Honesdale defeated Western Wayne in yet another wild match this past weekend

For a second straight year, Honesdale and Western Wayne met on the varsity wrestling mat to decide a District Two title.

The Hornets and Wildcats squared off Saturday at Yatesville to determine the 2017-18 Class AA Team Duals champion.

Last week, Coach Dante Terenzio’s squad captured the Lackawanna League Division II crown with a wild win. This time around, though, Coach Ryan Chulada’s lads would emerge victorious.

The Red & Black surged out to a quick double-digit lead thanks to pins by Peter West and Jordan Young. They then held off a furious Wildcat rally en route to an eventual 36-27 win.

“I’m so proud of these kids,” an ecstatic Coach Chulada said just moments after the final buzzer.

“That was an emotional loss the other night up at Mountain View and they could have just packed it in. But, they didn’t. They got back to work. The re-focused and re-dedicated themselves and it paid off. I couldn’t be happier for them.”

With this impressive victory, the Hornets qualify for the PIAA State Championships at Hershey for a second straight year.

Honesdale will open its gold medal quest Thursday against Reynolds.

The Raiders are District 10 champions and boast a 21-1 overall record. They punched their ticket to states via a 46-21 rout of Harbor Creek.

“Hey, this isn’t our first rodeo,” Coach Chulada said. “These kids know the elite level of competition they’re going to face. That being said, we’re not going to be content just being there. We’re looking to do some damage.”

Early & Often

Saturday’s championship match got underway just after 1 p.m. before a packed house at Pittston Area.

West jetted out to an early lead in his bout at 113. And, just :35 into the second period, Peter put Western Wayne’s Nathan Koch on his back.

Young was every bit as dominant in the afternoon’s second bout. Jordan pinned Jake DeBeau in a time of 3:32, giving the Hornets a 12-0 lead and sending Honesdale fans into a frenzy.

“I can’t say enough about those two kids,” Coach Chulada said. “It was so important for us to get off to a fast start. Peter and Jordan really delivered in a big way.”

Trailing 12-0 after two bouts, Western Wayne got on the board thanks to a gutsy performance by Dillon Dante. The sophomore went toe-to-toe with Chris McDevitt through three grueling periods before finally posting a 3-2 decision.

With the score now 12-3 in favor of Honesdale, Mitchell Herzog strode to the mat and wrestled an unforgettable match.

The junior 132-pounder got off to a woeful start against Ethan Chokshi, trailing 13-2 after two periods. However, Herzog struck like lightning in the third.

He recorded a stunning pin at the 4:26 mark, bringing Wildcat fans to life and slicing the Hornets’ lead to 12-9.

Back & Forth

Matt Davis responded for Honesdale, powering his way to a 13-7 win over Brad Carey at 138.

Matthew Leslie and Joe Rutledge then staged another brutally physical bout at 145. Rutledge, a battle-tested senior, gave it his all but suffered a heartbreaking 6-5 loss at the hands of the Wildcat frosh.

It was at this moment that Honesdale turned to another veteran in the hopes of re-claiming match momentum.

Brandon Lawson took the mat at 152 with his team leading by just three points and turned in an outstanding effort.

Lawson defeated one of Western Wayne’s best, Braden McIntosh, by a score of 5-2 and earned high praise from his mentor.

“This was a huge day for us and Brandon played such a major role,” Coach Chulada said. “He went out there and wrestled his butt off against one of their best kids. I’m incredibly happy for Brandon.”

While Kasen Taylor retaliated for the Wildcats with a 4-1 decision over Gerald Pepper at 160, the Hornets quickly re-grouped.

Michael O’Day and Jake Kabonick registered back-to-back falls at 170 and 182. O’Day clamped Tony Sparango in 4:19 and Kabonick pinned Alex Hollister at the 4:39 mark.

This set the stage for a wild finish with just four bouts left in the match.

Over & Out

Honesdale held a commanding 30-15 lead, but Western Wayne was far from dead.

When Derek Swoyer (195) and Cole Fuller (220) carded consecutive clamps, the margin had suddenly narrowed to 30-27.

Just two bouts remained ... two bouts that would decide this year’s District Two Class AA Duals champion.

At 285 pounds, senior Ken Huber fought his way to a 9-5 decision over Jack McAllister.

This left the Hornets’ fate in the hands of Tristyn Bodie ... and the scrappy freshman came through in the clutch.

Bodie showed poise far beyond his tender years, hammering out a 6-1 decision against Dimitri Reggie at 106.

This win sealed the deal on Honesdale’s 36-27 victory and booked the Hornets’ passage to Hershey.

“It’s high school sports,” Coach Chulada said. “If you can get a group of kids fired up, believing in each other and united in a common cause, great things can happen.

“Beating a team like Western Wayne with as good a coach as Dante is definitely special. All the hard work our kids put in is paying off and now we get to take it to the next level for a second straight year.”