Palmerton wrestling coach Dave Lavin likes to spend the holidays in Bethlehem. This year, however, instead of competing at Bethlehem Catholic's Christmas tournament, Palmerton chose to go down the road to Liberty's Memorial Gymnasium for the Bethlehem Holiday Classic.
Lavin did it for a reason because he knew this year's crop of wrestlers would be able to compete in the tougher tournament and the Blue Bombers did not disappoint.
With only six wrestlers competing at the event, Palmerton's Josh Evans and Zack Christman each reached the finals to represent two of the four Times News area medallists.
Evans and Christman settled for silver medals following losses in Sunday evening. Evans (138) dropped a 6-2 decision to Nazareth stalwart Chase Zemenak, while Christman (145) fell to another Blue Eagle, losing a 15-1 major decision to Sage Karam.
Despite the defeats, Lavin was pleased with how his team performed, despite having a small contingent at the tournament.
"Coming into the tournament we had some setbacks to only bring six guys, but having two guys in the finals was outstanding for us," said Lavin. "We knew this was a year we could compete in this tournament because of the type of guys we have. I think we'll have guys that can compete here again next year, so we want to be able to keep coming back here."
Evans fell behind early following a takedown against Zemenak, but Lavin felt he panicked following that score and wrestled into Zemenak's style. Christman struggled to get a foothold in his match against Karam, but Lavin knows his top two wrestlers can learn something from their finals losses.
"I thought both of our guys wrestled into their style," said Lavin in reference to their Nazareth counterparts. "Going forward when we get into the postseason, we need to be ready for that. We need to wrestle our way, even if that means you give up an early takedown or if you're behind in a match."
Pleasant Valley's Kenny Yanovich (120) and Lehighton's Connor Frey (182) were the other two locals to medal. Yanovich took fourth following a 3-1 defeat to Tri Valley's Caleb Bordner in the bronze medal match, while Frey won a 1-0 decision over Steven McNeal of Central Dauphin in his consolation bout.
Yanovich, who reached the semifinals but lost by a fall in 5:09 to Jimmy Overhiser of Wyoming Seminary, felt that defeat lingered for him into the wrestle backs.
"I think I wrestled a five out of 10 this weekend," Yanovich said. "I lost a match I was winning [against Overhiser] off a bad throw and if I would have won, I would be in the finals. I think that loss hindered me the rest of the day, but I wrestled some good competition and I'll get better from this."
Northern Lehigh and Northwestern also competed in the tournament, but failed to come home with any medals.