Delaware Valley fetes its graduating grapplers

Action on the Lackawanna League wrestling mat this season was nothing short of fierce.

While Delaware Valley managed to win yet another Division I title with a 5-1 record, reclaiming the title at the district duals proved to not be in the cards.

The Warriors' lone league loss came at the hands of West Scranton. However, DV eventually succumbed to Hazleton Area in the finals of this year's District Duals tournament.

It was a tough one to swallow after having dispatched Honesdale and Wyoming Valley West in the quarters and semis.

Now, DV grapplers are patiently preparing for a solid weekend at the 2018-19 individual tourney.

Ready to Go

“We are a very young team,” said Head Coach Lou DeLauro.

“We overcame a lot of injuries and obstacles this year and the team has grown and got better. That’s a tribute to the hard work these guys have put in.

“We have 12 guys going to districts and we’d love to have 12 guys go to regionals. It’s win-or-go-home time.”

This year the district meet has a new home. So long to the venerable Kingston Armory and say hello the Hazleton Area High School.

While the new digs are more modern, 26 years for the Cougars’ gymnasium versus 96 years for the Home of the 109th Artillery, the venue is smaller and given both the AA and AAA title will be held there simultaneously, just as it has been at the armory, the event will be packed.

Preliminaries and quarterfinals commence at 5 p.m. on Feb. 22 and semi-finals and championship rounds go down on Feb.23 starting at 10 a.m.

Senior Charge

“The seniors are great leaders,” said DeLauro.

“They kept motivation the guys through the tough times.”

Among the hopefuls heading to districts are three seniors, Jack Dardia (138); Jose Falcon (220); and Tyler Riker (170).

Dardia finished fourth at districts as a sophomore and earned a silver medal last season and Falcon took home a sixth-place award last year.

Dardia has racked up a 74-73 tally in his four seasons with DV, Falcon is 30-25 over two years on the varsity squad, and with three years’ experience on the mats, Riker is 17-33.

“We do wrestle as individuals but we still have to wrestle as a team too” said Dardia.

Also on the line is an overall team title that the DV took last winter by earning the most points at the individual championships.

The trio was recently saluted along with a number of other classmates either wrestling for their first season or still doing duty at JV and exhibition levels: Gabe Ortiz (4-4); Damien Lobello (26-51); and Zane Yankalunas (2-3), as well as team manager Addy Ross.

Younger Statesmen

“Every year we reload,” DeLauro said.

“Some new guys come in on varsity that have worked hard, and others gain experience at the JV level. Most of our JV guys wrestled in 20-25 matches this year.”

A number of veteran varsity wrestlers returned for the Warriors this year and posted positive records.

Juniors Travis Norman went 15-14; Machias Magill is at 16-15; Joe Casella has a 18-13 tally; and Gavin Brazanskas sits at 19-14.

Sophomore Jason Henderson has a 12-3 record and classmate Preston Muchado has racked up an impressive 26-7 mark this year.

While he’s slightly below .500, freshman CJ Ross saw a lot of action and chalked up a noteworthy 13 wins while giving up 16 bouts.

“The younger kids have a lot of talent,” Falcon stated, “They’ll only get better but only if they spend a lot of time in the wrestling room.”

Time will tell for the underclassmen. A few made the trip to the podium last year at districts and hope to get back there again this weekend. Others walked away in 2018 with no hardware and perhaps they’ve got the hunger and experience to take home a medal this go around.