Jim Thorpe, Lehighton and Tamaqua dominate Times News area wrestling first team
Aaron Coccio, Tamaqua
Derek Hunter, Jim Thorpe
Jake Dellicker, Northwestern
Lucas Christman, Palmerton
Ethan Mordaunt, Jim Thorpe
Bronson Strouse, Tamaqua
Chris Whiteman, Lehighton
Nate Wickersham, Tamaqua
Will Dellicker, Northwestern
Will Schwartz, Jim Thorpe
Logan Pagotto, Lehighton
Jim Thorpe’s Austin Williams gets a reversal against Archbishop Ryan’s Nicholas Metzger during the quarterfinals of the Jim Thorpe Christmas Tournament. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS
Alex Zeigenfuss, Lehighton
Jim Thorpe, Lehighton and Tamaqua had a heavy presence in the postseason, with the three schools combining to send the six wrestlers that represented the area to states.
It’s no surprise, then, that the three programs are featured prominently on the 2018-19 Times News Wrestling All Star Team.
The Olympians and Indians have four wrestlers apiece on this year’s first team. The Raiders earned three first team selections.
In addition to Times News Wrestler of the Year Ethan Mordaunt, Austin Williams, Will Schwartz and Derek Hunter all earned first team nods for Jim Thorpe.
“Overall, I’m very proud of the team this year, and very thankful,” said Olympians’ head coach Shawn Albert. “That’s the biggest thing I can say right now, is that I’m very thankful for every single one of those guys for letting us experience a very successful year, and what I feel is going to lead to something great in the years to come.”
Albert had special praise for his two seniors on the squad.
“I think the legacy Ethan leaves is showing that it can be done at Jim Thorpe, that you can be a great wrestler in the Jim Thorpe program,” Albert said. “Ethan has been with us since the very beginning with our knee-hi program. He’s someone that will be considered one of the best wrestlers to come through our program.”
Talking about Williams, Albert said, “I couldn’t be more proud of the type of kid Austin is and the amount of work he has put in. He just committed to Delaware Valley for wrestling, so I’m excited to see his wrestling career continue. I believe he’s going to have a lot of success in that program.”
While Mordaunt and Williams are seniors, Schwartz, a team captain, will be back for one more season in a Jim Thorpe singlet, while Hunter will look to build on a breakout sophomore year and help the team get back to district duals, where they went 2-2 this season.
“I believe we bring 15 guys back from this year’s team,” said Albert. “We’ll have a couple guys come up from junior high, and we’ve already got some guys that want to be a part of the program. This year brought a lot of excitement and energy to the program and more awareness to the team.
“Right now it’s going very well. We’ve been working out weekly since the season ended so I do expect this to roll into another successful year next year. We’ve got some guys to replace, that’s for sure. But that’s just the way programs go.”
Like the Olympians, who had Mordaunt and Hunter qualify for states, the Indians sent two wrestlers to Hershey, with Chris Whiteman and Logan Pagotto both qualifying for the first time.
“Those guys have been great to coach,” said Indians’ mentor Floyd Brown. “Chris and Logan are both seniors and they were our team leaders. I can’t say enough good things about them. They excelled in the classroom and on the mat.
“Both are hard workers, and their leadership will be missed next season. Both ended their careers with a trip to Hershey, which was one of their goals coming into the season.”
Lehighton also has a pair of underclassmen – Alex Zeigenfuss and Lucas Sangiuliano – who appear ready to carry the torch for a team that also won two matches and advanced to the second day of district duals.
“Alex and Lucas are both juniors who had outstanding seasons as well,” said Brown. “I have seen a lot of growth in them throughout the year. Lucas qualified for regions as a freshmen, and was able to qualify again this year as a junior. Alex was our most improved wrestler this year. He increased his win total from last season by over 20 wins and finished third in the district while qualifying for the regional tournament.”
Tamaqua junior Bronson Strouse joined Mordaunt in reaching the state tournament for the second consecutive season. But this year, Strouse was joined in Hershey by sophomore Nate Wickersham, a key cog in the Raiders’ lineup and a big part of their plans moving forward.
I can’t teach the ability to find a way to win; these guys possess that,” said Tamaqua head coach Jim McCabe. “Sometimes they are not the better technical wrestler but come out on top because giving up points don’t bother them and they don’t fear taking a risk to score points. More times than not that willingness to take a chance on scoring points allows them to score big.”
It paid dividends this year. Tamaqua, which also places sophomore Aaron Coccio on the first team, placed third as a team at the Schuylkill League Tournament and should have plenty of firepower – and fun – next season.
“All three had 30 wins or more, so that experience will carry over into next year and extra matches (being competitive; not always winning) allows great experience and confidence,” said McCabe. “All three have experienced this opportunity. Every coach enjoys coaching wrestlers that are successful; I feel blessed that I have these three and the others on the team to coach because - Rule 1: Love your sport (I do); Rule 2: Love your athletes (I do), which is why coaching isn’t work.”
Northwestern brothers Will and Jake Dellicker were also part of the first team.
“Will missed a lot of the season with a knee injury,” explained Tiger coach Jim Moll. “That set him back quite a bit, but he did what he could to get workouts in as he rehabbed the knee. He peaked at the right time to have a nice postseason.
Moll said Jake Dellicker also was at his best when it mattered most.
“Jake had an outstanding second half of the season,” Moll said. “He wrestled up at 120, and sometimes 126 prior to coming down to 113. I think that hurt his record a little, but in the long run it benefited him to get quality opponents. He is a very competitive kid on the mat. That really showed in his performance at districts,”
Palmerton’s Lucas Christman rounded out this season’s first team all star selections.
“Lucas was a tremendous talent that was fun to watch grow and develop through the years,” Palmerton coach Justin Petersen said. “He brought a lot of energy to the sport and our team. We are going to miss him a ton.”
Only four first team all star selections from a year ago are in this year’s group.
The 14 selections for the first team are made from any weight class. They are listed below, followed by the second team all stars.
Times News Wrestling All Stars
William Schwartz, Jim Thorpe, Jr. (25-16)
• Runner-up at the South Williamsport Tournament
• Third at the Pope John Paul Invite
• Fourth at the JT Christmas tourney
• Went 4-1 at the Indian Duals
• Schwartz went 4-2 at districts, finishing fourth, and qualified for regionals for the first time
• Finished as the top-ranked wrestler at 106 pounds
Jake Dellicker, Northwestern, Jr. (22-17)
• Dellicker entered the rankings after a solid performance at the Coal Cracker Tournament in late January, placing sixth at 113 pounds
• The junior had an incredible run at districts as the No. 8 seed, knocking off top seed Mikey Myers of Williams Valley with a 3-1 decision in the quarters after gaining a major decision against Jim Thorpe’s Gabe Heaney in the first round.
• Dellicker went 1-2 at regionals
• Finished as the top-ranked wrestler at 113 pounds
Lucas Sangiuliano, Lehighton, Jr. (25-14)
• Sangiuliano was third at the Brandywine Invite
• He was second at the Kutztown Invitational
• First at the Christmas City Tournament.
• Fourth at the Schuylkill League Tournament
• A district runner-up as a freshman, Sangiuliano was fourth at districts to advance to regionals for the second time
• Finished as the top-ranked wrestler at 126 pounds
Aaron Coccio, Tamaqua, So. (30-10)
• Coccio won the Darren Klingerman Invitational in early December wrestling at 132 pounds
• After a runner-up finish at the Schuylkill League Tournament Coccio placed seventh in a tough bracket at the Coal Cracker. The sophomore pinned Northwestern’s Donovan White, Palmerton’s Dennis Lombardi and grabbed an 11-1 major decision over Northern Lehigh’s Trevor Amorim in the seventh-place bout
• Coccio continued his strong sophomore campaign with an impressive postseason, knocking off No. 2 seed Josh Bauman of Notre Dame Green Pond in the third-place match at districts and advancing to regionals for the first time
• Finished as the top-ranked wrestler at 132 pounds
Lucas Christman, Palmerton, Sr. (26-6)
• A state qualifier a year ago, Christman was third at the Carlisle Wrestling Tournament
• He was first at the Governor Mifflin Holiday tourney earlier this season.
• The senior was solid at the Coal Cracker, as Christman earned an 8-2 decision over Northwestern’s Harrison Bernhard in the quarters en route to a runner-up finish
• Christman placed fifth at districts, just missing out on qualifying for regionals
• Finished as the top-ranked wrestler at 138 pounds
• A first team all star for the second straight year
Chris Whiteman, Lehighton, Sr. (31-11)
• The senior placed first at the Brandywine Invite and Kutztown Invitational, and grabbed a runner-up finish at the Christmas City Tournament
• He went 5-0 at the Indian Duals, with all five wins coming by fall in the first period. Only one of those matches went past 1:00; a pin of East Stroudsburg North’s Tashi Sherpa in 1:05
• Whiteman won his second straight Schuylkill League title this season
• Whiteman capped a stellar career with his first-ever trip to states. The senior was fourth at districts, where he earned his 100th career victory, and sixth at regionals. Whiteman finishes his scholastic career with a record of 103-62
• Finished as the top-ranked wrestler at 145 pounds
• A first team all star for the second consecutive year
Logan Pagotto, Lehighton, Sr. (30-9)
• Pagotto won the Kutztown Invite and placed third at the Christmas City Tournament
• Schuylkill League runner-up
• The senior enjoyed a breakout season for the Indians, and it continued with a runner-up finish at districts, a third-place result at regionals and a spot in the state tournament for the first time. Though a senior, it still feels like Pagotto is just scratching the surface of his potential. He finishes his career with a record of 77-51
• Pagotto also represented Lehighton at the Easton Lion’s Classic after states
• Finished as the top-ranked wrestler at 152 pounds
Will Dellicker, Northwestern, Sr. (13-9)
• Like brother Jake, Will Dellicker made a nice run as a lower seed at districts to qualify for regionals, finishing fourth as the No. 7 seed. Will pinned Panther Valley’s Eric Moyer, the No. 6 seed, in the consolation bracket to stay alive
• Finished as the top-ranked wrestler at 160 pounds
Nate Wickersham, Tamaqua, So. (36-13)
• Wickersham was fifth at the Darren Klingerman Invitational
• Fifth at the Schuylkill League Tournament and fifth at the Coal Cracker Tournament
• Wickersham was third at districts and fifth at regionals, qualifying for states for the first time. The sophomore pinned district champ Kolt Schaeffer of Tri Valley in 24 seconds in the fifth-place match at regionals
• Finished as the top-ranked wrestler at 170 pounds
Austin Williams, Jim Thorpe, Sr. (30-7)
• Williams won the Pope John Paul Invite, the Jim Thorpe Christmas Tournament and the South Williamsport Tourney
• He went 5-0 at the Indian Duals, recording three first-period pins while also receiving two forfeits
• Williams was a Schuylkill League Tournament runner-up and fifth at the Coal Cracker Tournament
• The senior made it to the semis at districts as the No. 2 seed, knocking off Northwestern’s Tyler Watson, who had defeated him 10-2 at the Coal Cracker, 8-5 in the quarters. But the senior forfeited the rest of his matches and was unable to complete the tournamen.
• Will continue his career at Delaware Valley College
• He finished as the top-ranked wrestler at 182 pounds
Alex Zeigenfuss, Lehighton, Jr. (28-15)
• Zeigenfuss was first at the Brandywine Invite, fifth at the Kutztown Invitational and fifth at the Christmas City Tournament
• He was sixth at the Schuylkill League Tournament
• Zeigenfuss finished the Indian Duals 5-0
• Zeigenfuss continued to impress through the postseason, finishing third at districts as the fourth seed and making his first appearance at regionals. The junior, who has a career record of 40-44, secured his place at regionals with a 3-2 decision over Northern Lehigh’s Dominic Bandle in the consolation round before topping Wilson’s Austin Wickham, the No. 3 seed, 3-1 in the third-place match
• Finished as the top-ranked wrestler at 195 pounds
Ethan Mordaunt, Jim Thorpe, Sr. (38-4)
• Mordaunt won the Pope John Paul Tournament, Jim Thorpe Christmas Tournament and the South Williamsport Tourney
• Mordaunt went 5-0 at the Indian Duals, recording three first period pins while also receiving two forfeits
• Mordaunt suffered his first loss of the season at the Coal Cracker Tournament, but the senior battled back to win his final two matches and finish the tournament with a statement. Mordaunt picked up a 15-4 major decision over Salisbury’s Jonah Nisenbaum in the third-place match. Mordaunt topped Nisenbaum 3-0 in the final at the Jim Thorpe Christmas Tournament in December
• Mordaunt powered to district and regional titles – both the first of his career – to qualify for states for the second consecutive season. After reaching the quarterfinals in Hershey, the senior’s season ended with back-to-back losses, though neither diminishes his remarkably dominant ride. Both of Mordaunt’s losses at states came to eventual medalists – Southern Columbia’s Preston Zachman (third) and Wilson’s Kolby Flank (fifth). Mordaunt had defeated Flank three times previously this season, including 6-2 in the district final, and with a pin in 3:48 in the regional final before falling 6-4 in overtime in the consolation round at states
• Mordaunt earned the 100th victory of his career on the opening night of the regional tournament
• Finished the season as the top-ranked wrestler at 220 pounds
• A first team all-star for the third straight year
Bronson Strouse, Tamaqua, Jr. (37-7)
• Strouse won the season-opening Darren Klingerman Invitational with four pins. His only loss came on Jan. 5 to Governor Mifflin’s Jordan Espinosa, 3-1 setback in sudden victory overtime
• Strouse went 5-0 at the Juniata Duals.
• He was a Schuylkill League runner-up
• The junior was fourth at the Coal Cracker Tournament
• Strouse claimed his first district crown, pinning North Schuylkill’s Ryan Weitz in 17 seconds, and finished third at regionals to make a return trip to states, where he went 1-2, defeating Jim Thorpe’s Derek Hunter in the consolation round. Both of Strouse’s losses in Hershey came in overtime – 4-1 (TB2) in the first round to Southern Huntingdon’s Kole Winfield, and 3-1 (SV) to Boiling Springs’ Damon James in the consolation round
• Before claiming district gold, Strouse collected his 100th career victory
• Finished the season as the top-ranked wrestler at 285 pounds
• A first team all star for the third straight season
Derek Hunter, Jim Thorpe, So. (34-11)
• Hunter was third at the Pope John Paul Tournament
• Hunter won the South Williamsport Tourney
• The sophomore placed first at the always tough Coal Cracker Tournament
• He was third at the Schuylkill League Tournament
• Hunter was third at districts, sixth at regionals and qualified for states for the first time.
• He finished the season ranked second at 285 pounds
Gabe Heaney, Jim Thorpe, Fr. (20-15)
Preston Bauer, No. Lehigh, Jr. (21-11)
Randy Steigerwalt, Tamaqua, So. (25-16)
Dennis Lombardi, Palmerton, Fr. (18-14)
Harrison Bernhard, Northwestern, Jr. (17-14)
Khalid Holland, Tamaqua, Sr. (21-13)
Alex Womack, Pleasant Vy., Jr. (21-7)
Damion Rodriguez, No. Lehigh, Sr. (18-13)
Carson Krell, Tamaqua, So. (28-11)
Tyler Watson, Northwestern, Jr. (23-11)
Kendall Herron, Jim Thorpe, Jr. (20-16)
Anthony Mazzella, Pleasant Vy., Sr. (20-7)
Ryan Haverkamp, Northwestern, Jr. (21-14)
Joey Abidelli, No. Lehigh, So. (18-12)