We came home from Reno on the 22nd and dropped the boys off at school Tuesday morning after traveling all day on Monday. We then had a practice. Despite being jetlagged, the boys did a great job. We kept the practice relatively short and sent the boys on their way. We also worked out Christmas Eve for a few hours in the morning and sent everyone home for the Holidays.
Our Saturday practice saw a number of changes to our line-up based on wrestle offs. In addition, we had a few injuries and illnesses to deal with as well. By the time we left for Manheim on Sunday, we had four changes in our lineup from Reno. We arrived at Manheim and did a short workout to get a few pounds off the kids the day before the tournament. As we concluded our workout, a familiar face walked in the room. Ryan Cummins, our former assistant who now is Head Coach at State College HS linked up with us. As is our tradition, we went to our favorite Chinese Restaurant outside of Manheim after the families picked the boys up. Ryan and his staff came along and made for a festive dinner.
Manheim really is a great little tournament. There is so much tradition in that tournament. Each year for the past 45 years, Manheim Central and their Athletic Director, Derb, have run a first class tournament. The competition is always great and instead of putting our kids in a hotel in Lancaster for 3 days, the families associated with the wrestling program host all the kids from each school. Due to the fact that our team essentially lives with each other for two weeks over the Holiday break between Reno and Manheim, the team chemistry grows exponentially. It is hard to replace the fond memories that these boys will carry with them the rest of their lives based on these few weeks every wrestling season. Each year our kids look forward to going back with their host families, and those families take such great care of our boys. We actually have developed a contingent of Manheim host families who like to drive in and see our P-Burg match every year.
The tournament went very well overall. In all, we came away with ten place-winners and a third place finish as a team. We came in behind Spring-Ford and Kiski. Had we had our full line-up there, it is likely we would have had one more finalist and came in second as a team. While we are still struggling to win all the close matches, our younger guys are improving in that aspect. Continuing to learn how to win those close matches is what will pay huge dividends when we are in dual meets with Becahi, P-burg, and later at District XI Duals.
We had four finalists in Casin Corallo, Hayden Keleher, Evan Fidelibus, and Jimmy Saylor. Also placing was Isaiah Roche (3rd), Ethan DiRenzo, Isaiah Walker, Craig Stahlecker, & Scott Betts (5th), and Anthony Roche (6th.) In addition, we had three champs in Casin, Evan, and Jimmy. This was the first tournament championship in the high school career for Casin and Evan, while Jimmy won his second Manheim championship. Casin put together a very impressive tournament and was only a few seconds away from winning pinners award. It is a pleasure to see how much he has improved and the success he is having. Evan was under the weather all week and despite not being at his best, gutted through to a tournament championship. In addition, Jimmy had an outstanding tournament. He was in control of every match and was never in danger. He is becoming tough as nails. Also having a great tournament was Isaiah Roche. Isaiah lost early in the tournament to a kid from JW Robinson by a wide margin. In the wrestle-backs, he got stronger with each match. In the third place match, he dominated the kid from Robinson who beat him the previous day. To get where we want to go as a team, we are going to need gritty performances like that.
This past weekend we wrestled in our Easton Invitational. We revamped our format this year to allow us to get five matches in a day based on a pool tournament format. Our first match would be our biggest test of the day against Haverford. While we liked our chances in the lower weights, we did not match up well with them in the upper weights. Fortunately, Craig Stahlecker and Mike Catalano won huge toss-up matches to get us going up top and Scott Betts wrestled an extremely strategic match and took a 3-2 loss to a monstrous heavyweight from Haverford. We pretty much rolled after that and did not slow down the rest of the weekend. It was very nice to see guys like Walker, DiRenzo, and Joyce show their improvement. After taking many losses last year, both Stahlecker and Walker sit at 11-6 right now. Also, it was great to get Jacob Montes back from the DL and see him beat a very tough Max Nauta from Warren Hills on Saturday. Nauta won his 100th match on Friday and is one tough customer for Warren Hills. Jacob came back and did not miss a beat in running up an impressive 6-0 decision on Nauta. We won our pool tournament on Friday by going 5-0 and defeated Warren Hills on Saturday.
Tonight, we will be wrestling Dieruff at 25th street before wrestling Becahi on Friday night at 25th Street. It is a real treat to compete there because we rarely use the famous gym anymore. When that gym gets packed, there are few gyms in the country that get louder. We will also be traveling up to wrestle new Head Coach Phil Racciato’s Pocono Mt. West team Satuday at 6 PM.
2 weeks till P-burg.
Thanks for reading.