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1987-88 Season

25th Season 17-1 (294-78-6 career record)

Team Captains Ken Herceg, Andy Joseph, and John Renner

From the Yearbook:

The 1987-88 wrestling team won the attention of many wrestling fans. The '88 Eagles won their eighth consecutive Colonial League title with a record of 8-0 and finished the season with an outstanding record of 17-1.

Nazareth finished second in the District XI Championships, which crowned three Nazareth wrestlers. The District champions were Brad Silimperi, Mike Miller, and Ken Herceg.

In the Northeast Regional Championships Nazareth clinched the team championship by a half point over District XI champion Northampton. Four out of six Nazareth wrestlers won individual championships. These four are Brad Silimperi, Mike Miller, Ken Herceg, and John Renner.

Coach Ray Nunamaker had his first state champion this year with Brad Silimperi's victory in the 98 pound class. Mr. Nunamaker himself, won the Coach of the Year award for the state of Pennsylvania. Other big winners in the state championships were John Renner, second place at 185; Ken Herceg, 3rd place at 145; and Mike Miller, 4th place at 138. The team placed second overall in the state competition.

The season's biggest match this year was the upset of East Penn champions, Northampton Konkrete Kids, Nazareth banged out a final score of 32-20. This was Nazareth's first victory over Northampton in four years.

Nazareth had very little trouble putting down league competitors and wrestled respectably with non-league teams. The 1988 wrestling team expertly lived up to is tradition of excellence in the sport of wrestling.

Dual Meet Results:

  • Nazareth: 51; Lehighton 11
  • Nazareth: 58; Pocono Mountain 6
  • Nazareth: 17; Easton 28
  • Nazareth: 43; Liberty 9
  • Nazareth; 60; Seneca Valley 0
  • Nazareth 62; Burlington, MA 6
  • Nazareth 56; Bangor 6
  • Nazareth 44; Freedom 8
  • Nazareth 68; Southern Lehigh 0
  • Nazareth 32; Northampton 20
  • Nazareth 53; Salisbury 9
  • Nazareth 52; Palisades 6
  • Nazareth 48; Catasauqua 6
  • Nazareth 62; Northwestern 6
  • Nazareth 63; Wilson 0
  • Nazareth 35; Parkland 11
  • Nazareth 63; Pen Argyl 0
  • Nazareth 51; Saucon Valley 8

Assisting Coach Ray Nunamaker were John Rodriguez, Jack Muschlitz, Jim Kerfoot, and Chuck Madson.

Nazareth is 3rd (120.5) in the Williamsport Top Hat Tournament (14 teams: Bald Eagle Area 1st with 129) with Brad Silimperi, Mike Miller, and Ken Herceg taking first and Ross Nunamaker and Jack Kapanka finishing 4th.

Nazareth is 2nd (217) to Northampton (235) in the Christmas City Tournament with Brad Silimperi, Mike Miller, and Ken Herceg taking first, Mike Herceg, Preston Moritz, and John Renner placing 2nd, Rick Buss, and Ross Nunamaker were 3rd, Dan Madson and Greg Dieter were 5th, and Jason Magditch was 6th.

Nazareth wins the Colonial League Championship (8th consecutive). The individual league tournament is no longer held (Nazareth put 10 wrestlers in the prior years final and all 13 placed in the top 4).

"This is the best dual meet team I have ever coached." Coach Ray Nunamaker

In the District XI AAA tournament then comprised of 23 teams, Nazareth is 2nd (161.5) to Northampton (192), which claims its first team title in 35 years, with Brad Silimperi, Mike Miller, and Ken Herceg winning titles, John Renner was 2nd, Dan Madson and Ross Nunamaker were 3rd, and Preston Moritz and Andy Joseph were 4th.

  • Brad Silimperi wins his first District XI title over Northampton's Rian Youwakim 7-1 at 98.
  • Mike Miller wins his first District XI title over Saucon Valley's Andy Koch 7-6.
  • Ken Herceg wins the District XI title over Saucon Valley's Dave Yonney 7-3.
  • John Renner is District XI runner-up to Liberty's Lance Morabito 4-0.

Ted Meixell, The Morning Call: District 11 Qualifies 27 of 36 for Semis Wrestling (Regionals)

Nazareth again crowns four Northeast Regional Champions with Ken Herceg, Mike Miller, John Renner, and Brad Silimperi en route to winning Ray's first and only Northeast Regional Championship. Ted Meixell, The Morning Call on the Regional finals where John Renner's upset win in the finals gives Nazareth a 1/2 point lead over Northampton for the team title.

  • Brad Silimperi becomes Coach Nunamaker's first PIAA State Wrestling Champion and only the 2nd in school history. You can watch the match on YouTube.
  • John Renner finishes as State runner-up at 185 pounds following a controversial call where Renner allowed an escape and took his opponent down too soon only to see the escape waived off with time expired and he lost 10-8. You can watch the match on YouTube.
  • Ken Herceg places 3rd at States at 145 his only loss in a controversial semi-final overtime match.
  • Mike Miller places 4th at States at 138
  • Ray Nunamaker is named co-coach of the year with Gus D'Augustino of North Allegheny, the nation's top team
  • Nazareth finishes in 2nd place (71) to North Allegheny (100)


Gene Beckner the Express


Ray Nunamaker's 25 year quest has come to an end - thanks to Brad Silimperi.


Nunamaker, who has been Nazareth's head wrestling coach since the 1963-64 season, got his first Pennsylvania state champion when Silimperi won the Class AAA 102 pound title Saturday night.


Silimperi, who scored a pair of comfortable victories Saturday, joined repeat winner Dave Foley of Freedom at 116 as the District 11's only champions for 1988.


Nazareth 189 pounder John Renner and West Hazleton heavyweight Tim Samec, the only additional District 11 wrestlers to reach the finals were runnersup.


Nazareth's other two regional champions - Mike Miller at 142 and Ken Herceg at 149 - were beaten in the semifinals, as was Easton sophomore Moss Grays at 136.


Herceg and Grays each won two consolation bouts to take third places, while Miller finished fourth. Freedom 159 pounder Rod Kessler also earned a fourth.


Silimperi's title helped Nazareth finish second in the team standings with 71 points to 100 for North Allegheny. Nazareth's only previous state champion was 120 pounder Harold Wilson in 1954.


The joy Silimperi and Nunamaker felt was apparent the way the young wrestler leaped into his coach's arms at the conclusion of his finals bout.


"I'm a pretty emotional person," said Silimperi after a tearful presentation ceremony. "I wanted it for my coach, but mostly, I guess, just for me. It's a feeling I can't explain."


"It's an incredible feeling to finally get a state champion," said Nunamaker. "I can't describe it."

Graduating in 1988 for the Blue Eagles (with 30 or more career wins):

  • Ken Herceg 97-23-1 with 46 pins
  • John Renner 56-17-1 with 35 pins
  • Andy Joseph 34-20-1 with 6 pins


Individual Results:

  • R. Buss: 12-6-2
  • D. Connors: 1-1
  • M. Coopersmith: 1-0
  • G. Dieter: 4-2
  • S. Engler: 14-3
  • K. Herceg: 36-1
  • M. Herceg: 22-8-1
  • M. Jaskowiec: 0-2
  • A. Joseph: 20-5
  • J. Kapanka: 7-9
  • T. Killino: 4-4
  • C. Krein: 2-0
  • D. Madson: 27-10
  • J. Magditch: 22-7
  • M. Miller: 32-3-2
  • P. Moritz: 24-7-1
  • R. Nunamaker: 27-9-1
  • J. Renner: 25-9
  • B. Silimperi: 35-0

Ken Herceg graduated with the 2nd most wins in school history (97), John Renner was tied for 17th (56) and Andy Joseph was tied for 38th (34).

Ken Herceg graduated with the most career falls and technical falls (56) and John Renner was 5th (35).


Ken Herceg set the school record with wins in a season (36), Brad Silimperi was tied for 2nd (35), and Mike Miller was 6th (32).


Ken Herceg set the school record for most team points in a season (93) and Brad Silimperi was 7th (88).


Ken Herceg set teh school record for pins in a season (21) and John Renner was 9th (15).


Brad Silimperi and Mike Miller tied for 3rd in Takedowns per season (102) and Preston Moritz was 8th (82).

The 1987-88 team set several team records including Best Record (17-1), Most Wins (17), Most points in a season (918), Most pins in a season (125), Most falls and technical falls (156), most takedowns (738), and most nearfalls (392).


The Nazareth wrestling program record improved to 337-174-8.


Ray Nunamaker's Program Evaluation for 1987-88:

The Nazareth Wrestling Program is one of the best in the state of Pennsylvania and probably one of the best in the entire country. This statement is backed up by the fact that Nazareth finished 2nd in the Pennsylvania AAA State Tournament behind North Allegheny (ranked the number one team in the nation). Further evidence to support the claim that the Lehigh Valley is a tremendous wrestling area is the fact that three National Champions crowned this year did their high school wrestling in District XI. A tremendous accomplishment!


All three levels of the Nazareth Wrestling Program; Senior High, Junior High, and Community Wrestling are successful. The Nazareth program is looked up to as an example of how a total program should be run. It is a product of excellent coaching, extensive participation, sound fundamentals, and community involvement all within a sound educational philosophy.


The accomplishments were many. Brad Silimperi became Nazareth's first state champion in 34 years, and the first for coach Ray Nunamaker. John Renner wrestled outstanding in the state tournament and was state runner-up at 185lbs. Ken Herceg capped a brilliant season by placing 3rd in the states and finishing 36-1 with a career record of 97-23-1 (the second most wins in the school's history). Mike Miller placed 4th in the state tournament.


Nazareth won the Northeast Regional Championship by defeating Northampton by half a point. The Blue Eagles crowned four regional champions, the "fearsome foursome", Brad Silimperi, Mike Miller, Ken Herceg, and John Renner.


Nazareth was the undefeated Colonial League Champion for the eigth year in a row. The mighty "Blue Machine" finished the dual meet season with an impressive 17-1 record (the best in the school's history).


Nazareth crowned three District Champions and sent six to the Northeast Regional Tournament.


Coach Ray Nunamaker was voted PIAA AAA Co-Coach of the year with North Allegheny's Gus D'Augustino.


The Junior Varsity Team coached by Rob Albert, had a 14-1-1 record, and was undefeated in the league. The Nazareth Junior High Team coached by Jody Werner, finished with 12 wins and 1 loss.


The Community League Wrestling Team also had a very successful season as both travelling teams had winning records. Approximately 160 boys participated in our youth wrestling program.