On the mat, Hanover Area and Meyers have one of the most fiercest rivalries in the Wyoming Valley Conference.
Over the previous two years, the two teams have battled each other for Division 2 and District 2 Class 2A championships. Just last year, the Mohawks claimed the division, while the Hawkeyes were team district titlists.
But off the mat, their respect for one another is on a much higher level.
Last weekend when the teams met at Hanover Area, the Hawkeyes held a bake sale fundraiser for a team member’s parent suffering from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig Disease. The Mohawks donated $100 to the cause helping the Hanover Area Wrestling Club raise more than $700 to be donated to the ALS Hope Foundation and to E.J. Murphy.
“It shows you the camaraderie that goes into wrestling,” Hanover Area coach Mike Griffith said. “That’s the sport in itself, you may be enemies on the mat, but you’re friends off the mat.”
Murphy, a parent of a junior high wrestler and longtime helper of the wrestling program,didn’t want any donations. Griffith said that Murphy just wanted all donations to be sent to the foundation. But knowing how expensive medical bills can be, half of the proceeds are being sent to the Murphy family as well.
“E.J. texted me and said that he doesn’t want any money, but I can still see the need,” Griffith said.
Donations are still being accepted and can be made to the Hanover Area Wrestling Club. Inquiries can be sent to Hanover Area High School c/o Mike Griffith, 1600 Sans Souci Parkway, Wilkes-Barre Pa 18706.
A flourishing finish
With just a few days left in the regular season and the start of the District 2 Duals Tournament just a week away, not much is decided in the Wyoming Valley Conference.
What is known is that Lake-Lehman is the Division 2 champion and will be one of the hosts for next week’s opening round in Class 2A. Other than that, every seed and spot is still wide open.
Elsewhere in Division 2, Berwick, Hanover Area, Nanticoke and Wyoming Area are all battling for the final three D2 duals berths up for grabs from the conference. All four teams have 2-2 divisional records, and all four will battle tonight as Wyoming Area hosts Hanover Area, and Nanticoke hosts the Bulldogs.
The division has been so competitive that just two days ago the Hawkeyes were in position to be the top seed for district duals, or not make the event at all.
“Our conference is on the up-and-up and that’s going to pay dividends for regionals,” Griffith said.
Over in Division 1, Coughlin, Tunkhannock and Hazleton Area have spots wrapped up for the D2 Class 3A duals, but seeds are unknown. The final seed will come down to Dallas or Crestwood.
The No. 1 seed can still be either of the top three teams. The Crusaders (4-0 Division 1) host the Cougars (3-1) tonight then travel to Tunkhannock (4-0) on Friday night. The Tigers meanwhile, host Crestwood (1-3) tonight as well. The Comets, who need to win both duals to get in, also needed Dallas (2-2) to lose to Wyoming Valley West on Tuesday night, and to Hazleton Area on Thursday.
Trojans turning heads
Nanticoke Area is in position to qualify for District Duals for the first time since 2014. That’s because the Trojans are having one of their best seasons in recent memory.
Their 2-2 record in Division 2 is the first time since 2011 that they’ve had more than one divisional win in a season. But that year, they didn’t have a two-match win streak in the WVC. This season they’ve put together a win streak for the first time in more than a decade. A three-match winning streak culminating with a win over Berwick tonight would be the Trojan’s first winning season in the WVC in at least 15 years.
The young and budding Nanticoke team also made a little history last weekend when it defeated Meyers. When that occurred on Sunday, it marked just the second time in school history that the Trojans beat the historic Mohawks program. It was almost 10 years to the day of the Trojans’ last win over Meyers, which occurred on Jan. 9, 2008.
What makes Nanticoke’s success even more impressive is that when it defeated Wyoming Area 42-39 last week, it stopped an 18-match longest losing streak in the WVC and picked up its first divisional win since 2014, also versus Wyoming Area.
One of the Trojans’ losses earlier this season came to Hanover Area by just 10 points.
“They have a good, young team,” Griffith said. “That’s a credit to (coach) Harold Shotwell. They’ve put in a lot of work and it’s one of those things where it’s paying dividends.”
Coughlin’s Jake Brown picked up career win No. 100 this past weekend at the Clearfield Duals Tournament. He joined his twin brother Josh in getting to the milestone this season. Their older brother, Mike, graduated in 2016 with more than 100 wins as the three made some Wyoming Valley Conference history.
The Browns are the first trio of brothers in Coughlin history to reach the 100-win milestone. They are also believed to be just the second trifecta of siblings in the Wyoming Valley Conference to all get at least 100 wins. The other being the Woodalls – Bob, James, Jason and Dave – from Pittston Area.
The last time twin brothers from the WVC each reached 100 wins in the same season were Tunkhannock’s Bill and Mike Manley in 2016.
The Browns are also just the fourth group of three brothers to achieve the milestone in all of District 2. Earlier this season, Cole Fuller of Western Wayne won his 100th career match joining brothers Casey and Morgan.
Earlier this month, Tunkhannock junior Tommy Traver became the first junior in school history to achieve the 100-win milestone.
In a trend that has risen rapidly over the last few years, fellow junior Steven Newell, from Dallas, is also about to mark history.
Newell entered Tuesday’s meet against Wyoming Valley West with 98 career wins. The Mountaineers take on Hazleton Area on Thursday in what could be a historic night for the 170-pounder as he enters with a record this season of 25-1. Reaching the 100-win milestone for Newell would put him in elite company as the fastest to 100 wins in school history and just the second junior in school history to do so.
Ryan Monk reached 100 wins for Dallas in the state tournament of his junior year en route to 140 career wins and the school’s all-time wins leader.
A nationwide melee
An eight-day stretch which includes five duals against teams ranked in the top 12 in the country concludes for Wyoming Seminary on Friday and Saturday at home when it hosts the MyHouse Melee.
On Friday, second-ranked Blair Academy travels to Kingston along with top-ranked Bergen Catholic, fourth-ranked Montini Catholic, eighth-ranked St. Edward’s, and perennial Pennsylvania power Easton.
Sem, ranked third in the country, won’t meet Blair Academy this weekend since the pair met last week. The Blue Knights will face Easton on Friday at 7 p.m. before seeing Montini (10 a.m.), St. Edward’s (noon) and Bergen Catholic (2 p.m.) on Saturday.
Also on Saturday, Sem’s girls team will also face tough competition taking on Team Canada at 2 p.m,
After losing to second-ranked Blair Academy last week, Sem then shutout 12th-ranked Bethlehem Catholic the next night at home.
Reach Times Leader sports at 570-829-7143 or on Twitter @TLsports