Bombers, Bears, Tigers lead way
Success can be measured in different ways.
That's why, despite the fact no TIMES NEWS area wrestler finished in the top five at states, it can be determined that this past wrestling season was full of accomplishments.
For Pleasant Valley, not only did the team produce three state qualifiers and a medalist but the Bears also defeated rival Stroudsburg to claim the Mountain Valley Conference championship.
At Palmerton, the Bombers went from almost not having a program to reaching the league playoffs and sending an area best four wrestlers to Hershey.
Northwestern didn't field a full lineup and was forced to forfeit at a number of weight classes. But the Tigers boasted some quality kids who excelled at the individual level, including two district champions.
All totaled, the TN area sent 12 wrestlers to states with seven of them bringing home medals.
With the successful season completed, it's time to look back and list our choices for the annual TIMES NEWS all-star team. The 14 selections (based on the number of weight classes but coming from any weight class) follow below with a bio on their season and a quote from their respective coach.
The wrestlers, who combined for a 488-102 record this season, are listed by alphabetical order.
Michael Balliet, Lehighton
The Indians' senior 170-pounder posted a 37-8 record this past season and finished his career with a mark of 95-46. Balliet went 27-9 as a junior, 20-12 as a sophomore and 11-17 as a freshman.
He finished third at the Bethlehem Holiday Classic, third at districts, third at regionals and qualified for the state tournament, where he brought home a seventh-place medal. He became the first Indian since 2006 to earn a state medal.
Of Balliet's 37 wins, 21 of them came by fall. Of his 21 pins, nine came in under a minute and 13 came in the first period. PA Wrestling Rankings ranked him seventh at 170 in Class AA.
Balliet ended his career as a three-time district placewinner (third, fifth, third) and a two-time regional qualifier.
Balliet plans on either attending a four-year college to major in social work where he would plan on wrestling or pursue a career in the military.
Quotable: "Michael has been a strong prescence in our line-up since his ninth grade year. He has shown our program, and every kid following in his footsteps that hard work, determination and sacrifice will result in success. He has helped set the tone of success, using that work ethic for every wrestler coming through our program."
Sean Bianco, Pleasant Valley
The Bears' 113-pounder compiled a record of 41-4 this season. His winning percentage of .911 was tops among TIMES NEWS area wrestlers. Bianco was a TN Second Team All-Star a year ago when he posted a mark of 25-12 and he currently owns a career mark of 88-27.
Bianco finished second at the Reno Tournament of Champions, first at the New Oxford tournament, first at districts, first at regionals and was a state qualifier. The PV grappler failed to medal at states but had a tough draw with his two losses there to the third and fourth place medalists. His other two defeats on the season were to the state fifth-place finisher and California's state champion.
Of Bianco's 41 wins, 15 of them were pins while 11 were technical falls. He also registered four majors. In PA Wrestling Rankings, he was ranked as high as sixth and finished ninth.
Quotable: "Sean had a terrific season. He was one of the toughest kids on the team and is very physical on the mat. Technically he's also pretty good. It's not a surprise how well he did. He trained hard. In past seasons, he didn't also finish the best but this year I think his true self came out."
Michael Dahlstrom, Pleasant Valley
The Bears' 126-pounder compiled a record of 45-8 this past season. The 45 wins were the most by any wrestler in the TIMES NEWS area. Dahlstrom was a TIMES NEWS First Team all-star a year ago when he posted a mark of 42-7. He finished his career with 138 wins, which is a new school record.
Dahlstrom finished first at the prestigious Reno Tournament of Champions, earned third at districts, was second at regionals and gained a sixth-place medal at states.
The senior registered 16 pins this season and added three technicall falls. He also posted seven majors.
Dahlstrom, who ended the year ranked sixth at his weight class by PA Wrestling Rankings, plans on continuing his academic and athletic career at VWI (Virginia Military Institute).
Quotable: "Mike is a definitely a product of hard work. He practiced all summer and was going to tournaments every other week. He was just constantly wrestling. His success came from pure hard work. He was also a great leader for our team. He led by example but also would pull a kid aside in the room if needed. If he works as hard in college as he did in high school, he should have a successful career."
Josh Evans, Palmerton
The Bombers' 113-pounder started the season at 11-0 and finished his sophomore season with a record of 31-9. A TIMES NEWS First Team all-star a year ago with a record of 29-7, he now has a career mark of 60-16.
Evans placed second at the Christmas City tournament, second at districts, second at regionals and was a state qualifier. His nine losses came to five different wrestlers, four of which were state medalists and two who were state champs.
Of his 31 wins seven were pins, three were technical falls and five were majors. He finished with an 11th place ranking in the PA Wrestling Rankings.
Quotable: "Josh is one of the most talented wrestlers in our program's history. He has wrestled in two of the toughest weight classes the past two years but still has had a ton of success. He is an extremely hard worker and a great ambassador for the team. On top of wrestling he is also the No. 1 ranked student in his class and the class president."
Anthony Farole, Lehighton
The Indians' senior, who wrestled at 145 and 152 pounds, finished the year with a record of 32-11. He was 14-5 at both weight classes. Farole ended his career with a mark of 108-49. He had a record of 35-9 as a junior.
Farole finished fourth at districts and qualified for regionals. For his career, he was a three-time district placewinner (third, third, fourth), a three-time regional qualifier and a PIAA state qualifier.
Farole registered 18 pins on the seasons, 12 of them coming in the first period.
The senior was selected twice to the PIAA-All State Academic Wrestling Team, was the winner of the referees scholarship for District 11 and also won the essay contest for the District 11 Coaches Association this year. He was also chosen as the overall scholar athlete for wrestling for the Mountain Valley Conference.
Farole plans on attending Penn State Main Campus with a major in engineering. He does not plan to wrestle there, but plans to focus his efforts towards his major.
Quotable: "Anthony has set the standard for what it means to be a wrestler at Lehighton Area High School. Not only did Anthony succeed on the mat, he succeeds in the classroom and community. Anthony provided leadership through not only words, but actions for the past three years. It has been a pleasure to coach and mentor him and he will be sorely missed from our program."
Cody Grohotolski, Palmerton
The Bombers' 152-pounder compiled a record of 31-9 this past season. Grohotolski went 23-9 at 152 and finished 8-0 at 160.
Grohotolski placed fourth at the Christmas City tournament, earned second at districts, and managed a fourth at regionals to gain a berth at states.
The senior collected 12 pins, two technical falls and a pair of major decisions.
Quotable: "Cody is a very talented athlete. He could always hang with the top guys in the area, but for some reason would always lose the close matches in the past. He really turned a corner this year and came a long way. He just loves to scrap. I wish every kid had the same mentality as Cody and was able to execute as well as he does. Cody wants to go to Penn State Berks County."
Ty Herzog, Northern Lehigh
The Bulldogs' junior, who wrestled at 145 pounds, posted a record of 31-10 this season. Herzog, who was a TN All-Star a year ago when he was 30-9, has a career record of 89-31.
Herzog finished second at the Brandywine Invitational, sixth at the Bethlehem Holiday Classic, second at districts, second at regionals and qualified for states. At Hershey, he earned an eighth-place medal. In his career, he has medaled three times at districts and three times at regionals, and has qualified for states twice.
A team captain, he has been a Colonial League all-star selection three straight years (honorable mention, second team, and first team).
Herzog registered 15 pins and now has 36 in his career. Of those 15 falls, eight of them came in the first period. A member of Nolehi's 150-point club, he also avoided being pinned this season. In PA State Rankings' final rankings he was listed eighth in Class AA.
Quotable: "Ty has a very different and unique style of wrestling. He has a very funky and unconventional style. He is never out of a match because he continuously wrestles through every situation which makes him a lot of fun to watch but very difficult to coach ... especially as a father."
Kane Kralik, Palmerton
Palmerton's 220-pound senior concluded his season with a record of 39-5. The win total tied for the team lead with Sam Oberlander. As a junior, Kralik went 24-10 and was selected to the TIMES NEWS Second Team all-star squad.
Kralik took first place at the Christmas City tournament, finished third at both districts and regionals, and earned a state medal with a seventh-place showing.
Kralik's first 10 wins came by pin and he finished the season with a total of 21 falls. Eight of those pins came in the opening period. In the final PA Wrestling Rankings, Kralik was ranked seventh in his weight class.
Quotable: "Kane is a great, solid athlete. He only wrestled for four years and doesn't do very much flashy technique, but he is extremely powerful and tough to get out of position. He was very motivated this year to take his wrestling to the next level and place at states and he accomplished that at a tough weight. Kane was a captain this year and did a great job keeping the team's moral high. He knew how to come in with a positive, fun attitude every day and made sure everyone was having fun, but always made sure the team was working hard."
Colin Mashack, Tamaqua
The Raider sophomore wrestled at both 106 and 113 pounds this season and posted an overall record of 40-5 record. He was one of four TIMES NEWS area wrestlers to reach the 40-win plateau. Mashack was 25-1 at 113 pounds and 15-4 at 106.
Mashack finished first at the Schuylkill League tournament, second at districts, third at regionals and sixth at states. Of his five losses, one was the state champion and another was to the runner-up.
The soph recorded 18 pins including 10 in a minute or less. He also posted four technical falls and four majors.
Mashack (along with Pleasant Valley's Michael Dahlstrom) earned the highest TIMES NEWS area finish at states with a sixth place. He did that despite suffering a shoulder injury during the tournament. In fact, Mashack wrestled three times with the hurt shoulder before defaulting in the fifth-place match.
Quotable: "Colin's year signifies the textbook character of a what a person does in the off-season to get ready for the season. He had the school's winningest season as a sophomore and he placed higher at states than any other sophomore at Tamaqua. The work ethic he puts forth throughout the season is what propelled him to his success. That work ethic can only mean there are more good things to come for him."
Sam Oberlander, Palmerton
Palmerton's 120-pounder closed his season with an impressive 39-8 record. His win total of 39 tied him with Kane Kralik for the team lead. He started the campaign at 9-0 with eight falls and a forfeit. A year ago, Oberlander was a TIMES NEWS Second Team all-star after going 26-7.
Oberlander finished third at the Christmas City tournament, third at districts, fourth at regionals and eighth at the state meet in Hershey. Five of his losses came at the hands of state medalists.
The Bomber senior, who reached the 100-win plateau this year, had 17 pins this year. Of those falls, 11 came in the first period with 10 happening in under a minute. In the final PA Wrestling Rankings he was ranked eighth at his weight class.
Quotable: "Sam was one of the most motivated wrestlers I've had the privelage of coaching in my career so far. He went from being just another 'good' wrestler to someone that wanted to separate themselves from the pack. He did everything we asked of him and was a team captain for two years. Sam intends on wrestling for York College next year."
Michael Ortiz, Northwestern
The Tigers' junior wrestled at 160 pounds most of the season before dropping to 152. Ortiz finished the season with a record of 25-7. He went 4-0 at 170, 15-4 at 160, and 6-3 at 152.
Ortiz earned a gold medal at 152 pounds at the District 11 tournament. The Tiger posted a techical fall, a pin and two decisions to earn his first-place finish. Unfortunately for Ortiz, he suffered a torn ACL injury at regionals and his season came to an abrupt end.
Ortiz managed just five falls on the season, but did register seven majors and two techical falls. Two of his losses were one-point decision while two others were two-point defeats.
As a sophomore, Ortiz was a member of the TN All-Star First Team and posted a record of 25-9. During that season, he was fourth at districts and sixth at regionals.
Quotable: "Unfortunately Mikey's season ended with a torn ACL at Regionals this year. But he is the type of kid that never misses a workout. He had his surgery and is still on crutches, but that doesn't keep him out of the weight room. He loves to compete. It does not matter if it is a wrestling match, a game of dodge ball, or a weight room challenge, he hates to lose."
David Tirpak, Northwestern
The Tigers' 195-pounder, who missed time during the season due to an injury, posted a 19-7 record. He was 17-6 at 195 pounds and 2-1 wrestling at 220. For his career, he finished with a mark of 43-37.
Of Tirpak's 17 wins, 12 of them came by fall including eight in the first period. He also had two technical falls and a major.
The senior finished second at districts, fifth at regionals and qualified for the state tournament. Of his seven losses, six of them came to state qualifiers and five of them were state medalists.
Quotable: "David only started wrestling in ninth grade. He is a strong, athletic kid. To become a District 11 runner-up and state qualifier in just your fourth year of wrestling is very impressive."
Levi Veppert, Northwestern
The Tigers' 182-pound senior enjoyed a 37-4 record this past season. Veppert, who finished his career with a mark of 85-32, was a Second Team TIMES NEWS All-Star a year ago after a 27-7 campaign.
Veppert finished third at the Bethlehem Holiday Classic, first at districts, first at regionals and seventh at states.
Veppert posted 14 pins, two technical falls and a pair of majors. Of his four losses, three came against state medalists and the other was against a prep school student.
Quotable: "Levi is one of the hardest working wrestlers I have ever coached. We have a morning running program that starts in January each season, and he is the only kid that ever asked if we can start it sooner. His work ethic is second to none."
Kenny Yanovich, Pleasant Valley
The Bears' 106-pounder posted a record of 41-7 this season. Yanovich was also a TIMES NEWS First Team all-star a year ago and already has a career record of 77-18.
The sophomore was third at the Reno Tournament of Champions, first at the New Oxford tournament, third at districts, third at regionals and qualified for states.
Of Yanovich's 41 wins, 21 of them came via pins. Of those falls, 17 occured in the first period with 12 of them coming in under a minute.
Quotable: "Kenny was another kid on our team that was tough and physical. He and Sean (Bianco) worked out in the room and pushed each other. He was hurt throughout the season, and many people didn't know that. He was just physically and mentally tough and I was very impressed with what he was able to accomplish this year."