So far, a different season for Dallas has got off to a solid start.
With the Mountaineers now participating in Division I of the Wyoming Valley Conference and in Class 3A, they have shown early on they belong with the conference's elite.
Earlier this month, the team finished fourth at the conference tournament. Last week, it knocked off Division I foes Berwick and Crestwood, and is currently one of just two remaining unbeatens in the division -- joining Wyoming Valley West.
We kind of have a little momentum going into this part of our schedule coming up, Mountaineers coach Mike Richards said.
The Mountaineers (2-0 Division I) have a tough road ahead the next two weeks before the District 2 Duals Tournament on Feb. 1-2. Tonight, Dallas travels to Coughlin, which entered Tuesday's meet against Berwick winless in the division at 0-2, but the setbacks have come to Wyoming Valley West (3-0 D-I) and Pittston Area (3-1 D-I).
Later this week, the Mountaineers will then host the Spartans on Saturday night. That's just two days before the Back Mountain rivalry dual against Division II's Lake-Lehman. A week from tonight, Dallas faces the Patriots in Yatesville. The team wraps up its divisional slate on Jan. 28 at home against Hazleton Area.
We have a brutal schedule coming up with the three best teams in (Class) 3A and then the best 2A team on Monday in there too, Richards added. I think anytime you can get out to a good start and get a few wins under your belt you get confidence. I think it certainly helps to get that kind of winning behind you.
Dallas' Connor Martinez won a WVC championship earlier this month and has been notably wrestling up a few weights.
One Mountaineer who is also wrestling up is 195-pounder Jake Howell, who weighs about 175 pounds. In last week's win against Berwick, he came up with a big pin to help secure a one-point victory.
One of the most decorated wrestlers in Wyoming Valley Conference history recently called his collegiate career quits.
Coughlin grad Justin Accordino, who was a four-time District 2 champion, four-time state qualifier and two-time state medalist, ended his career with Hofstra after being sidelined with another knee injury. He was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA last June, since his career had been riddled with injuries.
Accordino, who earned All-American honors after finishing sixth in the NCAA Division I Championships in St. Louis, was ranked sixth by InterMat and seventh by WIN magazine to begin the season, but he never saw any action this campaign.
A two-time NCAA qualifier, Accordino concludes his illustrious career with a 76-42 record for the Pride. He is Coughlin's all-time wins leader with 150, which is the sixth-most in District 2 history.
For an unknown reason, the PIAA Team Championship brackets are very hard find this year. After finally tracking them down, there was good news for the District 2 champions this time around.
The D2 Class 2A champion receives an automatic berth straight to the Giant Center in Hershey and won't have to partake in a pigtail round. Instead, the champ will take on the District 9 champion on Thursday, Feb. 7, at 2 p.m. in the first round in Hershey.
For the third straight year, the 3A champion will not have to qualify for the event via a preliminary dual meet, either, and will face the District 1 champion at 6 p.m. on Feb. 7 at the Giant Center.
This is a new feature and since it's the first installment, for one time only it will be the wrestler two weeks, the first two of the new calendar year.
So without further adieu the inaugural honor goes to Connor Martinez of Dallas. He's been wrestling at 182 this season while weighing about 15 pounds lighter. But the junior has responded in a big way.
First, he won the 182-pound Wyoming Valley Conference Tournament championship, recording three falls and a major decision. After that, he got a big pin against Berwick to help Dallas knock off the Dawgs. He ended last week with a fall against Crestwood.
He has an 18-9 record this season and is currently riding a six-match win streak.