Hawks take top spot
Jared Papcsy was wrestling in his fourth and final Tony Iasiello Christmas City Wrestling Tournament, while Nate Lackman was in the event for the first time.
Both picked up gold medals as host Bethlehem Catholic crowned six champs and had six runners-up in the 50th annual edition of the tournament to cruise to first place with 301 points. East Stroudsburg South placed second at 166.
“It’s something special,” said Papcsy. “We’re working really hard in the room. Last year we didn’t make it all the way to our goal. This year we’re working on getting better each day and it’s really showing now.”
Lackman (106), Matt Mayer (113), Matt Lackman (120), Papcsy (138), Joe Kurtz (195) and Robert Spezza all earned tournament titles for the Hawks, while Kenny Hermann (126), Cole Handlovic (145), Luca Frinzi (152), Matt Arciuolo (160), Tavion Banks (182) and Jase Crouse finished second at the event. Joe Bozzi (220) grabbed third place.
Papcsy, a senior, finished as a runner-up last year and in third place a year before that. He continued his progression with an 11-1 major decision win over Upper Perkiomen’s Zach Rozanski in the title bout.
“It’s a really good feeling,” said Papcsy. “I kind of had some ups and downs coming into my senior year. I’ve been waiting a long time for this. It’s really awesome that I finally got a title here.”
The Hawks have already competed in the Beast of the East and Ironman tournaments Papcsy had some close matches in both of those events, but used a pin and two major decisions to go 3-0 and win the Christmas City title.
“I was happy all weekend,” he said. “The past couple matches and tournaments I’ve done really well but I haven’t really been opening up. Here I was able to work on my shots and my other moves to get to the next level.”
Nate Lackman picked up four losses this season, all coming at the two big tournaments. He gained confidence in both and rolled to the tournament title with three pins last Thursday and Friday in his team’s home gym.
“I feel like I’m wrestling pretty good,” he said. “I’m just working on getting after it, letting it all hang out there. Just letting it fly.”
A junior, Lackman is in his first year of varsity wrestling. He competed in junior varsity last year mostly because of his weight.
“Last year I was under 106,” he said. “I struggled to gain weight. This year I finally started putting on weight and I’m a true 106-pounder.”
Despite wrestling JV last year, he kept training and improving.
“Last year was preparing for this year,” Nate Lackman said. “I didn’t make the lineup but I can’t just shut down there.”
As a freshman he said he was about 92 pounds wrestling at the junior high level at Wilson West Lawn. Him and his brother, Matt, came to Bethlehem Catholic last season and put in a year on the junior varsity. Now both are in the line up. Matt is a sophomore and earned the tournament title at 120.
They’re happy to be on a team as deep and successful as Golden Hawks are this year.
“This is the first year we were both able to get in the lineup,” said Nate Lackman. “We have some kids that could do well in theses tournaments but they can’t wrestle today because they’re behind a tough kid.”