Honesdale's varsity wrestling team poised for another stellar campaign

The Hornets are coming off two straight seasons of nearly unprecedented success on the varsity wrestling mat.

Under the direction of veteran coaches Ryan Chulada and Joe Arnone, Honesdale captured a pair of Class AA District Two championships and made back-to-back trips to the PIAA State Meet.

This year, though, the Red & Black face a bevy of brand new challenges, not the least of which is a return to Division I of the Lackawanna League and re-classification as a Class AAA program.

“It's definitely going to be a challenge, but we're looking forward to it,” said Coach Chulada. “I'm pretty optimistic and the kids are really excited. They're working hard in the room and kind of champing at the bit to get going.”

They'll get that chance on Saturday with a scrimmage at Delaware Valley, one of the teams Honesdale will be battling for a division title.

The Hornets open their Lackawanna League season on Wednesday, Dec. 12 on the road at Abington.

“They're throwing us right into the fire,” Coach Chulada said with a smile.

“Traditionally, Abington has had a really successful program. They've been kind of down the last couple of years, but we're not taking anything for granted.”

Lackawanna League matches start at 6:45 p.m.

Leadership

Any discussion of the 2018-19 Honesdale varsity wrestling team must begin with this year's senior class.

Jordan Young, Brandon Lawson, AJ Steffens, Jake Kabonick, Justin LoBasso and Zach Beatty will each play a key role in whatever success the Hornets enjoy this winter.

Young is slated to start at 126 pounds and posted a sterling 23-14 record with 11 pins in 2017-18. Jordan is a two-time district place winner.

Lawson will be penciled in at 152 and 160. Brandon notched 28 wins last year and advanced to the Eastern Regional tourney.

“Brandon is a very smart young man,” said Coach Chulada. “Academically, he's in the Top Five in his class. Brandon works hard in the classroom and on the mat. We've set some pretty high goals for him.”

Steffens fought his way to a 14-14 mark last season. AJ posted nine falls and placed sixth at districts. He is expected to start at either 160 or 170.

Kabonick has recorded back-to-back 20+ win seasons. Jake went 24-16 last year and earned his third straight D2 medal. He will split time between 170 and 180.

“Jake has excellent technique,” Coach Chulada said. “He had a very good football season and worked hard at his conditioning. Jake is much leaner and meaner this year.”

LoBasso is entering his first season of organized wrestling. Justin played basketball last year, but is already turning heads on the mat. He will likely be slotted in at 195 or 220.

Beatty didn't see much varsity time last winter, but is a polished wrestler who owns a pair of JV district titles. Zach will likely compete at 220 or 285.

Underclassmen Tristyn Bodie and Drew Howell are also expected to provide power at the lower weight divisions.

Bodie is a sophomore and returning District Two champion at 106. Tristyn piled up 29 wins and advanced to the Eastern Regional tourney where he placed sixth.

“We're obviously expecting big things from Tristyn,” Coach Chulada said. “He had a fantastic year as a freshman and he's only getting better.”

Howell is a freshman who just recently began organized wrestling. Drew is a multi-sport standout who also excels on the soccer pitch and is expected to start at 113.

“Drew is a very cerebral kid,” Coach Chulada said. “He's really focused and a hard worker. Drew should play a pretty big role on the team this year.”

Forward & Back

Honesdale has been nothing short of dominant the past two years with a combined Lackawanna League record of 15-1.

The Hornets have also won a District Two Duals championship and a Class AA individual title along the way.

Coach Chulada's squad opens the season on the road at Abington.

The local lads will then compete at the Lackawanna League tournament. This year's event, which is slated for Saturday, Dec. 15 will once again be hosted by Wallenpaupack Area.

Honesdale travels to Meyers for one last battle with the Mohawks on Dec. 21, then heads down to Bethlehem Liberty for the annual Holiday Classic Tournament.

The Red & Black finally make their home debut on Wednesday, Jan. 2 against Scranton High School.

That match is followed by a pair of crucial battles with DV (Jan. 16) and West Scranton (Jan. 26). The former is a home match and the latter is away.

“I'm optimistic, but I'm also realistic,” said Coach Chulada. “Winning another district title and getting to states at AAA is probably a tall order, but there's no reason we can't contend for a division title.

“We have a solid line-up from top to bottom and that's the most important thing.”