BETHLEHEM — On the eve of this latest road trip, Steve Krushnowski told The News Eagle that he'd be happy with a Top Ten performance.
Paupack's veteran wrestling coach was taking his young team to the Christmas City Tournament, which traditionally is hosted by Bethlehem Catholic.
It's a journey the Buckhorns make each winter just before New Year's and serves as an accurate barometer for the upcoming campaign.
"It's a very competitive tournament with a ton of good teams and talented wrestlers," Coach Krushnowski said. "You usually find out a lot about your kids in a hurry."
Once again, the Bucks made their mentor sound prophetic. Paupack battled its way to a 10th place finish, led by senior Calvin Kreiter's bronze medal showing at heavyweight.
"It was definitely a good learning experience for us," said Coach Krushnowski. "This team is very young and for us to place 10th at a big tournament like this...well, I think it really bodes well for the future of this program."
Bethlehem Catholic absolutely dominated its own event, piling up an eye-popping 310 points en route to the team title.
Schuylkill Valley was a distant second with 145.
Upper Perkiomen (130) finished third, while Palisades (111) and Palmerton (91) rounded out the Top Five. Paupack came in 10th with 82 team points.
By the Numbers
The Buckhorns looked strong on Day One of this year's tourney.
In fact, Paupack found itself in 4th place overall after the quarterfinals. However, the Bucks were hit with a dose of reality on Day Two.
Page 2 of 3 - "It really was a pleasant surprise," said Coach Krushnowski of his team's success in the early rounds. "The second day was an uphill battle, but I was just thrilled to see some of our kids doing so well."
Kreiter, Jared Wehrmann and Chase Gallik paced the Buckhorn attack.
Calvin went 3-1 over the course of the weekend and posted three falls. He sealed the deal on a third place finish at 285 via a a first period pin of Allentown Allen's Brandon Vigo.
"Calvin is really starting to come into his own," said Coach Krushnowski. "He looked really good and I think this may be the start of something big for him."
Wehrmann ran into some serious competition at 182.
The sophomore opened his gold medal quest with a clamp of Palisades' Abram Davenport. Jared then added a pin of Pocono Mt. West's Mario LaMonico before suffering his first loss of the season to Jose Ortiz of BeCa.
"Hey, that kid is ranked 7th in the state and it was a great bout!" exclaimed Coach Krushnowski. "Jared did an amazing job."
Wehrmann finished up with a 3-2 record and three falls on his way to a 5th place overall finish.
Gallik hammered out four wins in six bouts en route to a 5th place showing at 120.
Chase added four more falls to his already dazzling resume, upping his season record to 8-2.
"I gave Chase the choice of wrestling at 120 or 126 and he didn't even hesitate," said Coach Krushnowski.
Page 3 of 3 - "He picked 120 because that's where the best competition was. Chase always wants to wrestle the best kids he can."
Also turning in solid efforts at the Christmas City Tournament were: Todd Frick (152), Ryan Tarantino (132) and Andrew Demchuk (113).