The Wyoming Valley West wrestling program has a very historic background with several state champions and dozens of other team and individual achievements.
It’s about to add another accomplishment to that laundry list by doing something no other program in District 2, and very few across the entire state, have done when it welcomes Cael Sanderson to campus later this fall.
Sanderson, the esteemed Penn State coach, who has led the Nittany Lions to seven national championships in the last eight seasons, and has coached his wrestlers to 20 individual titles in nine seasons, will instruct a clinic at Wyoming Valley West Middle School on Saturday, Oct. 27 at 9 a.m.
Sanderson, who is also well-known for being the only four-time undefeated national champion in history, will be joined by the only pair of brothers in District 2 history to win PIAA titles, Rocky and Rick Bonomo as co-instructors for the once-in-a-lifetime-experience.
“I think bringing Cael in is going to get people excited about the upcoming season,” Spartan coach Ryan Vassello said. “It will get kids in the right mindset and give them something to look forward to.”
Sanderson, who rarely makes appearances at clinics due to a loaded schedule, will take time out during one of the busier times of the year to make a stop in Kingston. Penn State’s season begins just two weeks after the clinic is scheduled. Sanderson is currently helping a few wrestlers who are competing in world tournaments.
“There was some conflicts on dates and he’s preparing his guys for Worlds too,” Vassello added. “So to kinda pull him away from a program to have him offer some time for our local wrestling community is unbelievable.”
The Bonomos are also a big deal in the area.
Not only are they the only brothers to ever win state gold from District 2, they were on one of just two state championship wrestling teams from D2 when Lake-Lehman claimed the top spot in the state in 1981.
They have performed shows together previously and offer an animated clinic with fun activities for all ages. It was Rocky Bonomo, a former Division I wrestling coach, who was instrumental in setting up the opportunity for Sanderson to appear in Luzerne County. He also runs a year-round wrestling clinic Rock Solid Wrestling, and has partnered with Vassello in the offseason bringing talent to Valley West in the spring and summer months.
“Our wrestling community in this area is big. A lot of people have that passion of making these dreams become reality,” Vassello noted. “I think that’s one step in the right direction for our community. It shows we’re willing to offer our time and make the experience more fun for the kids. I think bringing someone like Cael and Rocky in gives kids some hope.”
The doors for the event will open at 8 a.m. with instruction starting at 9 a.m. with Sanderson running the techniques for two hours. After that, the Bonomos will conclude with an hour-long presentation.
Cost is $75 for wrestlers in first through 12th grade, and there’s no fee for spectators. Proceeds will benefit Rapha House, an organization with the mission to end the trafficking and sexual exploitation of children and allowing aftercare for survivors.
There is only pre-registration for the event and athletes must be registered by Oct. 25. Checks should be made payable to Spartan Wrestling Club, 201 Chester St., Kingston, Pa 18704.
For more information, contact Ryan Vassello at [email protected]
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