Nazareth's captain in Coach Nunamaker's 2nd season, Tom Konya, took over Northampton's Moore Township youth wrestling program in its 3rd year.
Bright Future Predicted For Kids' Wrestling Tom Konya Coaches A Most Successful Midget Program In Moore Township
March 14, 1985|by DAN SHOPE, The Morning Call
Several days ago, an informed source predicted the Northampton High wrestling team would be dominating the East Penn Conference within two years.
And who was the source?
The answer is the most knowledgeable of the four men on the subject
Konya has no Emmy Award-winning television show, he has no newspaper column and he's no coach on the high school level.
Konya coaches one of the most successful midget wrestling programs in the Lehigh Valley. And when his kids graduate, they go to Northampton.
"It's a great feeling knowing the kids are going to wrestle for Don Rohn, who won a national championship," Konya said recently. "Rohn has received national recognition and has been exposed to a lot of different people. He knows wrestling. I feel good having my kids wrestle for him. In about two years, I think they'll be sitting atop the East Penn. After all, he's getting good material."
Konya coaches the Moore Township wrestling team in the East Penn Midget League. Not only did Moore finish its EPL dual-meet season with an 8-0 record thisseason, Konya's club has won the North Division for the fifth-consecutive year.
"We had 10 (of the 14 weight classes) kids go to the finals of the North Division tournament recently," Konya said. "But for some reason, they died in the league meet (the following week). None took first at leagues, and we finished fourth place overall.
"I guess you could say we have a balanced team, not a lot of superstars."
To build a strong program, superstars aren't a necessity. What's needed is a bunch of hard workers. And that starts at the top.
Konya's oldest son, Bion, is now a sophomore on the Northampton varsity. His younger son, Jarrid, wrestles for the Konkrete Kids' freshman team. But Konya has continued to coach each Tuesday and Thursday at the Moore Township Elementary School Gymnasium. This is his 10th season.
Konya learned his wrestling at Nazareth High, where Ray Nunamaker arrived when he was a junior in 1965. So when Konya's boys were old enough to wiggle across a mat, he began looking for a wrestling program. Two years before, Richard Hildenbrand, an old friend, had started the Moore Township program. He gave it up to Konya.
"In the first two years, the program never won a match," said Konya, a maintenance man in Lone Star Industries in Nazareth. "When we started, we had practices in the cafeteria. So, we had our dry spells.
"Back when we didn't win at all, we had to give the kids confidence. But it was hard since we didn't have our technique up. As soon as they learned to use the moves, they had confidence. Then they were aggressive. We now have one of the most aggressive teams in the league."
This past fall, 80 kids signed up for the program, which includes ages 7-14. Konya gets a chuckle out of kids' first practices.
"It's comical in a way," he said. "I haveone little kid who weighs only 45 pounds, and he wrestles at 50. If you go to a junior high match, they don't wrestle as well as he does.
"Then, I have one kid who suffers from a handicap. When he first came to the gym, he was so shy and quiet. But he started to enjoy this, and he's really changed. His parents credit wrestling for making him come out of his shell."
Konya is assisted by Dick Brown, Frank Rudolph, Sr. and Carl Weinhofer. All have developed a fine group of wrestlers this season.
Leading the crew is 70-pound Brian Gabryluk. The seventh grader finished 8-0 in dual meets and was second in the EPL tournament.
Others who went 8-0 in dual meets were 55-pound Mike Tonsic, a fourth grader; 60-pound Joe Reuben, a sixth grader; 65-pound John Epinger, a sixth grader, and 75-pound Frank Rudolph, an eighth grader.
Finishing 7-1 were 90-pound Tommy Gabryluk, an 8th grader, and 100-pound Tony Collina, another 8th grader.
Other 8th graders who will be leaving the team after this season include: 125-pound Robert Davies, 115-pound Robbie Carpenter, 96-pound Shane Warner, 85-pound Eddie Beil 85 and 80-pound Ty Brown 80.
Considering that these kids will join graduates from Bath and Northampton Athletic Association midget wrestling programs, Rohn might just have a strong program in the future at the high school.
"Every year, we lose a bunch," Konya said. "But we have a strong jayvee program, and they usually give us some strong kids the following season."