With all the talented light and middleweights that the Pleasant Valley wrestling team possesses, it was actually its heavyweight that won the biggest match in Thursday night's contest with Nazareth.
Knowing that the match was starting with the 152-pounders, Bears' head coach Mark Getz was hoping that his upper weights could keep the score close enough for his lighter weights to clean up at the end and bring home the victory. Six matches into the bout, Pleasant Valley found itself down 23-6 heading into the heavyweight battle.
The Bears' Mike Benner and the Eagles' Brandon Lance wrestled neck-and-neck into the second period before Benner came up with a stunning pin and in turn kept Pleasant Valley well within striking distance. The Bears went on to win the last six matches of the night to defeat Nazareth, 39-26.
It is the first time in school history that Pleasant Valley has defeated Nazareth. In fact, the Bears became the first Mountain Valley Conference team ever to beat the Eagles.
"Mike Benner was huge," Getz said. "That was the turning point of the night. If I had to give out the MVP for tonight, he would be it. I figured Kenny (Yanovich) was favored, so I wanted to at least be within 20 points going into that match. Mike winning and making it 11 made me feel good about things.
"Plus our seniors did what they had to do. They got the victories and got the bonuses. When we picked out of the hat and I saw 152, I knew we were going to end with our seniors and I couldn't ask for anything better than that."
Pleasant Valley fell behind quickly as it dropped five of the first six matches. Two pins and two major decisions from Nazareth didn't coincide with the Bears' hopes of keeping things close. Fortunately for the locals, Hunter Deihl picked up a pin at 182 to keep it tight at the time (13-6). Benner then picked up the pin three matches later to make the score 23-12. It allowed the Bears to draw near with their talented lightweights coming to the mat.
In perhaps the only letdown of the night, Pleasant Valley's Kenny Yanovich dropped a 3-0 decision to Tyrone Klump in the 106-pound match. It was far from an upset though, as both Yanovich and Klump are ranked in the state.
Despite the setback, the Bears would not lose another match the rest of the way and closed with 27 unanswered points. Seniors Mike Dahlstrom and Ernie Klingel picked up pins, while James Felipa, Alex Yanovich and David Gehr each won by decision. Sean Bianco also picked up six points via an injury default.
Yanovich's 9-5 victory in the 138-pound match put the Bears up ten and sealed the conference's first-ever victory over Nazareth.
It is a night Getz will not soon forget. Getz, who won a state gold medal as a member of the Eagles' squad back in 1994, couldn't have asked for a better performance from his team. To him, it is a win that Pleasant Valley and the MVC should be very proud of.
"That is a big monkey off our back," admitted Getz. "We finally beat one of the big three (Nazareth, Northampton and Easton) from down (in the Lehigh Valley). I think it is a great thing for our program as well as the MVC. Nazareth came out and wrestled tough. I think we were just on top of our game tonight.
"You hear all the stories about teams almost beating Nazareth or Northampton. I told the kids to stop saying 'we almost did' and to just do it. They wanted to be the first team to beat them and they did it."
Pleasant Valley 39, Nazareth 26
106 – Tyrone Klump (N) def. Kenny Yanovich, 3-0.
113 – Sean Bianco (PV) injury default over Travis Smith at 3:56.
120 – James Felipa (PV) dec. over Collin Keiser, 8-3.
126 – Mike Dahlstrom (PV) pinned Nick Miller in 1:47.
132 – Ernie Klingel (PV) pinned Logan Koch in 1:43.
138 – Alex Yanovich (PV) dec. over Sage Karam, 9-5.
145 – David Gehr (PV) dec. over Colton Miller, 2-0.
152 – Jordan Gray (N) dec. over Joell Toledo, 11-5.
160 – Hunter Weidner (N) pinned Jalil Aldridge in 0:44.
170 – Nic Sevi (N) major dec. over Darquise Harper, 12-3.
182 – Hunter Deihl (PV) pinned Sergio Ottaviano in 2:18.
195 – David Wilke (N) major dec. over Aaron Brewer, 13-0.
220 – Aaron Bradley (N) pinned Tom Ammirato in 0:52.
285 – Mike Benner (PV) pinned Brandon Lance.