Jake Arnone, Peter Mesko, Jon Levy, Ryan Smith and Matt Evans traveled all the way to the the Wicomico Civic Center in Salisbury (MD) to participate in a national duals tournament. This group of Lackawanna League all-stars learned a great deal from this highest-level scholastic experience.

Five Hornet wrestlers had the honor of competing as part of a District Two all-star squad Memorial Day weekend in Maryland.

Jake Arnone, Pete Mesko, Jon Levy, Matt Evans and Ryan Smith traveled to the Wicomico Civic Center in Salisbury for the national event. This quintet of Hornet grapplers battled against teams from all over the country in a highly competitive meet.

“The caliber of wrestling at this tournament was incredible,” Coach Joe Arnone told TWI Sports. “I couldn’t believe how many nationally-ranked kids were there. It was definitely an eye-opening experience for our guys, but it’s something that will help them in the long run.”

On the Mat
More than 100 teams turned up for the meet, which attracted entries from all over the United States. The action began Saturday morning and continued through Monday afternoon.

The PA contingent consisted of two squads (“Mighty Ducks” and “Knuckle Puck”) each of which was comprised of standout wrestlers from District Two.

Coach Arnone and his Hornet all-stars were affiliated with the “Knuckle Puck” team. These Lackawanna League standouts suffered several lopsided losses in the early going, but bounced back strong in the later rounds.

The local lads opened with a 67-6 defeat at the hands of Premium Select. They followed that up with disappointing losses to SIR Wrestling (55-6) and SV River Boys (52-12).

“We really got beaten up pretty badly in those first few matches,” said Coach Arnone. “But, you have to give the boys credit: they refused to be intimidated. They came back strong on the last day.”

The Knuckle Pucks broke into the win column with a 50-18 romp over Team Central Florida. The PA lads then held on for a thrilling 32-27 decision over Michigan’s Wrestling Addix Blue.

“The level of competition at this year’s National Wrestling Duals was the best yet,” NHSCA executive director Bob Ferraro Jr. said. “The bracket round was outstanding. Every match had everybody on the edge of their seats. The matches were excellent in every division.”

Local Lads
The last time Jake Arnone set foot on a wrestling mat for a live bout was back in January.

Honesdale’s star senior suffered a season-ending injury in a match against West Scranton. In the months that followed, Jake endured several surgeries and a long, grueling re-hab.

This weekend, Arnone returned to action as part of the District Two “Knuckle Puck team. Jake won just once in five bouts, but his performance raised eyebrows all over the civic center.

“Jake looked pretty good, all things considered,” said Coach Arnone. “I told him that his en-tire strategy was self-preservation. He was gassed because his cardio was weak, but overall he did pretty well.”

Without question, the most impressive wrestler of the local contingent was Pete Mesko. Another senior Lackawanna League all-star, Mesko won 4-of-5 bouts and even recorded a pin along the way.

“Pete did a great job,” Coach Arnone said. “Every single kid he went up against was a state-credentialed wrestler, so to go 4-1 is pretty darn impressive.”

Jon Levy weighed in at 140 and got off to a rough start. The Hornet senior lost his first three bouts, but rallied to post wins in his final two.

Ryan Smith and Matt Evans also made the trip and turned in credible outings.

Smith is still just a sophomore. He competed at 125 and managed one win against four losses. Evans is coming off a memorable freshman season, but struggled against national-level competition at 112 and went 0-5.

“I think all of our kids wrestled very well,” said Coach Arnone. “Our younger guys are really going to benefit from this experience.”