Ryan Chulada and Joe Arnone have been together from the beginning...
A small, but vocal band of local wrestling fans was treated to a most memorable night this week.
Honesdale traveled to New Milford Wednesday night for a Lackawanna League tri-meet with Blue Ridge and Montrose.
There, the Hornets powered their way to a pair of lopsided wins. They opened with a 60-21 rout of the host Raiders, then closed out the evening by pummeling the Meteors by a score of 55-18.
With these wins, Honesdale improved its overall record to 2-1 on the young season.
The Hornets are off to a 2-0 start in Division II.
And, from a big picture standpoint, the victories were even more significant as they represent the 100th and 101st in the career of head coach Ryan Chulada.
"I've never paid much attention to personal milestones," he said. "But, this one is pretty neat. It made me stop and think about all the kids that have come through the program and all the other coaches I've worked with."
Chulada was quick to heap praise on his longtime friend and co-coach Joe Arnone who's been with him since the beginning.
"I honestly couldn't do this without him," he said. "Joe works incredibly hard. He really cares about the kids and we're very lucky to have him here."
The Hornets' veteran mentor also singled out junior high coach Chad Schuman and JV skipper Chris Carroll for special praise.
"They do a great job," Chulada said. "Chad and Chris just bring so much to the program."
Finally, he thanked school district officials, parents and community members for supporting his efforts and the sport.
"Honesdale is such a great place to teach and coach," Ryan said.
"It all started with men like George Stanton and Jim Clift, then my Dad took over for the next three decades or so. I'm very fortunate to be a part of all this."
On the Mat
It didn't take the Red & Black long to take control of Wednesday's tri-meet.
The Hornets piled up points on the mat and off.
"It's definitely a little bit frustrating," Chulada admitted. "Blue Ridge and Montrose have some good wrestlers, but it's tough when there are so many forfeits..."
Matt Davis paced the attack. A junior who wrestles at 138 pounds, Davis posted a pair of impressive wins.
He opened the Blue Ridge match with a bang, pinning the Raiders' Alec Martin midway through the first period. He then closed out the nightcap by notching a wild 21-10 major decision over the Meteors' Bryan Ryan.
"I've been waiting for Matt to break out and I think this was it," Chulada said. "I'm excited to see where he goes from here. Matt did a great job and took a big step forward tonight."
Troy Russell turned in a stellar performance of his own. The senior 126-pounder posted a sweep of his own.
The battle-tested veteran needed just one minute to pin Blue Ridge's Nate Barton. Russell followed that up with an electrifying decision over Joseph Hester of Montrose, using an escape at the final buzzer to win 6-4.
"That kid was a district finalist in AA last year, so that makes this win even bigger," Chulada said. "Troy is such a fierce competitor. He loves pressure. Every time we need a big win, Troy comes through."
Two other Hornets who also earned high marks from their coach were Joey Rutledge and Gerald Pepper.
Rutledge is a junior who competes at 132. He accepted a forfeit against Blue Ridge, but then made the most of his mat time versus Montrose.
Joey went toe-to-toe with another district finalist. Rutledge slugged it out with Chuck Rohan deep into the second period before posting the pin (3:55).
"What great win!" Chulada exclaimed. "Joey is never out of any match. He's a little bit unorthodox and he can hit a headlock from just about any position."
Pepper is yet another member of a talented junior class. The tough-as-nails 152-pounder absorbed a pin in the opener, but rebounded to win an epic in the nightcap.
Gerald and Makeela Fabrizio fought through three grueling, brutally physical periods. Pepper suffered a broken nose, but battled on and eventually won a dramatic 9-8 decision in overtime.
"He's such a tough kid," Chulada said. "I mean, Gerald's looking at me with two black eyes and he's still out there. Gerald is a hard-working kid and I'm proud of him."
Honesdale faces the toughest part of its Lackawanna League schedule schedule next week.
The Hornets host Abington Heights on Tuesday, then travel to Valley View on Wednesday for a tri-meet with the Cougars and Scranton Prep.
"I think we've generated a little bit of momentum," Chulada said. "But, these are two pretty good teams with full line-ups. We're going to find out alot about ourselves in a hurry."