If there’s one thing everyone learned from the Wyoming Valley Conference Wrestling Tournament, it’s that on any given day, the best wrestlers can be beaten.
That’s because six top seeds fell in the finals, two other No. 1 seeds had to pull out wins in sudden victory and one other lost in the semifinals.
Every top seed was on upset alert, including Lake-Lehman’s Austin Harry, who many believe is the best all-around wrestler in the WVC.
“This tournament I always feel like I have a monkey on my back,” said Harry, who is now a two-time runner-up and a two-time champ. “I just always stay focused, stay calm.”
Another top seed was GAR’s Zac Faust, who was also No. 1 last season but lost in the finals. This time around, he finally cemented himself as the best 220-pounder in the conference by knocking off defending champion Jake Vaxmonsky from Pittston Area in overtime. It wasn’t easy for the junior Faust, who just completed one of his many goals this season.
“There’s always nerves but I always avoid them because if you have nerves, usually they get to your head and I don’t like that,” said Faust, who was also a finalist as a freshman. “It’s a nice title, but no matter what, you have to go out there and wrestle. My goal is to get to states and get on the podium this year.”
As for the other five No. 1 seeds who won, well, they were dominant. Harry won via major decision, Wyoming Valley West’s Travis Roper (132) and Cody Cordes (160) each picked up pins, as did Dallas’ Ryan Monk at 285, while Crestwood 195-pounder Ty Robinson won with a tech fall.
THE BIGGER THEY ARE…
Dating back more than a decade, District 2 has always seemed to have one of the best heavyweights in the entire state.
That trend appears to be continuing this season with Dallas’ Ryan Monk, who manhandled his opponents over the weekend en route to his first WVC gold medal. The junior, who was blocked by Coughlin’s Brad Emerick last year in many tournaments, pinned all four of his competitors, including three in the first period. The only time he was challenged came against Saul Wilkens from GAR in the semis when the Grenadier pushed Monk into the third period.
“First is something that I’ve never really had,” said Monk, who also grabbed a gold at the Conestoga Valley Tournament earlier this season. “It’s like a monkey off the back kind of thing.”
District 2 has dressed at least one state medalist all but one year since 2002, beginning with Lake-Lehman’s Matt Carey (sixth) and Valley West’s Drew Feldman (sixth). Coughlin’s Ryan Kittrick (2003, fifth), Meyers’ Damien Carbone (2004, sixth), Wyoming Valley West’s Trevin Cowman (2005 fifth, 2006 first) and Tyler Cowman (2009 fourth), Abington Heights’ Evan Craig (2007 eighth, 2008 second, 2009 first, 2010 first), Emerick (2012 fifth, 2013 fourth) round out the medalists from the district at 275 or 285 in the last 12 years.
The only year the district did not leave with a state medal was 2011 and that year, Abington Heights’ Morgan Craig finished just shy going 1-2.
And those stats are fine with Monk.
“District 2 has always had pretty good heavyweights for the most part,” Monk said.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
There’s a box at Wyoming Valley West that consists of old singlets — from as far back as the 1970s — that the wrestlers like to pick through. Over the weekend, many of the Spartans did so and it brought them luck as they crowned five champions.
But one of the champions, Nathan Cheek didn’t want to mess with what was working.
“I stuck with this one because I went down to (a tournament) last week and won with it so I decided to wear it again and see what happens,” he said.
The superstition worked as Cheek won the gold medal.
MAKING THE MOST
Valley West’s James Donovan has finally cracked the starting lineup after a few seasons being behind some very good wrestlers on the Spartans’ roster.
He certainly proved he’s worthy of a spot in the lineup by claiming the WVC gold at 152 beating the No. 1 seed from Berwick, Zach Kyttle in the final after entering as the No. 6 seed.
“He knows he can do it and he believes it,” Cheek said about his teammate. “He went out there and kicked some butt. It’s great for him.”
It’s been a long time since Crestwood won a Wyoming Valley Conference dual meet — nearly two years to be exact since the Comets defeated Berwick on Jan. 25, 2012. But come tournament time, they always have wrestlers in contention.
That continued over the weekend as they had five medalists, including a champion in Ty Robinson at 195, and two third-place medalists in Dylan Miale (113) and Dan Ritz (138). Seth Korch, who started the event with just one win at 120 pounds, tripled his win total and placed fourth.
Even though the dual wins haven’t been there, Crestwood finished ninth in the team standings, and with just two more points it would have been seventh.