Bethlehem Catholic and Pennsbury faced off on December 9th with Pennsbury winning 10 of 12 bouts on its way to a 40-6 rout.  The same night, Bethlehem easily downed another newcomer, Neshaminy, 38-9.  The Hurricanes got falls from Ron Kline (138), Tom Detsch (145) and John Strohl (180).

After tieing for second place last year, Stroudsburg was hoping to move up to the top spot.  They got their chance in a Lehigh Valley League opening match against defending champ, Northampton.  Any chance that the Poconos had to down the Kids faded quickly at 112 when Tony Mauser “broke Tom Coco’s 21-meet victory string” according to The Morning Call.  After Stroudsburg narrowed the gap to 16-10, Bob Parkey and Jim Pail had falls to break the rally and lead the Kids to a 32-19 win.  The same night Emmaus downed Lehighton 27-12 while Whitehall edged Catasauqua 32-24.

That same night, Dieruff led Hellertown 12-6 at the halfway point of another competitive non-league bout.  Ricky Gad, Tom Huber, Gary Weaver and Charles Bloss strung together consecutive decisions to swing the met back in the favor of Coach Charlie Bartolet’s team.  Jeff Takacs clinched the win at heavyweight with a first period fall as the Panthers prevailed 24-15.

Meanwhile, Allen flexed their muscles by thoroughly dominating a pretty good Parkland team 42-3.  Allen wrestlers knocked off several returning district semi-finalists and almost registered a shut out.  Only Tom Muller’s 4-1 upset over Ken Cressman was able to put some points on the board for the Trojans.

Dieruff was locked up in a tight bout with EPL newcomer, Pennsbury, at 11-8 after the 133 pound bout.  Ron Trexler registered a fall at 138 to spark the Huskies who went on to win 5 of the last 6 bouts including falls by Ted Lopsonzski and Carl Smith as the Huskies won going away 33-11 to go 2-0 in the EPL.

Nazareth was riding a nine match win streak and had a packed house of 1,000 fans as Coach Thad Turner’s Stateliners came to town for a mid-December non-league matchup.  P-Burg never gave the Blue Eagles a chance as they won 7 of the first 8 bouts to build a practically insurmountable 27-3 lead.  Dom Viscomi (95), Charlie Russo (120) and Bob Duckworth (133) had falls.  Nazareth valiantly fought back to win the last four bouts to cut the final margin to 27-17.

Phillipsburg and Allen began the year as the EPL co-favorites according to The Morning Call’s preview of a full wrestling card on December 16th.   Phillipsburg, unbeaten in two seasons of the EPC’s existence, hosted Bethlehem while the Canaries traveled to Dieruff.  In a night of upsets, neither favorite was victorious.

The Stateliners won three and drew one of the first four bouts to build a 13-2 lead over the Hurricanes.  At 127, Larry Kurtz cradled Johnson for a fall and then Jeff downed Bob Duckworth 7-5 to narrow the gap to 13-10.  After two P-Burg decisions opened the lead back up to 19-10, the Hurricanes rally began.  Tom Detsch caught Lilly with a headlock at 154.  After a Tim Zettlemoyer decision, John Strohl added another fall at 180 and the Hurricanes led 24-19.  Allen Koszi won by default in the final bout, and Coach Frank Gutierrez’s team had a huge 29-19 victory.

Huge Fall Starts Dieruff on the Way to Huge Upset Over Allen (Photo Courtesy of Morning Call)
Huge Fall by Rick Scholl Starts Dieruff on the Way to Huge Upset Over Allen (Photo Courtesy of Morning Call)

Talent-laden Allen was expected to handle the Huskies, but Ricky Scholl had other ideas as he pinned returning district runner-up, Glenn Zoski, to give the Huskies a 5-0 lead.  After two Allen decisions, the Huskies again pulled a major upset.  Abe Youwakim, making his first start of the year, pinned Larry Clymer at 120.  Dick Cisar, Mike Quier, Ron Trexler and Joe El Kahl all followed with decisions, and the Huskies had a huge 22-6 lead.  Coach Dick Baker’s squad was not done yet.  Bill Bushner won by decision at 154 and then Danny Layton and Geoff Baum both scored falls over tough Husky opponents to close the gap to 22-19.  Carl Smith downed Ken Cressman 7-2 in the deciding bout, and Coach Dick King’s squad pulled off the unlikely upset to go 3-0 in the EPL.  The key to the win – Dieruff wrestlers knocked off four eventual district finalists for the Canaries!  The unexpected loss provided motivation to the Canaries the rest of the year per Chuck Joseph.

In the Lehigh Valley league, Emmaus was coming off a 2nd place finish last year and matched up against defending champion, Northampton.  Emmaus was no match for Coach Harry Wall’s K-Kid squad.  The Kids won the first 11 bouts to build a 42-0 lead.  Only a 3-2 decision by Don Weidner at heavyweight helped the Hornets avert a shut out.   The Kids were now well on their way to another LVIAA title after beating both runner-up squads from the prior year.  The same night, Whitehall and Slatington battled to a 25-25 tie.

Over in the Lehigh-Northampton League, a full slate of five bouts were on tap.  In the marquee match-up, Hellertown whipped Parkland 34-11.  Mauer (95), Santoro (120) and Spadaccia (133) all had falls to pace the Panthers.  Contenders Nazareth and Wilson easily won their league openers by downing Pen Argyl 53-9 and Palisades 46-3, respectively.

A sellout crowd of 2,000 fans packed the Easton High School gym on December 18th per The Morning Call as the Rovers hosted rival Wilson is a competitive non-league bout.  In a match where 9 of the 12 bouts were decided by three points or less, the Easton lightweights paced the Rovers to a 14-5 lead after Bob Ferraro’s fall at 127.  The Warriors strung together five close decisions in a row to lead 20-14.  Ken Reeser got a fall with a pancake with five seconds to go over Barry Kennedy at 180 to pull the Rovers within one point.  Charles Bickford beat Ray Lake 4-1 at heavyweight to give Coach Al Zarbatany a 23-19 victory.

Two nights later, another anticipated non-league bout was held at Bethlehem’s Memorial Gym.  The Hurricanes never gave visiting Hellertown a chance as they went 5-0-2 in the first seven bouts to lead 24-4.  Jim Shireman (95) and Joe Benson (120) both scored falls.  Bethlehem dealt Hellertown its first defeat of the year 32-12.

In pre-holiday competition on December 22nd, Southern Lehigh proved they would be a team in the mix in the Lehigh-Northampton League by upsetting Parkland 29-20 and posting their fourth win in a row.  The Spartans won six of the first seven bouts to 24-3.  Parkland’s solid upper weights dominated, but it was too late.

The same night, Easton locked up with perennial New Jersey powerhouse, Hunterdon Central.  After surrendering falls in the first two weights, the Rovers trailed 10-0.  Easton was then able to string together four decisions and two draws to lead 16-14.  Hunterdon Central’s Bob Hall scored a first period fall on a headlock, and the Red Devils retook the lead 20-16.  A huge fall form Larry McIntyre (165) and a default win by Ken Reeser (180) clinched the match for Coach Maitland’s team who ended the night with a 26-23 upset win.  Phillipsburg easily handled Northampton 30-12 in front of about 1,000 fans at The Pit.

Nazareth Coach Ray Nunamaker (Photo Courtesy of Nazareth H.S. Yearbook)
Nazareth Coach Ray Nunamaker (Photo Courtesy of Nazareth H.S. Yearbook)

The next night, the Lehigh-Northampton League was again at the center of the action as Nazareth visited Wilson.  After dropping a close decision in the opening bout, the Blue Eagles’ Tony Laurito and Hahn scored back-to-back falls for an 11-3 lead.  Wilson battled back wining three of the next four bouts, but Rick Metz was able to gain a draw with Larry Hoffman at 145.  Nazareth held a 16-14 lead.  The Nazareth upper weights swept the last four bouts as Gail Smith, Ron Kline, Chick Zurowski and Jerry Schweitzer scored decisions to give Coach Ray Nunamaker a 28-14 win and a share of first place.

On December 28th, Easton again traveled to the Boiling Springs Invitational.   The Rovers finished in a tie for third place.  Bob Ferraro (127), John Marthinsen (138) and Phil Noto (Hwt) finished first while Larry McEntire (165) and Ken Reeser (180) finished second.

Bob Sheetz was one of the strong middleweights in the Crusaders' lineup (Photo Courtesy of Notre Dame H.S. Yearbook)
Bob Sheetz was one of the strong middleweights in the Crusaders’ lineup (Photo Courtesy of Notre Dame H.S. Yearbook)

Notre Dame and Palisades traveled to New Jersey for the Washington Invitational.  Four Crusaders – Bruce Danyluk (95), Greg Giordano (133), Bob Lux (138) and Bob Sheetz (145) – won titles while Jim Taviani (180) was a runner-up as Notre Dame finished 2nd in the team standings.  Jay Leeman of Palisades finished 2nd to Giordano dropping a 7-0 decision.

Bethlehem Catholic also traveled to New Jersey and competed in the Hunterdon Central Holiday Tournament.  While final results could not be located, the Golden Hawks had five wrestlers in the semi-finals.  Meanwhile, Phillipsburg won the Bridgewater Holiday Tournament.

Post holiday action started off fast and furious in all three leagues.  In the EPL, both Allen and Notre Dame won over Easton and Dieruff, respectively, by 21-20 scores, but got in done in completely different ways.  The Canaries trailed Easton 20-6 as the Rovers’ Andy Matviak pinned Chuck Joseph at 112, and Bob Ferraro pinned Stan Dziedic at 127.  The Canaries would win four straight decisions by Bob Freeman (145), Bill Bushner (154), Dan Layton (165) and Geoff Baum (180) to cut the lead to 20-18.  Baum downed tough Ken Reeser 6-3.  That set up Vince Ventreseca who downed Phil Noto 9-1 to give the Canaries a 21-20 win.

Notre Dame used their lower weight strength to jump out to a 12-0 lead after four matches.  That’s where the Crusaders’ and Huskies’ tough middleweights matched up against each other.  After Dick Kruk’s fall at 127, Greg Giordano edged Mike Quier 2-0.  After Ron Trexler’s fall over Bob Lux (138) and Jan Kling’s decision, the Huskies had pulled within one point.  The teams traded decisions over the next four bouts, and Notre Dame had the 21-20 upset win.   The Huskies’ Carl Smith had John Correll on his back in the final bout, but Correll was able to break free to preserve the win.

That same night, Phillipsburg shut out Bethlehem Catholic 47-0, and Bethlehem easily defeated Pennsbury 26-12.

Parkland Battled Many of the Top LNL Teams (Photo Courtesy of Parkland H.S. Yearbook)
Parkland Battled Many of the Top LNL Teams (Photo Courtesy of Parkland H.S. Yearbook)

In the LNL, Hellertown and Southern Lehigh both stayed unbeaten in the league at 3-0 with the Panthers clearing a significant hurdle to another title in Nazareth.  Three of the first four bouts were decided by two points as Nazareth led 9-3.  A critical pin by Gary Spadaccia over Tony Laurito at 133 put Hellertown up 11-9.  Tom Huber and Gary Weaver traded decisions with John Davis and Ron Klein, and score was 17-15 in favor of the Panthers.  At 180, K. Bloss decisioned Charles Zurowski 6-2, and Nazareth now needed a fall to win the dual.  Hanzlik was able to battle to a 2-2 draw versus tough Jerry Schweitzer to preserve the win for Coach Charlie Bartolet’s squad.  Southern Lehigh kept pace by beating East Stroudsburg 43-9 while Wilson bounced back by winning seven straight bouts from 112-154 to down Parkland 27-16.

In the LVIAA, Northampton stayed in the driver’s seat in league action by scoring seven falls along the way to defeat Whitehall 44-9.  Stroudsburg had five falls on the way to routing Emmaus 38-11.

Glenn Zoski
Glenn Zoski Got the Canaries off to a Fast Start. Note the Stylish Coach Dick Baker Kneeling in the Background. (Photo Courtesy of Chuck Joseph from Globe Times)

One week later Phillipsburg traveled to Allentown to face the Canaries in a bout topping a fourteen match schedule.  Allen got off to a quick start riding wins by Glenn Zoski, Denny Zanders, Larry Clymer, Stan Dziedic and Bob Freeman to build 17-3 lead.  The Stateliners rallied by winning three in a row including Al Nicustanti’s fall at 154 to cut the lead to 17-14.  After that it was all Allen as Dan Layton, Geoff Baum and Vince Ventresca brought the match home with a decision and two falls for a final score of 30-14.  That left Bethlehem, a shut out winner over Bethlehem Catholic, and Notre Dame as the only undefeated teams in the EPL.

Hellertown and Southern Lehigh continued undefeated atop the LNL winning 42-5 over Palisades and 38-11 over Pen Argyl, respectively.  Parkland, Nazareth and Wilson also posted easy wins.  In the LVIAA, Northampton continued their march towards another title by defeating Slatington 33-14.  Whitehall, on their way to their best league finish, rode four pins to a 27-24 upset of Emmaus.

Notre Dame led the EPL for Much of the Season (Photo Courtesy of Notre Dame H.S. Yearbook)
Notre Dame led the EPL for Much of the Season (Photo Courtesy of Notre Dame H.S. Yearbook)

Notre Dame continued their winning ways to stay unbeaten in the EPL by nipping Pennsbury 21-19.  In a back and forth bout where Greg Giordano was upset at 127 and Bob Lux tied at 133, Pennsbury led 19-16 after Billy edged Jim Taviani 3-2.  Heavyweight, John Correll, scored a fall with 35 seconds remaining to clinch the “W”.  In another close EPL bout, Easton held off Neshaminy 23-18.

Meanwhile, the Dieruff traveled to Hill School for a non-league bout.  The Huskies converted three pins, two decisions and a draw to lead 24-2 at the midway point.  Hill School swept the remaining six bouts but could only narrow the score to 24-22 as Dieruff held on to go 6-2.

On January 20th, LNL matches continued to be a one-sided affair.  Hellertown (5-0), Southern Lehigh (5-0), Nazareth (4-1) and Wilson (4-1) all won by at least 40 points each to remain at the top of the standings.

Tough Notre Dame Lightweight, Bruce Danyluk (Photo Courtesy of Notre Dame H.S. Yearbook)
Tough Notre Dame Lightweight, Bruce Danyluk (Photo Courtesy of Notre Dame H.S. Yearbook)

Rebounding from a 21-19 non-league loss to Belvidere, the cardiac kids of the EPL, Notre Dame, won another close bout edging Phillipsburg 21-18.  The Crusaders never trailed but saw the Stateliners keep it close all night as each team won six bouts.  The difference was a first period pin by Bruce Danyluk in the opening bout.  Bethlehem raced out to a “19-0 lead in the first five bouts, then held on to win 27-18, before a large crowd in Memorial Gymnasium” according to The Morning Call.  Key falls by Ray Miller and Joe Bensen set the pace as the Hurricanes remained tied with Notre Dame at 5-0 in league standings.  Allen, with only one league loss, stayed close by shutting out Becahi 47-0.

With Northampton idle, Stroudsburg stayed within striking distance in LVL action by defeating Catasauqua 39-10.  Whitehall and Emmaus also won in league action.

Two days later, Easton swept the last four bouts to defeat Pennsbury 30-14 in the only league action on the docket.  Northampton opened with two pins and two decisions but Hill School gained revenge over the Kids who had dealt The Hill a loss last year.  Heavyweight Bevan Alvey clamped a cradle on Pope Uhnak to win the match 26-23.

Geoff Baum
Geoff Baum & John Strohl Battle in Match Won by Strohl (Photo Courtesy of Chuck Joseph from Globe Times)

As January wound down, league competition remained fierce in the EPL and LNL.   Allen roared out to a 15-0 lead by winning the first five bouts to lead previously unbeaten Bethlehem.  Bill Bushner and Dan Layton ended any hopes of a Hurricane comeback by winning decisions at 154 and 165 as the Canaries led 26-7 with two bouts remaining.  John Strohl downed Geoff Baum 8-2 in a battle of two unbeaten wrestlers, and Al Koszi edged Vince Ventresca to make the final score 26-13.  Notre Dame defeated Becahi 30-16 to remain unbeaten.

Southern Lehigh Was Again a Strong Contender in the LNL (Photo Courtesy of Southern Lehigh H.S. Yearbook)
Southern Lehigh Was Again a Strong Contender in the LNL (Photo Courtesy of Southern Lehigh H.S. Yearbook)

In the LNL, Southern Lehigh may have gotten caught looking ahead to a showdown with co-leader, Hellertown, as they lost 26-20 to Wilson.  Solehi jumped out to a 14-2 lead, but Wilson’s strong middleweights came back to win the next four bouts to lead 16-14.  Once again the Solehi answered back as Paul Bien (154) and Paul Wagner (165) won decisions to regain a 20-16 lead.  The Warriors’ Charlie Bickford and Charlie Madson both scored falls to wrap up the win.  Hellertown remained unbeaten by shutting out Northwestern 53-0.

Northampton clinched at least a tie for the LVL title by whipping Catasauqua 40-13.  Stroudsburg stayed within range and clinching at least 2nd place by handling Whitehall 39-12.

Hill School’s lower weights continued to struggle against Lehigh Valley foes, trailing Easton 28-0 after seven bouts.  This time the lead was insurmountable, and the Rovers limited the damage up top to win 30-16.  Catasauqua gained a moral victory in holding on for a 22-22 tie with Emmaus in a non-league match-up of LVL foes.  The Rough Riders led 22-5, but saw the Hornets rally for the tie by winning the final four bouts.

January EPL action wound up with Phillipsburg winning ten bouts en route to a 40-6 win over Neshaminy and Easton downing Dieruff 29-11.  The Easton-Dieruff match featured several interesting individual bouts.  In a battle of defending District Champs, Bob Ferraro shut out Dick Kruk 6-0 at 127.  Ron Trexler edged John Marthinsen 10-9 at 138 while Ed Merkel and Ken Reeser fought to a 2-2 draw at 180.

Al Nicusanti's Fall Ended the Huskies' Comeback Attempt (Photo Courtesy of Phillipsburg H.S. Yearbook)
Al Nicusanti’s Fall Ended the Huskies’ Comeback Attempt (Photo Courtesy of Phillipsburg H.S. Yearbook)

Bad weather postponed a key EPL match on February 3rd as Allen vs. Notre Dame was postponed to February 12th.  Several other key bouts between contenders were contested as planned.  Once beaten Bethlehem’s title hopes were dealt a huge blow when they were upset by Easton 21-19.  Easton’s strong lightweights roared out to a 21-5 lead.  John Marfia nipped Joe Benson 3-2 at 120, and in a battle of unbeaten, Bob Ferraro pinned Jeff Iobst at 127.  After a draw at 145, Bethlehem won the final four bouts, but could not get the fall needed to beat the Rovers.  John Strohl had another big win as he downed tough Ken Reeser 7-0 at 180.  Across the Delaware River, Dieruff visited Phillipsburg.  The Stateliners never gave the Huskies a chance as they opened with three falls and a decision to lead 19-0.  Dieruff’s tough trio of Dick Kruk, Mike Quier and Ron Trexler all won, but the Husky rally was stopped as Al Nicusanti pinned Jan Kling at 145.  The teams split the last four bouts, but Phillipsburg triumphed 32-19.

The same night, Northampton won its third LVL title in a row by trouncing Lehighton 38-5.  Stroudsburg downed Slatington 29-18 on their way to a 2nd place finish.

Two nights later, Hellertown continued their march towards a LNL title by upending Southern Lehigh 26-11.  The teams split the first six bouts on their way to a 9-9 score.  Rick Gad, Tom Huber, Gary Weaver and Fred Meagher won four bouts in a row and the Panthers led 21-9 with only two bouts to go.  After a draw at 180, Andy Hanzlik ended the night with another win by decision to ice the Hellertown win.  Wilson stayed within one bout of Hellertown by shutting out Pen Argyl 47-0.

The same night, Allen hammered LVL champion, Northampton, 39-6 to win their 8th match in a row since losing to Dieruff.  The Huskies lost to visiting Hunterdon Central 28-17.  The Red Devils were paced by three falls.

On February 7th, Wilson and Nazareth kept their hopes for a tie for the LNL title alive by easily defeating Northwestern 50-0 and Palisades 42-8, respectively.

On February 9th, with Notre Dame still needing to face Bethlehem and Allen, the Canaries won their 9th match in a row over Neshaminy 34-8 to go 6-1 in the EPL.  Phillipsburg won an easier than expected 30-16 win before 2,200 fans at Easton.  The Stateliners upper weights proved too tough for the Rovers as they won five of the final six bouts.

The next night, critical matches in deciding the league titles in both the LNL and EPL took place.  Hellertown looked on pace to wrap up the LNL title after a pin, decision and two draws in the first four bouts gave them a 12-4 lead.  Sam Burgio, John Pochodylo and Craig Roberts all won decisions as Wilson took a 13-12 lead.  This set up a key battle at 145 where Wilson’s Larry Hoffman was able to draw with unbeaten Tom Huber 1-1.  At 154, Pat LaVelle nipped Charlie Bloss 4-3 to extend the Wilson lead to 18-14.  Hellertown fought back when Gary Weaver downed Rosenfeld 5-3.  Charlie Bickford again extended Wilson’s lead after edging K. Bloss 2-0.  Hellertown Heavyweight, Andy Hanzlik, needed a fall to preserve a undefeated season, but Chuck Madson scored a fall, and Wilson gained a share of the title with a 25-17 upset.

Nazareth trailed Southern Lehigh 15-11 with four bouts to go, but rallied as Smith, Ron Klein, Charles Zurowski and Jerry Schweitzer all won to give the Blue Eagles a 25-15 win.  Nazareth still needed to face Parkland in a “make-up match” to claim a share of the title.

Notre Dame was unable to maintain its unbeaten status in the EPL when they faced off against Bethlehem.  The Hurricanes led 11-5 after five matches, but strong Notre Dame middleweights, Greg Giordano, Bob Lux and Bob Scheetz all won decisions to give the Crusaders a 14-11 lead.  But Bethlehem would not surrender another match in running the table over the last four bouts.  John Strohl pinned tough Jim Taviani in the first period, and Al Koszi pinned John Correll in the final match as the Hurricanes won going away 28-14.  Notre Dame still controlled their own fate in the battle for the EPL title still needing to face Allen.  Both teams are 6-1 in league competition.

Bob Scheetz Turned the Tables on Jim Reber to Score a Fall (Photo Courtesy of Chuck Joseph from Globe Times)

Two nights later, Notre Dame traveled to Allen to face off for the East Penn League title.  The Crusaders would again battle during the first 2/3 of the match, but would falter in the upper weights.  A featured bout took place right away as Glenn Zoski and Bruce Danyluk battled to a 4-4 draw.  Denny Zanders and Chuck Joseph followed with decisions to give the Canaries an 8-2 lead.  Notre Dame’s Lou Blatnick downed Larry Clymer 10-4, but Stan Dziedic immediately answered with a fall at 127 to stretch the lead to 14-5.  Allen now faced the heart of the Notre Dame lineup, but only two of Notre Dame’s top trio could win.  Bob Freeman’s surprisingly easy 10-1 decision over Greg Giordano at 133 helped offset a decision by Bob Lux and pin by Bob Scheetz which cut the lead to 17-13.  As they had done a number of times this season, Allen’s four upperweights ran the table with Bill Bushner, Dan Layton and Geoff Baum won decisions before Vince Ventresca ended the night with a fall.  The Canaries won 31-13 and had sole possession of the East Penn League title.

Bethlehem faced Hill School the same day in a non-league bout and finished their season 9-2 by defeating Hill School 27-18.

The second annual Lehigh Valley League tournament was held on Saturday February 12th.  The result was no different than the regular season with Northampton first followed by Stroudsburg in second place.  The Kids’ titlists were Jack Hildebrandt (103), Tony Mauser (112), John Toth (127) and John Faryna (154).  Stroudsburg and Emmaus each had two champions with each of the remaining LVL schools claiming one champ each.

On Valentine’s Day, Nazareth got pins in two of the first three bouts from Peters (95) and Jim Hahn (112).  Parkland fought back by winning two of the next three bouts by decision, but Nazareth still led 14-9.  That’s when the Blue Eagles scored three falls in row as John Davis, Rick Metz and Gail Smith put the match out of reach.  At 165, Nazareth’s unbeaten Ron Klein needed a stalling penalty point in the “closing seconds” per The Morning Call to down Fred Ruth 2-1.  Coach Ray Nunamaker’s squad prevailed 37-14.  Hellertown, Nazareth and Wilson all ended the season 8-1 in league competition to share a three-way tie for the LNL title.

The final standings in all three leagues were as follows:

Compiled LVL Standings 1965-66PlaceW-L-D
East Penn
William Allen17-1
Notre Dame2T6-2
Bethlehem Catholic90-8
Southern Lehigh46-3
East Stroudsburg7T2-7
Pen Argyl7T2-7

Teams finishing with the best overall records were Allen (losing only to Dieruff 25-21) and Wilson (losing only to Nazareth 28-14) at 11-1 each, followed by Nazareth at 11-2.  Hellertown and Phillipsburg each finished 10-4 while Liberty was 9-2 and a surprising Southern Lehigh team was 9-4.

Allen – East Penn League Champions (Photo Courtesy of Chuck Joseph)

Sectional/Divisional Tournaments

Competitors from a record 27 teams were set to take part in the East and West elimination tournaments to be held on Saturday February 19th at Bethlehem and Allen, respectively.

Program from the Western Division Sectionals (Image Courtesy of Chuck Joseph)
Powerful John Strohl Led Bethlehem in the Sectional Tourney (Photo Courtesy of Bethlehem Liberty H.S. Yearbook)

In the East Division, Bethlehem dominated the action in front of their home crowd by advancing seven wrestlers and scoring 11 points.  Wilson also tallied 11 points, but only advanced five wrestlers.  Nazareth and Dieruff each had three winners while six other schools had one winner each.

In the West Division, the ‘home team’ also had their way – Allen tallied 13 points in front of 1,000 fans in the Little Palestra and moved 8 men into the District XI semi-finals.  Hellertown was able to advance four wrestlers while Northampton had three.  Easton and Parkland had two each while five other teams had one winner each.

The Morning Call noted that three unbeaten wrestlers fell in the sectionals:  Jay Leeman of Palisades in the East; Dave Gubitosi of Southern Lehigh and Rick Papay of Slatington in the West.

List of Teams and Coaches Participating in 1966 Sectionals (Photo Courtesy of Chuck Joseph)

District XI Tournament

District XI Wrestling
District XI Wrestling Program (Image Courtesy of Chuck Joseph)

The District XI championships were held at Easton on Saturday, February 26th.  By the time the afternoon session ended, Allen eliminated all doubt of who was going to win the team title after going eight for eight in the semi-final round.  In the feature match of the semi-finals, Bethlehem’s John Strohl (13-0) and Allen’s Geoff Baum  (13-1) matched up at 180.  Strohl had edged Baum 6-4 in the dual meet, but Baum was able to win by a surprising 8-2 score.  Several other undefeated wrestlers went down to defeat in the semi’s as well.  At 127, Allen’s Stan Dziedic pinned Wilson’s Sam Burgio.  In a battle of unbeaten, Hellertown’s Tom Huber nipped Whitehall’s Ron Rosenberger 6-4.

A standing room only crowd packed the Easton gym to watch the finals.  Chuck Joseph remembers “having to step over people to get to the mat” for his bout.  This district finals started with a rematch of a key bout from Dieruff’s upset of Allen during the dual season.  During that bout, Rickey Scholl pinned Allen’s Glenn Zoski, but this time Zoski had the upperhand and won by a 5-2 decision.  At 103, Bethlehem’s Nick Kalogeras made it two in a row for 1965 runner-ups moving up one step on the podium as he won 8-3.  Allen crowned two more champions as Chuck Joseph (112) and Larry Clymer (120) both won by decision.  Clymer defeated former teammate, Steve Dicks, from Salisbury.

Bob Ferraro Won His Third District Title by Fall (Photo Courtesy of Chuck Joseph from Globe Times)

At 127, Bob Ferraro became only the fourth three-time district champ (and third from Easton) by pinning Stan Dziedic with a double bar arm.  Mike Quier (133) and Ron Trexler (138) gave Dieruff back-to-back winners as they defeated Allen’s Bob Freeman and Wilson’s undefeated Craig Roberts, respectively.

Hellertown Captains & District Champs – Tom Huber & Gary Weaver (Photo Courtesy of Hellertown H.S. Yearbook)Hellertown also crowned a pair of back-to-back champs as Tom Huber and Gary Weaver both earned wins by decision.

Hellertown Captains & District Champs – Tom Huber & Gary Weaver (Photo Courtesy of Hellertown H.S. Yearbook)
Jim Moyer, Blue Mt. 180 (Photo Courtesy of Blue Mountain H.S. Yearbook)

The trend of back-to-back champions from the same school continued, this time with Allen taking its turn at 165 and 180 with both beating undefeated opponents.  First Dan Layton edged Nazareth’s Bob Klein 6-4 followed by Geoff Baum’s 8-0 shut out of Blue Mountain’s first finalist ever in Jim Moyer.  At heavyweight, Pakland’s Tom Mueller shut out Al Koszi of Bethlehem 4-0 to claim his first title.

Allen easily won the team title with five champions.  Four pairs of teammates (Joseph-Clymer, Quier-Trexler, Huber-Weaver & Layton-Baum) won consecutive titles proving the theory that great competition in the wrestling room leads to success on the mat.

1966 District Champs (Photo Courtesy of Morning Call)

Team scores stood as follows:

Team Scores
Hellertown34Southern Lehigh3
Easton17East Stroudsburg1
Parkland15Pen Argyl1
Blue Mountain11Tri-Valley1

Northeast Regional Tournament

Northeast Regional Wrestling
Northeast Regional Program (Image Courtesy of Chuck Joseph)

The District Xi grapplers stayed in the Lehigh Valley as the regionals were contested at Muhlenberg College in Allentown.  While the district was able to win 9 of 12 semi-final bouts, the 3 wrestlers who lost were all from Allentown as Allen’s Glenn Zoski and Larry Clymer along with Dieruff’s Mike Quier dropped decisions.

In the finals, District XI won seven of nine bouts on their way to a dominant performance.  At 103, Cloyd Hess of West Snyder was the only returning regional champ, but he had to default to Bethlehem’s Nick Kalogeras.  Easton’s Bob Ferraro turned in a dominant performance at 127 by scoring falls in both the semi-finals and finals.  Ferraro, has pinned 16 of 22 opponents in an undefeated season.

Regional Champ Ron Trexler (Photo Courtesy of Dieruff H.S. Yearbook)
Regional Champ Ron Trexler (Photo Courtesy

Dieruff’s Ron Trexler scored a come from behind 5-3 win by scoring a near fall late in the third period to upend Jerry Gold.  Hellertown had back to back champions for the second week in a row as Tom Huber and Gary Weaver both scored decisions.  Allen’s Geoff Baum and Parkland’s Tom Muller won identical 4-2 decisions in the last two weight classes.

Allen’s Chuck Joseph and Danny Layton dropped their final’s bouts.  District 11 ended with seven titles to District 4’s five.

Eventual State Champ, Harry Weinhofer of Shamokin, defeated Chuck Joseph 5-0 (Photo Courtesy of Chuck Joseph & Globe Times)
1966 Northeast Regional Champions (Photo Courtesy of Tom Elling from PIAA Program)

PIAA State Tournament

Geoff Baum
(Photo Courtesy of Chuck Joseph from Globe Times)

As well as District Xi fared in the semi-finals at Muhlenberg was as poorly as they fared in state semi-finals on March 13th at Penn State.  Only Geoff Baum from Allen was able to survive with an 8-5 decision.  Easton’s undefeated Bob Ferraro lost a 4-0 to Al Uyeda from Conestoga Valley at 127.  Dieruff’s Ron Trexler lost a heartbreaking 3-2 decision to eventual state champion, Steve Paxson.  Trexler’s Coach Dick King believed that Trexler should have been awarded a two point reversal at the buzzer that would have won the match.  None of the district’s other four entrants could come within five points of their opponents.

In the finals, Baum faced off against Gary DiDomenico from Tyrone.  Baum led 8-1, only to have DiDomenico comeback to win 9-8.

Photo Courtesy of Tom Elling from PIAA Program

Phillipsburg Post Season

Regional Champ (Photo Courtesy of Phillipsburg H.S. Yearbook)
Regional Champ Charlie Russo (Photo Courtesy of Phillipsburg H.S. Yearbook)

The Stateliners crowned three district champions in Frank Viscomi (95), Charlie Russo (112) and Buddy Morris (133), but a team title still eluded them.  Only Russo was able to advance through the Regionals, and he went on to a 4th place finish in the NJ State Tourney.

Coach Dick Baker & The Canaries

Special thanks to Chuck Joseph for his insights into Coach Dick Baker and his teammates as well as for the wonderful photos.

The 1965-66 Allen Canaries were a close knit group – eating together and hanging out outside of school.  Many of them had wrestled together at Raub Junior High School.  A story from the 1963 Allentown Junior High Wrestling Tournament shows Larry Clymer, Dan Layton, Bill Bushner and Geoff Baum among the Raub champions along with Steve Dicks who later transferred to Salisbury.  Chuck Joseph also won a title that year, and Glenn Zoski lost to Clymer in the semi-finals.  Clearly, this Canary squad had talent coming into the season and the coaching under Dick Baker.  Of his coach, Chuck Joseph said “he had great instincts and worked our butts off.  We would do anything for him.  I later patterned Baker’s system when I coached.”  He also said that “Baker was a sharp dresser, the best dressed coach.”

Feeling that they had no holes in the lineup, the Canaries were stunned by Dieruff in what was a fierce crosstown rivalry between the teams and coaches Dick Baker and Dick King.  King would get the better of the match-ups winning four of six years in matches filled with upsets in individual matches as well as the team results.  Five of the six bouts were decided by nine or less points.  Allen bounced back strong and came from behind to beat Easton 21-20 in their next match.  They ran the table in their remaining nine bouts, winning by no fewer than 13 points, and finishing 11-1 in winning the East Penn League Title.

The Canaries advanced eight wrestlers through the Sectionals to qualify for Districts.  Allen went 8 for 8 in the semi-finals to easily wrap up the District team title before the finals even started.  The winning team photo was taken before the finals even began!  According to The Globe Times, Allen’s eight finalists were the most since Easton had nine in 1951.  Charles Bartolet Sr., who coached that team, was quoted as saying the Canaries had “a brilliant performance by one team against so many other good ones.”  In 1966, there were 28 teams in District XI versus five teams in 1951.  The Canaries crowned five District champions tieing the 1957 and 1959 squads.  After the finals, Coach Dick Baker was quoted as saying “This is a great bunch of kids.  And the thing that really pleases me is that five of them are only juniors.  They’ll be back next year.”  The article added “Allen went at it as a team, with each member spurring on the other from start to finish.”  Clearly a great team!

Coach Baker Receives East Penn League Trophy (Photo Courtesy of Chuck Joseph from Globe Times)
Coach Baker & Canaries Receive District XI Trophy (Photo Courtesy of Chuck Joseph from Globe Times)
Chuck Joseph circa 1966 (Photo Courtesy of Chuck Joseph)

Fast Forward

Coach Dick King’s first varsity squad held a 50th reunion on August 18, 2016.

1965-66 Dieruff Huskies in 2016

Allen High School 50th Reunion of Class of 1966:

Chuck Joseph and Danny Layton, 1966 District Champs, at the 50th Reunion of the Allen Class of 2016 (Photo Courtesy of Chuck Joseph)