WRESTLING PREVIEW: Swingle takes over at Berwick

By Dave Rosengrant - For Times Leader | December 11th, 2017 8:12 pm

WVC Wrestling Team by Team Capsules

Division 1

Coughlin (3A)

Coach: Dave Parsnik, fourth season

Last Year: 3-3 Division 1, 9-9 overall

Key Losses: Frankie Castano, Taylor Chronowski, Dave Virgo, Nyheem Kenzakoski

Probable Lineup: 106: Nino Cinti, So.; 113: Darren Clarke, Fr., Tino Morrow, Jr.; 120: Jamie Pahler, So.; 126: Patrick Clarke, Sr.; 132: Jake Brown, Sr.; 138: Josh Brown, Sr.; 145: Joey Pahler, Sr.; 152: Tayshaun Qualls, Sr.; 160: Tanner Smith, Jr.; 170: Tyler Decinti, Sr., Joe Davis, Jr.; 182: Jake Cole, Sr.; 195: Connor Lee, So.; 220: Aaron Warnigiris, So.; 285: Corey Harrison, Sr.

Outlook: Parsnik has been waiting for this group to show the championship aspirations they showed as freshmen. Now seniors, there’s more optimism and more continuity, which could get the group back to that level.

Coach’s Comments: “The last two years there were too many kids bunched up. I think this year they see the potential for the team we could have. I think that’s set in and they’re ready. When they were freshmen, there was no need to bump anyone out the lineup and I believe we’re back to that. …I think we’re the team that can decide who can win the division. I don’t know if that’s going to be us but we have the ability to decide who will win it.”

Crestwood (3A)

Coach: Darren Testa, 15th season

Last Year: 2-4 Division 1, 10-10 overall

Key Losses: Justin Lukashewski

Probable Lineup: 106: Hunter Greenberg, So. 113: Greenberg or Trey Zebroski, Fr.; 120: Justin Sterling, So.; 126: Jordan Miale, So.; 132: Garrett Swank, So.; 138: Tyler Shaud, Jr.; Nick Toronzi, Sr.; 145: Liam Stone, Jr., Chris Kremski, 152: Saige George, Sr.; 160: Ron Grevera, Sr.; 170: Anthony Kovalchik, Sr.; 182: Ryan Black, Sr.; Mike Janoski, Sr.; 195: Jeff Schmude, Sr.; Jeremy Buzak, Fr.; 220: Shane O’Rourke, Sr.; 285: John O’Boyle, Sr.

Outlook: A young team last season was one or two swing matches away from being in the thick of the divisional race. With another year of experience and seven wrestlers returning who had at least 20 wins last season, the Comets will be in contention this season.

Coach’s Comments: “The way I look at our team is we should be in every match. I think we’re good enough to compete. The last few years we went in knowing with forfeits we couldn’t compete. Certainly our goal is that with the teams we’ve had in the past we haven’t been able to compete and I think team goal is to qualify for team duals and put ourselves in position to be in those placing rounds.”

Dallas (3A)

Coach: Mike Richards, 11th season

Last Year: 5-1 Division 1 (co-champion), 14-7 overall

Key Losses: Xavier Barber, Moustafa Almeky, Danny Burkhardt

Probable Lineup: 106: open; 113: Liam Farrell, Jr.; 120: Ben Yanchik, So.; 126: Eric Criner, So.; 132: Matt Moransky, So.; 138: Kade Kravits, Sr., Kyle McAndrew, Jr.; 145: Thaddeus Mead, Fr.; 152: Nick Solinsky, Jr., Brian Novicki, Jr.; 160: John Betzko, Jr.; 170: Steven Newell, Jr.; 182: Len Kelley, So.; 195: open; 220: Taylor Bolesta, So.; 285: Shawn Henninger, Jr.

Outlook: The Mountaineers claimed their first Division 1 title in school last season. They return a solid group from that squad. Repeating isn’t out of the question, but it all depends how the matchups fall with other teams in a very balanced division.

Coach’s Comments: “I think the expectation is that we’ll have the same results that we did last year. We lost three district placewinners, and some of those kids you can’t replace, but we have experience coming back and the expectation is that we’re going to be able to competitive in the conference.”

Hazleton Area (3A)

Coach: Keith Maurer, 18th season

Last Year: 5-1 Division 1 (co-champion, District 2 Class 3A duals champion, District 2 team champ), 11-5 overall

Key Losses: Jake Maurer, Anthony Martoccio, Chris Lasecki, Jimmy Hoffman, Carson Kinney

Probable Lineup: 106: Johnny Cora, Fr., 113: Beck Hutchison, Fr.; 120: Christian Kislin, Fr.; 126: Joelyn Spinal, Jr.; 132: Charles Everdale, So.; 138: Stephen Martisofski, Jr.; 145: Dante Matterella, Fr.; 152: Jeremy Aquino, Jr.; 160: Jayson Brielmeier, Jr.; 170: Jake Marnell, So.; 182: Seth Hunsinger, Fr.; 195: Shane Noonan, Jr.; 220: open; 285: Michael Fuchick, Jr.

Outlook: Last year was one of the best seasons for the Cougars in recent history claiming just about every championship they could. With that, they lost the core five wrestlers of the group that led the team back to the glory days. But there’s a good group returning led by Noonan, and sophomores Everdale and Marnell. It’s not out of the question that the Cougars’ five freshmen grow up faster than expected and lead the team to another division title this season.

Coach’s Comments: “It’s definitely going to be different, but I’m excited because I brought five freshmen up and obviously it’s too early to tell, but I think these five could resemble what the last five did. We’re excited to see what they bring. I’m not really putting any non-wrestler on the mat. They all have some kind of experience. After winning districts and going to states, I put the goal out there that I wanna go back. I don’t think it’s out of the question, but I believe at some point we’re gonna have to wrestle above our head to do that.”

Pittston Area (3A)

Coach: Dave Krantz, first year

Last Year: 0-6 Division 1, 1-15 overall

Key Losses: Jason DeBoard

Probable Lineup: 106: Brandon Lopez, Sr.; 113: open; 120: Anthony Thomas, Fr., Keith Romanchik, Fr., Nathan Ridgley, So.; 126: Crystal Smith, So.; 132: Ryan Lombardo, Sr.; 138: Tyler Santee, So.; 145: C.J. Demark, Fr.; Preston Olecki, Sr., Nick Ridgley, So.; 152: Justin Ambs, So.; 160: Richard Wallace, Sr.; 170: A.J. Gordo, So.; 182: open; 195: open; 220: Nathan Lombardo, Sr.; Huey Bentham, So.; 285: Jake Rutkowski, Sr.

Outlook: It might be another tough season for the Patriots. But they will be more competitive in dual meets without a doubt. The lineup has another year of experience under its belt so improving on last year’s numbers shouldn’t be much of a problem.

Coach’s Comments: “I’m not worried about wins or losses. I just want the kids to give 100 percent. As long as nobody quits and they give it all they can, wins and losses will take care of itself. If kids don’t quit out on the mat, that’s all I’m looking for. I want to see their efforts out there on the mat.”

Tunkhannock (3A)

Coach: Bob Hegedty, ninth season

Last Year: 5-1 Division 1 (co-champion), 9-9 overall

Key Losses: Josh Beeman, John Walsh

Probable Lineup: 106: Matt Rosentel, Fr.; 113: David Evans, So.; 120: Connor Elgin, Fr.; 126: David Gavek, Sr.; 132: Gavin D’Amato, So.; 138: Tommy Traver, Jr.; 145: Luke Carpenter, Fr.; 152: Brian Christ, Fr.; 160: Carl Anthony, Jr.; 170: Shane Sherwood, Jr.; 182: Connor Munley, Sr.; 195: Sam Rice, Sr.; 220: Tom Perry, Sr., Dustin Henry, Jr., Logan Hegedty, Jr.; 285: Harry Thrash, So.

Outlook: One of the division favorites, the Tigers will be looking for their fourth straight divisional title. Only graduating a few members from last year’s championship team, Tunkhannock is in position to accomplish a division title. But with competition up across the circuit, the goal will be much harder to achieve.

Coach’s Comments: “We’re gonna fill everything and we’re not gonna have the depth we had the last couple years. But we’re gonna be solid. We’re just looking to try to be ready for the end of the year and just keep rolling.”

Wyoming Valley West (3A)

Coach: Ryan Vassello, third season

Last Year: 1-5 Division 1, 5-15 overall

Key Losses: Mason Moravinski, Kevin Cordes

Probable Lineup: 106: Matt Giza, So.; 113: Cadden Kucek, So.; 120: J.J. White, So., Trent Giza, So.; 126: Justin Hargrave, Jr.; 132: David Krokowski, Jr.; 138: Robert Napersky, So.; Ethan Scott, So.; 145: Napersky or Scott; 152: Landon Stanislow, Sr.; 160: Jaylon Brunson, Jr.; 170: Dave White, Jr.; 182: Sean Mikovitch, Sr.; 195: Seth Decker, Jr.; 220: open; 285: Anthony Vattaro, Jr., Brandon Tirado, So.

Outlook: It’s a bit of a rebuilding year for the Spartans, but the program’s numbers are up from junior high through varsity, which shows promise for the future. The team still has standouts in J.J. White and Krokowski, who look primed for long postseason runs.

Coach’s Comments: “We’re gonna have a younger team but it’s a lot to build on for the future. A lot better than in the year’s past. So that’s a bonus. For the future, it’s gonna be an awesome building team.”

Division 2

Berwick (2A)

Coach: Ron Swingle, 15th season (first at Berwick)

Last Year: 2-3 Division 2, 5-12 overall

Key Losses: Travis Dent, Stone Force

Probable Lineup: 106: open; 113: Alexander Beck, Fr., Nick Yule, So.; 120: Beck or Yule; 126: Gage Bortz, So., Preston Robbins, So.; 132: open; 138: Mark McCracken, Jr., Mark Prebola, Jr.; 145: Maurice Smith, Jr., David Pace, So.; 152: Oscar Perla, Jr.; 160: Alec Talanca, Sr.; 170: Austin Dewald, Sr.; 182: Brandon Spezialetti, Fr.; 195: Fernel Guevara, Sr., J.J. Snyder, Jr., Devon Rodzon, Jr.; 220: open; 285: open

Outlook: The colors, name and location may have changed for Swingle, but the goals remain the same. He wants to build a winning program year in and year out. If everything flows perfectly for the Bulldogs this season, the winning attitude will start as soon as this year. The team is returning experienced wrestlers along with some newcomers to help the process. Nick Dawson, former wrestler and football player at Wilkes, is Swingle’s assistant.

Coach’s Comments: “My goals don’t change every year. I want to win every match I’m in. I want to be in duals. I think I’m realistic about where we land. We need to fill more weights. We need to build our work ethic and confidence. The goals never change but we’re approaching it that we control what we can. If we put our best effort out there and win we’ll be in duals. If we put our best effort out there and not fortunate to win, we’re gonna take it with a gain of salt figure out where our deficit is and work from there.”

Hanover Area (2A)

Coach: Mike Griffith, first year

Last Year: 3-2 Division 2 (District 2 Class 2A team champion), 10-7 overall

Key Losses: Josselin Meyer, Jeff Bennett, Zakee Nettles, Noah Rakowski

Probable Lineup: 106: Cael Davis, Fr.; 113: Joey Rowley, So.; 120: open; 126: open; 132: Jared Banesh, Jr.; 138: Jared Fuginiti, Sr., Nate Ayalla, Fr.; 145: D.J. Erickson, Jr.; 152: Hunter Thompson, So.; 160: open; 170: Mike Lenahan, Sr.; 182: Jeremy Andrewlavage, Sr.; 195: J.J. Hooper, Sr.; 220: Tom Mercadante, Sr.; 285: Derek Knorr, Fr.

Outlook: Griffith is familiar with the program, graduating in 2000 from then returning as an assistant. He coached many of these current wrestlers when he was an assistant. Repeating last season’s performance will be a tough task. But being competitive in the division and competing for the division title is a realistic opportunity.

Coach’s Comments: “I love the kids on the team. They have a great work ethic. Everyone’s buying into the program and hopefully it pays dividends on the mat. My expectations are that the kids achieve the goals that they set and if they do that, then it’ll be a pretty good season. … I just wanna thank my wife, Amanda, for the support and help me help these kids become successful. Without my wife I wouldn’t be able to coach.”

Lake-Lehman (2A)

Coach: J.J. Konigus, eighth season

Last Year: 4-1 Division 2, 6-7 overall

Key Losses: R.J. Driscoll, Bob Lipski, Jake Tomolonis, Jesse Tomolonis,

Probable Lineup: 106: Brendan Boston, So. or Gavin Ruger, Fr.; 113: Boston or Ruger; 120: Zack Stuart, Fr.; 126: Bobby Long or Josh Bonomo, Fr.; 132: Garrett Kolb, Sr. or Matt Sczyerk, 138: Jake Trumbower, Fr., Hunter Burke, Fr.; 145: Trumbower or Burke; 152: Chase Button, So; 160: Nick Zaboski, Fr.; 170: Jared Cummings, Jr.; 182: Tom Nalbone, Jr.; 195: T.J. Meehan, Jr.; 220: Mike Slivinski, Sr., Chuck Harry, Sr.; 285: Kaleb Konigus, Sr.

Outlook: Even though there’s six freshmen who will see a lot of time this season for the Black Knights, those wrestlers have plenty of experience and are ready to make the leap. With that jump, they give the team more depth and balance it has lacked in some years. The team is likely the division favorite, but anything can happen too.

Coach’s Comments: “We’re looking pretty good, hopefully we can stay healthy. From 120 to 160 we’re pretty jacked, and even from 120 to heavyweight we’re pretty solid.”

Meyers (2A)

Coach: Anthony Mercadante, seventh season

Last Year: 5-0 Division 2 (division champ), 12-10 overall

Key Losses: Brian Huertero, Anthony Kasper, Colin Pasone, Kevin Huertero, Jeremy Bergold, Jamell Ballard, Namir Murphy, Lucas Borum, Preston Perkins

Probable Lineup: 106: Brando Abreu, So.; 113: Jason Carver, So.; 120: Jose Sepulveda, So.; 126: open; 132: Caleb Burns, So.; 138: Josh Johnson, So.; 145: Emmanuel Guiterrez, So., Keyontay Suydam, Sr.; 152: Susu Burroughs, Sr., Jason Mulan, So; 160: Rafael Olmedo, So.; 170: Carl Johnson, Fr., Colin Browne, Sr., Greg Ambers, So.; 182: Michael Gavin, So., Malik Robinson, Fr.; 195: open; 220: open; 285: open

Outlook: This could be a transition season that Meyers hasn’t had in a long time. The team is young with just two seniors and a plethora of sophomores. If the learning curve moves along faster, the Mohawks will be in divisional contention.

Coach’s Comments: “I’m hoping that from where we were day one to where we end that the kids improve and they love the sport of wrestling. I hope by the end of the year we can be competitive as a team and have them grow as a wrestler, improve on their weaknesses and get stronger. I want them to grow, fall in love with the sport of wrestling, keep working at it. Keep grinding away and hopefully come districts, we can get some guys in the medal round at districts and to regionals and to states.”

Nanticoke (2A)

Coach: Harold Shotwell, fifth season

Last Year: 0-5 Division 2, 3-15 overall

Key Losses: Megan Kocher,

Probable Lineup: 106: Zach Capie, So.; 113: Joe Sauers, So.; 120: open; 126: George Brown, Jr.; 132: open; 138: Chris Maute, Sr.; 145: Austin Cheslaw, Jr; 152: Keeghan Kester, Jr.; 160: Adam Eckhart, So.; 170: Zack Pelton, So.; Isaiah Johnson, So.; Colin Kashatus, So.; 182: see 170; 195: Seth Pelton, So.; Hunter Welch, So.; 220: Shane Repasky, Jr.; 285: Sheik Ali, Jr.

Outlook: Shotwell is seeing things he hasn’t seen in his tenure as coach of the Trojans having a motivated bunch that wants to stop the losing. The Trojans haven’t won a match in the division since January, 2014 having dropped 16 straight duals dating back to then. This team is different, and with four double-digit winners returning, expectations have changed.

Coach’s Comments: “Once we get the allowances after the holidays, we’ll be close to filling a lineup, and that’s a big step for a program like us. We should be hopefully very competitive. The attitude in the room, and of the kids, this year is night and day from last year. The attitude is something we’ve been lacking the last few years. This year, they’re practicing harder and they’re working harder. They’re more of a team this year than just individuals. They’re working together as a whole where in previous years when unity wasn’t there. We’re hoping this is a nice stepping stone for the next two, three, four five years.”

Wyoming Area (2A)

Coach: Jason Prokopchak, second season

Last Year: 1-4 Division 2, 7-11 overall

Key Losses: Adam Buczynski

Probable Lineup: 106: Kyle Emsley, Fr., Luis Lopez, So.; 113: Adam Sigman, Fr.; 120: open; 126: open; 132: Sydni Johnson, Jr.; 138: Robin Wrobleski, Jr.; 145: Tyler Martin, Jr.; 152: Charlie Banashefski, So.; 160: Alex Pierce, So., Enzo Scotto-Diluzio, So., Tauhid Abdush-Shahid, So.; 170: Corey Mruk, So., Skylar Santacroce, Sr.; 182: Jaryn Polit-Moran, Jr.; 195: Justin Joseph, Sr.; 220: Aidan Dollak, So., Tierra Rhodes, Jr.; 285: Damon Barhight, Sr., James Gashi, Jr.

Outlook: With another year under the new regime of Prokopchak, the Warriors will be more experienced this season. They’re led by sophomore Corey Mruk, who won a district title last year and finished sixth at the regional tournament.

Coach’s Comments: “I look forward to continuing the journey with my group from last year. We only lost one senior from our small team. Our numbers are up, but we are extremely young. I will rely heavily on the more experienced returners to assist the coaching staff in helping these wrestlers jump levels. In the end, we will be looking forward to having some fun in the process and see it all come together at the end of the season.”

After 14 years of being the head wrestling coach at Meyers, unfortunate situations occurred beyond Ron Swingle’s control last year, and the longtime mentor moved on to other opportunities prior to the start of last season.

Swingle spent the 2016-17 campaign as an assistant coach at Berwick. As the new season gets underway this weekend, Swingle is back in the leadership role, taking over a once-thriving Bulldogs program that has been in a rut the last few seasons before starting to show flashes of potential in the middle and end of last season.

“Everything’s new but everything’s different. We’re still trying to figure out all the ins-and-outs and mesh the personalities,” said Swingle, who replaces Paul Ervin. “It was time to revert back 15 years ago when you’re trying to build those bonds and relationships, so that’s what we’re in the middle of now.”

Even though Berwick was 2-3 in Division 2 of the Wyoming Valley Conference last year, including a two-point loss to his former team and eventual division champion, Swingle was in an unfamiliar position. He found himself on the opposite side of the mat of a group he saw succeed previously at Meyers, and was also in a scenario where the team he was helping coach was blown out at times too.

“It wasn’t easy. But I really had to reflect on why I’m still involved and why I want to be involved in the sport, and it’s really for the competition,” Swingle said. “It’s not the wins and losses. It’s the opportunity to be able to show up and fight. I think sometimes we put so much emphasis on winning and losing. I’ve given that speech to a lot of wrestlers over the years, and last year I had to step back and take a dose of my own medicine.

“And the only thing we can really be satisfied with is, how did we compete? Did I give it my best effort? Did I improve? All those things I said to the kids in the past I had to think, was I doing that, so it was different.”

Swingle is one of three new coaches in the WVC this season.

Mike Griffith, who has been a longtime assistant at Hanover Area, is the new head coach for the Hawkeyes, taking over for Rich Gavlick, who led the Hawkeyes to their first District 2 team championship in 35 years last season.

At Pittston Area, James Woodall stepped down as head varsity coach and was replaced by Dave Krantz, a longtime assistant coach and junior high coach with the program. Woodall is still part of the program working with the junior high team.

AROUND DIVISION 1

The talk about the division this season among all coaches is that there’s going to be a competitive balance that hasn’t been seen in the division in quite some time.

If there is a favorite, it would be Coughlin, which has seven seniors still remaining from the squad that won the division title as freshmen. But the rest of the pack is extremely close behind. Tunkhannock, Dallas and Hazleton Area were co-champions of the division last year, while Crestwood returns all but one starter from last year’s team that showed plenty of promise.

“It’s not parity, but competition,” Dallas coach Mike Richards said. “What I’m seeing this year is that I don’t think a lot of teams have superstars, but every team has solid wrestlers on their team that can contribute week in and week out. That’s what’s going to make this year so interesting. I don’t think any one team has that one superstar. … This year is gonna be a dogfight. I think there’s four, five teams that can either be undefeated or have three, four losses.”

Wyoming Valley West and Pittston Area round out the division. They may be overmatched in some duals, but definitely have the potential to pull off upsets if the matchups turn out in their favor.

The first big divisional dual of the season occurs right out of the gate on Wednesday when Crestwood travels to Coughlin.

AROUND DIVISION 2

With reigning division champion Meyers graduating a lot of seniors from a year ago, and Hanover Area, the reigning District 2 Class 2A team champions, also losing some big names from last season, the consensus favorite in the division is Lake-Lehman.

The Black Knights have six freshmen in the lineup, but also return plenty of experience in state qualifier Bobby Long, a junior, and senior leadership with Mike Slivinski, Chuck Harry and Kaleb Konigus in the upper weights.

“I think they’re trying to jinx us saying that we’re the favorite,” Lehman coach J.J. Konigus said. “Everybody’s good. I think we’re all pretty evenly matched. We’re looking pretty good, but hopefully we can stay healthy.”

With Swingle now leading the way at Berwick, the Bulldogs won’t be shocking anyone this time around if all goes well. The Hawkeyes also will compete atop the division, and if they get good matchups in duals, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them finish as division winner.

Wyoming Area and Nanticoke are another year older and experienced. Both teams start the season with nearly every weight class filled. If those teams can get going early and carry momentum into the divisional slate, Division 2 could easily turn into a free-for-all with any of the six teams finishing with the best record.

TOP RETURNING WRESTLERS

There’s no Jimmy Hoffman to talk about this year as the overwhelming top wrestler in the conference, with the Hazleton Area grad now at Division 1 Lehigh and competing unattached as a redshirt freshman.

But there are three juniors who could turn into the next two-time state finalist from the conference, like Hoffman, being returning state qualifiers. Tommy Traver of Tunkhannock, D.J. Erickson of Hanover Area, and Bobby Long of Lake-Lehman all fell short of medalling at the PIAA Championships last year and are the only three returning state qualifiers from the conference.

Regional medalists returning in Class 2A are Berwick’s Nick Yule and Corey Mruk of Wyoming Area, both sophomores, and J.J. Hooper from Hanover Area. In 3A, Coughlin’s Jake Brown, Dallas’ Steven Newell, and Hazleton Area’s Shane Noonan were all regional placewinners from last season.

WHAT A WEIGHT

Athletes always bump around until they find a weight that fits them best at some point during the season. With the season starting this weekend, the 132-pound weight class looks superb early on.

Coughlin’s Jake Brown, Crestwood’s Garrett Swank, Hazleton Area’s Charles Everdale, Pittston Area’s Ryan Lombardo, Tunkhannock’s Gavin D’Amato, Wyoming Valley West’s David Krokowski and Lake-Lehman’s Garrett Kolb were all district medalists last season.

Krokowski and D’Amato were district champions. Everdale and Brown were district runner-up, while Swank was a third-place finisher at districts and Lombardo was a fourth-place medalist. Kolb grabbed a fifth-place medal last season.

If these athletes remain at that weight for just a little more than three weeks, the WVC Tournament could have one of the most competitive weight in its history.

WATCH OUT FOR…

Three WVC freshmen are getting statewide recognition, and won’t be shocking conference or District 2 foes this season.

Lake-Lehman’s Hunter Burke and Nick Zaboski, and Coughlin’s Darren Clarke were all mentioned in PA Power Wrestling’s Top Incoming Freshmen publication.

Burke is the highest ranked from the conference coming in at No. 18 on the list, while Clarke is 37th and Zaboski was an honorable mention.

Burke, a three-time Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling Championships medalist, took fifth at the junior high state event last year, while Clarke was third last year. Zaboski placed fourth at the PJW junior high tourney last season.

DOUBLE DUTY

The YMCA youth wrestling program, which has helped produce many stars for Coughlin, Meyers and GAR in the past, was in jeopardy of falling apart this season. The team had no coach a month ago at this time. Then a group of people who wanted to help keep the program going kept it alive.

Coughlin coach Dave Parsnik took over the head coach duties for the elementary team. He also gets plenty of help from his team, and many others as the program looks for a jumpstart heading to the future.

KEY DATES

Dec. 16-17: X-Calibur Tournament at Wilkes University; Dec. 27-28: Tunkhannock Holiday Tournament at Tunkhannock H.S.; Jan. 5-6: Wyoming Valley Conference Tournament at Lake-Lehman H.S.; Jan. 31: First two rounds of District 2 Duals Tournament at TBA; Feb. 3: District 2 Duals Championships at TBA; Feb. 8, 9, 10: PIAA Duals Championships at Giant Center, Hershey; Feb. 23-24: District 2 Championships at Kingston Armory; March 2-3: Northeast Regional Championships at Williamsport H.S. And Liberty H.S., Bethlehem; March 8, 9, 10: PIAA Championships at Giant Center, Hershey.

Hanover Area’s DJ Erickson, top, is one of three returning state qualifiers from the Wyoming Valley Conference. The junior is expected to wrestle in the 145-pound weight class.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_mey_ha3_faa.jpgHanover Area’s DJ Erickson, top, is one of three returning state qualifiers from the Wyoming Valley Conference. The junior is expected to wrestle in the 145-pound weight class. Fred Adams | Times Leader file photo
Dallas’ Len Kelley, left, and Hazleton Area’s Jake Marnell are two strong sophomores returning in Class 3A competition this season.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_TTL011917WREST-HAZ-Dallas_spt_3.jpgDallas’ Len Kelley, left, and Hazleton Area’s Jake Marnell are two strong sophomores returning in Class 3A competition this season. Bill Tarutis | Times Leader file photo
Bobby Long of Lake-Lehman, bottom, fell just short of medalling at the PIAA Championships last year and is one of just three returning WVC state qualifiers.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_ttl012517wrestlinglehmanmeyers-1-CMYK.jpgBobby Long of Lake-Lehman, bottom, fell just short of medalling at the PIAA Championships last year and is one of just three returning WVC state qualifiers. Amanda Hrycyna | Times Leader file photo
Tunkhannock’s Tommy Traver, top, a returning state qualifier, is expected to battle in the 1138-pound weight class.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_WVCwrestling_1CMYK.jpgTunkhannock’s Tommy Traver, top, a returning state qualifier, is expected to battle in the 1138-pound weight class. Bill Tarutis | Times Leader file photo
Swingle looks to bring winning sensation back to Berwick program

By Dave Rosengrant

For Times Leader

WVC Wrestling Team by Team Capsules

Division 1

Coughlin (3A)

Coach: Dave Parsnik, fourth season

Last Year: 3-3 Division 1, 9-9 overall

Key Losses: Frankie Castano, Taylor Chronowski, Dave Virgo, Nyheem Kenzakoski

Probable Lineup: 106: Nino Cinti, So.; 113: Darren Clarke, Fr., Tino Morrow, Jr.; 120: Jamie Pahler, So.; 126: Patrick Clarke, Sr.; 132: Jake Brown, Sr.; 138: Josh Brown, Sr.; 145: Joey Pahler, Sr.; 152: Tayshaun Qualls, Sr.; 160: Tanner Smith, Jr.; 170: Tyler Decinti, Sr., Joe Davis, Jr.; 182: Jake Cole, Sr.; 195: Connor Lee, So.; 220: Aaron Warnigiris, So.; 285: Corey Harrison, Sr.

Outlook: Parsnik has been waiting for this group to show the championship aspirations they showed as freshmen. Now seniors, there’s more optimism and more continuity, which could get the group back to that level.

Coach’s Comments: “The last two years there were too many kids bunched up. I think this year they see the potential for the team we could have. I think that’s set in and they’re ready. When they were freshmen, there was no need to bump anyone out the lineup and I believe we’re back to that. …I think we’re the team that can decide who can win the division. I don’t know if that’s going to be us but we have the ability to decide who will win it.”

Crestwood (3A)

Coach: Darren Testa, 15th season

Last Year: 2-4 Division 1, 10-10 overall

Key Losses: Justin Lukashewski

Probable Lineup: 106: Hunter Greenberg, So. 113: Greenberg or Trey Zebroski, Fr.; 120: Justin Sterling, So.; 126: Jordan Miale, So.; 132: Garrett Swank, So.; 138: Tyler Shaud, Jr.; Nick Toronzi, Sr.; 145: Liam Stone, Jr., Chris Kremski, 152: Saige George, Sr.; 160: Ron Grevera, Sr.; 170: Anthony Kovalchik, Sr.; 182: Ryan Black, Sr.; Mike Janoski, Sr.; 195: Jeff Schmude, Sr.; Jeremy Buzak, Fr.; 220: Shane O’Rourke, Sr.; 285: John O’Boyle, Sr.

Outlook: A young team last season was one or two swing matches away from being in the thick of the divisional race. With another year of experience and seven wrestlers returning who had at least 20 wins last season, the Comets will be in contention this season.

Coach’s Comments: “The way I look at our team is we should be in every match. I think we’re good enough to compete. The last few years we went in knowing with forfeits we couldn’t compete. Certainly our goal is that with the teams we’ve had in the past we haven’t been able to compete and I think team goal is to qualify for team duals and put ourselves in position to be in those placing rounds.”

Dallas (3A)

Coach: Mike Richards, 11th season

Last Year: 5-1 Division 1 (co-champion), 14-7 overall

Key Losses: Xavier Barber, Moustafa Almeky, Danny Burkhardt

Probable Lineup: 106: open; 113: Liam Farrell, Jr.; 120: Ben Yanchik, So.; 126: Eric Criner, So.; 132: Matt Moransky, So.; 138: Kade Kravits, Sr., Kyle McAndrew, Jr.; 145: Thaddeus Mead, Fr.; 152: Nick Solinsky, Jr., Brian Novicki, Jr.; 160: John Betzko, Jr.; 170: Steven Newell, Jr.; 182: Len Kelley, So.; 195: open; 220: Taylor Bolesta, So.; 285: Shawn Henninger, Jr.

Outlook: The Mountaineers claimed their first Division 1 title in school last season. They return a solid group from that squad. Repeating isn’t out of the question, but it all depends how the matchups fall with other teams in a very balanced division.

Coach’s Comments: “I think the expectation is that we’ll have the same results that we did last year. We lost three district placewinners, and some of those kids you can’t replace, but we have experience coming back and the expectation is that we’re going to be able to competitive in the conference.”

Hazleton Area (3A)

Coach: Keith Maurer, 18th season

Last Year: 5-1 Division 1 (co-champion, District 2 Class 3A duals champion, District 2 team champ), 11-5 overall

Key Losses: Jake Maurer, Anthony Martoccio, Chris Lasecki, Jimmy Hoffman, Carson Kinney

Probable Lineup: 106: Johnny Cora, Fr., 113: Beck Hutchison, Fr.; 120: Christian Kislin, Fr.; 126: Joelyn Spinal, Jr.; 132: Charles Everdale, So.; 138: Stephen Martisofski, Jr.; 145: Dante Matterella, Fr.; 152: Jeremy Aquino, Jr.; 160: Jayson Brielmeier, Jr.; 170: Jake Marnell, So.; 182: Seth Hunsinger, Fr.; 195: Shane Noonan, Jr.; 220: open; 285: Michael Fuchick, Jr.

Outlook: Last year was one of the best seasons for the Cougars in recent history claiming just about every championship they could. With that, they lost the core five wrestlers of the group that led the team back to the glory days. But there’s a good group returning led by Noonan, and sophomores Everdale and Marnell. It’s not out of the question that the Cougars’ five freshmen grow up faster than expected and lead the team to another division title this season.

Coach’s Comments: “It’s definitely going to be different, but I’m excited because I brought five freshmen up and obviously it’s too early to tell, but I think these five could resemble what the last five did. We’re excited to see what they bring. I’m not really putting any non-wrestler on the mat. They all have some kind of experience. After winning districts and going to states, I put the goal out there that I wanna go back. I don’t think it’s out of the question, but I believe at some point we’re gonna have to wrestle above our head to do that.”

Pittston Area (3A)

Coach: Dave Krantz, first year

Last Year: 0-6 Division 1, 1-15 overall

Key Losses: Jason DeBoard

Probable Lineup: 106: Brandon Lopez, Sr.; 113: open; 120: Anthony Thomas, Fr., Keith Romanchik, Fr., Nathan Ridgley, So.; 126: Crystal Smith, So.; 132: Ryan Lombardo, Sr.; 138: Tyler Santee, So.; 145: C.J. Demark, Fr.; Preston Olecki, Sr., Nick Ridgley, So.; 152: Justin Ambs, So.; 160: Richard Wallace, Sr.; 170: A.J. Gordo, So.; 182: open; 195: open; 220: Nathan Lombardo, Sr.; Huey Bentham, So.; 285: Jake Rutkowski, Sr.

Outlook: It might be another tough season for the Patriots. But they will be more competitive in dual meets without a doubt. The lineup has another year of experience under its belt so improving on last year’s numbers shouldn’t be much of a problem.

Coach’s Comments: “I’m not worried about wins or losses. I just want the kids to give 100 percent. As long as nobody quits and they give it all they can, wins and losses will take care of itself. If kids don’t quit out on the mat, that’s all I’m looking for. I want to see their efforts out there on the mat.”

Tunkhannock (3A)

Coach: Bob Hegedty, ninth season

Last Year: 5-1 Division 1 (co-champion), 9-9 overall

Key Losses: Josh Beeman, John Walsh

Probable Lineup: 106: Matt Rosentel, Fr.; 113: David Evans, So.; 120: Connor Elgin, Fr.; 126: David Gavek, Sr.; 132: Gavin D’Amato, So.; 138: Tommy Traver, Jr.; 145: Luke Carpenter, Fr.; 152: Brian Christ, Fr.; 160: Carl Anthony, Jr.; 170: Shane Sherwood, Jr.; 182: Connor Munley, Sr.; 195: Sam Rice, Sr.; 220: Tom Perry, Sr., Dustin Henry, Jr., Logan Hegedty, Jr.; 285: Harry Thrash, So.

Outlook: One of the division favorites, the Tigers will be looking for their fourth straight divisional title. Only graduating a few members from last year’s championship team, Tunkhannock is in position to accomplish a division title. But with competition up across the circuit, the goal will be much harder to achieve.

Coach’s Comments: “We’re gonna fill everything and we’re not gonna have the depth we had the last couple years. But we’re gonna be solid. We’re just looking to try to be ready for the end of the year and just keep rolling.”

Wyoming Valley West (3A)

Coach: Ryan Vassello, third season

Last Year: 1-5 Division 1, 5-15 overall

Key Losses: Mason Moravinski, Kevin Cordes

Probable Lineup: 106: Matt Giza, So.; 113: Cadden Kucek, So.; 120: J.J. White, So., Trent Giza, So.; 126: Justin Hargrave, Jr.; 132: David Krokowski, Jr.; 138: Robert Napersky, So.; Ethan Scott, So.; 145: Napersky or Scott; 152: Landon Stanislow, Sr.; 160: Jaylon Brunson, Jr.; 170: Dave White, Jr.; 182: Sean Mikovitch, Sr.; 195: Seth Decker, Jr.; 220: open; 285: Anthony Vattaro, Jr., Brandon Tirado, So.

Outlook: It’s a bit of a rebuilding year for the Spartans, but the program’s numbers are up from junior high through varsity, which shows promise for the future. The team still has standouts in J.J. White and Krokowski, who look primed for long postseason runs.

Coach’s Comments: “We’re gonna have a younger team but it’s a lot to build on for the future. A lot better than in the year’s past. So that’s a bonus. For the future, it’s gonna be an awesome building team.”

Division 2

Berwick (2A)

Coach: Ron Swingle, 15th season (first at Berwick)

Last Year: 2-3 Division 2, 5-12 overall

Key Losses: Travis Dent, Stone Force

Probable Lineup: 106: open; 113: Alexander Beck, Fr., Nick Yule, So.; 120: Beck or Yule; 126: Gage Bortz, So., Preston Robbins, So.; 132: open; 138: Mark McCracken, Jr., Mark Prebola, Jr.; 145: Maurice Smith, Jr., David Pace, So.; 152: Oscar Perla, Jr.; 160: Alec Talanca, Sr.; 170: Austin Dewald, Sr.; 182: Brandon Spezialetti, Fr.; 195: Fernel Guevara, Sr., J.J. Snyder, Jr., Devon Rodzon, Jr.; 220: open; 285: open

Outlook: The colors, name and location may have changed for Swingle, but the goals remain the same. He wants to build a winning program year in and year out. If everything flows perfectly for the Bulldogs this season, the winning attitude will start as soon as this year. The team is returning experienced wrestlers along with some newcomers to help the process. Nick Dawson, former wrestler and football player at Wilkes, is Swingle’s assistant.

Coach’s Comments: “My goals don’t change every year. I want to win every match I’m in. I want to be in duals. I think I’m realistic about where we land. We need to fill more weights. We need to build our work ethic and confidence. The goals never change but we’re approaching it that we control what we can. If we put our best effort out there and win we’ll be in duals. If we put our best effort out there and not fortunate to win, we’re gonna take it with a gain of salt figure out where our deficit is and work from there.”

Hanover Area (2A)

Coach: Mike Griffith, first year

Last Year: 3-2 Division 2 (District 2 Class 2A team champion), 10-7 overall

Key Losses: Josselin Meyer, Jeff Bennett, Zakee Nettles, Noah Rakowski

Probable Lineup: 106: Cael Davis, Fr.; 113: Joey Rowley, So.; 120: open; 126: open; 132: Jared Banesh, Jr.; 138: Jared Fuginiti, Sr., Nate Ayalla, Fr.; 145: D.J. Erickson, Jr.; 152: Hunter Thompson, So.; 160: open; 170: Mike Lenahan, Sr.; 182: Jeremy Andrewlavage, Sr.; 195: J.J. Hooper, Sr.; 220: Tom Mercadante, Sr.; 285: Derek Knorr, Fr.

Outlook: Griffith is familiar with the program, graduating in 2000 from then returning as an assistant. He coached many of these current wrestlers when he was an assistant. Repeating last season’s performance will be a tough task. But being competitive in the division and competing for the division title is a realistic opportunity.

Coach’s Comments: “I love the kids on the team. They have a great work ethic. Everyone’s buying into the program and hopefully it pays dividends on the mat. My expectations are that the kids achieve the goals that they set and if they do that, then it’ll be a pretty good season. … I just wanna thank my wife, Amanda, for the support and help me help these kids become successful. Without my wife I wouldn’t be able to coach.”

Lake-Lehman (2A)

Coach: J.J. Konigus, eighth season

Last Year: 4-1 Division 2, 6-7 overall

Key Losses: R.J. Driscoll, Bob Lipski, Jake Tomolonis, Jesse Tomolonis,

Probable Lineup: 106: Brendan Boston, So. or Gavin Ruger, Fr.; 113: Boston or Ruger; 120: Zack Stuart, Fr.; 126: Bobby Long or Josh Bonomo, Fr.; 132: Garrett Kolb, Sr. or Matt Sczyerk, 138: Jake Trumbower, Fr., Hunter Burke, Fr.; 145: Trumbower or Burke; 152: Chase Button, So; 160: Nick Zaboski, Fr.; 170: Jared Cummings, Jr.; 182: Tom Nalbone, Jr.; 195: T.J. Meehan, Jr.; 220: Mike Slivinski, Sr., Chuck Harry, Sr.; 285: Kaleb Konigus, Sr.

Outlook: Even though there’s six freshmen who will see a lot of time this season for the Black Knights, those wrestlers have plenty of experience and are ready to make the leap. With that jump, they give the team more depth and balance it has lacked in some years. The team is likely the division favorite, but anything can happen too.

Coach’s Comments: “We’re looking pretty good, hopefully we can stay healthy. From 120 to 160 we’re pretty jacked, and even from 120 to heavyweight we’re pretty solid.”

Meyers (2A)

Coach: Anthony Mercadante, seventh season

Last Year: 5-0 Division 2 (division champ), 12-10 overall

Key Losses: Brian Huertero, Anthony Kasper, Colin Pasone, Kevin Huertero, Jeremy Bergold, Jamell Ballard, Namir Murphy, Lucas Borum, Preston Perkins

Probable Lineup: 106: Brando Abreu, So.; 113: Jason Carver, So.; 120: Jose Sepulveda, So.; 126: open; 132: Caleb Burns, So.; 138: Josh Johnson, So.; 145: Emmanuel Guiterrez, So., Keyontay Suydam, Sr.; 152: Susu Burroughs, Sr., Jason Mulan, So; 160: Rafael Olmedo, So.; 170: Carl Johnson, Fr., Colin Browne, Sr., Greg Ambers, So.; 182: Michael Gavin, So., Malik Robinson, Fr.; 195: open; 220: open; 285: open

Outlook: This could be a transition season that Meyers hasn’t had in a long time. The team is young with just two seniors and a plethora of sophomores. If the learning curve moves along faster, the Mohawks will be in divisional contention.

Coach’s Comments: “I’m hoping that from where we were day one to where we end that the kids improve and they love the sport of wrestling. I hope by the end of the year we can be competitive as a team and have them grow as a wrestler, improve on their weaknesses and get stronger. I want them to grow, fall in love with the sport of wrestling, keep working at it. Keep grinding away and hopefully come districts, we can get some guys in the medal round at districts and to regionals and to states.”

Nanticoke (2A)

Coach: Harold Shotwell, fifth season

Last Year: 0-5 Division 2, 3-15 overall

Key Losses: Megan Kocher,

Probable Lineup: 106: Zach Capie, So.; 113: Joe Sauers, So.; 120: open; 126: George Brown, Jr.; 132: open; 138: Chris Maute, Sr.; 145: Austin Cheslaw, Jr; 152: Keeghan Kester, Jr.; 160: Adam Eckhart, So.; 170: Zack Pelton, So.; Isaiah Johnson, So.; Colin Kashatus, So.; 182: see 170; 195: Seth Pelton, So.; Hunter Welch, So.; 220: Shane Repasky, Jr.; 285: Sheik Ali, Jr.

Outlook: Shotwell is seeing things he hasn’t seen in his tenure as coach of the Trojans having a motivated bunch that wants to stop the losing. The Trojans haven’t won a match in the division since January, 2014 having dropped 16 straight duals dating back to then. This team is different, and with four double-digit winners returning, expectations have changed.

Coach’s Comments: “Once we get the allowances after the holidays, we’ll be close to filling a lineup, and that’s a big step for a program like us. We should be hopefully very competitive. The attitude in the room, and of the kids, this year is night and day from last year. The attitude is something we’ve been lacking the last few years. This year, they’re practicing harder and they’re working harder. They’re more of a team this year than just individuals. They’re working together as a whole where in previous years when unity wasn’t there. We’re hoping this is a nice stepping stone for the next two, three, four five years.”

Wyoming Area (2A)

Coach: Jason Prokopchak, second season

Last Year: 1-4 Division 2, 7-11 overall

Key Losses: Adam Buczynski

Probable Lineup: 106: Kyle Emsley, Fr., Luis Lopez, So.; 113: Adam Sigman, Fr.; 120: open; 126: open; 132: Sydni Johnson, Jr.; 138: Robin Wrobleski, Jr.; 145: Tyler Martin, Jr.; 152: Charlie Banashefski, So.; 160: Alex Pierce, So., Enzo Scotto-Diluzio, So., Tauhid Abdush-Shahid, So.; 170: Corey Mruk, So., Skylar Santacroce, Sr.; 182: Jaryn Polit-Moran, Jr.; 195: Justin Joseph, Sr.; 220: Aidan Dollak, So., Tierra Rhodes, Jr.; 285: Damon Barhight, Sr., James Gashi, Jr.

Outlook: With another year under the new regime of Prokopchak, the Warriors will be more experienced this season. They’re led by sophomore Corey Mruk, who won a district title last year and finished sixth at the regional tournament.

Coach’s Comments: “I look forward to continuing the journey with my group from last year. We only lost one senior from our small team. Our numbers are up, but we are extremely young. I will rely heavily on the more experienced returners to assist the coaching staff in helping these wrestlers jump levels. In the end, we will be looking forward to having some fun in the process and see it all come together at the end of the season.”


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