Honesdale's varsity wrestling team is catching fire in 2018
Honesdale's wrestling team got off to something of a sluggish start this winter.
While the Hornets did sweep their first divisional tri-meet of the season, they also suffered a double digit loss to West Scranton and struggled to a 28th place finish at the BeCa Holiday Tournament.
Now, though, as the calendar has flipped from 2017 to 2018, Coach Ryan Chulada's lads appear to be finding their rhythm.
The Red & Black are coming off perhaps their best performance of the year to date, posting a perfect 5-0 record en route to a team title at the Lackawanna Trail Duals.
“We really wrestled well,” said Coach Chulada.
“I like what I'm seeing in the practice room and on the mat. This team seems to be on a similar trajectory as last year's team. And, if we keep this up, I'm excited to see where it takes us.”
Honesdale maintained its momentum on Monday, traveling to Hanover Area and hammering out a 51-16 win over the Hawkeyes.
“I challenged the kids before this one and they really responded,” Coach Chulada said, reminding his wrestlers that they'd lost to Hanover last year. “They're definitely starting to come together as a team.”
With these victories, the Hornets have improved their overall record to 12-4 on the season.
Weather permitting, the Red & Black will be back in action Friday evening for a Division I-II crossover battle at Abington.
Starting time is 6:45 p.m. at Clarks Summit.
Honesdale had its hands full with Montgomery in the opening match at this year's Trail Duals.
The match score see-sawed back and forth until the Hornets finally sealed the deal on a 40-38 win.
Next up was the host team and Honesdale made short work of Lackawanna Trail, powering its way to a 66-18 rout.
Coach Chulada's squad then posted back-to-back wins over Valley View (51-22) and Scranton Prep (548-23) to earn a spot in the gold medal match.
The Hornets squared off with Mahanoy Area in the final and raced out to a big early lead. To their credit, though, the Golden Bears surged back and made a match of it. However, when the final buzzer sounded, Honesdale had authored a 51-21 decision.
“I was a little bit worried because we got beaten up at those two early season tournaments (BeCa and SoCo),” Coach Chulada said. “But, I think going up against top tier teams like that pays off in the long run.
“The kids learned from those experiences and the lessons are carrying over.”
John Kuhns-Miller and Brandon Lawson each played a key role in the Hornets' 5-0 showing.
Kuhns-Miller is a senior who wrestles at 220. He showcases an unorthodox style that's made him a fan favorite with the Maple City faithful.
John came through in the clutch during the match against Montgomery. He rallied from a first period deficit to pin Ethan Marino in the third period (5:06).
“John has become a much more vocal leader in the past few weeks,” Coach Chulada said. “It's good to see. He gets his teammates fired up and they kind of feed of his intensity.”
Lawson also earned high marks from his mentor.
Brandon is a junior who competes at 152. He turned in a dominant effort at Trail, going 5-0 with two pins and a major decision.
Lawson went just 18-18 last year, but has already piled up 16 wins during his senior campaign.
“Brandon is such a smart kid,” Coach Chulada said of the top-ranked student academically in his class.
“He's also very coachable. Brandon leads by example on the mat and in the classroom. We rely on him big time.”
Honesdale was looking for payback on Monday night versus Hanover.
The Hawkeyes handed the Hornets a rare dual meet loss in 2016-17, then came up a half-point ahead in the final Class AA standings at individual districts.
“They were a real thorn in our side last season,” said Coach Chulada. “When I reminded the kids of what they did to us a year ago, they really didn't need much more motivation.”
This time around, the Red & Black were ready. Six Hornets posted on-mat wins: Tristyn Bodie (106), Ethan Chokshi (132), Lawson (152), Michael O'Day (170), Michael Ehrlich (195) and Kuhns-Miller (220).
Of this group, Coach Chulada singled out O'Day for special mention.
A senior who wrestles in the 170-pound weight class, O'Day racked up 20 wins last season and already has 15 this year.
Michael got into trouble early against Hanover's Mike Lenehan on Monday, trailing 5-0 after the first period. However, O'Day kept his composure and battled all the way back for a grueling 7-6 decision.
“Michael is a senior captain and he's doing an excellent job for us,” Coach Chulada said.
“He's just a great kid. Michael is all about the team. He's the kind of kid who'd run through a wall if we asked him to.”