Fugazzotto wins D-11 gold
Luke Fugazzotto couldn’t control the circumstances.
But the Northwestern freshman certainly dictated his own destiny at the District 11 class 2A wrestling tournament.
The top seed entering the tournament, Fugazzotto did nothing to dispel the notion that he was the best wrestler in the 160-pound bracket.
Fugazzotto had three pins – including two in the first period – to reach the finals. He won the title via forfeit when Saucon Valley’s Jared Rohn was unable to compete due to an injury suffered in the semifinals.
Though it wasn’t how he envisioned the moment, Fugazzotto certainly earned his moment in the spotlight.
“The season has gone pretty much the way I would have liked it to. My goal was to make it to the finals of districts, and here I am,” said Fugazzotto. “Hopefully at regionals I’ll be able to get a match with Rohn (who injured his lip and required a number of stitches). I’m looking forward to that.
“But I had a good win against (Joseph) Lapenna (of Notre Dame Green Pond in the semifinals). So I feel like I had a decent run here.”
Fugazzotto showed his mettle in the semifinals.
Trailing 4-2 in the third period, he rallied to pin Lapenna – the No. 4 seed – in 5:21 to punch his ticket to the finals.
“I did something where I came out and I just caught him on his back,” said Fugazzotto. “And then I got him stuck. I was excited.”
Fugazzotto knows the road will only get tougher as he gets deeper into the postseason, and that he will have to find ways to come through in close matches.
“It feels good. I wasn’t getting to a lot of my shots. I’m not too proud of that,” said Fugazzotto. “But I knew if I was going to take a shot, he might defend it, and I might get stuck under and he was going to get a takedown. So in a way, I feel like my strategy was kind of smart, and I got a chance, and then I took it.”
And while he’s enjoyed plenty of success throughout this season, Fugazzotto has learned from his setbacks, like back to back losses that ended his Coal Cracker Tournament in January.
“I didn’t really wrestle as good as I wanted to,” Fugazzotto said of the Coal Cracker. “I didn’t place, and that kind of put me out of my mental game. But I worked hard in the room, and won leagues, and that was kind of a confidence booster. I’m feeling good now.”
Fugazzotto has not lost since the Coal Cracker, winning the 160-pound title at the Colonial League Tournament and posting six of his eight total victories during that stretch by way of pinfall.
In addition to Fugazzotto, Dalton Clymer also advanced to the finals at 172 pounds for the Tigers, falling to Notre Dame Green Pond’s Holden Garcia, who won his fourth district title.
Clymer, who was seeded third, posted a 6-2 decision over Daniel Haubert of Palisades – the No. 2 seed – in the semifinals. Clymer and Haubert had split two meetings last month, with Clymer earning a 3-2 decision at the Coal Cracker before Haubert posted a 5-2 decision in the finals at the Colonial League Tournament a week later.
“It was a great tournament,” said Clymer. “Coming from a couple of weeks ago at the Colonial League Tournament, I said I was going to learn from that loss to Danny (Haubert) and hopefully not let it happen again, and I didn’t, which is awesome. Danny is a great wrestler. It was a great match.
“To make it to the finals is huge. I wanted to wrestle him (Garcia) as tough as I could. I had all the confidence. I really didn’t have nerves for whatever reason. I was excited to wrestle him, and I didn’t think I wrestled a bad match, just got caught in a couple of unlucky situations. I’m excited to move on to next week, and it would be nice to see him again.”
Against Haubert, Clymer scored the first takedown with 0:34 left in the first period. After Haubert got his second escape of the match to tie it at 2-2 in the third period, Clymer got a takedown with 0:16 remaining before adding two back points to seal the win.
Garcia built a 4-1 lead in the first period against Clymer with two takedowns. He led 11-3 before finishing the match with the fall in the second period.
A district champion as a freshman and first time state qualifier last year, Clymer has thrived once again this season, showcasing continued growth that has him on and off the mat.
“Especially from last year, the confidence I have in my strength and abilities is a lot higher,” said Clymer. “Even in the past month, coming out of the Colonial League tournament, I still felt a little timid when I was wrestling. I still felt a little off. Coming in today, I felt like I wrestled really well. I came in with a lot more confidence and wrestled well.”
Northwestern’s Buck Miller, who was fourth at 189 pounds, will also advance to this weekend’s PIAA Southeast Regional Tournament at Freedom High School.
“I thought Luke wrestled well,” said Northwestern head coach Joe Killar. “I thought Dalton has wrestled well. He had a tough guy in the finals. Buck (Miller), we need to get him moving a little more. But he wrestled OK.
“We have three guys moving on, hopefully all three can move on to states. We just have to get ready for next weekend.”
The top six Class 2A wrestlers at regionals will advance to the state championships March 9-11 in Hershey.
District 11 Class 2A
160 - Luke Fugazzotto
Fugazzotto pinned Raphael Dinarte (Jim Thorpe) in :56
Fugazzotto pinned Skylor Green (Williams Valley) in 1:57
Fugazzotto pinned Joseph Lapenna (Notre Dame GP) in 5:21
Championship match: Fugazzotto won by injury fft. over Jared Rohn (Saucon Valley
172 - Dalton Clymer
Clymer pinned Mergim Bushati (Panther Valley) in 1:02
Clymer pinned Kristopher Kessler (Pen Argyl) in 1:18
Clymer dec. Daniel Haubert (Palisades), 6-2
Championship match: Holden Garcia (Notre Dame GP) pinned Clymer in 3:34
189 - Buck Miller
Miller dec. Connor Smalley (Notre Dame GP), 9-8
Jacob Sheib (Tri Valley) pinned Miller in 3:18
Miller dec. Aidan Myers (Schuylkill Haven), 4-1
Third-place match: Jakub Gloc (Salisbury) pinned Miller in 3:20
215 - Noah Schlofer
Schlofer pinned Blake Carroll (Jim Thorpe) in 1:30
Niko Carestia (Schuylkill Haven) pinned Schlofer in 1:13
Schlofer pinned Viernon Kleckner (Blue Mountain) in 3:16
Wyatt Shere (Lehighton) pinned Schlofer in 3:41
285 - Datanyon DeLillo
DeLillo dec. Jeremius Molina (Mahanoy Area), 10-3
Aiden Compton pinned DeLillo in :55
DeLillo dec. Nathan Pizarro (Executive Education Academy), 2-1
DeLillo dec. Evan Leibert (Saucon Valley), 8-6
Justin Troutman (Tri Valley) pinned DeLillo in 2:36
(top 10 plus other locals)
1. Notre Dame Green Pond 324, 2. Saucon Valley 212.5, 3. North Schuylkill 111, 4. Tri Valley 107.5, 5. Lehighton 101.5, 6. Blue Mountain 89, 7. Northwestern 84, 8. Palisades 79.5, 9. Salisbury 78.5, 10. Catasauqua 74, 13. Palmerton 58, 16 (tie). Jim Thorpe and Tamaqua 44.5, 20. Northern Lehigh 21, 21. Panther Valley 5.