Panther Valley got a taste of hosting its own Duals wrestling tournament last year, and the Panthers may have just started something.
Panther Valley High School will be hosting the Second Annual Anthracite Duals this Saturday, and the 10-team tourney should provide good competition for the grapplers in the field.
"Last year we had it scheduled in January, and it snowed, so we rescheduled it for February, on Valentine's Day," said Panther Valley Coach Tim Robb. "We lost a couple of teams because of that, but we also picked up some others."
This year's second edition features primarily District 11 teams, with two exceptions: North Star, a Class AA power from District 5, and Fleetwood from District 3.
The field is divided into two five-team pools. Three TIMES NEWS area teams, Lehighton, Palmerton and the host Panthers, are in Pool A with Schuylkill League teams Pottsville and Tri-Valley.
Pool B includes North Star, Fleetwood, Williams Valley of the Schuylkill League, as well as two Lehigh Valley stalwarts in Saucon Valley of the Colonial League and Pius X of Roseto.
"I think we have a good mix," stated Robb. "We normally had Lehighton and Tri-Valley on our schedule, and we wanted to keep them, so this gives us the chance to do that."
If there were any league opponents in the same pool, an attempt was made to separate them if possible, since the schools would already be meeting during league competition. This was something that happened to the Panthers this year, as they ran into both Jim Thorpe and North Schuylkill, two teams they had already scheduled, in a Duals tourney.
Wrestling is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. on four mats, with the remaining matches scheduled at 90 minute intervals, although if the matches in a pool are completed, the next round could begin early. The crossover matches are tentativeky scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
Trophies will be presented to the top three teams.
Here is the schedule:
Round 1 - Panther Valley vs. Palmerton; Pottsville vs. Lehighton; Pius X vs. Saucon Valley; Fleetwood vs. Williams Valley.
Round 2 - Panther Valley vs. Tri-Valley; Palmerton vs. Pottsville; Pius X vs. North Star; Saucon Valley vs. Fleetwood.
Round 3 - Panther Valley vs. Lehighton; Palmerton vs. Tri-Valley; Pius X vs. Williams Valley; Saucon Valley vs. North Star.
Round 4 - Panther Valley vs. Pottsville; Lehighton vs. Tri-Valley; Pius X vs. Fleetwood; Williams Valley vs. North Star
Round 5 - Palmerton vs. Lehighton; Pottsville vs. Tri-Valley; Saucon Valley vs. Williams Valley; Fleetwood vs. North Star.
Round 6 - First, Second, Third and Fourth Place matches with Pool A vs. Pool B. Panther Valley will wrestle a Pool B opponent on the first available mat.
The beauty of a dual meet tournament is that it gives teams a chance to get five matches in one day, so wrestlers have to weigh in just once instead of five times.
In addition, Fleetwood has a match on Friday night, which means all wrestlers will have a one-pound allowance for Saturday.
Panther Valley is off to a 3-4 start in dual meet competition, heading into tonight's non-league match at home with Tamaqua.
The Panthers still have primarily a young squad, with just three seniors, although PV hasn't been dealing with its full line-up due to injuries, illness and ineligibilities.
Robb is looking forward to having his whole team ready to go for the upcoming weeks.
"We'll be getting Kory Lopata back from injury, and when we get him in there, everything should come to fruition," noted Robb. "We're not wrestling to our potential yet. We also got hit with the flu bug. We had to wrestle Halifax without three starters and we ended up losing that match.
"We should have our full line-up for the Schuylkill League tournament (next weekend at Blue Mountain High School), and when everybody drops down, we will have a nice line-up."
The Panthers competed in the Christmas City Tournament at Bethlehem Catholic last week and tied for 16th place. Senior 160 pounder Kevin Schaller managed a fourth place finish while junior Nick O'Donnell placed fifth at 103 and senior John Scheaffer was sixth at 215.
MORE DUALS - The Anthracite Duals aren't the only such tournament on this weekend's mat card.
Pleasant Valley, which has had a busy tourney season to date, with trips to Reno and the Powerade Tournament at Canon McMillian High School, as well as hosting and winning its own event to open the campaign, will be at the Easton Duals. The Bears have matches scheduled with the host Red Rovers and Colonial League foe Wilson.
Also on Saturday, Northwestern will be competing in the Zephyr Duals at Whitehall High School, while Tamaqua makes the trip down Route 61 to Berks County for the Hamburg Duals.
MAT NOTES - Jim Thorpe senior 145 pounder Dillon Smith passed Mike Wernett as the Olympians' all-time victories leader during Thorpe's own annual Booster Club Christmas tournament, during which Smith won the title and was selected as Outstanding Wrestler ... Palmerton competed in a tournament at Oviedo High School in Florida over the holidays. Senior 152 pounder Mike Englert earned a sixth place at that tourney ... congratulations to Pleasant Valley senior Jordan Toledo, who hit the 100-win circle on Dec. 18 at the Reno Tournament of Champions. Toledo earned bronze medals at Reno and at the Powerwade tournament ... Lehighton needed to pick up some competition after the tournament at LaSalle College High School on Dec. 19 was snowed out. The Indians ended up at the Jim Thorpe Christmas Tournament and it paid off with the team title. Jeremy Gornick (119), Matt Schaeffer (125), Anthony Farole (140), David Lucykanish (152), Mike Balliet (171) and Briar Stern (285) took home gold in the round-robin tourney.