The young Buckhorns are red-hot heading into this year's Sectional and District Two tournaments. Paupack has won 56 consecutive matches over the course of the past two seasons.
Last year, Wallenpaupack Area’s junior high wrestling team lost its first match of the season to Athens. The Buckhorns responded by reeling off 30 consecutive wins and cruising to a second straight Lackawanna League title.
Paupack avenged that loss in Week One of the 2007-’08 campaign and, once again, the young Bucks are in the midst of a long winning streak. Coach Brian Minich’s lads have yet to taste defeat this year and currently sport a 27-0 record.
All that stands between Paupack and a perfect season are two matches: the Bucks have Pocono Mountiain West at home and East Stroudsburg North on the road. This year’s Sectional meet is slated for Saturday, February 9th at Crestwood. Districts follow one week later.
Stay tuned to TWI Sports for more coverage of Paupack’s quest for an undefeated season on the junior high wrestling mat.
Bound for a Crown?
Wallenpaupack Area opened the current junior high wrestling season in fine fashion. The young Bucks avenged their only loss of the 2006-’07 campaign with a 66-33 victory over Athens. Since then, the closest Paupack has come to defeat was pair of 27-point wins over Scranton and Ding-Del.
Along the way, the Bucks have put up some pretty gaudy numbers, including eye-popping massacres of Hanover Area (85-23), Elk Lake (83-15), Delaware Valley (84-12) and Lackawanna Trail (96-6).
Paupack’s most recent...and perhaps its most satisfying victory of the year...came last week against archrival Honesdale. Coach Minich’s squad completed a season sweep of the Hornets, posting a convincing 53-33 decision.
“I’m very happy with the win over Honesdale,” Coach Minich told TWI Sports. “We had to overcome a couple of surprises early in the match. But, our middle and upper weights really came through for us. Those kids rose to the occasion and took care of business for us.”
A pair of unheralded freshmen, Mike Favale and Grant Schaefer, led the way for the Bucks.
Favale stepped onto the mat at 145 pounds looking to answer some serious questions for Paupack. At this point in time, the match was still very much in doubt and the home team needed a big win from Favale. Much to the delight of Coach Minich, Mike responded. He took on one of Honesdale’s hottest wrestlers and came away with a key victory.
Favale went toe-to-toe with Shamus Benson through three grueling periods. And, in the end, Mike emerged with a 6-2 decision.
“That was really big,” Coach Minich said. “That was only Mike’s third bout of the season, so we didn’t know what to expect. Benson is a tough wrestler, but I had a good feeling. Deep down, I knew Mike could handle it. He was our ace in the hole.”
Schaefer is also a relative newcomer to the starting line-up. Grant’s emergence at 100 pounds meant Paupack could drop Kyle Duff down to 95...a move that greatly strengthened the Buckhorn roster. Schaefer made the ploy pay off, pinning the Hornets’ Kevin Fowler in 1:14.
On the heels of these two wins, Paupack began building some serious momentum. The Bucks piled up the team points courtesy of Pat Ingulli (major decision), Steven Terwilliger (fall), Victor Steffen (decision) and Keith Tshuako (fall).
“We’re pretty deep at some of those weight classes,” said Coach Minich. “We really weren’t expecting kids like Roger Johanson, JC Bensley and Duff to lose. But, the rest of the kids stepped it up and gave us some breathing room.
Bensley absorbed a heartbreaking 2-0 defeat to Honesdale’s Matt Evans at 90, while Duff suffered a puzzling third period pin at the hands of Carl Jurkowski. And, in one of the evening’s “marquee match-ups,” Johanson lost a 6-5 decision to the Hornets’ Hunter Hill.
By the Numbers
Heading into this week’s matches with Pocono Mountain West and ESN, more than a few Buckhorn grapplers have put together impressive records.
Guy and Frank Bruno head the list. The brothers, who also excel on the football field, boast identical 28-1 marks. Guy wrestles at 250 and Frank competes at 210.
Other Bucks who have topped the 20-Win mark include: Keith Tshuako (130 lbs, 27-6), Victor Steffen (115 lbs, 26-5), JC Bensley (95 lbs, 25-4), Pat Ingulli (105 lbs, 25-4), Chris Collella (138 lbs, 24-3), Steven Terwilliger (110 lbs, 24-7), Kyle Duff (95 lbs, 23-7), Dan Ingulli (165 lbs, 22-7) and Nick Schan (122 lbs, 22-12).
Josh Rake is 19-7 at 90 lbs, while Schaeffer is 7-1 at 100 lbs.
Coach Minich is hoping those sparkling numbers translate into something Paupack has yet to attain during his tenure: sectional and district titles.
“I wasn’t too optimistic until we went out and won the Meyers Tournament,” he said of his red-hot team. “Then, I really started to believe. We haven’t wrestled very well at districts in the past, but this just might be the year. I guess you’d say I’m hopeful. I think we just might have a shot.”