A quintet of Buckhorns is headed to Bethlehem Liberty for this year's event
The Wallenpaupack Area wrestling team turned in an outstanding performance this past weekend at the 2014-15 District Two tournament.
Under the direction of head coach Steve Krushnowski, the Buckhorns battled their way to a fourth place finish in the Class AAA standings.
Even more impressively, a total of seven Paupack grapplers earned places on the Kingston Armory podium ... led by individual champions Chase Gallik and Jared Wehrmann.
"Overall, I'm very pleased," Coach Krushnowski said. "I honestly thought we had a legitimate shot at winning the whole thing, but Top Five is nothing to sneeze at.
"I'm very proud of this team and having five kids moving on is pretty awesome."
In addition to Gallik and Wehrmann, Jake Haupt, Kyle Hartman and Todd Frick are all headed to Northeast Regionals.
This year's edition of the event is slated for next weekend at Bethlehem Liberty High School. Mat action gets underway Friday afternoon and continues through Saturday evening.
Long before the season ever began, Coach Krushnowski was telling anyone who'd listen that Gallik was a man on a mission this year.
And, Chase has spent the past four months making his mentor look like a prophet.
Gallik rampaged his way to a 30-3 regular season record, leaving 24 pins in his wake.
This past weekend, Chase put on a show that local fans won't soon forget. He utterly dominated the competition at 145 pounds, posting a perfect 4-0 mark with four first period pins.
"Chase was absolutely fantastic," Coach Krushnowski said. "There's just no way he was coming home without that gold medal. Nobody had a chance against him."
Gallik came into districts as the #1 seed and wasted no time in getting down to business. He opened with a 19-second clamp of Hazleton Area's Joseph Larock, then pinned Nick Johannes of Honesdale in 1:09.
Chase needed just 1:35 to send Dallas' Xavier Barber packing in the semis, which set the stage for a showdown against Mike Manley of Tunkhannock in the final.
Gallik was every bit as overpowering in the gold medal bout though, clamping Manley in a time of 1:01.
For his efforts, Chase receives a #2 seed at regionals and an inside track on the road to Hershey.
"There's no doubt in my mind that Chase is going to states," Coach Krushnowski said. "He's just too focused and determined. I'm excited to see what he can do."
Wehrmann added yet another line to his sparkling high school resume by defending his individual crown.
Jared entered this year's Class AAA tourney seeded first in the 182-pound bracket and earned a first round bye.
Wehrmann got off to a fast start by pinning Crestwood's Brian Fuller in the quarters. He followed that up by clamping Damian Foshay of Honesdale in the semis (4:19).
Hazleton Area's Derek Spachman refused to go quietly in the finals, though. The second seeded senior also pinned his first two opponents and gave Wehrmann a run for his money before suffering a 6-4 setback.
"Honestly, Jared was never in any real danger," Coach Krushnowski said. "He just went out there and took care of business. He wrestled very well."
Wehrmann is now 33-4 on the year. Like Gallik, he heads off to the Northeast Regional tournament seeded second and eyeing up another trip to states.
Hartman and Haupt each came within a whisker of gold, but both are bound for regionals as silver medalists.
Kyle opened with a bang at 220, pinning Berwick's Stone Force in a time of :44. He made it back-to-back falls with a clamp of Tunkhannock's Josh Flaherty (1:28).
Hartman then battled his way to a 6-0 decision over Payton Phillips of Wyoming Valley West in the semifinals, which earned him a date with top-seeded Jake Vaxmonsky of Pittston Area in the championship bout.
"Kyle did a great job," Coach Krushnowski said of his wrestler's 6-4 loss in the final. "That kid is ranked #12 in the state and Kyle stayed right with him. If they cross paths again down the road, I think it will be a different story."
Haupt also turned in a stellar effort, advancing to the 195-pound final before finally falling to top-seeded Matt Wagner of Delaware Valley.
Jake posted three consecutive pins en route to the gold medal bout. He clamped Brandon Watt of Hazleton Area (2:59), Honesdale's Alec Dragos (2:28) and James Geiger of Dallas (5:51).
"I love what I saw out there from Jake," Coach Krushnowski said. "He went toe-to-toe with the second-ranked kid in the state and never blinked."
On the Dais
Frick also earned a trip to the Northeast Regional tournament by finishing fourth at 170.
Todd suffered an opening round loss to Berwick's Nathan Maczuga, but cranked it up a notch in wrestlebacks.
The Buckhorn junior registered back-to-back pins of Pittston Area's Jason DeBoard (3:46) and Tyreek Lozano of West Scranton (1:17). He then punched his ticket to the consolation final by gutting out 12-7 overtime win over Hazleton's Carson Kinney.
Even though he absorbed a second loss at the hands of Maczuga and had to settle for fourth, Frick earned high marks from his mentor.
"I'm telling you: Fricky is one of the most coachable kids I've ever worked with," Coach Krushnowski said. "He'll do whatever it takes to win. I'm really happy for him."
While they won't be joining their teammates at Bethlehem Liberty, two more Buckhorns carved out spots on the podium at Kingston.
Zachary Krial and Andrew Demchuk each finished in sixth place, the former at 106 and the latter at 132.