26th Season 16-2 (310-80-6 career record)
Team Captains Jack Kapanka, Preston Moritz, and Ross Nunamaker
"Prospects - As usual, the Blue Eagles are loaded. They will win their ninth consecutive CL (Colonial League) championship - unless a building falls on them during practice." The Morning Call pre-season team capsule.
From Coach Nunamaker, "We have good overall balance, some outstanding individuals and a team motivated to excellence. To quote Lee Iacocca, We have one and only one ambition. To be the best. What else is there?"
From the 1988-89 Wrestling Program: Season Outlook:
It will be tough to top last year's season, but that's exactly what the Blue Eagles will be pointing to do! The 1987-88 team was ranked 15th in the nation by Amateur Wrestling News and finished second in the Pennsylvania State Tournament to North Allegheny, the number one ranked team in the nation.
Nazareth won the Northeast Regional AAA Tournament for the first time ever. They were also the Colonial League Dual Meet Champion for the eighth year in a row.
How can they top last year? Nazareth hopes to top it by accepting the challenge to wrestle the best. The Blue Eagles open the season by competing in the very tough "Top Hat" Tournament in Williamsport, PA. North Schuylkill, PIAA AA State Runner-Up has been added to a very tough field which includes Williamsport, Bald Eagle Area, Warwick, and Bald Eagle Nittany.
Phillipsburg, New Jersey (the number one team in New Jersey) returns to the Blue Eagle schedule after a long absence. Perhaps the biggest attraction on the entire schedule will be the appearance of North Allegheny in a double dual at Easton in the Reilly Tournament. Souderton will also appear in the Reilly Tournament as a common foe for Nazareth and Easton.
Nazareth would like to improve on it's state-wide and national recognition. Coach Nunamaker feels he has the potential to do this, but must stay relatively free of injuries to key wrestlers.
The Blue Eagles are led by returning State Champion Brad Silimperi (35-0) and fourth place finisher in the States, Mike Miller (32-3-2).
Preston Moritz (24-7-1), Dan Madson (27-10), and Ross Nunamaker (27-9-1) make the middle of the lineup very formidable.
Juniors, Jason Magditch (22-7) and Mike Herceg (22-8-1) return valuable experience in the light weights.
Jon Shimer, a two-year letter-winner returns to the team after sitting out his junior year.
Seniors, Mike Coopersmith, Mike Jaskowiec, Jack Kapanka and Chris Krein, provide a great deal of experience.
Ready to move up from the Junior Varsity are juniors; Scott McIntyre, Greg Dieter, Ryan Lahr, Anthony Silimperi, and Dave Connors.
Sophomores Ken Haas and Todd Killino should provide depth at the light middle weights.
Three outstanding freshmen are redy to challenge for a starting berth; Chad Feichtel, Steve Herceg, and Ryan Nunamaker.
Coach Nunamaker states, "The Circle of Success continues to roll. Once more we have a young team, but one with a great deal of wrestling experience. Their skill, attitude, and enthusiasm will be their strength. The tougher schedule will challenge them to bring out the best they can be."
From the 1989 HS Yearbook:
The 1988-89 Nazareth Blue Eagle Wrestling Team had another great season. They won just about everything imaginable. They were the number one dual meet team in the Lehigh Valley. They won the 16 team Williamsport "Top Hat" Tournament and the 19 team Christmas City Tournament. They were the undefeated Colonial League champions for the ninth year in a row, with a record of 8-0. The Eagles had an overall season record of 16-2. One of the many highlights of the season was winning the District XI AAA Championship over Easton and Northampton.
Seniors who led the team this season were Mike Jaskoweic (14-10), Preston Moritz (28-5), Ross Nunamaker (26-7-2), Jon Shimer (21-6), Chris Krein (4-6), and Jack Kapanka (23-13). The tri-captains were seniors Jack Kapanka, Preston Moritz, and Ross Nunamaker.
The Nazareth Eagles proved their winning skills at the District, Regional, and State Tournaments. Seniors Ross Nunamaker and Preston Moritz and Dan Madson, a sophomore, were runners-up in the District XI tournament. Juniors Mike Herceg (125 pounds) took 3rd and Brad Silimperi (112 pounds) took a second at the state tournament. One of the biggest highlights this season was when junior Michael Miller became the 145 pound State Champion. The team placed fourth overall in the State Championships.
Coach Nunamaker stated, "This was certainly one of the best teams in the history of Nazareth Wrestling. The entire team contributed to the success of this year's season. They had a tremendous commitment to the Wrestling Program."
The remaining grapplers next year should prove to be yet another great team. With little problems this year defeating league competitors, Nazareth should have no problem living up to its reputation.
Williamsport Top Hat Tournament
Nazareth wins the 15 team Williamsport Top Hat Tournament 169.5 to 161 over Bald Eagle Area. Brad Silimperi and Mike Miller take first place, Preston Moritz and Dan Madson take 2nd, Mike Herceg, Ross Nunamaker and Jon Shimer finish 3rd, and Jack Kapanka and Scott McEntire are 4th.
Also in the tournament are state AA runner-up North Schuylkill, Williamsport, Warwick and Bald Eagle Nittany.
Nazareth vs. Easton
In only the second dual meet of the season, Nazareth took on the Easton Red Rovers in Nazareth on Saturday, December 17, 1988 and won the match 30-20.
"Jack Kapanka came through with a clutch pin in his 189-pound bout with Easton's Rich Moran to put Nazareth ahead for keeps and heavyweight Scott McEntire - despite being outweighed by perhaps 50 pounds - built a 5-2 lead over Loyal Ricks before the Red Rover was disqualified and the host Blue Eagles hung on for a 30-20 victory last night in the first of six scheduled 1988-89 clashes of the area's four (Nazareth, Easton, Phillipsburg and Northampton) wrestling titans." - Ted Meixell, The Morning Call
"I can't take too many of these' said the happy Nunamaker. 'I'm elated - but I'm also exhausted.' That's a state he may find himself in more often than usual this season, because not one, but two, of his own sons - 103 pounder Ryand 145 pounder Ross - are in his lineup." Ted Meixell, The Morning Call
Nazareth vs. Phillipsburg
The first loss was to Phillipsburg 30-29 in the Pit. At 145 Ross Nunamaker led 3-1 in the closing seconds over John Matczko. On the edge of the mat the two were side by side, Nunamaker had a whizzer, but the referee awarded two points and the match ended in a 3-3 tied. Each team was awarded 2 points. Coach Nunamaker referred to the call as "questionable" in the Morning Call article written by Ted Meixell. After Nazareth built a large lead, Phillipsburg's upperweights rallied with two pins and two decisions in the final four matches for the win.
Christmas City Invitational
Nazareth wins the Christmas City Invitational 225 to 209 over Northampton. The K-Kids put 7 in the finals and crown 6 champions, but it is not enough as Nazareth sends 4 to the finals and 5 to the consolation finals.
Preston Moritz, Dan Madson, and Mike Miller win titles for Nazareth as Brad Silimperi is 2nd, Mike Herceg, Ross Nunamaker, and Scott McEntire are 3rd, Jason Magditch and Mike Jaskowiec are 4th, Chris Krein and Anthony Silimperi are 5th and Jack Kapanka is 6th.
A Giant-killer Night At Christmas City Wrestling
December 31, 1988|by TED MEIXELL, The Morning Call
In an ordinary year, Nazareth's 225-209 victory over runnerup Northampton for the championship of the Christmas CityInvitational Wrestling Tournament at Bethlehem Catholic last night would easily qualify as the major story.
Not this year. Oh, my, no -- not this year.
How good was this year's Xmas City? Well, for starters, how many tournaments have you seen in your lifetime in which, in quick succession, a state runnerup, two state champions (one of them a TWO-TIMER) and a third- place national prep school finisher were all beaten?
Well, it happened on Dewberry Avenue, last night.
Within perhaps an hour, the following quartet of top-shelf wrestlers took to center mat for the Christmas City finals: 112-pounder Jason Marks of Upper Perkiomen, a 1988 Pennsylvania state runnerup; 119-pounder Brad Silimperi of Nazareth, the guy who BEAT Marks in that Pennsy 98-pound final, the guy carrying a 44-match winning streak; 125-pounder Dave Foley of Freedom, who not only won a state crown last year but the year before as well, and 135-pounder Greg Welch of Bullis Prep in Maryland, who placed third in the prep nationals at Lehigh last March.
All four - repeat, all FOUR - lost.
- Marks took down Northampton's Rian Youwakim with three seconds left in the second period to go ahead 4-3. For some strange reason, he let Youwakim up - and it was tied 4-4 after two.
Youwakim chose the bottom position for round three and quickly escaped to go ahead 5-4. Marks pursued Youwakim relentlessly to the end. Just as time was about to expire, he tried a desperation throw - but Youwakim wound up with the takedown himself, and a stunning 7-4 victory.
- But that was just the beginning. With Marks in his corner, cheering his heart out, Upper Perk teammate Brad Rozanski went right after Silimperi, who hadn't lost a match since the state final two years ago. After a scoreless first period, Silimperi escaped to start the second. But Rozanski almost immediately converted a single to go ahead 2-1. Silimperi escaped to knot it 2-2 after two.
The reigning state champ was on top for the third period. Throughout the exciting final two minutes, he tried valiantly to turn Rozanski, who worked just as furiously to escape. With one second left, Rozanski did just that to win 3-2, and upset No. 2 was in the books.
- Before the overflow crowd had a chance to catch its breath, Foley tangled with Northampton's Don Suranofsky. The two have waged numerous action- packed wars over the past four years - and this one was no exception.
Late in period one, Suranofsky hit a barrel roll takedown and tacked on two back points for a 4-0 lead. Foley got out and escaped again at the start of the second period to make it 4-2. A stalling point against Suranofsky narrowed it to 4-3 entering the final period.
In the third, the Konkrete Kid star opened up an 8-3 lead on a point for locked hands, an escape and a takedown, but the relentless Foley refused to give up. He escaped, got a point for stalling and hit a takedown at the buzzer to make the final score 8-7.
- Two bouts later, Welch faced Nazareth's Preston Moritz. This one wasn't as close, as Moritz, who was seeded No. 1 (so perhaps it didn't qualify as an upset from that standpoint) took down Welch five times en route to a 14-5 major decision that just happened to, at the time, clinch a tie for the team title for the Blue Eagles.
After all of this, the coaches had a heck of a lot of guys to think about before casting their ballots for Most Outstanding Wrestler. The good thing was, no matter who they picked, no one could beef too much. They settled on the fired-up Rozanski.
How good was the wrestling in the Xmas City?
"Super wrestling,"gushed Nazareth head coach Ray Nunamaker, who agreed that his team's thrilling mano-a-mano victory over Northampton for the team title might just have to settle for second billing. "Those early bouts - that was just outstanding wrestling. Can you imagine that? A runnerup, two state champs and a national third-placer in preps? All losing? Even when it was Northampton kids winning, I had to marvel at the quality of wrestling. This is the best I've ever seen at this tournament."
Even though one of his kids - Silimperi - was among the victims, Nunamaker was able to find a silver lining.
"It was tough for Brad to lose that one. but he took the loss like a gentleman and a champion - and I know it'll just make him better."
How good was the wrestling?
"The wrestling in both the finals and the semifinals was excellent," echoed Northampton mentor Don Rohn, despite having to settle for second place, something he never suffers easily."Right down to the top four finishers in each weight class, this was not a weak tournament.
"Nazareth has a great team, well-balanced and well-coached.
"You know, we won this thing three straight times (1985 through last year), and the first time I won it, I didn't have one champion. Tonight, I could have seven champs and finish second. (As it turned out, he "only" got six.)
"The first time, I had seven finalists - and went 0-for-7. Tonight, I might go 7-for-7."
"It is ironic that it can turn out that way," Nunamaker agreed. "Last year, Northampton cleaned house in the consolations to win it; this year, that's how we did it. We had a great team effort, 12 kids placed."
Besides Moritz, the Blue Eagles also crowned Dan Madson at 140 and Mike Miller at 152. Madson started slowly, but came on to pin Bangor darkhorse Scott Reeser in 3:00 with a cradle, and Miller pinned Catasauqua's Jeff Horninger in 1:38 for his title.
In addition to Youwakim and Suranofsky, Northampton put 103-pounder Chad Billy, unsung 130-pounder Mike Laury, 171-pounder Kevin Smith and heavyweight Mike Reenock atop the awards platform.
Billy's 4-3 win over Allen's tough Jason Wagner was every bit as thrilling as the four bouts detailed earlier: it came on a reversal with 10 seconds left.
Laury's blue ribbon came in a more routine 7-4 win over Becahi's Willy Stravino; Smith won a tense 6-4 victory over another Warhawk, Tony Iasiello Jr., and Reenock successfully defended his 1987 championship, avenging a dual meet loss by fall to Catty's Joe DeWalt with a 6-2 decision.
The only Konkrete Kid finalist to lose was 160-pounder Brian Chamberlain, who dropped an exciting, 9-8 barn-burner to Becahi's tough Blayne Diacont.
But, despite doubling up on Nazareth's three individual champions, the Blue Eagles' team title was achieved, as expected, by their performance in the consolation brackets.
While 12 of Nazareth's 13 entries placed, Northampton drew blanks in four weight classes.
Although none of its three finalists were victorious, Catasauqua impressed onlookers by amassing 154 points to finish third, with Becahi fourth with 138 1/2 points.
Allen 145-pounder Jason Jenkins and Bangor 189-pounder Doug Comunale accounted for the other two individual titles. Jenkins blanked Catty's Kevin Krautsack 3-0, while Comunale rang up a 15-6 major on Palisades' tough Mike Samsel.
Despite losing to Diacont in the finals, Chamberlain won the award for most pins (three) in the least aggregate time (5:13).
Nazareth vs. North Allegheny
The teams' second loss was to the nation's top ranked team, North Allegheny, from Pittsburgh who had snapped St. Edwards long run as the top nationally ranked team. The dual with North Allegheny took place at the James B. "Pat" Reilly Scholarship Wrestling Invitational at Easton High School.
North Allegheny Invades The L.v. Easton, Nazareth Have Shot At No. 1 Team In Reilly Tournament Today Wrestling
January 07, 1989|by TED MEIXELL, The Morning Call
Late last season, when it was first announced that North Allegheny, the nation's No. 1 ranked scholastic wrestling team, would be coming to Easton's 25th Street Gym this year (2 and 7 p.m. sessions today) to go against cohosts Easton and Nazareth in the 32nd annual James B. "Pat" Reilly Invitational, it was generally agreed that both Steve Powell's Red Rovers and Ray Nunamaker's Blue Eagles were in for old-fashioned whuppings.
After all, Gus DeAugustino's Tigers, who are 7-0 so far in 1988-89, have won 52 straight dual meets and have won the PIAA's Class 3A team title the last two years at Hershey. What's more, they're again ranked No. 1 in the United States and they have four - count 'em, four - returning state placewinners.
That list includes two-time state champ Ty Moore who, counting his 11-0 record this year, is a letter perfect 83-0 in high school. And, oh yes, he's still just a junior. The Tigers also boast a second defending state champ, 171-pounder Ray Brinzer, also a junior; a two-time placewinner and 1988 runnerup, 119-pounder Mike Norton (both his losses at states were to Freedom's Dave Foley, last year in the finals), and 1988 runnerup Rich Catalano at 152.
Howsomever . . .
Both Easton and Nazareth are, in a word, loaded, this year. And North Allegheny, while unbeaten, just might not be as invincible as once thought. They did, come in second (to Waynesburg) last week in a tournament at California (Pa.).
Indeed, close scrutiny of the matchups reveals that the Tigers do have a few holes, holes that both the Rovers and Eagles just may be able to take advantage of.
Dare we say it? North Allegheny could . . . just could, mind you . . . go home tomorrow with one, perhaps even two, losses. Not to mention, of course, no longer being No. 1 in the country.
Both of the Tigers' matches today could boast of a number of glamor individual bouts. When they tangle with Nazareth at 2, for example, it is very likely that Moore will jump up to 119 to meet the Eagles' Brad Silimperi in a matchup of 1988 state champs (Silimperi at 98, Moore at 105). If he does, Norton will jump to 125, where he'll face another Eagle stud, Mike Herceg. And Catalano is almost certain to meet Nazareth's unbeaten (11-0) Mike Miller at 152. Both placed at states last year.
Brinzer (11-0 this year, 35-0 last year), on the other hand, will be a prohibitive favorite, whether he drops to 160 to face either Chris Krein or Jon Shimer, if the latter's rib injuries are healed, or stays at 171 against Jack Kapanka.
When North Allegheny battles Easton at 7, the main events should come at 160 and 171, where either Brinzer or rugged Ken Bauer (22-4 last season) will go against unbeaten (11-0) Tony Rizzolino and Brian Marchetti (7-2).
Souderton, the other "invader" this year, would've been a far better attraction last year (when Stan Smith's Big Red was loaded). But, although Souderton doesn't figure to be much of a threat to either Easton (at 2) or Nazareth (at 7), it does have four blue chip wrestlers, all of whom will offer stern challenges to whomever they wrestle.
The Big Red's solid quartet includes Sam and Chad Clemens (no relation) at 112 and 119, respectively, Tim Alderfer at 135 and Marc Scotti at heavyweight. Chad Clemens, Alderfer and Scotti are all unbeaten and Sam Clemens has lost just once. Chad Clemens placed third at 98 last year, defeating Northampton's Mike Recker 6-4 in their third-fourth bout.
Against Nazareth, Chad Clemens vs. Silimperi and Alderfer vs. once-beaten (8-1) Preston Moritz should be dandies.
Nazareth and Easton will not wrestle one another, nor will Souderton and North Allegheny.
* * *
NOTE: North Allegheny records are from 1987-88 season; all others are 1988-89 season to date.
103 - NA Jr. Jeff Alexander (21-8); S: Fr. Dan Smith (1-8); E: Fr. Tim Riehl (7-4); N: Jr. Jason Magditch (4-5).
112 - NA: Jr. Ty Moore (36-0); S: Soph. Sam Clemens (9-1); E: Soph. Jason Rute (9-4); N: Fr. Ryan Nunamaker (7-4).
119 - NA: Sr. Mike Norton (34-3); S: Jr. Chad Clemens (9-0); E: Sr. Chad Eismont (5-4); N: Jr. Brad Silimperi (8-1).
Note: North Allegheny's Moore, a two-time state champion who has never lost a high school bout (he was 72-0 entering the season), has gone on record that he plans to face Silimperi. Thus, against Nazareth, Moore will wrestle at 119, with Norton moving up to 125 - and either Soph. Dave Edgar (16-3 in Jr. High) or Soph. Grant Keiser (12-7-1 in Jr. High) will face Nunamaker at 112.
125 - NA: Soph. Chris Tucek (18-1 in Jr. High); S: Blair Schilling (5-4-1); E: Soph. Steve Calandra (4-5); N: Jr. Mike Herceg (9-2).
130 - NA: Jr. Jamie Kyriazis (7-0 JV); S: Soph. Dave Altman (0-2) or Jr. Craig Gehman (0-2); E: Sr. Thad Picone (9-2); N: Sr. Mike Jaskowiec (3-3).
135 - NA: Jr. Mike Johns (22-8) or Jr. Chris Watson (17-8); S: Jr. Tim Alderfer (10-0); E: Sr. Jim Brown (7-4); N: Sr. Preston Moritz (8-1).
140 - NA: Jr. Brian Krepp (9-14); S: Brandon Derstine (4-6); E: Jr. Moss Grays (9-1); N: Soph. Dan Madson (9-2).
145 - NA: Jr. Matt Swanson (2-0) or Jr. Nick Cotsanas (0-1); S: Sr. Jeff Goering (1-8); E: Sr. Dave DiSora (11-0); N: Sr. Ross Nunamaker (8-3-1).
152 - NA: Sr. Rich Catalano (31-3); S: Sr. Don Kulp (5-6); E: Jr. Dan Goffredo (6-4-1); N: Jr. Mike Miller (11-0).
160 - NA: Jr. Ken Bauer (24-4); S: Soph. Bob Hoelzle (0-5); E: Sr. Tony Rizzolino (11-0); N: Sr. Chris Krein (4-5) or Sr. Jon Shimer (5-2).
171 - NA: Jr. Ray Brinzer (35-0); S: Sr. Corey Gilbert (3-7); E: Sr. Brian Marchetti (7-2); N: Sr. Jack Kapanka (8-6).
189 - NA: Soph. Brad Farmerie (16-2 in Jr. High); S: Soph. Shawn Gular (0-2) or Soph. Jerry Zigon (2-5); E: Sr. Rich Moran (5-4); N: Jr. Scott McEntire (10-5).
Hwt. - NA: Sr. Tom Cielecy (9-5); S: Sr. Marc Scotti (10-0); E: Sr. Loyal Ricks (9-3); N: Jr. Anthony Silimperi (3-3).
North Allegheny won the match 39-21. To put the quality of the North Allegheny team in perspective, consider these victories over three Blue Eagles who account for 3 state titles, 3 runner-up finishes, and two additional medals in Hershey: Ty Moore from North Allegheny defeated Ryan Nunamaker in his freshman season. Mike Norton defeated Brad Silimperi 4-0 and Rich Catalano defeated Mile Miller 5-1.
The second match was against Souderton, which Nazareth defeated 55-8.
Nazareth vs. Freedom
While the dual meet was never in question with Nazareth winning 55-7, there were two impressive performances by Todd Killino and Mike Herceg at 119 and 125 respectively. Killino defeated Mike Villani 8-6 and Herceg won a wild 18-16 match over two time defending state champion Dave Foley.
At Monday's practice Dale Johnson came into the room and had a few words with coach Nunamaker while the team waited around the circle in the middle of the mat. Coach Nunamaker spoke to the team saying (roughly), "We received a call from Freedom asking if anyone has seen two Freedom singlets that may have been left behind (pause) They may be on the roof of the locker room."
Bob Flounders of the Express:
The match was decided early, after the 145 pound bout in which Nazareth wrestler Ross Nunamaker pinner Chris Kessler in 1:07. Coach Ray Nunamaker's Blue Eagles would ultimately spank Bangor 60-6 Wednesday night in front of the hometown fans.
Another Colonial League "NC" - no contest. The Eagles are the only team in a one-team race once again. That suits Nunamaker just fine.
And there sat Nazareth's coach, taking it all in from his customary position, still solidly built after 26 years on the job.
A pathway to the wrestling mat divides two rows of seats for the Eagles' wrestling team. If you look over, Nunamaker can be found in the front row, closest to the pathway, on the left, Assistant coach John Rodriguez is on his right - always.
Midway through the 189 pound bout between Nazareth's Scott McEntire and the Slaters' Rob Stackhouse, the public address announcer asked the fans to remain in their seats for a special ceremony. More than a few were puzzled.
Quietly, 48 year old Ray Nunamaker was about to sneak up on his 300th win. It even caught Eagles' fans by surprise.
"If people wouldn't have told him about the 300 wins," said his wife Scherrie afterward, "he probably wouldn't have known."
Low-key is Nunamaker's style. Unless it's a big match, Nunamaker never gets outwardly animated. How else does one survive the rigors of wrestling for so long? Neither Scherrie, nor his son Ross noticed any change in Nunamaker leading up to the match.
"He was pretty much the way he usually is, pretty laid back," said Ross, whose victory clinched the win for his dad. "He had (Saturday night's match against) Northampton on his mind, but other than that, he was he same way he usually is. The only thing different about him was the black eye he got from Mike Herceg."
Yes, Nunamaker still likes to turn it loose in the wrestling room with the team. In a recent workout with Herceg, he caught an elbow in the left eye. The only concession Nunamaker has made to time is with whom he works out.
"Well, I still like to go with the kids some," Nunamaker said during a post-match party in his honor in the high school cafeteria. "I don't know how hard anymore. I used to go with the heavier weights all the time in the early days, then I gradually worked down to the middle weights. Now I pretty much just go with the lighter weights. Or else," he shrugs, "I wouldn't be able to move at night."
As Nunamaker speaks wrestlers past and present come up to congratulate him. Members of his first team come back to see him, a fact that probably speaks more highly of Nunamaker than anything. He is Nazareth wrestling.
Nazareth vs. Northampton
Nazareth defeats Bangor for Ray's 300th career coaching victory the Wednesday before Saturday's showdown with Northampton.
The Morning Call preview of Nazareth vs. Northampton by Ted Meixell:
Super Bowl? Phooey! Who needs it?
If you live within reach of these words and if you're a wrestling fan, you know doggone well what I mean.
Tonight, right here in the Lehigh Valley - up in Northampton's "Kid Dome" - we will have our own Super Bowl. Actually, it's the Super Bowl, the World Series, the Indy 500 and the Kentucky Derby all wrapped up in one package: the dual meet between the host K-Kids and the visiting Nazareth Blue Eagles.
This will be the fourth of six matches in the round robin involving the area's four wrestling powers - Northampton, Nazareth, Phillipsburg and Easton. And, from this corner at least, it promises to be the best and most exciting of them all.
It's a dream matchup between two clubs featuring masterful coaches - the Kids' Don Rohn and the Blue Eagles' Ray Nunamaker - and lineups dotted with stars and superstars.
The first five batters in Northampton's batting order - Chad Billy, Rian Youwakim, Mike Recker, Don Suranofsky and Mike Laury - boast a combined record of 74-5-1. Youwakim, along with 171 pounder Kevin Smith, is unbeated and untied.
You can get some idea of how good this dual promises to be merely by considering the fact that, if Nunamaker makes the line-up switches some (at least this one guy) expect, Youwakim will be the underdog. That will be the case, of course, if defending state champion Brad Silimperi drops to 112 for the first time to face "Wak".
If the top of the Kids' order is awesome, the middle of the Eagles' - Preston Moritz, Dan Madson, Ross Nunamaker and Mike Miller - is only a tad behind. That foursome comes into action with a combined 54-8-1 - and what has to be particularly worrisome to Rohn is that it hits his club right where it's weakest. Thus the potential for bonus points in that range is great.
Nazareth defeats Northampton 28-22 for Ray's 301st career coaching victory, prior to the match the team writes 301 on the bottom of their sneakers heel to toe so everyone in the gym would see it when they circled up after warm-up in the middle of the mat. Thanks to Todd Killino, you can watch the match on YouTube here and see the second half plus the interview of Ray by Twin County Sports' Gary Laubauch and Scott Barr.
Brad Silimperi put the Eagles in a great position with a second period fall of Rian Youwakim and Mike Herceg followed that up with an 18-11 win over Don Suranofsky. Even with those big wins it wasn't until Jack Kapanka defeated Mike Manning at 171 by major decision that the Blue Eagles could feel confident in the win.
From Ted Meixell in the Morning Call (note these are excerpts not the entire article):
Neither winning coach Ray Nunamaker, who picked up his 300th career victory Wednesday but admitted, "No. 301 was much sweeter," nor Northampton's Don Rohn, though, would admit later to feeling the outcome had been settled by the one-third mark - although both acknowledged that, in the final analysis, 112 and 125 had been the keys.
"No," Nunamaker said, "I didn't feel we had it wrapped up until Kapanka won. Sure, I thought we were sitting pretty, but Don and I think alike, and I knew exactly what he was thinking, And then we got slowed down in the middle."
"I was concerned, let's put it that way," Ray Nunamaker said. "I thought Kapanka could handle Manning, but I was afraid of that famed Northampton Cement Job. One bad move and..."
"But, Brad and Mike did super jobs. Brad's been down with that injured shoulder, and he's not really in wrestling shape yet. And against a kid as tough as Youwakim.."
"And Mike Herceg has been just super lately, and he came through again."
In closing, Ray Nunamaker said, "A great bunch of kids. I know I may say this every year, but the other day I told them that I think they're one of the very best teams I've ever had."
After 26 years and 301 wins that's saying a lot.
Rohn's closing remark was just as interesting. "If there's one consolation to this loss - and it's not much of one, that's for sure - but, for the last two years, the loser of this dual meet was the District XI champion. Let's hope THAT holds up."
Nazareth vs. Liberty
Nazareth wins 56-0. It was not a "down" Liberty team. Liberty was 12-5 coming into the match, but the match-ups worked in Nazareth's favor. At 119 Brad Silimperi defeated Pat Tocci (20-4), Mike Herceg defeated Jason Frisch (14-8-1), Preston Moritz defeated Brian Cuddy (21-3), Ross Nunamaker defeated Mike Evans (22-2), and Mike Miller defeated Jim Chaikowsky (16-10).
Jack Schlottman of the Globe-Times (partial article):
Twenty-five years as Liberty High School's head wrestling coach. Nearly three decades in charge of one of the most storied programs in Pennslyvania. Half of a lifetime inside Memorial Gymnasium, a place that oozes tradition even when half-filled.
Frank Guitierrez thought he had seen it all.
Until Saturday night.
Nazareth High School came, saw, and conquered. Beat the Hurricane 56-0. Won all 13 bouts.
Left Guitierrez standing on the gym floor, eyes rolled toward the ceiling, trying to figure out exactly what went wrong.
Or what didn't.
It was history in the making. Of the wrong kind.
As far as anyone could tell, it was the first shutout of the proud 'Cane in 68 years of wrestling, winning, and banner-hanging.
No one expected Liberty (12-5) to beat Ray Nunamaker's talented Blue Eagles. Nazareth (13-2) is the best, most balanced team in the Lehigh Valley this winter. Maybe the best in a long time.
There were a few people hoping against hpe, who thought the 'Cane might make it close. After all, Liberty slugged it out against Northampton and P'burg. Only at Easton did the 'Cane look really bad.
But the matchups in this dual meet did not favor the 'Cane. Liberty's three best wrestlers - seniors Pat Tocci and Brian Cuddy, and junior Mike Evans - all went up against kids who were at least equals. All three lost.
"I didn't expect this," said the soft-spoken Nunamaker, who seemed as if he wished Liberty would've gotten something on its side of the scoreboard.
"It was a great performance by us against a good team."
Still to see Liberty get blanked in its own house...
Gutierrez does not have a bad team. You would think simple percentages would allow for one tiny victory out of 12 bouts (Liberty forfeited at 103 pounds).
But as basketball maven and all-around philosopher Al McGuire likes to say, "Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades."
Notice, he didn't mention wrestling.
At 130, Liberty's Chris Ruhf lost, 1-0. Mike Jaskowiec was awarded a penalty point for Ruhf's illegal hold in the final period. Ouch.
At 135, Cuddy lost to Nazareth's Preston Moritz 8-6. Cuddy was inches away from a tying takedown in the final 10 seconds. But Moritz grabbed Cuddy's leg and held on for dear life, not allowing the 'Cane star to swing around behind him. Double ouch.
District XI Tournament
Nazareth wins the District XI Tournament 221.5 to 200 over Northampton in the 22 team tournament.
Brad Silimperi and Mike Miller claim titles, Preston Moritz, Dan Madson, and Ross Nunamaker are 2nd, Mike Herceg, Jon Shimer, Jack Kapanka, and Scott McEntire are 3rd and Jason Magditch is 5th.
From the Morning Call by Ted Meixell (not the full article only the opening related to Nazareth):
This may not be the best Nazareth wrestling team in Ray Nunamaker's 26 years at the helm.
But, you'd probably have a hard time convincing many of the 5,500 or so folks who crammed Liberty's Memorial Gym yesterday (there was a packed house of well over 3,000 shoehorned in for the finals) for the final two sessions of the 1989 District XI Class 3A wrestling tournament of that.
And, as of late last evening, after he'd watched his Blue Eagles cap an incredible season by advancing five kids into the finals, crowning a pair of champs, qualifying nine of 13 for next week's Northeast 3A Regional and outdistancing Northampton 221.5 to 200 for the team title, you couldn't get an argument from Nunamaker, either.
"I've said all year it's probably my best dual meet team," he said, "and, after this, even though I certainly don't want to slight any one of my other good teams, I'd have to say this team is my best ever."
As good as he felt last night, Nunamaker immediately noted that his kids are after bigger game. "There are a few more things we can do," he said. "We've set a goal from day one to win the state tournament. We'd like to get six guys out there [through regionals and to Hershey], and we're gonna go for it."
Later, following perhaps the most exciting championship round, top to bottom, in the last decade, Nunamaker continued to garner the awards; he was named District XI 3A Coach of the Year by a vote of his peers.
Only one thing put a damper on what might otherwise have been his happiest day since he married Scherrie: his son Ross, an underdog finalist, was beated 14-12 when Easton's Tony Rizzonlino capped an incredible comeback (Nunamaker led 10-5 after two periods) with a four-point move in the waning seconds of the 152 pound title match.
"That had to be the hardest match I've ever witnessed in my entire life," he said. "It was just hard for me to convince myself it was just another wrestling match. Ross may have lost, but I'm so proud of him; he just gave me his entire heart."
Nazareth's defending state champ Brad Silimperi (last year's 98 pound state champ) was locked in a 0-0 deadlock with old nemesis Pat Tocci of Liberty after two periods of their 112 pound final. But he escaped to lead 1-0 and then, with Tocci boring in, pancaked him to his back and into a fall with 50 seconds left.
- Brad Silimperi wins his 2nd District XI title with a fall over Liberty's Pat Tocci in 5:10 at 112.
- Mike Miller wins his 2nd District XI title with a fall over Parkland's Rod Oppenheimer in 5:21 at 145.
- Preston Moritz loses to Easton's Moss Grays (finished 3rd at states) by technical fall in 5:47 at 135.
- Dan Madson loses to Easton's Mike Disora (finished 3rd at states) 13-5 at 140.
- Ross Nunamaker loses to Easton's Tony Rizolino (finished 3rd at states) 14-12 at 152.
"Ross Nunamaker lost one of the most exciting bouts ever wrestled in the finals, 14-12 to Tony Rizzolino of Easton, and was one of seven Eagles to place second or third." - Scott Barr, Wrestling Country
Northeast Regional Championships
Nazareth qualifies nine wrestlers to the Northeast Regional Championships.
Nazareth's Brad Silimperi and Mike Miller win Northeast Regional Championships.
Mike Herceg wrestles back for 3rd place and advances to Hershey.
Preston Moritz loses in the semi-finals 3-3 OT criteria to Brian Cuddy of Liberty, Dan Madson loses to Tom Best of Williamsport (3x PIAA State Runner-up going into his senior season), and Ross Nunamaker also loses in the semi-finals 6-4 to eventual champion Jerry Ogurkis of Dallas Area (who wins by fall over Tony Rizzolino of Easton in the finals).
Nunamaker loses 6-3 in the consolation finals to Chris Walter (4th in states) of Shikellamy and Moritz loses 14-3 to Joe McLaughlin of Wyoming Valley West, they both place 4th.
PIAA State AAA Championships
A Look At The Class Aaa Wrestling Contenders
By Matt Schuman, Special to The Inquirer
POSTED: March 16, 1989
The weight classes have been realigned and there are 13 classes instead of 12, but otherwise the scene remains the same as the Pennsylvania high school wrestling season comes to a climax.
Here is a preview of what to expect at the Class AAA level. Top contenders, their schools and their records - along with District 1 qualifiers, in order of finish at the districts - are listed for each weight class.
103 POUNDS. Chris Thatcher (Tunkhannock) 32-1, Chad Billy (Northampton) 26-5-1, Brian Kapusta (Greensburg-Salem) 32-0, Charlie Bey (Bradford) 28-1.
District 1: Jason Marks (Upper Perkiomen) 32-2, Chris Ruyak (Pottstown) 32-2, Chris Barone (Council Rock) 30-6.
Thatcher, who placed sixth at 98 pounds last year, suffered his first loss in the Northeast Regional final against Billy. Pick: Thatcher.
112 POUNDS. Ty Moore (North Allegheny) 32-1, Jeff Stepanic (Connellsville) 30-2, Brad Silimperi (Nazareth) 28-2, Jeff Cervone (Meadeville) 30-2, Pete Rinella (Lock Haven) 28-2, Mark Eckenrode (Dover) 29-4, Rob Weiss (Erie McDowell) 28-1.
District 1: Chad Bailey (Harry S. Truman) 30-1, Jim Barrett (William Tennent) 27-4, Terry Hickman (Central Bucks East) 32-6.
This is one of the strongest weights in state-tournament history, with six returning place-winners, including two defending champions. Two-time gold medalist Moore, last season's winner at 105, suffered the first loss of his career in the Southwest Regional final against Stepanic. That left his career record at 104-1. Silimperi, last year's champion at 98, lost to Moore in the 98-pound final in '87. Weiss was second and Eckenrode sixth at 105 last year; Rinella was third and Stepanic fifth at 98 a season ago. Pick: Moore.
119 POUNDS. John Richey (Connellsville) 31-4, Mark Oldhouser (Red Lion) 31-1, Mike Recker (Northampton) 33-4, Roger McLaughlin (Solanco) 24-4, Scott Forry (Spring Grove) 28-1.
District 1: Matt Finnacchio (North Penn) 28-2, Mike Krafchik (West Chester East) 33-2, Brad Rozanski (Upper Perkiomen) 34-2.
Two-time defending champion Dave Foley of Bethlehem Freedom, who figured to be the favorite, failed to survive the Northeast Regionals, which were won by Recker. All three District 1 representatives are capable of placing. Pick: Recker, but watch out for Rozanski.
125 POUNDS. Mike Herceg (Nazareth) 31-5, Joey Wildasin (South Western) 27-0, Don Suranofsky (Northampton) 26-4-1, Thad Picone (Easton) 30-5.
District 1: Chris Carr (Upper Darby) 29-0, Damian Pizzo (Methacton) 26-8, Randy Zarroli (Council Rock) 30-7.
130 POUNDS. Shawn Brown (Wyoming Valley West) 30-2-1, Steve Krouse (Lock Haven) 29-0, Mike Yancosky (Mount Pleasant) 33-0, Mike Laury (Northampton) 31-3, Brian Willoughby (Red Land) 31-0.
District 1: Tim Alderfer (Souderton) 32-2, Mike Rugg (Quakertown) 27-7, Joe Speck (Wissahickon) 28-8.
Brown (third), Krouse (fifth) and Willoughby (sixth) each placed at 119 last season. Yancosky might be a year away from a state title. Laury surprised Brown in the Northeast Regional final. Alderfer could be a factor. Pick: Krouse.
135 POUNDS. Moss Grays (Easton) 31-1, Barry Anderson (Meadeville) 33-0, Dave Thomas (Waynesburg) 26-1, Jeff Witwer (Garden Spot) 31-0.
District 1: Bart DeRemer (Quakertown) 32-3, Skip Beltz (Pottstown) 27-8, Chris Shivery (Chichester) 29-2.
Look for a final pitting Grays, who placed third at 132 last year, against Anderson. Thomas, a sophomore, is still developing. Witwer placed fifth at the Class AA (small-school) level a year ago. DeRemer is dangerous, although he did not appear to be in peak form during last weekend's Southeast Regionals at Coatesville. Pick: Grays.
140 POUNDS. Tom Best (Williamsport) 29-1, Dave DiSora (Easton) 32-1, Don Lemley (Waynesburg) 33-2-1, Kim Morgan (Trinity) 22-2-1, Tom Stallings (McCaskey) 29-0-1.
District 1: Brian Campbell (Pottstown) 33-1, Sam Mantenga (Chichester) 27-2, Russ Stankina (Methacton) 32-3.
Best, a three-time runner-up, could end his high school career by finally winning a gold medal. His only loss this season came on a disqualification. DiSora, who might be the second-best wrester in the weight class, suffered his first loss in the Northeast Regional final against Best. Morgan defeated Lemley in the Southwest Regional final. Stallings is the Southcentral kingpin. All three District 1 grapplers could have an impact on the tourney. Pick: Best.
145 POUNDS. Chad Pines (Cedar Cliff) 27-0, Mike Miller (Nazareth) 32-1, Romy O'Daniel (Canon-McMillan) 25-4-1, Kevin Harris (Keystone Oaks) 34-0, Matt Stehman (Shamokin) 23-4.
District 1: Greg Stefanowski (Neshaminy) 13-1-1, Mike Chase (Council Rock) 25-5, Marc Petroski (Springfield) 29-2.
Pines defeated Miller in last year's 138-pound consolation final. Miller's only loss this season was to Rich Catalano, one of the favorites at 152. Stehman, a Delaware state champion last season, faces Harris in the first round. O'Daniel is erratic but extremely capable. District 1 is represented by a trio of solid performers. Pick: Pines.
152 POUNDS. Rich Catalano (North Allegheny) 28-1, Jeff Martin (Warwick) 30-2, J. J. Rusnak (Altoona) 25-5, Jerry Ogurkis (Dallas) 28-1, Jim Brasco (Hempfield) 29-2.
District 1: Mike Stocku (Ridley) 34-2, Tony DeHaven (Conestoga) 27-2, Rob Weneck (Norristown) 28-4-1.
Catalano, the runner-up at 138 last year, could be tough to beat. His lone loss this season came on an injury default. Martin was the 145-pound silver medalist a year ago. Rusnak's father is the Altoona coach. Ogurkis won the Northeast Regional. Brasco was second to Catalano in the Southwest. DeHaven cannot be overlooked. Pick: Martin.
160 POUNDS. Ray Brinzer (North Allegheny) 32-0, Rob Harris (Abington Heights) 30-0, Greg Hopkins (Waynesburg) 28-4, Mark Brous (Shikellamy) 25-5-1, Steve Elicker (South Western) 28-3, John Klingaman (Dallastown) 22-4.
District 1: Guy Horton (Neshaminy) 23-3, Jim Richards (Springfield) 33-1, Dave Scarpill (Central Bucks East) 32-4.
Brinzer, the defending champion at 155, may be better on his feet than any other wrestler in Pennsylvania. Harris' perfect record speaks for itself. Elicker nipped Klingaman, 2-1, in the Southcentral Regional. Hopkins lost to Brinzer in the Southwest. Brous does not have an impressive record, but he has competed as high as 189 pounds this season. Richards' first loss was a shocker: Horton pinned him inside of a minute in the Southeast Regional final. Pick: Brinzer.
171 POUNDS. Kevin Smith (Easton) 32-0, Ken Bauer (North Allegheny) 29-4-1, Terry Naugle (Juniata) 26-1.
District 1: Chris Kwortnik (North Penn) 34-0, Tim Timperio (Radnor) 26-4, Steve Bell (Upper Darby) 28-3-1.
If would take an upset of mammoth proportions to prevent Kwortnik from winning his third straight state championship. The only one with even a remote chance appears to be Smith, who placed fourth at 167 a year ago. Bauer won the Southwest Regional. Naugle struck gold in the Southcentral. Pick: Kwortnik.
189 POUNDS. Jeff Liebel (Erie Prep) 29-2, Jim Schoffstall (Big Spring) 29-1, Tac Thomas (Red Lion) 32-0, Mike Kraft (Penn Hills) 22-0, Damon Mazoff (Clearfield) 26-3, Lee Robinson (Waynesburg) 34-2.
District 1: Tyrone Howard (Bensalem) 26-1, Marcus Smith (Norristown) 29-4, Jason Hillaert (Neshaminy) 23-9.
Most of the top contenders are in the same half of the bracket. Liebel, who lost in overtime to Kwortnik early in the season, opens against Robinson. Kraft, who was fifth at 167 last year, faces Schoffstall, who was sixth at 185, in the first round. Mazoff, fifth at 185 in last season's Class AA meet, won the Northwest Regional. Thomas beat Schoffstall en route to the Southcentral title. Howard, who is in the weaker bracket, has a real shot to place. Pick: Thomas.
HEAVYWEIGHT. Joe Daubert (Indian Valley) 24-2-1, Skip Pighetti (Bald Eagle) 30-0-1, Jeff Holanbush (Lower Dauphin) 27-2, Bucky Greely (Coughlin) 31-1, Matt Meenan (Williamsport) 24-4-1.
District 1: Mark Scotti (Souderton) 32-1, Shawn Wolfrom (Pennridge) 31-4, John Dollard (Sun Valley) 28-5.
Daubert, the defending Class AA state champion, is 0-2-1 vs. Pighetti, undefeated against everyone else. Pighetti placed fifth at heavyweight last season. Greely pinned Meenan in 46 seconds in the Northeast Regional final. Holanbush is the Southcentral kingpin. Scotti is small for a heavyweight, but they do not come any more rugged. Pick: Pighetti.
Mike Miller scores a takedown with five seconds remaining to win his first state championship 7-5 over Canon McMillan's Romy O'Daniel. He is the only Lehigh Valley state champion that season.
"Miller's teammate, Brad Silimperi was beaten 4-3 by North Allegheny's Ty Moore in the 112 pound final. In a bizarre twist to the night for Silimperi, he was ejected from the arena by security for racing out onto the mat to celebrate Miller's win." Bob Flounders, The Express.
Nazareth finishes in 4th Place in the PIAA State Championships.
- Mike Miller is Coach Nunamaker's 2nd State Champion at 145
- Brad Silimperi is State Runner-up at 112
- Mike Herceg is State 3rd place at 125
Following the 1989 State Championships, Ray Nunamaker said, "Nazareth is a community with a great deal of tradition and loyalty. In the stadium Saturday night, we could hear the cheers and shouts of the people of Nazareth who follow us year in and year out. It is a pleasure, not only to coach these fine young men throughout the years, but also a pleasure to work in a community that displays such pride."
Graduating in 1989 for the Blue Eagles (with 30 or more career wins)
- Preston Moritz 87-30-2 with 24 pins
- Ross Nunamaker 56-17-3 with 16 pins
- Jon Shimer 41-22-1 with 12 pins
- Jack Kapanka 30-22 with 18 pins
- G. Dieter: 1-1
- C. Feichtel: 2-0
- M. Herceg: 36-6
- M. Jaskowiec: 14-10
- J. Kapanka: 23-13
- T. Killino: 7-3
- C. Krein: 4-6
- R. Lahr: 2-4
- D. Madson: 27-5
- J. Magditch: 18-9-1
- S. McAlone: 1-0
- S. McEntire: 27-10
- M. Miller: 36-1
- P. Moritz: 28-5
- Ro. Nunamaker: 26-7-2
- Ry. Nunamaker: 17-7-1
- J. Shimer: 21-6
- A. Silimperi: 15-9
- B. Silimperi: 31-3
Preston Moritz graduates with the 5th (87) most wins in school history, Ross Nunamaker is tied for 19th (56), Jon Shimer is 34th (41), and Jack Kapanka is tied for 52nd (30).
Preston Moritz is 6th (41) all time for career falls and technical falls and 4th all time for takedowns per season (103).
With the 13 weights the team establishes many new school records including team points in a season (948), pins in a season (145), falls and technical falls (181), and takedowns (791).
Ray Nunamaker's Program Evaluation:
The Nazareth Wrestling Program continues to be one of the best in the State of Pennsylvania. I thought it would be hard to top last year, but I felt we did. Nazareth won the Williamsport "Top Hat" Tournament, the "Christmas City" Tournament, and the District XI Tournament. We probably would have ended the dual meet season undefeated if we didn't decide to schedule North Allegheny (#1 in PA) and Phillipsburg (#1 in NJ), our only two losses. It was this competition that enabled us to be ranked 4th in the state and #1 in the Lehigh Valley.
Again, all three levels of the Nazareth Wrestling Program; Senior High, Junior High, and Community Wrestling were successful.
The accomplishments were many. Mike Miller became Nazareth's third state champion at 145 lbs, finishing with a 36-1 record. Brad Silimperi wrestled magnificantly and reached the PIAA finals for the third year in a row, losing a close 4-3 decision to three time State Champion Ty Moore. Mike Herceg also had a great tournament and placed third at 125 lbs.
Nazareth was the undefeated Colonial League Champion for the ninth year in a row. The last time the Blue Eagles have lost a Colonial League meet was January 10, 1980 to Saucon Valley 28-20.
The Blue Eagles won the District XI AAA Championship over close rivals Northampton and Easton. Brad Silimperi and Mike Miller won District Championships. Preston Moritz, Dan Madson, and Ross Nunamaker were District Runnerups. Mike Herceg, Jon Shimer, Jack Kapanka, and Scott McEntire all placed third and advanced to the Northeast Regionals.
The Junior Varsity team coached by John Rodriguez went undefeated (16-0) and won the Northampton JV Tournament.
The Nazareth Community Wrestling Teams also had outstanding seasons. Competing in the Valley Elementary League the Blue Team was 5-2 and the White Team was 6-1, while the combined JV teams were 13-1.
As you can see, the future of the Nazareth Wrestling Program looks very good. If anything, the foundation (Community Program) seems to be getting stronger.