Panther Valley has wrestled in some interesting locales over the years.

The Panthers have competed in tournaments at the Dean Dome in Raleigh, North Carolina; Walt Disney World; Las Vegas; and in Idaho.

The latest excursion for the Panthers came at the Seahawk Duals at Hilton Head, South Carolina, last week.

The Panthers went 2-3 in their five matches, losing to Hilton Head 42-34 and defeating Witnall, Wisconsin 35-34 to advance through to the winners' pool. PV then lost to Ducala (Georgia) 64-6 and Beaufort (SC) 52-26 before finishing with a victory over Battery Creek (SC), 52-24.

"It was quality wrestling, and it was perfect for us," said Panther Valley coach Tim Robb, whose squad finished seventh. "We beat the team from Wisconsin (Witnall), which wasn't expected, and that put us in the A flight. We probably would have done better if we stayed in the B flight.

"We got the last seed in the winners' bracket, and that put us up against Ducala, and while that was tough, the other two matches were good competition for us."

The Panthers also took the opportunity to enjoy their surroundings.

"This one was fun," noted Robb. "It was a little chilly in the water, but we went for a long bike ride on the beach."

Leading the way for the Panthers at Hilton Head were seniors Kory Lopata (125) and Brandon Gurka (135), both posting 4-1 records. Junior Mike Weaver (160) was 3-1, while seniors Nick O'Donnell (112) and Josh Vega (152), junior John Horvath (215) and freshman Len Ogozalek (103) each went 3-2.

Now that the Panthers' holiday trip is over, they can focus on Schuylkill League Division II competition, beginning with a visit from Upper Dauphin on Wednesday. The Panthers carry a 4-8 overall mark into their Schuylkill D-II opener with the Trojans.

With the departure of four-time division champion Mount Carmel to the Heartland Conference this season, the Schuylkill II race is wide open. On paper, the Panthers return the most experience in the division and are considered among the favorites.

"The first half of our season is much more difficult than our own division," related Robb. "We have good kids who are working hard to get better."

Upper Dauphin returns senior 189 pounder Chris Forney, who was 25-6 a year ago, but the Trojans have just five seniors on the roster, although 11 grapplers have some varsity experience. The match could be a good indicator of how the Panthers will fare in D-II competition.

O'Donnell's 13-4 record leads the Panthers, followed by Lopata (10-4), Ogozalek (9-6), Gurka (8-6) and Weaver (6-4), who has had an injury-plagued first month of the season.

In addition to contending within their division, the Panthers are hoping to continue to improve through the rest of the season and postseason. Panther Valley has not had a State qualifier since Nick Kopp in 2004, and Robb would like to break that drought.

"Nick O'Donnell and Mike Weaver were both Regional qualifiers for us last year," Robb mentioned. "They were both close to getting to States last year.

"Nick wants to get 100 wins (he currently has 78), but his priority is to wrestle good competition, so we're trying to get him the best possible matches we can."

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ANTHRACITE DUALS - Panther Valley will host the Third Annual Anthracite Duals on Saturday, beginning at 9 a.m.

There are 10 teams in this year's field. Pool A includes Tri-Valley, Lehighton, Northeast Bradford, Pius X and the host Panthers. Pool B includes Palmerton, Williams Valley, Pottsville, Susquehanna Township and North Star.

Matches are scheduled to be wrestled 90 minutes apart but could be moved up depending on availability of mats. The crossover round is scheduled for 4:30.

The schedule is as follows:

Round 1 (Northeast Bradford [5] and North Star [10] - bye) – 9:00 a.m.

Mat 1 (Pool A)

1. Panther Valley vs. 2. Tri-Valley

Mat 2 (Pool A)

3. Lehighton vs. 4. Pius X

Mat 3 (Pool B)

6. Palmerton vs. 7. Williams Valley

Mat 4 (Pool B)

8. Pottsville vs. 9. Susquehanna Township

Round 2 (Pius X [4] and Susquehanna Township [9] - bye) – 10:30 a.m.

Mat 1 (Pool A)

1. Panther Valley vs. 5. Northeast Bradford

Mat 2 (Pool A)

2. Tri-Valley vs. 3. Lehighton

Mat 3 (Pool B)

6. Palmerton vs. 10. North Star

Mat 4 (Pool B)

7. Williams Valley vs. 8. Pottsville

Round 3 (Lehighton [3] and Pottsville [8] - bye) – 12:00 p.m.

Mat 1 (Pool A)

1. Panther Valley vs. 4. Pius X

Mat 2 (Pool A)

2. Tri-Valley vs. 5. Northeast Bradford

Mat 3 (Pool B)

6. Palmerton vs. 9. Susquehanna Township

Mat 4 (Pool B)

7. Williams Valley vs. 10. North Star

Round 4

(Tri-Valley [2] & Williams Valley [7] - bye) – 1:30 p.m.

Mat 1 (Pool A)

1. Panther Valley vs. 3. Lehighton

Mat 2 (Pool A)

4. Pius X vs. 5. Northeast Bradford

Mat 3 (Pool B)

6. Palmerton vs. 8. Pottsville

Mat 4 (Pool B)

9. Susquehanna Township vs. 10. North Star

Round 5

Panther Valley [1] and Palmerton [6] - bye) – 3:00 p.m.

Mat 1 (Pool A)

2. Tri-Valley vs. 4. Pius X

Mat 2 (Pool A)

3. Lehighton vs. 5. Northeast Bradford

Mat 3 (Pool B)

7. Williams Valley vs. 9. Susquehanna Township

Mat 4 (Pool B)

8. Pottsville vs. 10. North Star

Round 6 – 4:30 p.m. – Matches will be wrestled on the first available mat.