WILKES-BARRE — For 75 years, the Coughlin wrestling team has been one of the top programs in Pennsylvania.
The Crusaders piled up more than 700 dual meet victories, hundreds of individual district medals, dozens of individual district championships and more than a dozen state medalists.
On Wednesday night, the mats were rolled up for the final time in the school’s gymnasium after the 54-18 win over Wilkes-Barre City rival Meyers, another historic program.
“Maybe later tonight, there will be some reflecting on all your years coaching and wrestling here and it probably will get a little sentimental,” Coughlin coach and alum Dave Parsnik said. “It’s the end of one era and the beginning of another.”
On a night of sentiment and celebration, dozens of Coughlin wrestling alum packed the venue and stood alongside on the mat for the final time consisting of more than a thousand wins combined on the floor. The grads also posed with the elementary and junior high programs for a photo of past and present Coughlin wrestlers, and the future Wilkes-Barre Area Wolfpack squad.
“It’s always nice to bring alumni back. Our wrestling crowd follows us, we always have the same people coming to help us if we ever need anything and every time you reminisce when you see those guys,” Parsnik added. “It’s a good time, and you get to have a couple Pepsis after the match and talk about the old days, which is always good.”
With more than 1,400 wins combined between the Mohawks and Crusaders, the dual could have been a classic, but with Meyers concluding a trying season and Coughlin enjoying an above average campaign, there wasn’t much action.
The Crusaders won the first five matches to stake a 24-0 lead, and only lost three weights. Meyers also forfeited four weights.
One of the wins for Coughlin came from senior Tino Morrow, who won by fall at 113 pounds to give the team a 12-0 lead after two matches.
“It means everything to me. We came out for a fight and we got a win. We did what we wanted to do. We practiced for this,” said Morrow, who is one of just three seniors on the team along with Tanner Smith and Joe Davis. “It’s awesome that we’re at the end. That we’re the last class to graduate.”
Morrow was one of four Crusaders to win via pin joining Cooper Price (106 pounds), Nino Cinti (132) and Smith (160).
The Crusaders will have more than a week to rest and practice and prepare for a run at the District 2 Tournament on Feb. 22-23 at Hazleton Area High School. Both teams posed together after the dual for a photo together as more than 150 years combined years and hundreds of total accolades will merge next season.
“When you think about the district champions, the conference champions, and some of the great wrestlers that have come out of both schools, just the rich tradition in District 2, I don’t know if a lot of schools have that,” Meyers coach and wrestling grad Anthony Mercadante said. “It’s sad to see the rich tradition that both of these schools have and have stood for so long, go away, because I don’t know if another program will ever reach the standards and pinnacles that these two have.”
Meyers got pins from 152-pounder Rafael Olmedo and 170-pounder Carl Johnson.
The Mohawks will end the final season with a losing record, no wins in the Wyoming Valley Conference. It’s not the way Mercadante was expecting for his young team’s final season, but now, they turn the attention to the individual postseason after Saturday afternoon’s dual finale against Dallas with just one senior who wrestled on Wednesday night.
“I think it’s a whole other aspect. Obviously this isn’t the season I wanted or any of the kids wanted,” Mercadante said. “Individual districts is a different breed. It’s a different season than last year or the years before. So they all have their ups and downs. Mentally, the kids just have to be ready to wrestle districts.”
Coughlin 54, Meyers 18
106: Cooper Price (Cou) pinned Kris Fronseca :38; 113: Tino Morrow (Cou) pinned Brando Abreu 1:28; 120: no contest; 126: Jayden Pahler (Cou) dec Jason Carver 3-0; 132: Nino Cinti (Cou) pinned Andre Robinson 1:35; 138: Jamie Pahler (Cou) dec Caleb Burns 1-0; 145: Nate Ayala (Mey) won by forfeit; 152: Rafael Olmedo (Mey) pinned Tyler Faust 3:25; 160: Tanner Smith (Cou) pinned Savon Collins 1:16; 170: Carl Johnson (Mey) pinned Stephen Youkoski 5:16; 182: Chad Regan (Cou) won by forfeit; 195: Joe Davis (Cou) won by forfeit; 220: Connor Lee (Cou) won by forfeit; 285: Aaron Warnagaris (Cou) won by forfeit
Note: Match started at 106 pounds
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