Liberty wrestling is entering a new era with head coach Brandon Hall taking over the reigns for longtime Liberty boss Jody Karam.
With the former Freedom coach coming into his ninth season overall leading a program, Hall has expectations lined up for him, but is also ready for the challenge of leading the Hurricane program, that enjoyed a 19-4 season a year ago.
With Liberty losing a lot of experience to graduation last year, this year’s team may have its share of growing pains, but Hall won’t let that build in as an excuse.
It was an impressive weekend for our local teams, as they kicked off the basketball season Friday night.
Freedom and Liberty both jumped out to 2-0 marks on the year, as the Patriots won the Jeff Dailey Memorial Tip-Off Classic at Notre Dame.
Freedom pulled away from Bethlehem Catholic (1-1) in Saturday’s championship contest 68-47. After trailing the Hawks 30-26 with 3:49 in the third quarter, the Patriots exploded to finish the game on a 42-17 run.
A Stabler Arena athletics record of 6,047 fans saw the 13th-ranked Mountain Hawks battle No. 3 Penn State Friday night, but the visiting Nittany Lions claimed seven bouts to defeat Lehigh 23-10. The Mountain Hawks won three bouts in the evening and gave strong efforts in many of the losses, but came up short against the four-time defending national champions.
Liberty’s swim team will face its toughest competition in its first two meets of the new season, taking on Parkland and Emmaus, both this week.
“It would be nice to have them later in the season because we don’t have year round swimmers except for a handful,” said Liberty coach Reik Foust. “Most are coming off a fall sport or just coming out for the team, so we don’t have much time to get ourselves together.
“They’re a good bunch and super fun to work with, but 10 days is 10 days. To swim their fastest at the beginning of the season is hard, but somebody’s got to do it.”
The East Penn Conference’s Steel Division might be the toughest slate in the area this season and Freedom head coach Joe Stellato certainly notices.
Stellato enters his 20th season at the helm of the program with the Pates fresh off a 16-6 season last year. They’re now thrust into conference play with Allen being one of the best teams in the area, as well as Easton being considered a league favorite. Throw in city rivalry games with Liberty and Bethlehem Catholic and the Steel Division will be a tough out every night.
Freedom’s varsity cheerleading squad took third place in a competition at Parkland High School on Nov. 23.
The Patriots, 15 in all, competed in the small varsity division.
“We definitely improved from our first competition at Nazareth and scored a few more points,” said Freedom cheerleading coach Breanna Bishamber. “We added a bit more difficulty to our routine, and we were better with timing and sharpness.”
For sportsmen clamoring for more weekend hunting time afield, Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law Senate Bill 147, which permits additional hunting on three Sundays per calendar year - one within the archery deer season, one within the firearms deer season and one selected by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
The law will take effect Feb. 25, 2020, and the first new Sunday hunting opportunities will be identified by the Game Commission thereafter.
Liberty’s girls’ basketball team is seizing preseason opportunities in preparation for regular season play.
“I thought our summer was very productive,” said Liberty coach Andy Wescoe, who is in his third year with the Hurricanes. “Our energy and enthusiasm was excellent every time we got together. Playing in summer league also allowed us to welcome our new players into the fold which was extremely important and beneficial because it allowed them to build chemistry and get an understanding of how we want to play.”
Freedom girls’ basketball coach Dean Reiman would like to kick the Patriots’ tempo up a notch for the 2019-2020 season.
The Patriots have most of their key returners back as two seniors graduated.
Those key returners are senior Jen Kokolus, juniors Corrin Gill, Brenna Ortwein, Kayla Jefferson, Jewel Levy, and Elsa Martin, and sophomore Kailey Turpening.
New players to watch will be juniors Hope Dunfee and Gabby Glick, along with sophomore Ciana Feliciano.