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The Rivalry: 1987-88

Dual Meet: January 23, 1988 at Nazareth

Program Preview:

Tonight, the Nazareth Blue Eagles welcome the Northampton Konkrete Kids in one of the biggest dual meets of the year. Northampton comes into tonight's meet with an 8-0 record and is ranked third in the State. Nazareth sports an 8-1 record and is ranked tenth in the state.

The two District XI powers met late December in the Christmas City Tournament. The two teams dominated the tournament, with Northampton outscoring Nazareth 235-217 for the team title.

The two teams came as close to staging a dual meet as possible in a tournament setting with five head-to-head matchups in the finals...Nazareth winning three and the Kids two. Northampton crowned four champs overall to the Eagles' three. Each club placed eleven of its twelve wrestlers.

Nazareth and Northampton have faced three common opponents: Pocono Mountain, Liberty and Easton. Both clubs soundly defeated Pocono Mountain and Liberty. Northampton defeated Easton 23-18, while Easton defeated Nazareth 28-17. Both matches consisted of extremely close bouts which could have gone either way on any given night!

In acknowledging the Northampton-Nazareth rivalry, "It has become one of the hottest items in Lehigh Valley wrestling", Kids coach Don Rohn said. "For the past four years, we've packed both gyms every time we met. Every time we wrestle it comes right down to the wire and this tournament (Christmas City) was no exception."

Coach Nunamaker states, "I can hardly wait until Saturday night. I know the stands will be filled and the wrestling superb. You'll be able to feel electricity in the air."

It is a great rivalry between two outstanding teams, coached by two outstanding coaches: Don Rohn and Ray Nunamaker.

The Blue Eagles coaching staff consists of head coach Ray Nunamaker and his assistants: Rob Albert, Jack Muschlitz, Jim Kerfoot, and John Rodriguez. John is our newest addition to the coaching staff. He is the youngest of three brothers from the wrestling Rodriguez family of Saucon Valley. Brother Jerry is currently assisting Nazareth grad Greg Skutches at Moravian. Jim Kerfoot and Jack Muschlitz are currently attending Northampton Community College and plan on attending East Stroudsburg and Wilkes, respectively, next year.

Don Rohn, two-time state champ from Saucon Valley and National Champion at Clarion, leads the Konkrete Kids. He is assisted by John Davis, a former outstanding wrestler, football player and track star at Nazareth High School. John Masiado and Matt Biccy also lend a helping hand to the program.

Sons of former Blue Eagle wrestlers are also playing a role in the Northampton wrestling program: Jarrid Konya, son of former Nazareth Captain Tom Konya; and Jason Fogel, son of Craig Fogel, a member of the 1968 District XI Championship team for Nazareth.


Nazareth 32 - Northampton 20

98Rian Youwakim (No)pinJason Magditch (Na)
105Brad Silimperi (Na)3-2Mike Recker (No)
112Don Suranofsky (No)9-4Mike Herceg (Na)
119Dan Madson (Na)10-8Ed Youwakim (No)
126Jeff Kocher (No)7-2Rick Buss (Na)
132Preston Moritz (Na)9-3Jason Richards (No)
138Ross Nunamaker (Na)9-5Rob Davies (No)
145Mike Miller (Na)6-6Jarrid Konya (No)
155Ken Herceg (Na)TFBrian Chamberlain (No)
167Kevin Smith (No)pinAndy Joseph (Na)
185John Renner (Na)pinEric Gieske (No)
HWTScot Engler (Na)pinMike Reenock (No)

From Tex Meixell of The Morning Call

Nazareth Upsets Northampton 32-20

Anyone who doesn't really believe all those T-shirts and bumper stickers that proudly trumpet "District XI is Wrestling Country" should've been in the madhouse that was the Nazareth High School gym last night to witness the homestanding Blue Eagles post a 32-20 upset of mighty Northampton.

Truth is, given the fact that there was an SRO crowd in the gym - and that several hundred more true believers were turned away in order to avoid a stern lecture from the folks at the fire company, there sure weren't more than a handful of people from either cement borough who weren't there.

Those who were were treated to a magnificent dual meet between two of the premiere programs in the nation, let alone the state, a match that featured as many emotional ups and downs as a yo-yo. And even the most diehard Konkrete Kid fans had to drive home realizing that Nazareth's triumph - one 25 year head coach Ray Nunamaker called "among our biggest ever" - was every bit convincing as it was shocking, if only because the Eagles pulled it off despite having previously unbeated and untied Mike Miller held to a 6-6 draw by Northampton's Jarrid Konya.

In the end, Nazareth, ranked No. 5 in the Morning Call area and No. 10 in the state, had beated Northampton, rated No. 1 in the Morning Call and No. 3 in Pennsylvania. When it was over, neither the beaming Nunamaker nor Northampton's stunned, but gracious head man, Don Rohn, had any difficulty pointing out the key bouts.

One was certainly Nazareth freshman Dan Madson's startling last-second upset of previously unbeaten K-Kid star Ed Youwakim. Another, just as surely, was 105 pounder Brad Silimperi eking out a 3-2 victory over fired-up Mike Recker. Even though it was not an upset, the match was Recker's to win (he led 2-1) until Silimperi tilted him for two winning back points with a mere 18 seconds left.

Just as vital were two pins registered by 185 pounder John Renner and undersized heavyweight Scot Engler, falls that provided the winning 12 point margin (the teams which were deadlocked earlier at 12-12 and 14-14, were tied 20-20 entering the final two bouts). And neither of those were what one might call routine, either, because both Blue Eagles spent a few breathtaking seconds looking at the ceiling themselves.


District XI Championships

Northampton defeats Nazareth 192 to 161.5 with Easton finishing in 3rd place with 122.

The teams have 9 finalists, 6 champions, 7 consolation finalists, with 5 3rd place finishers, sending 14 wrestlers to Regionals.

Don Rohn wins coach of the year.

Northeast Regional Championships

Nazareth wins the Northeast Regional title 83.5 to 83 over Northampton. Renner upsets Morabito to claim the title, Miller earns a 0.5 bonus point with 3 seconds left in the finals and Northampton coach Don Rohn is hit with a team point deduction in the semi-finals - all of which feed fuel to the rivalry fire.

In the team race, Shikellamy is 3rd with 75 with Williamsport and West Hazleton rounding out the top 5.

Nazareth and Northampton advance 7 of 14 to the State Championships.

Ted Meixell, The Morning Call:

A huge, 6-4 upset victory by Nazareth 185-pounder John Renner over Liberty's Lance Morabito capped a dramatic championship round rally last night as the Blue Eagles crowned four Northeast 3A Regional champions and eked out a narrow 83 1/2 -83 triumph over Northampton for the team title.

The gutty performance, which featured routine victories by favored Brad Silimperi at 98 (over the Konkrete Kids' Rian Youwakim), 138-pounder Mike Miller and 145-pounder Ken Herceg, duplicated the tremendous four-champion feat the Eagles pulled off in 1979, in the days before a team champion was crowned.

As amazing as was Renner's winning reversal with 11 seconds left in his war with the favored Morabito, just as amazing was the fact that Miller earned the half-point margin of victory by scoring a takedown of Saucon Valley's Andy Koch with just three seconds left that gave him a 13-4 major decision.

Equally fitting was that, sitting right next to Blue Eagle head coach Ray Nunamaker was his assistant - one Rob Albert, who just happened to be one of Nazareth's four regional champs nine years ago. (The others were Keith Fairman, Jody Werner and Al Haberle.)

"Unbelievable," Nunamaker exulted, as he hugged his son Ross, a 132- pounder who lost a tough 3-2 decision to Shikellamy's Dan Robatin in the consolation semifinals to just miss placing.

"What a great moment! What a gutty, outstanding performance. Especially the one by John Renner. He won totally on guts and desire. When Mike (Miller) got that takedown at the buzzer, I began thinking about the possibility of this happening.

"Oh, naturally it crossed my mind as soon as we got the four guys through the semis; I had to, with Rob sitting right there with me. But I knew Morabito would be tough to beat. Hey, he wasunbeaten (30-0-1), and John had eight losses. I kept telling John all year, 'Don't worry about the dual meet losses; you're gonna win for us when it counts.' And, boy, he sure did!"

Renner was so elated he could hardly blurt out the words to describe his feelings. "I knew the score," he said. "I just made up my mind I'd had enough of losing to him (Morabito) in districts. I just made up my mind to go out and wrestle my guts out, to kick some butt."

Making the entire evening seem even more like deja vu was the fact that Nazareth's four 1979 titles were achieved in almost identical fashion: Fairman, Werner and Albert were all favored, just like Silimperi, Miller and Herceg were last night. But Haberle (who, even more ironically, was ALSO a 185-pounder) was a clear underdog, just like Renner.

Fairness dictates that Nazareth's dramatic triumph overshadowed only slightly another impressive show of balance by Don Rohn's K-Kids. They won only one individual crown - a 5-4 decision by 167-pounder Kevin Smith over upset-minded Tony Iasiello Jr. - but they got runner-up finishes from both Rian Youwakim and his cousin, 119-pounder Ed. In addition, both 105-pounder Mike Recker and 112-pounder Don Suranofsky battled back to place third, thus giving Northampton a tournament-high six qualifiers for next weekend's state tournament in Hershey. That's two more than both Nazareth - which had no one place other than its champs - and third-place Shikellamy.

It should also be mentioned that if not for a highly questionable team point deduction charged against Rohn, Northampton would've still won the team title by the same half point by which it lost.

Rohn was assessed the dubious penalty during Suranofsky's 7-4 win over Williamsport's Brian Vollman in the consy semis. "Suranofsky was hit with a stalling warning," said a subdued Rohn before the evening session started. "All I said was, 'How can that be stalling. He (Suranofsky) can't move.' And I didn't even yell it. The tournament officials tried to convince the guy (who was from another district) to change the call, but he wouldn't budge."

The nip-and-tuck battle between Nazareth and Northampton merely highlighted a dominating performance by District 11 kids in general. In all, District 11 crowned eight of the 12 individual champions, had nine runners-up (SIX of whom were beaten by fellow District 11 competitors) and, with six third-place finishers, qualified an amazing 23 kids for states.

PIAA State Championships

Brad Silimperi wins gold in Hershey giving Coach Nunamaker his first wrestling state champion (he had one in track with Carlton Huff). John Renner had a controversial match in the finals when an awarded escape and match winning takedown were waived off and he lost 10-8 to Quakertown's John Hangey. Ken Herceg finished 3rd and his only loss of the season was in the semi-finals. Mike Miller rounded out Nazareth's state placewinners with a 4th place finish.

Northampton's MIke Recker, Don Suranofsky and Kevin Smith each finished 4th.