All but two of the slots for Saturday’s District 2 Duals were set on Wednesday morning.
It just so happens that the two needing to be decided were squaring off Wednesday night, as Pittston Area and Hazleton Area battled for the Wyoming Valley Conference’s No. 2 and No. 3 seeds for the Class 3A portion of the event.
In the longest dual of the season so far for either team — it lasted just about two hours — the Patriots came out victorious, 43-25 to claim the No. 2 spot. It was important for the tournament because it means Pittston Area faces Wallenpaupack in the first round, while the Cougars take on red-hot West Scranton, which has won 16 in a row, including a convincing win over Wallenpaupack.
That’s a good stat for the Patriots (5-1 Division I), who lost their first divisional dual of the season back in December to Wyoming Valley West, but haven’t lost since.
“I think in a lot of ways we’re doing better. Some of the guys are really coming on now,” Pittston Area coach James Woodall said. “We usually do look to peak at the end of the year. Districts, regionals, that’s the idea. That’s what matters.”
The Cougars (4-2 Division I) may have settled for the No. 3 seed from the conference, but they are in the duals tournament for the first time since capping off four straight duals titles in 2010. They also have a solid, young nucleus and won four in a row prior to Wednesday.
Hazleton Area got off to a good start on Wednesday winning three of the first four bouts to open a 15-6 lead. During the run, the Cougars got pins from, Jacob Maurer at 120 and Jimmy Hoffman at 126.
The Patriots got rolling at 132 when reigning district champion Tyler Lutecki picked up a major decision. Dave DeLeo followed with a fall at 138 before a huge overtime pin from Dan Gambini at 145.
His opponent Keith Lowery held a 2-1 lead in the third period before Gambini took a 3-2 advantage with a takedown and Lowery tied the match with a late escape. The Pittston Area junior worked a takedown in overtime and could have been content just getting the win there, but he stayed with the move to notch the fall turning a possible three team points for Hazleton Area into six for his team and putting the Patriots ahead 22-15.
“That was right at a turning point of the match,” Woodall said. “Gambini’s been doing good all year coming through with wins. It’s not the first time he’s won in overtime like that. He’s looking tough this year.”
After Gambini’s win, the Cougars couldn’t get much closer than 22-19 after Derek Spachman won via major decision at 152. They were hurt by giving up a forfeit at 160, but also got decisions from Steve Longazel at 182 and Justice Agramonte at 195 to pull within 32-25.
Any chance Hazleton Area had of winning was gone when Pittston Area’s Jake Vaxmonsky picked up a tech fall at 220 to put the score out of reach. The Patriots’ Jon Armitage closed out the meet with a pin at 285.
Wyoming Area 30
Charlie Johnson won by fall in the 126 bout, but the Warriors came up short against visiting Whitehall.
Kendrick Dyer (132) and Zach Briggs (152) earned wins by fall in the effort for Wyoming Area.
Wyoming Area 21
Wyoming Area earned wins from Charles Johnson (126) and Jude Polit-Moran (195) in a loss to Tunkhannock Monday.
Matthew Dimick and Zach O’Brien were awarded forfeits in the losing effort.
The Tigers secured a three-way tie of the WVC Division II championship with Meyers and Lake-Lehman with the victory.