LEHMAN TWP. — New possible standouts always seem to pop up at big tournaments.
The Wyoming Valley Conference Tournament is no different.
That was the case for Pittston Area's Jake Vaxmonsky.
The sophomore had one of the best tournaments of any wrestler in the event after entering as the No. 6 seed in the 220-pound bracket. After taking out the No. 3 seed during the first day of the event on Friday, Vaxmonsky took care of second-seeded Taylor Schermerhorn from Hazleton Area in Saturday morning's semifinals.
He then capped his brilliant performance knocking off top-seeded Zac Faust from GAR, winning 9-8 in the finals in one of the most exciting matches of the night.
Vaxmonsky held a lead of 4-2 after the second period, but the lead vanished as a flurry of action occurred in the last minute. The Patriot was up 8-4 with about a minute left before Faust netted a takedown and two back points to even the score. Faust tried to hold on to not allow his opponent to work an escape, but Vaxmonsky had other ideas and managed the point with about 12 seconds left.
Faust nearly got a takedown at the buzzer, but he ran out of time.
It was an exhilarating experience. Coming into the tournament as an underdog I didn't know what would happen, Vaxmonsky said. The last match I would've been happy either way whether I won first or second, but I came out on top.
Vaxmonsky's wins were also big in the team race as the Patriots claimed their second title in three years grabbing 178.50 points to overcome Wyoming Valley West, which finished in second with 170.50. The defending champion Spartans were hurt by a wrestler losing all of cumulative points for being disqualified due to a flagrant misconduct. Both teams crowned three champs.
Dallas also had three gold medalists and finished fourth in points with 150.50. Coughlin was third with 155 points.
This is a huge accomplishment. This is one of the main things we wanted to do this year is win the conference again this year, said Pittston Area coach James Woodall, whose team faces Coughlin on Wednesday and the Spartans on Saturday afternoon in dual action.
The Patriots, who trailed heading into the third round of consolations, also had gold medalists in Tyler Lutecki (120) and Angelo Lussi (160). That duo helped the team by earning bonus points with their victories as Lutecki pinned Valley West's Jon Lagoski in 3:26. Lussi won with a major decision for his 12-1 victory. The pair combined for six pins in the two-day event.
I tried getting a pin in the finals too to help the team, said Lussi, who won his second title in three years after being runner-up last year. I think (second place in 2012) is why I got those three pins. I was so motivated to come out here and get my second win.
The Spartans meanwhile had a trio of champions in James Wright (106), Kyle Krasavage (126) and Derrick Simms (152).
Krasavage's bout was perhaps the most anticipated by the capacity crowd at Lake-Lehman as he battled fellow state qualifier in Wyoming Area's Andy Schutz for the first time in their superb careers.
Krasavage, who remained unbeaten this season moving his record to 20-0, won his unprecedented third WVC title with a 7-4 victory.
I picked it up and put it to him, but he's a good wrestler. You can't take it away from him, said Krasavage, who was coming off Outstanding Wrestler Award at last week's Hurricane Classic. I wanted to be the first four-timer, but (former Meyers standout Vito Pasone) got me for the one. But I'll take three, that's alright.
If the 126-pound weight class with two state qualifiers was the hardest to get through, the 145-pound bracket wasn't much easier.
But Berwick's Kevin Laubach not only conquered the weight defeating Crestwood's Matt Hammerstone, 6-4 in the finals, he remained undefeated running his unblemished mark to 21-0 this season and claimed the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler Award.
Laubach, a three-sport standout at Berwick also running cross country and playing baseball, finally got past Hammerstone after not winning previously. The Berwick senior also claimed his first WVC title after finishing as runner-up last year while also entering with an unbeaten mark.
It was pretty intense. We're both good our feet. I was taking shots. He was taking shots, a lot of scrambles on the end of the mat, Laubach said. It was a real big win and a big accomplishment for me.
Just like the 220-pound final, another barn-burning match in the finals came at 195 when Tunkhannock's Andrew Muckin came from behind to defeat top-seeded John Minich from Pittston Area, 9-8 for the title.
Muckin held a 7-3 lead midway through the third period before Minich got a takedown and three points for a near fall to take an 8-7 lead. As time expired, the Tunkhannock senior got two points for a reversal for the victory.
I had to fight off my back quite a while and was happy to get out of that, Muckin said about nearly getting pinned then coming back. Right at the end I felt him let up so I pretty much just tackled him. When I heard the buzzer I thought it was over and I lost. But I'm just glad I won.
Dallas' three champs came from returning state qualifier Dominic DeGraba at 113, Kris Roccograndi at 170 and Connor Martinez at 182. The trio all won their first WVC championship. The Mountaineers also had finalists in Logan Brace (160) and Ryan Monk (285).
We had a good tournament, Dallas coach Mike Richards said. I thought we could get two or three definitely. But to get three (winners) was nice. I figured we could get four in the finals and getting Brace in was nice too.
Austin Harry, a junior from Dallas' Back Mountain rival Lake-Lehman, won his first WVC title after two runner-up finishes. Wyoming Area's Nick Heck took care of Wyoming Valley West's Nathan Cheek, 6-2 in the 138-pound title bout for his first championship as well.
Coughlin's Brad Emerick ran his unbeaten record to 12-0 this season with a pin in 1:35 in the 285-pound final to claim his second WVC title.