In early October, Gary Seigel was welcomed back to the Tunkhannock wrestling family as the varsity head coach, replacing Bob Hedgety.
Siegel, who counts Crestwood as his most recent coaching position, was an assistant coach for the Tigers varsity program from 2003-2005, and the youth program head coach from 2005-2008.
“All of us on the team are welcoming Coach Siegel with open arms. We know he has a different style than Coach Hedgety, but our job as a team is to take all the good that Coach Hedge taught us in life, and in wrestling, and also take whatever good coach Siegel is going to bring to us,” said Gavin D’Amato, a senior.
He continued, “It will be different, but he was a D1 wrestler at Syracuse, and his son is an alumni of Tunkhannock wrestling with more than 100 wins. Whether people think so or not, he obviously knows what he’s talking about in wrestling. It’s also a huge opportunity for us, it’s not everyday people get coached by a D1 wrestler, and we plan on taking advantage of it this year.”
Senior David Evans echoed his teammate, saying, “So far it’s been good. Definitely a different coaching style than Hedge. I think he can really build us and create a good team this year. It’s just up to us to listen to what he tells us.”
But even though the personnel on the side of the mat may have changed, the expectations for Tunkhannock wrestling have not.
Returning for their senior seasons, D’Amato and Evans are poised to set the season off on the right foot.
D’Amato, who is looking to continue grappling in college, said, “This is my last year of high school wrestling, the sport I’ve been a part of since I was five years old. I am now 17. Something I’ve never been able to do was to stand on a podium at a state tournament. I’ve been there multiple times, but I was never able to say I was a state placer in Pennsylvania. I’d love to be able to stand on the podium this year at Hershey, and bring home some hardware. I think that would make my family, community, and team proud.”
“As a team, we would like to go team states and win districts,” said Siegel. “Evans and D’Amato came close to placing in individual states last year. So we are looking to get those guys back to states and on the podium.”
He added, “We also have some returning regional qualifiers in Woods, Marabell, Meader, and Zacharias, all who have goals of states and the podium.”
“Team wise it would be great to get all of us to the state duals. It will give the younger kids a chance to experience the high level of competition there is,” said Evans, who is also looking to compete in the NCAA. “And for the older guys, it will be a dual to find out what we need to work on and what mistakes we need to fix before all the big individual tourneys. Individually, my goal is to get on that podium for the first time.”
Last season, injuries to two key wrestlers, Tommy Traver and Evans, hindered the team at duals and districts.
With 13 returning wrestlers with varsity mat time, and only losing three seniors, Siegel is confident that the experienced squad will be able to carry on through the season.
The Tigers have six regional qualifiers returning, and along with seniors D’Amato and Evans, Siegel and his staff are looking to seniors Ethan Munley, Alex Pierce and Tyler Chesla to make some noise.
Siegel will also look to seniors Shawn Glarsh and Matt Morone, who are both new wrestlers, as exciting roster additions. Cole Stauffer, Jacob Davenport, Hunter Gregory, and Brittnie Cahoon are also on the coaching staff’s radar.
“Our schedule is, in a word, competitive,” said Siegel. “The Penn Cambria Panther Holiday Tournament (Dec. 13 and 14) is a great test for our best wrestlers. We then have three team duals competitions that will test the whole team. The Tunkhannock Holiday
wrestling tournament is
also lining up to be very
“Besides the state tourney, I’m looking forward to the Panther Holiday classic in Altoona,” explained Evans. “There’s some tough competition down there and it will show me where I am at early on in the season. I can learn off my mistakes and get better so I can be ready for the post season.”
As for the Tunkhannock Holiday Tournament, Evans noted, “I believe it’s pretty important to do well there. Everyone is going to be having eyes on us. We had a great team last year, and unfortunately had some injuries that stopped us from making the state duals. We have a solid team this year and I think that we will really show up at our holiday tourney.”
D’Amato agreed with his classmate, adding, “We think the Tunkhannock Tournament can really set the tone for our season this year. We want other teams to see every single weight class we have placing in the tournament, and we want them to know we’re here, and this is our year.”
Along with those notable contests, the Tigers will host an alumni night on Dec. 18 against Towanda, and a first responders appreciation and youth club night against Hanover on Jan. 8.
While working on offense in practices, and getting as many points as possible, the coaching staff also recognizes that Tunkhannock, along with any given team in the division, is only one injury away from having to forfeit weights.
“One of Coach Siegel’s biggest things is ‘one match at a time,’” explained D’Amato. “Obviously we’d love to say we’re most excited for districts and Lake-Lehman and Hershey and blah blah blah, but in order to get to districts, and then Lehman, we have to do our job, one match at a time.”
But the staff, made up of Siegel, assistant coach Jake Burgess, and volunteer assistants Ben Siegel, Scott Davies, Ray Woods, and Tom Johnson, are impressed with the up and coming talent and the returning upperclassmen.
The coaches have not picked captains yet, as the group is still getting to know each other in the early season.
“The sport of wrestling is just tough in its nature. The sense of accomplishment comes by making it through the season, win or lose,” explained Siegel.
Roster: Seniors Shawn Glarsh, Matthew Morone, David Evans, Ethan Munley, Gavin D’Amato, Alex Pierce, Tyler Chesla, and Brett Sickler. Juniors Matt Rosentel, Brittnie Cahoon, Lucas Carpenter, Sean Meader, and Jhamal Zacharias. Sophomores Owen Woods, Hunter Gregory, Jeff Meader, Nick Marabell, Frank Scranta, Jaden Kozlowski, and Jacob Davenport. Freshman Cole Stauffer.
Schedule: (S) Dec. 2 at Pocono Mountain West; Dec. 7 Case-Flynn Duals at Pottsville; Dec. 13-14 Penn Cambria Panther Holiday Classic at Mount Aloysius College; Dec. 18 vs. Towanda Area, 7 p.m.; Dec. 27-28 hosting Tunkhannock Holiday
Tournament; Jan. 3-4 Wyoming Valley Conference Championships at Lake Lehman; Jan. 8 at Hanover Area, 7 p.m.; Jan. 11 Lehighton Indian Duals at Lehighton; Jan. 15 vs. Wyoming Area, 7 p.m.; Jan. 18 Berwick Duals at Berwick, 9 a.m.; Jan. 22 at Lake-Lehman, 7 p.m.; Jan. 29 Team Duals, TBA; Feb. 1 Team Duels at Pittston Area; Feb. 6 at Honesdale, 6:45 p.m.; Feb. 11 vs. Abington Heights, 7 p.m.; Feb. 14 vs. Dallas, TBA; Feb. 21-22 District 2A at TBD; Feb. 28-29 Northeast Regionals at Williamsport; Mar. 5-7 PIAA Championships at Hershey.