In last Saturday’s Wyoming Valley Conference wrestling tournament, Tunkhannock held the edge following the first day of competition at Lake-Lehman High School, but fell to second in the end.
“The kids gave a great effort,” said Tunkhannock head coach Gary Siegel. “We had 10 kids in the top six, and some of the boys who lost their matches, were winning. We were very close to being the first double-A team to win this tournament. I was, overall, very pleased.”
Tunkhannock matched Hazleton Area with 10 wrestlers earning top-six medals. The Cougars had more firepower in the finals, though, with seven finalists to the Tigers’ four, and five champions to their three.
Hazleton’s Bryce Molinaro (170) earned Outstanding Wrestler honors after successfully navigating a brutal bracket to repeat as champ.
Dante Matarella (220) added to Hazleton Area’s runner-up finishes. Though Matarella fell to Tunkhannock’s Nick Marabell, he kept that loss to a decision that could have gone the other way with his last-gasp shot in the final seconds.
“Nick is wrestling very good for us right now. He wrestled a tough competitor in our tournament last week, and learned some things. We are working on new things with him. It isn’t all about pins, we want to get Nick to the third period, he has a lot of great moves,” said Siegel.
Despite all that success, Tunkhannock still kept the team race interesting behind the second WVC titles for David Evans (132) and Gavin D’Amato (145), the first for Marabell and a silver earned by Ethan Munley (138).
Evans and D’Amato, according to Siegel, are “dominating” right now.
He said, “They are in the top 10 of the state, it is nice to see them do what they do. They are facing hard competition, seeing other top 10 quality guys, and they are ready.”
“Also, Owen Woods wrestled very well,” said Siegel. “Owen was the one seed by many, many points. (Jaden) Pepe is a freshman, and freshmen don’t have records to base seeding off of. Pepe is ranked first in the state by multiple publications in the sport, PA power wrestling is one of them, and he won our tournament last week.”
Siegel continued, “Owen had Pepe on the ropes, and wrestled extremely hard. I was very pleased with his performance. It was a good match mentally for Owen moving forward. He could face Pepe again on the 13th, and in duals. A win would have been nice, no doubt, but it was a close contest with good wrestling.”
Thanks to the Tigers’ strong effort, the top two teams eclipsed 200 points for the first time at this tournament since 2016 (when Tunkhannock scored a record 261.5, and Hazleton Area had 204.5). They also held Hazleton Area to the event’s slimmest margin of victory since 2015, when Coughlin topped Wyoming Area by 3.5 points.
Siegel was pleased by the full team effort given by all his Tigers, including the place winners, and praised the leadership of his senior captains.
“David, Gavin, and Ethan (Munley) are doing a great job showing the ropes, and acting like the leaders I
knew they would be,” Siegel said.
“It was tight. I don’t know if people would understand how back-and-forth that was through that whole finals (round), if you weren’t really following it,” Hazleton Area coach Keith Maurer said. “Which I’d be lying to you if I told you we weren’t keeping up to date with it on every match.”
Siegel added, “We need to beat people we aren’t expected to beat, and win the matches we are winning. That is how tournaments are won.”
In previous years, a finish like this would add plenty of hype to a dual meet clash between the Cougars and Tigers. Tunkhannock dropped down from the WVC’s Division 1 last season, though, leaving that matchup as a hypothetical.
“That would be neat,” Maurer said. “Sometimes your tournaments and your dual meets don’t correlate that well. A dual meet with Tunkhannock would be nice…two or three years, we were going back and forth. They’re a tough out, and they’ve got a nice team.”
The Tigers are on the mats again Wednesday at home against Hanover, with junior high kicking off the night at 6 p.m.
The Tigers will also introduce the youth wrestlers and recognize veterans in their Armed Forces Night on Wednesday as well.
Colleen McAleer also contributed to this story.
1. Hazleton Area (Haz), 213.5; 2. Tunkhannock (Tunk), 208.5; 3. Wilkes-Barre Area (WB), 161; 4. Valley West (VW), 134.5; 5. Pittston Area (PA), 124; 6. Dallas (D), 108.5; 7. Crestwood (C), 104.5; 8. Lake-Lehman (L-L), 93; 9. Nanticoke Area (N), 89; 10. Hanover Area (Han), 82.5; 11. Wyoming Area (WA), 81; 12. Berwick (B), 52.5.
106: Jaden Pepe (WA) pinned Josh Warman (WB), 3:10. 113: Johnny Corra (Haz) dec. Ian Ratchford (VW), 15-12. 120: Cadden Kucek (VW) dec. Joe Rowley (Han), 6-2. 126: J.J. White (VW) tech fall Jorven Rodriguez (Haz), 18-2 (5:28). 132: David Evans (Tunk) pinned Nino Cinti (WB), 3:44. 138: Matthew Chase (WB) major dec. Ethan Munley (Tunk), 14-4. 145: Gavin D’Amato (Tunk) win by inj. default Garrett Swank (C). 152: Josh Bonomo (L-L) major dec. Thad Mead (D), 15-6. 160: Charles Everdale (Haz) pinned A.J. Gorto (P), 1:31. 170: Bryce Molinaro (Haz) major dec. Lenny Kelley (D), 14-2. 182: Jake Marnell (Haz) major dec. Adam Eckhart (N), 9-1. 195: Seth Hunsinger (Haz) dec. Isaiah Johnson (NA), 8-4. 220: Nick Marabell (T) dec. Dante Matarella (Haz), 6-3. 285: Taylor Bolesta (Dal) pinned Seth Pelton (N), 1:22.
106: Owen Woods pinned Keegan Bucci (Pittston Area), 0:46. 126: Justin Sterling (Crestwood) dec. Matt Rosentel, 4-0. 160: Michael Gavin (Crestwood) dec. Luke Carpenter, 4-2. 195: Nick Heimbach (Berwick) major dec. Frankie Scranta, 9-0. 285: Brett Sickler dec. Noah Taylor (Wilkes-Barre Area), 9-4.
182: Jeff Meader pinned Jaden Swainbank (Valley West), 2:22.
106: Jaden Pepe (Wyoming Area) dec. Owen Woods, 8-6. 126: Jorven Rodriguez (Hazleton) pinned Matt Rosentel, 4:31. 132: David Evans pinned Trey Zabroski (Crestwood), 3:00. 138: Ethan Munley major dec. Ben Yanchick (Dallas), 9-1. 145: Gavin D’Amato tech fall Jimmy Spindler (Pittston Area), 19-4 (5:56). 160: A.J. Gorto (Pittston Area) pinned Luke Carpenter, 2:49. 220: Nick Marabell pinned Jeremy Buzak (Crestwood), 3:13. 285: Seth Pelton (Nanticoke) pinned Brett Sickler, 3:26.
106: Owen Woods pinned Zach Capie (Nanticoke), 0:53. 126: Matt Rosentel pinned Sawyer Christman (Dallas), 4:05. 160: Luke Carpenter pinned Rafael Olmedo (Wilkes-Barre Area), 2:26. 182: Hunter Karpovich (Hanover) pinned Jeff Meader, 2:49. 195: Frankie Scranta pinned Vinny Bowers (Wyoming Area), 2:07. 285: Brett Sickler pinned Ethan Speece (Wyoming Area), 3:25.
(Berwick) dec. Alex Pierce, 5-1. 170: Collin Kudrako-Kashatus (Nanticoke) pinned Sean Meder, 1:24. 182: Jeff Meader dec. Carl Johnson (Wilkes-Barre Area), 11-5.195:
Frankie Scrata pinned Stephen Youkoski (Wilkes-Barre