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Grappler's Grapevine

Tuesday, March 15, 2011
bob ford/times news Northern Lehigh's Colin Hedash (left) and Grove City's Wes Phipps battle during their 171-pound semifinal match at the PIAA State Championships on Friday.

It's time to clean out the notebook after another action-packed weekend at the PIAA State Wrestling Championships at Hershey's Giant Center.

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PERFECT - Senior 215 pounder Garth Lakitsky not only gave Tamaqua its first State wrestling champion, he did so by finishing with an undefeated record of 42-0.

While entering the State Meet with an unbeaten record isn't a guarantee of a trip to the top of the awards stand, it doesn't always hurt one's chances. At least it didn't this year, as 11 grapplers claimed gold medals while finishing unblemished.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS Northern Lehigh's Colin Hedash hand fights with Wyomissing's Julio Arredondo during the Regional semis. Hedash won the match with a pin in 1:50.

A total of eight wrestlers from THE TIMES NEWS area have traveled the Road to Hershey all the way to the Giant Center for this year's PIAA State Championships, which begin Thursday and run through Saturday night.

Those who survived the Southeast Class AA Regional at Wilson West Lawn High School included Northern Lehigh's Zane Heller (103), Ty Herzog (145) and Colin Hedash (171), as well as Lehighton's Anthony Farole (140), Northwestern's Bobby Clymer (152) and Tamaqua's Garth Lakitsky (215).

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A total of 17 TIMES NEWS area wrestlers survived the first step on the Road to Hershey.

With the District 11 tournaments now history, it is now time to move on to interdistrict competition on the Regional level this week, with the survivors moving on to the PIAA Championships at Chocolatetown's Giant Center March 10-12.

Northern Lehigh and Pleasant Valley lead the TN area with five Regional qualifiers each, while Lehighton, Northwestern and Palmerton each have two and Tamaqua one.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011
bob ford/times new filephoto Senior Kyle Sorensen has been one of Northwestern's top wrestlers this season.

One of the challenges for District 11 wrestling coaches is keeping their teams focused in February.

After two grueling months of competition, leading up to the District 11 Duals, grapplers can experience a bit of a lull before the postseason kicks into high gear with the D-11 championships during February's final weekend.

Compounding the situation, District 11 does not compete in a Sectional tournament, which creates the gap of an extra week before the D-11 individual tournament.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

When Shawn Albert took over as head coach at Jim Thorpe this season, he knew he would have to build the foundation for the Olympians' wrestling program.

A year ago, Jim Thorpe did not win a dual meet. With the Olympians moving into the Schuylkill League's Division I this year, Albert realized he had his work cut out for him.

A former wrestler at Upper Moreland High School and Bloomsburg University, Albert had been an assistant coach at his scholastic alma mater before serving as a volunteer coach at Thorpe for two seasons under Guy Franko.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Mike Feifel/TIMES NEWS Pleasant Valley's Ernie Klingel tries to roll Jason McEvoy of Lehighton onto his back during their 125-pound matchup on Monday.

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.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

When Danny Williams took over the wrestling helm at Lehighton this season, the transition was a smooth one.

A 2001 Lehighton graduate who teaches biology in the school district, Williams has been part of the Indians' program as a wrestler and a coach, assisting Floyd Brown with the varsity squad for three years. He also served as a head coach for the middle school team for two seasons.

Thus, the grapplers that had been in the program under Brown were already familiar with Williams.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011
The Mashack family, including (from left) volunteer coach Jon Mashack and his sons Evan, Kolby and Colin, is playing a major role for Tamaqua's wrestling squad this season. JOE PLASKO/TIMES NEWS

It is hard to overlook the name Mashack in the Tamaqua line-up this season.

The Blue Raiders feature three Mashack brothers, Kolby, Evan and Colin, and they have made their presence felt, combining for 51 wins to date.

Tamaqua is off to a 8-4 start, already surpassing its five-win total of last year, and the performance of the Mashacks has played a major role in that resurgence.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011
BOB FORD/times news Panther Valley's Mike Weaver (right) looks to take down North Schuylkill's Brett Paul at the Jim Thorpe Duals earlier this season.

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.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010
BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS Tamaqua's Garth Lakitsky came home from the PIAA Wrestling Championships with a 2A fourth place medal, best among the TIMES NEWS contingent that made it to Hershey.

The 2010 PIAA Wrestling Championships are now history.

On one level, it was a tough tournament for Lehigh Valley wrestlers, who for the first time since 1966 failed to crown a State champion. In Class AA, Liberty's Anthony Marino and Nazareth's Zach Horan each finished second, while in AA, Bethlehem Catholic's Randy Cruz and Kyle Dehaut had to settle for silver.

In fact, the only District 11 gold medal came from Blue Mountain senior Josh Kindig, who won for the second time. Eagles' teammate Corey Keener ended up placing second.