The Bethlehem Holiday Wrestling Classic is usually a gauge for AA schools when they get thrown into the mix of one of the nation's top holiday tournaments. For Northwestern, Northern Lehigh and Lehighton, the gauge was met after the first day of competition at Liberty's Memorial Gymnasium.
Twelve Times News area wrestlers are still alive heading into today's semifinals and consolation rounds with the Bulldogs leading the way with three wrestlers (Lucas Dise, 119; Zane Heller, 125 and Colin Hedash, 171) in the semifinals. Northwestern features the senior tandem of Bobby Clymer (152) and Kyle Sorensen (160) who advanced into the semis, while Lehighton's lone wrestler alive in the tournament, Anthony Farole (145), also reached this morning's 10:30 a.m. semifinal session.
For Northwestern head coach Jim Moll, getting the experience back at Liberty is what he wanted for his team.
"We had pretty high expectations coming in and I think we've wrestled well against the tougher teams," he said. "We only lost two seniors from last year and I think we're a better prepared team because of the experience we return, but some of our guys are right on the cusp of breaking through and hopefully we can use this tournament as that platform."
Clymer and Sorensen are two of Moll's aces and he hopes they can give the program something to build on by reaching tonight's finals.
Clymer will meet Hazleton's Tim Samec, while Sorensen gets Erie McDowell's Mike Vollant, who pinned both of his opponents on day one.
"They're both doing a good job so far and we have high expectations for them," said Moll in reference to Clymer and Sorensen. "We knew they could make it to the semifinals, but we'll see what happens now."
Northern Lehigh's trio of semifinalists starts with Dise, who will take on Liberty's Grimaldi Gonzalez. Heller, who sneaked out two one-point decisions, gets Delaware Valley's CJ Palmer, while Hedash meets Pen Argyl's Tyler Horn.
Farole takes on Bound Brook's Merrick Ash to round out the semifinal contingent.
Other wrestlers still alive are: Michael Ortiz (Northwestern, 130); Dustin Bandesso (Northwestern, 135); Nikko Stevens (Northern Lehigh, 140); Ty Herzog (Northern Lehigh, 145); Levi Veppert (Northwestern, 171) and Brandon Loch (Northern Lehigh, HWT).