My apologies for not updating our blog earlier in the season. As you can probably understand, we are going 100 MPH once the season gets going. It is amazing that it is already January 20th.
In contrast to past seasons, this year we went to the Cumberland Valley wrestling tournament the first competition date in December to get an early season tune-up. Cumberland Valley is a great tournament with quality competition such as Cumberland Valley, Canon Mac, Council Rock South, Pennridge, and Delaware Valley. We were excited to go to this tournament with some of our open dates this year. It also was very helpful that we were able to bring our JV’s to the tournament and get them competitions as they ran a Junior Varsity tournament in the auxiliary gym simultaneously with the Varsity tournament.
We were very pleased with the results of the tournament as we took third despite not having our full lineup and finished with nine place winners. Jimmy Saylor and Evan Fidelibus looked outstanding in winning the tournament, while Ethan DiRenzo also made the finals. Diego Santiago, John Williams, Craig Stahlecker, Ryan Dilts, Casin Corallo and Darius Joyce also had stellar outing in coming home with hardware from Cumberland Valley. Ryan Dilts came back from a 5-0 deficit by fighting off his back and getting two third period near falls to get into the medal round. There were many great efforts on the part of our boys. As a team, we felt very good about ourselves coming out of that tournament. It was a close three-way team race that came down to the final two bouts of the day to decide which team would come home with the title.
We followed that up with league matches against Central Catholic, Pocono Mountain East, and Stroudsburg which were all convincing victories for us before we took our annual trip to Reno.
At Reno, Jimmy and Evan finally broke through and won their gold medals at Reno. Evan was dominant throughout, while Jimmy pinned all his kids en route to the finals. Jimmy did not make it out of the first period by piling up five consecutive first period falls, before convincingly winning his finals bout. This tournament was sweet vindication for Jimmy after he was forced to forfeit for third place last year because of a technicality in the rules. Cason Corallo went 8-2 in placing 5th at 106 pounds. He lost very early in the tournament and wrestled all the way back in a gritty performance. We ended up finishing in third place as a team as well. Despite not placing more than three wrestlers, our entire team was able to go out there and win a stretch of matches. While we are always pushing for more success, it was very positive to see all of our fourteen wrestlers go out and contribute a bunch of points to the cause. The majority of our guys were able to win at least three matches and qualify for the second day before falling a match or two short of placing. Reno is such a great experience for the boys every year and year 21 was no exception.
At Manheim, we added another team championship by running away from the rest of the field. Jimmy Saylor and Evan Fidelibus continued their undefeated seasons in winning the tournament championship. Jacob Montes looked to be in mid-season form as he won his first Manheim tournament championship. Evan was named Outstanding Wrestler and also captured the award for most falls in least amount of time. Jimmy Saylor won the award for most takedowns and Big John Williams won the award for the fastest fall throughout the tournament. In addition to these accolades, Jake Koerwitz showed a lot of improvement in going 2-2, Isaiah Roche and Darius Joyce made the finals, Diego Santiago and John Williams were 3rd, Max Vidisczuenski was 4th, with Nick Nunez and RJ Zimmerman placing 5th.
While we were at Manheim, our JV team competed in the Northern Lehigh JV tournament. Our entire JV team came home as place winners for the tournament while Gavin Krazer and Jacob Frank came home as tournament champions. Our JV team wrestled very well and showed quite a bit of talent moving forward.
Our season progressed to our Easton Invitational duals tournament. Our entire team showed a lot of improvement at this event. Throughout the competition we defeated Bangor, Freedom, North Penn and Wilson West Lawn before finally falling to Malvern Prep in the final round. Some of our wrestlers who attained signature victories included Max Vidusczenski, Nick Nunez, Ethan DiRenzo, RJ Zimmerman, Craig Stahlecker, and Diego Santiago. Jake Koerwitz showed tons of improvement at 106 lbs. and Raul Echeverria qualified for his first varsity letter in filling a hole in our line-up. Jimmy Saylor highlighted his big day with a dominant major decision over a highly ranked kid from North Penn. In addition, Craig Stahlecker picked up a great win over the very tough Jake Rugis from Freedom.
After our dual tournament, we had two tune-up duals against William Allen and Pleasant Valley. Unfortunately PV did not have a full line-up, but our kids wrestled well nonetheless. Our boys did a great job against William Allen the next night. Every kid who stepped on the mat looked outstanding. Our only defeat was when Big John Williams was called for a slam ten seconds into the bout and his opponent began showing concussion-like symptoms. That was certainly unfortunate for John, but it was definitely a lesson to learn. Big John will not let that happen again. These bouts gave us a nice tune-up before our big week against Nazareth and P-burg.
Saturday January 9th, we ran a great JV tournament at the high school. We got about 100 bouts in on two mats and all of our kids got 3-4 matches. I am glad we are able to get our JV kids more matches this year between the extra tournaments we picked up on our schedule. Jacob Frank, Alex Montes, and Connor Duffy all took home first place in this tournament. Our kids did a great job helping with the scoring tables and running the clocks. Jacob Montes especially spent the entire day with me helping coordinate the entire tournament from the head table. It was definitely a team effort all the way around.
We came away disappointed that Wednesday in our loss to Nazareth, but were able to take away a lot of positives from the match. It certainly was a fantastic crowd and I think everyone can say we get thumbs up for moving all our matches’ home to 25th street where they belong. Shawnee is a beautiful gym, but it does not have the loud intimate environment that you get at 25th street. During the course of the match we lost a number of matches that we feel we could potentially turn around next time. Certainly anytime you give up a defensive pin in a toss-up match, it makes it that much tougher. Again, we can take matches like this and use it as a humbling learning experience to come back stronger next time. We were very pleased the way our boys continued to fight with our backs against the wall and things looking bleak. It takes a lot of character to be able to do that. We are certainly awaiting another shot at Nazareth to try and turn it around. There wasn’t any time to feel sorry for ourselves since we had P-Burg coming up on Saturday.
The P-Burg match was truly a spectacle. It was amazing seeing it back in 25th street gym for the first time in a decade. It made it even better having nearly 1500 screaming fans packing our gym. We could not have imagined the night going any better than it did. We started off by having an Easton Youth All-Star match against the All-Stars of Phillipsburg. Once that was complete our JV team won the JV match with victories from Connor Duffy, Gavin Krazer, Raul Echeverria, and Andrew Spaziani. Once the JV match was complete we took time to honor the 1981 and 1983 Easton Area High School state champion wrestling teams. Jim Pokrivsak, John Fidelibus, Steve Powell, and I had put tons of time trying to put this together and get in touch with everyone over the past few weeks so these special individuals could finally be recognized properly. Kudos to our booster club for pushing for this recognition to be held before the P-Burg match. It was really special to see all the alumni who have not seen each other for a long time catch up and share stories about their experience wrestling at Easton. It was also very fortunate that the league schedule was able to work out so Coach Dave Crowell could be there to be honored with his teams. At the social at Morici’s restaurant after the match, these alumni were so thrilled to have been honored before such a big match. After all these individuals contributed so much to our program decades ago, we were glad to bring them back into the fold and see them recognized properly with a standing ovation in 25th street. There are still many more great teams to honor such as the 1969 team, 1974 team, the State champion teams in 96-97, and finally the four time PIAA dual champions from 2001-2004.
After we completed the alumni spectacle, our kids had to finally come out and wrestle. The boys would end up prevailing and having a great end to the evening. In a match many people predicted would be close; we wound up winning 32-18. Despite the score, it was a highly competitive old fashioned dual meet in a truly intense atmosphere at 25th Street. Casin Corallo got us started with a huge win, while we got workmanlike efforts from Diego Santiago, Nick Nunez, Evan Fidelibus, and Darius Joyce. Hayden Keleher prevailed in a hard fought bout when we really needed it, while Jimmy Saylor did was a senior captain needs to do by getting a fall to extend our lead to 25-12 with four bouts to go. This was followed by HUGE wins by Max and Craig to clinch our victory. Even the guys who lost such as Ethan DiRenzo, Ryan Dilts, RJ Zimmerman, Jake Koerwitz, and John Williams contributed to the effort by fighting off their back, making their opponent earn their points for six minutes, and only giving up one bonus point loss. It was truly a special evening and hopefully a sweet victory like that can help propel us moving forward as we look towards the stretch run of our season.
Thanks for reading. More to come………..