Wrestling: Hawks emerge with gold
The Bethlehem Catholic Golden Hawks avenged their only regular season dual meet loss by defeating the Liberty Hurricanes 34-22 to win the District XI AAA team wrestling title.
The Hawks head to Hershey looking to claim their second consecutive state team championship and their third in four years.
Beca reached the final on the strength of 41-13 win over Northampton in their semifinal. Liberty got a final bout pin at 152 by Jason Rezac to get by Nazareth 26-24 in the other semi.
In their regular season meeting, the Hurricanes swept the final four bouts at the 170-220 pounds weights to erase a 13-point deficit and come out on top 32-30. The district final started at 182, so Liberty figured to be able to build an early lead.
At 182, Kevin Hennessy started the Canes off with a pin of Henry Pavis in 3:58. Damen Moyer (L) took a 6-3 decision over Joe Kurtz at 195. Jake Ahmad’s (L) hyperaggressive attack was effective to rack up a major decision over Jarius Rosado 13-4 at 220.
The 285-pound class saw a momentous shift from the regular season match as Jase Crouse (BC) not only avoided being pinned, he came out on top of Jaden Freeman 2-1.
Dante Frinzi (BC) matched his earlier pin of Conner Werner at 106. Tal-Reese Flemming (L) won by decision over Matt Mayer 9-4 at 112. At 120 Matt Maloney (L) beat Nate Lackman 7-5.
The 126-pound bout was hotly contested. Dillon Murphy (BC) was clinging to a 2-1 lead over Mike Torres when Murphy was penalized for stalling just before the final buzzer. The sudden victory period expired without any points. Torres scored a reversal and three near-fall points in the first tiebreaker period to secure a 7-2 decision.
Although Liberty led 22-9 at that point in the match, their fans knew that Beca was heavily favored in the next 5 bouts.
Head coach Jeff Karam admitted after the match,
“I felt really good after 126 to be honest with you,” head coach Jeff Karam admitted after the match.
At 132, Kenny Herrmann (BC) won a 5-0 decision over Travis Brown. Matt Lackman (BC) pinned Christian Reid in 17 seconds at 138. Jason Rezac (L) was able to hold the nation’s top-ranked 145-pound wrestler, Ryan Anderson, to a 20-8 major decision. The match score was even at 22.
Cole Handlovic (BC) finished off his 26-11 tech fall over Nick Santiago at the 5:15 mark to take the 152-pound bout.
At 160, Luka Frinzi (BC) scored a 12-2 major decision over Alex Cruz to clinch the championship.
Jaden Youwakim (BC) got some revenge by flipping his previous result against Josh Talijan in taking a 5-2 decision at 170 in the final bout.
Jeff Karam had nothing but praise for his opposition.
“That was great match. They’re a well-coached team,” Jeff Karam said. “They deserve all the accolades they’re getting. I wouldn’t be surprised to wrestle them again next Saturday night. They’re a great team.”
Unfortunately for Liberty, they were unable to secure the second District XI spot in the PIAA championship. A Northampton win over Nazareth in the consolation final set up a true second place showdown. The Konkrete Kids built a 34-15 lead before forfeiting the last two bouts, leading to 34-27 final score.
The Hawks will start their run to the state championship Thursday at 6 p.m. on Mat 4 at the Giant Center in Hershey. In the first round they will face the winner of the preliminary round match between Archbishop Ryan (District 12 runner-up) and Boyertown (District 1, 4th place). Broadcast rights are held by flowrestling.com and sign up is required.