When Damen Moyer claps his hands at the center of the mat, it usually means good things. And those good things could have been heard across Bethlehem when Moyer put an exclamation point on a hallmark two days of wrestling for the Hurricanes at their own Bethlehem Holiday Wrestling Classic.
Moyer’s fall over Blue Mountain’s Nate Stine in 4:32 of last Friday’s 195-pound finals gave all the Liberty faithful something to clap about, as the Hurricanes came away with three champions and their first ever team title in the 24-year history of the event.
Expect more of the same with Liberty’s wrestling program this season. It usually doesn’t matter who the Hurricanes graduate, they always are a team that wrestlers hard, is prepared and develops their own talent.
Following last season’s 15-7 finish, which saw them come away with a state runner-up in the graduated Luke Werner (Lock Haven), head coach Jody Karam enters year 25 leading Liberty’s program with expectations always to be a competitive force in the East Penn Conference.
Bethlehem Catholic suffered their first setback of the season over the weekend, falling to Abington 63-53 on the road Saturday night, giving the Hawks (2-1) their first taste of defeat on the young year.
Despite the loss, it was a test against a state qualifier from a year ago and undoubtedly one of the best teams the Hawks will come across throughout this season.
Expectations might be tempered for the Patriots heading into this season, but Freedom is always looking for improvement as head coach Brandon Hall enters his eighth season at the helm of the program.
The Pates are coming off a 13-9 season, bring back some valuable pieces, but also are young and inexperienced in other spots to make this winter’s campaign difficult.
It may be a different group of wrestlers for Bethlehem Catholic this year, but many people expect more of the same.
The Hawks enter the season with a preseason national ranking of No. 13 by Intermat and look to push their way toward the top of the PIAA dual meet podium after falling to Nazareth last year in the district and state dual meet championships.
Head coach Jeff Karam comes back for his 10th year leading the program that looks to stay in the conversation of the state’s best.
Bethlehem Catholic didn’t have one of their most prestigious showings at the Beast of the East tournament in Delaware over the weekend, but the Hawks scraped together a valiant effort to finish tied for ninth in the team standings, despite only having 11 wrestlers compete in the event.
The Hawks had three wrestlers medal as sophomore Matt Lackman (120, seventh), sophomore Kenny Herrmann (126, fourth) and senior Jarred Papcsy (138, fifth) came home with hardware from the event.
Bethlehem Catholic is the team to beat this year on the hardwood.
That’s the sentiment around the East Penn Conference and District 11, as the EPC runners-up from a year ago and the defending District 11 4A champions bring back a bevy of returning talent from last year’s 21-7 campaign, which saw them lose in the first round of the PIAA tournament.
With the expectations high, head coach Ray Barbosa enters his third season at the helm looking to keep his team focused on nightly basis.
Liberty will look to bounce back this season from their 12-11 campaign from a year ago that left them with an underwhelming taste.
With head coach Chad Landis entering his 10th season at the helm, expectations are always high for the Hurricanes and this season, despite not having much varsity experience, doesn’t change Liberty’s goals.
Lack of experience is one way to describe Freedom’s roster this winter, but that won’t stop the Patriots from looking to surprise teams this season.
The Pates were 12-11 last season, lost all of their top scorers to graduation but head coach Joe Stellato still has a positive outlook on their expectations heading into this season.
“The team is not very experienced, but make up for it in speed and quickness,” Stellato said. “We will use that speed and quickness in a full court game, trying to create offense off our defense.”
They say speed kills in sports and that sentiment was true for Bethlehem Catholic in their quest to take down Imhotep Charter in last Friday’s PIAA 4A semifinals in Philadelphia.
The Panthers size and speed proved to be no match for the Hawks, as Imhotep pulled away for a 34-14 victory.
The win pushes the Panthers to this Thursday’s state championship game against Erie Cathedral Prep, a rematch of last year’s state final, while the Hawks saw their season end to the Panthers for a consecutive season in the state’s final four.