Wrestling: New Teams Occupy Top Seeds In D2 Duals
One year has made plenty of difference in District 2 wrestling.
When the District 2 Team Championships starts tonight at four different sites, only one top seed from 2017 — Class 3A’s Delaware Valley — will start the night in its home gym again.
The other three top seeds have since dropped to its conference’s second seed (Class 2A, Honesdale) or third seed (Class 3A, Hazleton Area), or completely out of the tournament altogether (Class 2A, Meyers).
Western Wayne, Coughlin and Lake-Lehman take over as promising title contenders hosting the first two rounds of duals tonight along with Del Val. They’re far from the only teams with the talent to win a title Saturday at Pittston Area and advance to the PIAA duals, though.
Here are wrestlers to look for when action begins tonight at 5:30 p.m.:
Quarterfinals at Coughlin
WVC-1 Coughlin (6-0) vs. LL-4 Abington Heights (1-3)
Coughlin reached the 2012 finals but has yet to win a duals title. That could change this week following a perfect run through the WVC. The Crusaders are loaded with talented seniors — Jake and Joshua Brown, Patrick Clarke, Jake Cole, and Corey Harrison combine for nine trips to regionals, and Joey Pahler and Tashawn Qualls have added solid seasons — and their underclassmen are also capable of piling on bonus points.
Abington Heights will need an early upset for a shot at its first title since 2006. The Comets are led by Brandon Grogan, who won the 106-pound title at the Lackawanna League tournament, and James Brown and Sam Northup, third-place finishers at the same tourney.
LL-2 West Scranton (3-1) vs. WVC-3 Hazleton Area (4-2)
West Scranton last won a D2 duals title in Class 2A in 2006, but the Invaders are in the
conversation following third-place finishes at last year’s duals and this season’s LL tourney. Jeremy Seymour is a league champ looking for his third trip to regionals later this season, while league runners-up Austin Fashouer, Anthony Caramanno and Garrett Walsh help the team wrestle tough in the lighter weights.
Defending champion Hazleton Area lost a lot since last season, but the Cougars still have enough to be a scary No. 3 seed. District 2 champ Shane Noonan is closing in on 100 career wins as a junior, and Jayson Brielmeier and Charles Everdale placed top-3 at WVCs this month.
Quarterfinals at Delaware Valley
WVC-2 Tunkhannock (5-1) vs. LL-3 Scranton (2-2)
Breakdown: This matchup has become a staple of recent district duals. Tunkhannock defeated Scranton — the D2 champion in 2015 — for the 2016 duals title, and beat the Knights again in last year’s first round. The teams have also split a pair of exhibitions held in the last two seasons. Both took second in their conference tourneys this season.
The Tigers bring a lineup featuring state qualifier Tommy Traver, District 2 champion Gavin D’Amato and a handful of other wrestlers with regionals experience. Scranton counters with four Lackawanna champs: PIAA medalist William Evanitsky, state qualifier Jacob Burgette, and regional qualifiers Jeremiah Oakes and Robert Zelinski. Another fun matchup could be in store.
WVC-4 Dallas (3-3) vs. LL-1 Delaware Valley (4-0)
Dallas, which reached 2011’s Class 2A finals, is led by District 2 champion Steven Newell, while WVC bronze medalists Kade Kravits, Nick Solinsky and Shawn Henninger can keep the Mountaineers competitive.
But Delaware Valley, last year’s runner-up, has its sights set on its first title since winning from 2011-13. The Warriors won the Lackawanna tourney by a mile with 12 top-4 medalists, including four champions: regional qualifers Joseph Porco and Mike McKinney, plus Preston Machado and Jason Henderson. Toss in D2 heavyweight champ John McCarthy, and Del Val is a strong favorite to reach the finals.
Quarterfinals at Lake-Lehman
WVC-1 Lake-Lehman (5-0) vs. LL-4 Montrose (5-3)
Lake-Lehman, champions in 2016, topped 50 points in all but one WVC dual. State qualifier Bog Long and senior classmates Garrett Kolb, Chuck Harry and Kaleb Konigus were big parts of that success, and a talented bunch of underclassmen such as freshmen Hunter Burke, Jake Trumbower and Nick Zaboski provide an extra punch that makes the Black Knights title contenders.
Lackawanna champ Joseph Hester and runner-up Cole Aukema, along with former D2 runner-up Chuck Rohan, will try to help Montrose stop the Knights in their tracks.
LL-2 Honesdale (7-1) vs. WVC-3 Wyoming Area (3-2)
Defending champion Honesdale tied for fourth at the LL tourney as 2017 regional qualifier Matt Davis and district medalist John Kuhns-Miller took second (Michael O’Day and Jake Kabonick earned bronzes). With just a one-point loss to Western Wayne as its only LL blemish, and scores ranging from 47-78 points in their victories, the Hornets appear to be dangerous enough to repeat.
Wyoming Area returns after a one-year absence. District 2 champ Corey Mruk has had a strong sophomore season, and regional qualifiers Justin Joseph and Damon Barhight are part of the Warriors’ tough stretch of upper-weight wrestlers.
Quarterfinals at Western Wayne
WVC-2 Nanticoke Area (3-2) vs. LL-3 Scranton Prep (6-2)
Nanticoke Area soared to its No. 2 seed with a three-match winning streak. Big bonus-point victories from the likes of Joseph Sauers, Chris Maute and Adam Eckhart made this duals trip possible, and they’ll need to keep it up to keep the Trojans’ hot streak alive.
State medalist Ivan Balavage leads Scranton Prep into the duals at 220 pounds. Antonio D’Apollonio, Connor Chernesky, Joe Monahan and Oliver Egan were top-4 placers from 106-132 pounds at leagues, making the team’s lower weights a challenge for the opposition, too.
WVC-4 Berwick (2-3) vs. LL-1 Western Wayne (8-0)
Berwick, back-to-back champs in 2007-08, returns to the duals tourney for the second season in a row albeit on a three-match slide in the WVC. District 2 champion Nick Yule, regional qualifier Alec Talanca and the rest of the Bulldogs will look to wrestle like the team that started the season with a pair of wins over Hanover Area and Meyers.
Western Wayne, last year’s runner-up and champs from 2012-14, have been hot all year in an undefeated season in the LL. Two-time state qualifier Cole Fuller and Braden McIntosh, a three-time regional qualifier, lead the way for a team that won six of eight duals by 28 or more points.