You can’t blame Delaware Valley wrestlers as they watched Wyoming Valley West and Pittston Area battle for the District 2 Class 3A Duals championship.
While the Warriors were focused on their third-place match against Lackawanna League foe West Scranton, there was still some shock buzzing around the Kingston Armory.
Just 30 minutes prior, Delaware Valley – tabbed by most as the favorite to represent District 2 in Hershey – was stunned by the Patriots.
The chance of a four-peat was quickly halted.
“It was gut-wrenching,” DelVal head coach Lou DeLauro said. “Our goal was to win the district dual championship and advance to that next level of competition. But it just wasn’t meant to be. We didn’t get those bonus points. It’s a good learning experience for some of our younger kids. They now understand that the second, third and fourth matches are just as important as the final ones.”
As the Warriors return to the armory for the two-day District 2 individual tournaments, expect the Lackawanna League champ to be pre-tourney favorite.
It should come as no surprise.
The bulls-eye, as it has been for the past four years, is on the Warriors.
And DeLauro is fine with that.
“Everyone said that this was a rebuilding year for us, but we never look at it like that,” the head coach said. “Every year, we set the goals high. This year was no different. We want to be that team that everyone is gunning for.”
Ask DeLauro how long it takes to build a program. He won’t skip a beat. He won’t take much time to ponder the question.
“It takes 10 years,” he said. “Ten years of hard work and dedication. It takes everyone. The coaches and the wrestlers. The parents. It’s every day. You don’t start on the first day of practice. You work every day. You train every day. You have to put in the time and effort to build that consistency in the program.”
Every district has the team. The one everyone is gunning for.
Down south, it’s Central Dauphin and Cumberland Valley.
In Pittsburgh, it’s Franklin Regional and Latrobe.
You have your normal powers like Parkland, Easton, Northampton, Nazareth, Boyertown and Central Mountain.
In District 2, the team is Delaware Valley.
The Warriors had claimed three straight team dual titles dating back to 2011, and held their own when on the mats inside the Giant Center.
DeLauro’s boys are just as dominating in the individual tournament – claiming championships in the last two seasons.
Just look at the 2013 bracket.
Delaware Valley won the team trophy by 80 points, crowning six champs and placing nine of 14 grapplers in the top 3. At the PIAA Class 3A Northeast Regional the following week, the Warriors were fourth and sent four to Hershey.
Considering the quality of competition there, it’s a good showing for any squad.
“We did lose a lot of quality wrestlers from that team, so that’s why I think a lot of people thought this was going to be a rebuilding year for us,” DeLauro said. “And we are still young. I think these kids are going to keep improving, and I think we have a bright future. I just feel bad for our seniors because we really wanted to win that district dual title for them.”
For those who thought there might be a letdown following the upset loss to Pittston Area in the semifinals, think again.
The Warriors bounced back to claim the Lackawanna League championship last weekend, outdistancing West Scranton by 6.5 points. DelVal crowned three champs – Frankie Carrozza (138), Colin Irwin (170) and Matt Wagner (195) – while Dom Divirgilio (113), Kyle Stoll (126) and Jalen Palmer (132) were all runners-up in their respective weights.
As for a return back to Luzerne County, expect a new fire to be lit under their singlets.
“I hope it fires them up,” he said, “and I think that it will. It’s a chance to accomplish one of our goals. We wanted to finish strong in our league, and then, see how many kids that we can send to Hershey. I think they will be ready.”