The 43rd annual Friends of Wrestling banquet attracted hundreds of fans

Local wrestling fans gathered one last time this past weekend to celebrate Honesdale's unforgettable campaign.

The Hornets recently put the finishing touches on arguably the greatest season in program history.

Coach Ryan Chulada's squad powered its way to a 21-7 record in dual meets, including a 7-1 mark in the Lackawanna League.

Although they had to settle for runner-up status in Division II … trailing only undefeated Western Wayne in the standings … the Red & Black took their game to an entirely new level in the following weeks.

Honesdale ran roughshod over its competition at the District Two Team Duals tournament. The Hornets defeated Wyoming Area, Lake Lehman and Western Wayne to claim the Class AA championship.

Following their second trip to the PIAA State Meet in Hershey, the local lads returned home and added another line to their already impressive resume.

The Hornets exploded for 225 points at the District Two Individual tournament en route to their first-ever AA crown.

“This was a great year,” Coach Chulada said. “We have such a great group of kids. They worked their butts off everyday and really bought into what we were preaching.

“I'm ecstatic with how the season went and I just couldn't be happier or prouder of this team.”

Award Winners

Hundreds of family members and fans turned out for this year's edition of Honesdale Friends of Wrestling banquet.

It marks the 43rd year for an event that had its humble beginnings in the living room of George and Sally Stanton.

The 2017-18 event took place in the high school cafeteria on Saturday, honoring wrestlers from the varsity, junior varsity and junior high teams.

Listed below are this year's major award winners, each of whom was lauded for hard work and dedication to the team...

Matt Davis took home the evening's biggest prize as he was named this year's Most Valuable Wrestler.

A senior who piled up 26 wins this season, Davis closed out his varsity career with 56 victories and the District Two Class AA gold medal at 132 pounds.

Matt went on to make his second appearance at NE Regionals, where he earned a spot on the dais (6th).

“What a great way to cap off an outstanding career!” Coach Chulada exclaimed.

“Matt has a tireless work ethic and he improved so much each year. And, all that hard work really paid off this year. Matt reaped what he sowed and set a great example for all of our younger wrestlers.”

Tristyn Bodie also enjoyed a breakout season for the Hornets. A freshman phenom who cracked the varsity line-up after a stellar junior high career, Bodie led the team with 29 wins.

Tristyn muscled his way to a District Two title at 106 and then finished sixth at Northeast Regionals.

“I think it's pretty safe to say that Tristyn exceeded our expectations,” Coach Chulada said. “We knew he was a talented kid, but to win a district championship as a freshman is pretty rare. We're expecting a lot from Tristyn next year.”

Brandon Lawson was next up, having earned the varsity's Most Improved Wrestler award.

A junior who came on strong in the second half of the season, Lawson notched 28 wins and claimed a silver medal at districts.

“Brandon is capable of really big things,” Coach Chulada said. “He took his game to the next level this season. Brandon came up with several huge wins for us. He's the kind of kid you want out there with the match on the line.”

Lawson also earned the team's Academic Excellence Award.

Ethan Chokshi also made a name for himself at the varsity level in 2017-18. Still just a sophomore, Chokshi wrestled at three different weight classes en route to 18 wins.

He was named this year's Outstanding Underclassman after finishing fourth at the district tournament.

“Ethan wasn't really on anybody's radar at the start of the season,” said Coach Chulada. “But, he really came on strong late. Ethan is a talented kid who's going to play a key role on this team next year.”

John Kuhns-Miller also turned heads this year, both for his habit of winning big bouts and the wildly entertaining way he went about it.

The senior, who is affectionately known as “Big-T,” hammered out 26 wins and took third at the D2 tourney at 220.

“We're really going to miss Big-T,” said Coach Chulada. “He was definitely a fan favorite. Big-T was fun to watch and he came through with some huge wins for us this year.”

Joe Rutledge closed out his Red & Black varsity career with a total of 58 wins. He competed this year at 138 and 145, earning a fifth pace district medal.

For his efforts, Rutledge was honored with the Coaches Dedication Award.

“This was a special group of seniors and Joey was really the linchpin,” Coach Chulada said. “He was a role model on and off the mat, in the practice room and the classroom.”

Also Feted

Two grapplers were also feted for their contributions at the JV level.

Zach Beatty is a junior who cracked the varsity line-up on four occasions and notched three wins. He is this year's Outstanding JV Wrestler.

“Zach is a solid kid who's come a long way,” Coach Chulada said. “I'm looking for him to do some big things next season as a senior at the varsity level.”

Hannah Holbert is a sophomore and one of two girls on the 2017-18 roster. She didn't see any varsity action, but excelled in the classroom and is this year's JV Academic Excellence Award winner.

“Hannah is the kid who really changed my mind about girls and wrestling,' Coach Chulada said. “She came out every single day and worked just as hard as anyone in the room.

“Hannah scrapped and battled. She set a great example on the mat and in the classroom.”

This year's junior high award winners were...

•Timmy Dailey: Most Valuable Wrestler

•Willie Houghton and Codey Gardner: Most Improved Wrestlers

•CJ Hinton: Roomie of the Year

•Drew Howell: Academic Excellence Award