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Winter Sports

Tuesday, December 8, 2009
JOE PLASKO/TIMES NEWS Panther Valley Wrestling team members for the 2009-2010 season include, front from left, Alyssa Marshall and Virginia Rivera. Second row, Tyler Heffelfinger, Justin Christman, Gage Rohlfing and Nick Molino. Third row, Nick O'Donnell, Ryan Gurka, Kory Lopata, Josh Vega, Eli Vega and Travis Keiper. Fourth row, Mike Snyder, Mike Weaver, Jared Eickhoff, Keith Cheadle, John Scheaffer, Alex Lorkowski, Kevin Schaller and Stephen Snyder.

Physical and aggressive.

If there's a way to describe a majority of the Panther Valley wrestlers, that would be it.

Win or lose, the Panthers are sure to give opponents a battle.

"We are not overly talented, but I think that the guys from 145 up will ... work to wear opponents down," said head coach Tim Robb. "Getting some guys down in weight after a few weeks, and getting some of our more experienced guys in up top can make us a much better team.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009
JOE PLASKO/TIMES NEWS Panther Valley Girls Basketball team members for the 2009-2010 season include, front row from left, Krista Paul, Krystin Gates, Haley Gower, Shannon Phillips and Georgianna Butler. Second row, Sam Zlock, Breanna Cullen, Olivia Markovich, Brittany Cunfer, Trayvonda Rice and Mary Jane Thomas. Third row, Assistant Coach Roman Baran, Head Coach Josh Wank, Demi Ogozalek, Dana McFadden, Abbey Markovich, and Assistant Coaches Adrienne Blasko and William Lynn.

Josh Wank may be a newcomer to the Panther Valley coaching ranks, but he's no stranger to his players.

The former Weatherly mentor not only coached against them last season but he's also taught them in the classroom.

Wank, who is a seventh grade history teacher in the district, takes over for Bernie Ogozalek and is anxious to get started.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009
bob ford/times news Northern Lehigh wrestling team members, include, front row, from left, Fmanager Sam Corcoran, Kyle Baumann, Lucas Dise, Connor Hedash, Ryan Martinez, Ty Herzog and manager Jess Rex. Second row, Drayton Budhoo, Chris Christ, Dylan Hofmann, Nikko Stevens, Dominic Barone, Josh Caley, Zane Heller and Kyle Greenawald. Back row, manager Jess Buzinski, assistant coach Brent Herzog, Brandon Loch, Craemer Hedash, Colin Hedash, Zach Flemming, Daniel Huemmer, Trevor Dottery, Hunter Grol, trainer Chip Sheer and head coach Todd Herzog

It doesn't matter what season it is or who makes up the Northern Lehigh wrestling team.

That's because each Bulldog, whether a returnee or a newcomer, enters the season with the same goals.

According to head coach Todd Herzog, the 2009-10 season will be no different.

"As with every year, our team goals are always the same," Herzog said. "We train and work hard to improve everyday in the practice room. Our expectation every year is to win championships. As a team, we always set our expectations very high and our wrestlers are willing to work hard to attain their goals."

Tuesday, December 8, 2009
bob ford/times news Northern Lehigh boys basketball team members include, front row, from left, Mike Hofmann, Martin Everhart, Bobby Hahn, Kirk Bender and George Thatcher. Middle row, Josh Pristash, Carter Rankin, Devin Glose, Caleb Johnson, and Josh Malaska. Back row, head coach Richard Oertner, Joey Seremula, Evan Biegley, Nicholas Pappas, Lucas Pierce, Jordan Waylen, assistant coach Jeff Miller and assistant coach Dennis Rehrig.

Hopefully, the start of the 2009-10 preseason isn't a sign of what lies ahead for the Northern Lehigh boys' basketball team.

Since the first day of practice, the Bulldogs have dealt with a significant amount of challenges.

Even before the season started, Rich Oertner, who enters his 10th year as head coach, knew that he had a limited number of players to work with.

During the first two weeks of practice, six players were missing because of illness and the football postseason.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009
JOE PLASKO/TIMES NEWS Panther Valley Boys Basketball team members for the 2009-2010 season include, front row from left, Kevin Dunn, Nick McArdle, Zack King, Thad Ogozalek and Joe Revell. Second row, manager Angie Mannino, Zach Stanko, B.J. Ahner, Mike Hadesty and manager Miranda Altemose. Back row, Tom Romanchick, Damian Lewis, Brock Mitchell, Logan Stano, Kyle Picht and Head Coach Patrick Crampsie.

For Panther Valley, the goal remains the same.

In fact, despite losing three key starters, head coach Pat Crampsie is hoping for added success.

After snapping an eight-year stretch without making the district playoffs, the Panthers enjoyed a 14-9 season a year ago and a trip to the postseason.

While a return trip to the D-11 tournament isn't a guarantee, the potential is there for PV to excel.

Monday, December 7, 2009
JOE PLASKO/TIMES NEWS Tamaqua wrestling team members for the 2009-2010 season include, front row from left, Josh Guscott, Roger Taras, Kyle Boyer, Evan Mashack, Brandan Silkowski and Jason Bankes. Second row, Kolby Mashack, Josh Turner, Matt Edmonds, Travis Veronsky, Dustin Wentz, Robert Craigle and Garth Lakitsky. Back row, Volunteer Coach Jon Mashack, Head Coach Jim McCabe and Assistant Coach Greg Stewart. Derek Drum is also a member of the team.

Tamaqua has a pair of PIAA State qualifiers returning to the line-up this season.

The foundation of the Blue Raiders' roster rests on the broad shoulders of juniors Kolby Mashack and Garth Lakitsky.

Both grapplers are part of prominent Tamaqua mat bloodlines, as their fathers, Jon Mashack (now a volunteer with the Raider program) and Garth Lakitsky, Sr. also were State qualifiers.

Monday, December 7, 2009
Nancy Scholz/TIMES NEWS Northwestern boys basketball team members include, front row, from left, Andrew Rivera, Dylan Roth, Sean Nagle, Dalton Conway; row two, Kyle Wagner, Garrett Lerner, Greg Collopy, Kevin Oxley; row three, Toby Koenig, Shelby Storm, Koen De Bruijn, Ryan Betz, Trevor German.

Northwestern looks set to rebound from last year's 6-16 season.

Just how much better the Tigers will be this season depends on how they play on the defensive end. Last season they gave up 59 or more points 11 times. They gave up 50 or more 14 times and held just one opponent under 44 points.

Monday, December 7, 2009
Nancy Scholz/TIMES NEWS Northwestern wrestling team members include, front row, from left, Dylan Long, Brandon Miller, Managers, Michaela Ortiz, Tori De Paulo, Karlee Fry, Eddie Faust, Michael Ortiz; Row 2, Jake Moyer, David Grace, Dustin Badesso, Ryan McNally, Michael Hontz, Ethan Keichel; Row 3, Head Coach Jim Moll, Kyle Sorenson, Bobby Clymer, David Tirpak, L.J. Walker, Alec Eidelman, Levi Veppert, Chris Nuualiattia, Assistant Coach Bart Wehr.

Northwestern had its streak of district final appearances end last year. Now the Tigers are looking to start another streak.

The Tigers might not have the star power in their line up that they've had over the past six years, however they could have a more balanced line up this year and be better prepared to compete for team titles.

"I think we're a better dual-meet team than we were last year," said first-year head coach Jim Moll. "We were a good tournament team last year."

Monday, December 7, 2009
Tamaqua boys basketball team members for the 2009-2010 season include, front row from left, Anthony Bumbulsky, Mike Gurcsik and Mike Streisel. Second row, Michael Taylor, Zach Lakitsky and Jonathan Ansbach. Third row, Justin Hubosky, Joe Rudy, Spencer Bennett and Trevor Reinhardt. JOE PLASKO/TIMES NEWS

The Tamaqua boys basketball program made some strides last season, Jay Daubert's first at the helm.

The Blue Raiders still have a long way to go, however.

Case in point: Tamaqua won as many games last year as it had in the three previous seasons combined, but the Raiders finished at 5-17.

Over the past five years, the Raiders have won just 12 of 118 games, a total that falls short of the amount of victories from their last winning season, when they posted a 15-9 mark under Joe Ligenza in 2003-04.

Monday, December 7, 2009
JOE PLASKO/TIMES NEWS Tamaqua girls basketball team members for the 2009-2010 season include, front row from left, Kali Chrush, Elissa Streisel, Shelby Hankins and Lauren Fedor. Second row, Christine Streisel, Megan Berezwick, Maria Streisel and Kayla Hope. Back row, Allison Updike, Amy Zehner, Danielle Weinburger, Amanda Solt and Cassie Eroh.

Last season, Tamaqua won the District 11 Girls Class AA Basketball title for the first time since 1978.

The Lady Raiders are hoping their return to the top won't take as long.

The Raiders knocked on the D-11 door twice before (in Class AAA in 2000 and 2004) during the tenure of Coach Joe Berezwick, who enters his 13th season in charge with 188 wins.