WILKES-BARRE – When the X-Calibur Tournament started in 2014, the award for all winners was a mini sword.
When the current wrestling season started for Wyoming Seminary, coach Scott Green decided to bring that back, in a different way, as he instituted a team-pin sword.
Whenever a Blue Knight wrestler gets a pin, the athlete gets to hold the real sheathed sword for a period of time.
That item was passed around a plethora of times over the weekend as the Blue Knights racked up 54 pins at the fourth annual X-Calibur Tournament at Wilkes University en route to taking the team crown for the fourth straight season.
Coming off a rough tournament last weekend at the Ironman Tournament, it was a much-needed boost for the Blue Knights.
“This is always a good test for our guys coming back and a lot of them are gonna have one, maybe two good matches to see how they respond from getting beat up a little bit in Ohio,” said Sem coach Scott Green, whose squad won 12 of the tournament’s 14 weight classes. “And this is the most champs we’ve had for sure. Our guys wrestled really, really well. We had some win-back matches against guys they lost to earlier this fall. And some guys who maybe weren’t supposed to be on top of the podium found their way there.”
One of the premier matches of the finals was at 132-pounds where Sem’s Mosha Schwartz pulled out a thrilling victory over Benton/Northwest’s Cole Rhone, a PIAA runner-up last season. Schwartz, who was also named the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler, notched the 5-4 victory thanks to a reversal with just 30 seconds remaining.
“He had both legs in and I’m not really good in getting out on bottom, but I’ve been working on it a lot this year, getting out on bottom and I got out,” Schwartz said. “I know that he’s pretty tough on top. I just stuck to it and got the win.”
Joining Schwartz as champions for the Blue Knights were Tim Levine (106 pounds), Nic Botello (113), Ezekiel Escalera (120), Beau Bartlett (126), Jack Davis (138), Benny Baker (152), Jake Hendricks (160), Darrien Roberts (182), Austin Cooley (195), Mike Doggett (220) and Tony Cutrie (285).
Like Schwartz, Cutrie also won in come-from-behind fashion. After giving up the initial takedown, Cutrie evened the score at 3-3 after the first period. He then escaped in the second period and picked up a takedown later in the period for the 6-4 win.
“The good part about Tony right now is he’s not afraid to give up a takedown,” Green said. “He knows he’s gonna have the ability to create some action and score and come back. A lot of guys were able to come back from deficits, and that’s what you want this time of the year.”
Lake-Lehman and Coughlin battled throughout the event for bragging rights as the top Wyoming Valley Conference team in the tourney.
The Black Knights (88 points) beat out the Crusaders (87) by one point for fifth place, the highest finish for a WVC team in the four-year existence of the event. The previous-highest finish for a WVC squad was in the tourney’s first year when Lake-Lehman took ninth.
This year, three conference squads finished in the top 11 with Wyoming Valley West placing 11th.
All five teams from the WVC that participated left with at least one medalist.
Coughlin’s seven award winners were the most among the WVC teams paced by Jake Brown and Josh Brown’s third-place finish at 132 and 138 pounds, respectively. Darren Clarke (120), Joey Pahler (145) and Tanner Smith (160) were seventh for the Crusaders, with Nino Cinti (106) and Jamie Pahler (126) placing eighth.
“We’ve really improved since Week 1. Everyone’s wrestling better since the first tournament and we have gotten better,” Josh Brown said. “We just gotta look at where we lost and where we had our flaws and pick up from there and get better from that.”
For Lehman, Bob Long (126) and Kalen Konigus (285) each took fourth, while T.J. Meehan was fifth, Jake Trumbower took sixth and Tom Nalbone placed eighth. Finishing top 5 is quite an accomplishment for the team as it prepares for even tougher upcoming matches as they face Crestwood on Friday, before heading to Conestoga next weekend in preparation for the WVC Tournament on Jan. 5-6.
“I’m pretty happy with our performance,” Black Knights coach J.J. Konigus said. “We had kids, who predominantly you wouldn’t think would place here, wrestle above and beyond their athletic ability and did great. I love that.
“It’s a confidence-booster for a lot of kids because they know they can come in here and compete with prep schools.”
Valley West, which had just two medalists last season at the event, left the gym on Sunday with five. Cadden Kucek (113) and David Krokowski (132) each took fourth for the team, while J.J. White (120) and Jaylon Brunson (160) finished sixth, and Robert Napersky (145) finished eighth.
“They wrestled really aggressive. I was very happy with my lighter weights,” Spartans coach Ryan Vassello said. “Coming off of last year with only two guys place, and having five place this year was a big leap in the right direction.”
Nanticoke took 18th and Pittston Area was 20th. The Trojans’ Seth Pelton (195) was seventh with Adam Eckhart (152) placing eighth. The Patriots’ medalist was heavyweight Jake Rutkowski placing eighth.
MyHouse Sem Ladies Open
The X-Calibur Tournament wasn’t the only win for Wyoming Seminary on Sunday.
Across the Susquehanna River in the school’s Carpenter Athletic Complex, the Blue Knights girls team tied for the championship of the inaugural Sem Ladies Open.
Sem tied with New York with 87 points as Caitlyn Walker (47kg), Vayle Baker (53kg), Amanda Walker (57kg), Cheyenne Sisenstein (59), Shaina Murray (62kg) and Ashlynn Ortega (68kg) all won their weight brackets.
Maria Jansson (50), Sophia Smith (57) and Tziyon Schwartz (59) all placed second.
More than 75 females competed in the event with 10 teams and participants from Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Rhode Island, Ohio and Canada.