Honesdale's junior high wrestling team put the finishing touches on yet another stellar season. Under the direction of coaches Darren Diehl, Chris Carroll and Jim Arnone, the young Hornets compiled an 18-6 record and placed seventh at the District Two meet.
Heading into last weekend’s District Two tournament, Honesdale junior high Coach Darren Diehl knew his team would go exactly as far as his lower weights could carry it.
The young Hornets were coming off a third place finish at Eastern Sectionals, ending up behind only undefeated Paupack and Hazleton Area. Hence, a spot in the Top 10 at this year’s event was a distinct possibility.
With Brooks Jensen (80 lbs), Matt Evans (90 lbs) and Carl Jurkowski (95 lbs) leading the way, the Red & Black did indeed crack the Top 10. In fact, Honesdale came away with a seventh place overall finish. The Hornets compiled a 57.00 rating, just eight points out of a spot in the first five.
Jensen, Evans and Jurkowski led the charge in the lower weight classes, but it was Dalton Derrick who anchored the line-up. A battle-tested freshman, Derrick brought home Honesdale’s lone gold medal with a first place finish at 185 lbs.
“We had an awesome season,” Coach Diehl told TWI Sports. “We improved so much from top-to-bottom. Every kid on the team contributed something to our success. I’m very proud of these kids. They worked really hard all year long.”
Honesdale finished up its ‘08 season with an 18-6 overall record. Coach Diehl was ably assisted by Jim Arnone and Chris Carroll.
Dalton Derrick rolled into the District Two tournament with a superb 28-1 record. The tough-as-nails frosh opened his quest for Class AAA gold with a first period pin of Tom Smulowitz of Wyoming Valley West.
Next up was a battle with Ethan Jones of Montrose. This proved to be Derrick’s biggest test of the day. Jones came into the bout with a 24-5 mark and had just survived an 11-10 quarterfinal thriller.
Derrick and Jones fought their way through three grueling periods before Dalton emerged with a 6-3 decision. That win earned Honesdale’s top wrestler a spot in the finals opposite Eric Laytos of Lackawanna Trail.
Laytos would be a formidable opponent. The Lions’ eighth grader already had a pair of pins to his credit and boasted a 26-2 season record. None of this impressed Derrick a bit. Dalton turned the tables on his adversary, clamping him at the 2:48 mark and earning a gold medal.
“The way Dalton has been carrying himself this season, I knew no one was going to stop him,” said Coach Diehl. “He’s a very polished wrestler and he’s always trying to get better. Dalton was very disappointed last year when he didn’t place at sectionals, so he used that as motivation for this year.”
Jensen put together an epic run to his bronze medal. Brooks lost his first bout of the tournament, a 2-0 heartbreaker to Wyoming Area’s Andrew Schutz. That defeat meant a quick trip to the losers’ bracket and a long road back to redemption.
In his first wrestleback bout, Jensen persevered for a 2-0 decision over Nick Kaschal of Hazleton Area. He then hung a 1-0 loss on Hanover’s Shane Elick. With that win, Brooks earned himself a spot in the consolation final. His opponent? Why none other than Andrew Schutz.
This time around, Jensen refused to lose. This bout was the most exciting of the entire tournament. It lasted three regulation periods and four overtimes. When the buzzer finally sounded ending the match, Brooks had held on for an incredible 1-0 rideout win.
“Brooks Jensen is a very intelligent kid,” said Coach Diehl. “He does great in the classroom and wrestles really smart. Brooks pushes himself hard and it shows. He has great character. The fact that he came back to beat a kid who beat him in the first round says it all.”
Evans came into the Class AAA tourney with a 20-6 record. He knew right from the start that the road to a finals would go through Justin Elick. Hanover’s top wrestler was undefeated (21-0) and ranked #1 in the bracket.
Matt kept a date with Destiny by trouncing his first two opponents. Evans pinned Pittston Area’s David Nestorick (1:18), then hung a 6-0 shutout on Declan Haggerty of West Scranton. Sadly for Red & Black fans, Elick clamped Evans at the 2:19 mark to take gold.
“This is only Matt’s second year of organized wrestling, so for him to make it all the way to the district final is pretty impressive,” Coach Diehl said. “I’m very pleased with the way he wrestled. He’s just going to get better.”
Jurkowski closed out Honesdale’s medal count with a fourth place finish at 95. Carl opened with a 6-1 decision over Dallas’ Billy Dixon in the quarterfinals, then absorbed a 14-0 thumping at the hands of the eventual champion, Joel Kay of Hazleton Area.
The Hornet frosh refused to fold his tent, though, and rebounded with a pin of Berwick’s AJ Woznock in the consolation semis. That win earned Jurkowski a spot in the third place bout opposite a familiar foe: Paupack’s Kyle Duff.
These two local lads put on quite a show for the crowd, with Duff eventually pulling out a razor-thin 3-2 decision.
“Carl wrestled tough all year, especially the last two weeks,” said Coach Diehl. “He’s thinking out there on the mat now. He doesn’t give up the early takedown the way he used to. Carl has made great strides this season.”