Two Pates win Holiday Classic wrestling crowns
It was Bethlehem Holiday Wrestling Classic that Freedom won’t forget any time soon.
The Patriots came away with two champions from the area’s top holiday tournament and a top 10 team finish to give them a boost of confidence heading into 2020.
Freshman CJ Horvath (106) and senior Luis Vargas (120) became the first Patriot wrestlers to take home gold medals since Rodney Sigley won the tournament in 2004.
Head coach Dante Terenzio knew it was a long time since the last time the program had crowned champions, making the championship afternoon a milestone day for the program.
“The fact that we had two at the top of the podium is a big deal,” said Terenzio. “Both guys are unbeaten and are wrestling with a ton of confidence. Winning the tournament will only reinforce their confidence going forward.”
Horvath knocked off Delaware Valley’s Zach Jacaruso 5-3 in the championship round, while Vargas earned a 4-1 decision over Shenendehowa’s Joey Scheeren.
Both wrestlers seem prime for a run to Hershey this season, as they surged Freedom to a ninth place finish in the tournament with 123 points.
The Pates had six wrestlers in total place at the event, as Shane Storm (145, fourth); Max Marrero (195, fourth); Connor Bevan (113, sixth) and Ansar Niazi (120, seventh) all medaled.
With a home dual meet against Bethlehem Catholic Wednesday, followed by road tilts at Easton Thursday and Parkland Saturday, this week will be an important gauge for the undefeated Pates (14-0).
“We will look to continue to prove ourselves when we hit Beca, Easton and Parkland this week,” said Terenzio. “A lot of our guys are wrestling tough right now, even in loss. The goal is to continue to show consistency up and down the lineup.”
Liberty finished 12th at its home event with 110.5 points and placed three wrestlers, as Javien DeLeon (113, third); Jason Rezac (145, third); Kevin Hennessy (170, fourth) and Connor Werner (106, fifth) all came away with medals.
Head coach Brandon Hall knows there is work to be done with the team moving forward.
“It’s clear that we need to put more individual focus on some of the new guys in our starting lineup,” said Hall. “Overall the coaching staff was pleased with some of the progress we see. Ansar, Javien and Jason all wrestled really. Kevin did too, but I know he isn’t pleased with his fourth place finish.
“It was certainly disappointing to not have Liberty represented in the finals especially after having four in the semis. We knew they were tough draws but that’s what the semifinals of the Bethlehem Holiday Wrestling Classic should be. We definitely were not the favorites in three of those. Rezac and Hennessy were very familiar with their opponents compared to DeLeon and Werner.
“You always want to look at how kids respond after tough semi final losses. I think our wrestlers did a good job responding and bouncing back to wrestle for that third place spot.”
The Hurricanes (6-3) square off against East Stroudsburg North on Wednesday before heading to the Quakertown Duals this weekend.
Bethlehem Catholic (4-0) got its biggest win of the season last Friday night when they took down Notre Dame-GP 34-27.
It was a battle between two of the top teams in Pennsylvania and the Hawks made sure that the upstart Notre Dame (3-1) program wasn’t about to take over Becahi’s seat as the top team in the area.
With the match starting at 138, the Hawks won the toss and got a 16-0 tech fall win by Kenny Herrmann over Josh Bauman to rattle off four straight wins to open the match and build a 20-0 lead, as Matt Lackman (145) earned a decision, followed by consecutive falls by Cole Handlovic (160) and Jamir Jimenez (170).
Things got interesting when Notre Dame heavyweight Eshan Swartz pinned Mike Maldonado in the rideout session to make it 27-15, but the Hawks were able to hold off the Crusaders thanks to a decision by Cael McIntyre at 106 and a major decision by Matt Mayer at 126.
The Hawks knocked off East Stroudsburg South 50-28 on Saturday and had little trouble handling Central Catholic in a victory on Monday.
Next up for the Hawks is Wednesday’s showdown at Freedom.