Old Man Winter has condensed the second half of Pleasant Valley's Mountain Valley Conference schedule into eight days.
One thing hasn't changed, however; the MVC's marquee mat match-up, which is scheduled for Wednesday when the Bears travel to Stroudsburg.
Between them, Pleasant Valley and Stroudsburg have owned the conference wrestling crown under its current seven-team alignment. The Bears ran off six straight MVC titles between 2002-2008, while the Mountaineers have been atop the heap the last two seasons.
Both squads carry unblemished conference marks heading into their annual brouhaha. Pleasant Valley (12-5) is 4-0 after last night's 52-15 victory at Lehighton and has one match remaining after its battle with the Mounties, a Valentine's Day date at home with Pocono Mountain East. Stroudsburg is slated to travel to East Stroudsburg South on Friday and host East Stroudsburg North on Tuesday, Feb. 15.
Both teams once again qualified for the District 11 Class AAA Duals, running into stiff Lehigh Valley Conference competition int he quarterfinals at Bethlehem Freedom last Friday. Stroudsburg (10-4 overall) was seeded fifth and dropped a 53-7 verdict to fourth seeded Northampton, while the Bears drew the sixth seed and were bounced from the Duals by Parkland by a 59-19 count.
None of that takes any of the luster off of the Bears-Mounties clash for Wednesday. The rivalry for MVC grappling honors continues. Adding to it is that both clubs are coached by former Nazareth teammates in Pleasant Valley's Mark Getz and Stroudsburg's Matt Kleinle.
The Bears have once again faced a formidable schedule up to this point. Their dual meet losses have come against Lehigh Valley powerhouses Easton, Northampton and Parkland as well as Clearfield in the Bisons' own duals tournament and to Germantown Academy, a top prep team.
Pleasant Valley also hosted its own two tournaments, including the National High School Coaches Association Festival, as well as competing in two challenging tournies, the Battle at the Beach at Indian River, Delaware, where they finished in third place, and the New Oxford Tournament, where they placed 10th.
"The New Oxford tournament was great, because it gave us some real top-notch competition," said Getz. "I want us to go to tournaments that are going to test us, and it did. At the Clearfield Duals, we lost a close one to Clearfield but we did beat General McLane, one of the top teams in District 10. We haven't lost to any slouches."
The Bears have been competing with just two seniors in the regular line-up, Albert Linares at 145-152 and 215-pounder Richard Hargrove, so this is a team that could actually reach its peak next season.
"We're still young yet, and we have almost the whole team around for next year," related Getz. "It's a nice nucleus to build with."
The Bears are solid in the light and middle weights, with the meat of the line-up coming between 125-140 with four juniors: Mike Dahlstrom (33-2), Alex Yanovich (28-6), Ernie Klingel (27-5) and David Gehr (21-12).
Also enjoying winning campaigns so far are sophomores Sean Bianco (21-7 at 112) and Hunter Deihl (19-12 at 189) and freshman Kenny Yanovich (27-5 at 103).
Stroudsburg is led by junior Guesseppa Rea (23-7 at 103), senior Eric Howey (23-8 at 135) and junior Aaron Transue (20-9 at 152), but the Mounties are also deep, with 10 wrestlers having .500 or better records to date.
"Stroudsburg is a really tough team, and the last two years they've beaten us," noted Getz. "We've been the bridesmaids for awhile. It would be nice to go into their gym and beat them, but it's not going to be easy."
Here's a look at the potential match-ups for Wednesday's Pleasant Valley-Stroudsburg match. The Pleasant Valley wrestlers are listed first.
103 - Kenny Yanovich (Fr., 27-5) vs. Guesseppe Rea (Jr., 23-7).
112 - Sean Bianco (So., 21-7) vs. Jeffrey Hernandez (Jr., 13-10)
119 - James Felipa (So., 14-17) vs. Mike Cassano (Fr., 11-9)
125 - Ernie Klingel (Jr., 27-5) vs. Brian Morales (So., 5-9)
130 - Mike Dahlstrom (Jr., 33-2) vs. Jacob Bendixon (Sr., 11-13)
135 - Alex Yanovich (Jr., 28-6) vs. Eric Howay (Sr., 23-8)
140 - David Gehr (Jr., 21-12) vs. Elijah Angradi (Sr., 16-8)
145 - Albert Linares (Sr., 6-24) or Nick Martucci (Jr., 5-12) vs. Keith Howie (Fr., 9-9)
152 - Linares/Martucci vs. Aaron Transue (Jr., 20-9)
160 - Darquise Harper (So., 11-16) vs. Jacobi Nordmark (Sr., 15-11)
171 - Aaron Brewer (Jr., 10-16) vs. Derek Powell (Sr., 9-10) or Robert Karstendiek (So., 2-6)
189 - Hunter Deihl (So., 19-12) vs. Powell/Karstendiek
215 - Richard Hargrove (Sr., 8-21) vs. Kenny Rogers (Sr., 9-8)
285 - Mike Benner (So., 5-11) vs. Cody Cooper (Fr., 9-9).
As always, the weight class drawn as the starting point, as well as which teams wins the flip, will determine the actual match-ups. Bonus points will more than likely play a role in the final outcome as well.
SCHUYLKILL LEAGUE UPDATE - Like the MVC, the Schuylkill League race will extend into next week.
In Division I, defending champion Blue Mountain (2-0) is the lone unbeaten, while Tamaqua (3-1), Tri-Valley (2-1) and Pine Grove (2-1) each have one loss each.
The Blue Raiders visit the Bulldogs Wednesday night in a rematch of their District 11 Class AA Duals quarterfinal match, won by the Raiders 39-36.
If Tri-Valley wins, it gives the edge for the division for Blue Mountain, which already owns a victory over the Bulldogs. The Eagles host Pine Grove on Wednesday and are at Pottsville Thursday. Pine Grove is also at North Schuylkill tonight and hosts Tri-Valley next Wednesday, Feb. 16.
A Tamaqua triumph against Tri-Valley can set up a showdown between the Raiders and Eagles on Stadium Hill on Feb. 16. If the 'Dawgs win, it puts Blue Mountain in position to clinch with a win over Pine Grove. Blue Mountain also has a make-up match at Jim Thorpe on Feb. 17.
In Division II, Panther Valley (3-0) is the only undefeated team left, and the Panthers can wrap up the crown with wins at Schuylkill Haven (2-1) Wednesday and at home against Williams Valley on Feb. 16.
REMAINING MEETS - Here's a look at upcoming dual meets remaining for TIMES NEWS area teams.
Wednesday, Feb. 9
North Schuylkill at Jim Thorpe
Panther Valley at Schuylkill Haven
Tamaqua at Tri-Valley
Pleasant Valley at Stroudsburg
Palmerton at Saucon Valley
Thursday, Feb. 10