YATESVILLE —Two of the Wyoming Valley Conference high school wrestling teams that have struggled this season were Coughlin and Hanover Area.
Judging from the results of Saturday’s WVC Junior High Tournament at Pittston Area, the Crusaders and Hawkeyes will be back to the top of the conference shortly.
Coughlin cruised to the team championship, crowning four titlists, while Hanover Area tied Coughlin with four gold medalists and finished in third place. Dallas was second.
The Crusaders won their first postseason championship since winning the District 2 title in 2010. While the D2 tournament is now defunct, Coughlin went on to win the WVC Division I crown and reach the District 2 Class 3A Duals finals on the varsity level in 2012.
On Saturday, Coughlin compiled 16 medalists, including eight finalists, piling up 248.50 points to second-place Dallas’ 173. The Hawkeyes scored 137 to take third. The Crusaders’ champions were eighth-graders Pat Clarke (90 pounds), Josh Brown (110) and Jake Cole (145), and ninth-grader Naheem Kenzakoski at 250 pounds.
“I’m speechless. It’s a great feeling,” Coughlin coach Tom Belles said. “Our kids are buying in. They want to work hard. They want to wrestle and make it their sport.”
Hanover Area, which had 11 medalists for third-most to the Crusaders and Mountaineers (14), went 4 for 4 in the finals. And all four of those wins seemed to be in dramatic fashion. First, eighth-grader Jack Davis (105 pounds) capped off his unbeaten season of 25-0 with a 3-0 win over Coughlin’s Jake Brown to claim the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler Award. A few bouts later, Davis’ younger brother, Owen, won an action-packed match at 115 via 13-9 decision that was decided in the last few seconds.
The last two finalists for the Hawkeyes needed late dramatics. Noah Rakowski defeated Coughlin’s Frank Castano with a takedown in overtime for a 4-2 win at 130 pounds. It was third time the two met this season and all three were decided in overtime. At 210 pounds, Hanover Area freshman Nick Hannon beat Crestwood’s Paul Ashton, 2-1 with a takedown as time was running out in the third period. Jack Davis and Rakowski (25-0) were the only two WVC wrestlers to finish the season unbeaten.
“I’ve been building up the elementary program for years. We’re working this into the junior high and that’s our goal to get that varsity program up on its feet where it should be,” Hanover Area coach John Hooper said. “The work in the room pays off and it shows here.”
Dallas finished 2 for 3 in the finals, tying Coughlin for the most third-and-fourth-place placers with each team picking up three medals for third and three more for fourth. Tunkhannock took fourth in the team race with four runners-up and 135 points, while Wyoming Valley West rounded out the top five with one champ and 108 points.
Ten of the 14 WVC teams with a participant claimed a gold medal, while 13 teams had a finalist. The only squad to not have a wrestler in the finals was Hazleton Area, which finished tied for 11th place with Meyers.
This ends the season for the teams as there is no district or state event on the junior high level.
Wyoming Valley Conference Junior High Wrestling Tournament
75 —Dillon Kruczek (Nanticoke) dec Bob Long (Lake-Lehman), 4-2
80 —Lincoln Heck (Wyoming Area) dec Eddie Melan (Tunkhannock), 10-3
85 —Tyler Vince (Pittston Area) dec Justin Esposito (Wyoming Area), 3-2
90 —Pat Clarke (Coughlin) maj dec Travis Dent (Berwick), 9-1
95 —Dylan Meehan (Lake-Lehman) dec Joe Pahler (Cou), 4-2
100 —Kyle McAndrew (Dallas) maj dec Booker Kennedy (Wyoming Valley West), 13-1
105 — Jack Davis (Hanover Area) dec Jake Brown (Coughlin), 3-0
110 — Josh Brown (Coughlin) pinned Garrett Kolb (Lake-Lehman), 4:45
115 —Owen Davis (Hanover Area) dec Anthony Kasper (Meyers), 13-9
122 —Steve Newell (Dallas) default Robert Shinal (GAR), 1:27
130 —Noah Rakowski (Hanover Area) dec Frank Castano (Coughlin), 4-2, OT
138 —Brandon Belfonti (Crestwood) dec Devin Robbins (Dallas), 5-3
145 —Jake Cole (Coughlin) pinned Bryce Steele (Tunkhannock), :59
155 —Jeremy Bergold (Meyers) pinned Taylor Chronowski (Coughlin), 2:15
165 —Damian Davies (Wyoming Valley West) pinned CJ Ballard (GAR), 2:02
185 —Ivan Balavage (Pittston Area) pinned Charles Harry (Tunkhannock), :32
210 —Nick Hannon (Hanover Area) dec Paul Ashton (Crestwood), 2-1
250 — Naheem Kenzakoski (Coughlin) pinned Bryce Brown (Tunkhannock), 4:09