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Last updated: February 20. 2013 1:17AM - 327 Views

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A week ago, the Wyoming Valley Conference Division I title and the right to be the WVC's top 3A team went through Wyoming Valley West, with Coughlin being a close second.


That was for good reason. The teams tied for the division title last season and key components from both squads returned.


Pittston Area was on the map but wasn't thought of as a challenger by many outside of the Patriots' wrestling room.


Well, the Patriots (2-0 Division I) are no longer flying under the radar after they claimed the team championship of the WVC tournament last weekend. The next few days will show whether or not the team is a contender or pretender as it has two huge duals in the next four days.


Tonight, the team travels to Coughlin (0-1 D-I) for the rivalry showdown. After that, the Patriots travel to Plymouth Saturday afternoon at 1 to face the all-of-a-sudden not so invincible Spartans (1-0 D-I). This week will also be a good evaluator of which team comes away as the division's best three weeks from now heading into the District Duals Tournament.


We don't have much time to celebrate yet, Patriots coach James Woodall said after last weekend's team victory. It's going to be tough matches. Both those teams are very close.


ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN

Over the last few years, the Coughlin-Pittston Area rivalry has been the meet where if anything can happen it will and has been full of surprises.


Take last year for example when Coughlin coach Steve Stahl pulled Joey Parsnik out of a hiatus for a one-match appearance. He went out earned a pin and helped the Crusaders claim a share of the division title for the first time in eight years and the first victory over the Patriots in more than a decade.


In 2011, the Patriots led by one point entering the last bout of the night. That's when the Patriots' Justin Wilk picked up a fall to secure the victory and help his team clinch its second division championship in three years.


A NEW START

All but two Wyoming Valley Conference teams have seen at least one conference foe in a dual to this point in the season. The two who haven't are Division II Nanticoke and Division I Dallas.


The Mountaineers, who have participated in 10 duals already this season, are starting fresh this being their first year in the upper division. They start their divisional slate tonight and six of their next seven duals are against D-I teams. Tonight, they travel to Berwick and will host Crestwood Saturday night.


Dallas may be a team overlooked by some because of the season being the team's first in the upper division and in Class 3A. But the Mountaineers tied for the most finalists with Wyoming Valley West during last weekend's conference tournament and tied Pittston Area for the most champions with three.


Nanticoke's divisional schedule opens tonight at home against GAR.


NATION'S BEST COMPETE

If you're looking for some good wrestling this weekend – besides the big Pittston Area at Wyoming Valley West dual Saturday afternoon – you might want to take a day trip south to the York Expo Center for the 12th annual NHSCA Final Four Festival.


Sixteen of the top high school teams in the nation will be on hand competing in a dual tournament highlighted by the top two ranked teams according to the Amateur Wrestling News in Blair Academy (first) and Wyoming Seminary (second). Those two are on opposite sides and could square off in the finals barring an upset.


Benton, which many local in the area are familiar with because of practice sessions or workouts, is also ranked in the publication's top 40 and will be heading to the event.


The three teams account for three top-ranked wrestlers in the nation as well with Benton's Zain Retherford (138 pounds), Wyoming Seminary's Eric Morris (182) and Blair's Brooks Black.


Other teams rounding out the field from Pennsylvania are Central Bucks West, East Stroudsburg South, Emmaus, Montgomery, Neshaminy, Pennsbury and Souderton.


DePaul Catholic, Don Bosco Prep and St. Benedict's Prep represent New Jersey with Virginia's J.W. Robinson, Massachusetts' Springfield Central and New Hampshire's Timberlane rounding out the field.


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