Return trip

First Posted: 1/6/2014

Austin Harry, Connor Martinez and Ryan Monk all made return trips to the championship round of the Wyoming Valley Conference Wrestling Tournament.

Once they got there, Harry and Martinez repeated their efforts from a year ago while Monk got the change in results he was seeking.

Monk, who lost to eventual state finalist Brad Emerick from Coughlin in last year’s final, had one of two first-period pins in this year’s championship round.

The Dallas senior finished off Wyoming Valley West’s Matt Dubaskas in 1:49 at 285 pounds to close out the event at Lake-Lehman, which was pushed back one day to Jan. 4 and 5 because of weather.

Monk, Dallas teammate Martinez and Lake-Lehman’s Harry all won individual titles.

“He’s having a good year so far,” Dallas coach Mike Richards said of Monk, who won the title against a strong 25-team field in the Conestoga Valley Tournament a week earlier. “He puts in a lot of hard work and the rewards for that hard work are starting to show now.”

Monk has lost just twice this season, both in out-of-town events against wrestlers who reached the state finals last year. Richards said he has worked on improving after both of those losses and when he has experienced success.

“The big factor is he’s always trying to improve on the areas that he has weaknesses in,” Richards said. “He’s not really technically weak in many areas, but he’s the kind of kid that if he does something wrong in a match, he’s working on it the next day in practice and always striving to be better than he was the last match.”

Harry, the last remaining unbeaten in the WVC, also won a tournament for the second straight weekend. Like Monk, he showed improvement even while winning.

A week earlier, Harry had edged Coughlin’s Bill Proay, 5-3, on his way to the Tunkhannock Kiwanis Tournament title. When they met again in the WVC Tournament 138-pound final, Harry racked up a major decision, 13-4.

“They had a pretty exciting match up at Tunkhannock,” Lake-Lehman coach Tom Williams said. “When they met again, he put on a pretty dominant performance in the finals, which I think was a goal of his.

“At Tunkhannock, I think he felt like he left a little something on the mat. He was a little more aggressive on his feet. He closed the distance down between the two of them and was more effective.”

Dallas did not fill two of the 14 weight classes, but still managed to finish third in the 14-team field. Lake-Lehman, which had wrestlers in only half the brackets, took fifth.

Wyoming Valley West won the title over Pittston Area.

Dallas and Lake-Lehman, which compete in different divisions of the WVC, will meet Monday night at 7 p.m. at Lake-Lehman.

“It’s going to be a good meet, regardless of how many kids they have and we’re down a couple of weights, too,” Richards said. “It’s going to be a close meet and it’s going to be a tough-fought one.

“It always is when we wrestle Lehman.”

The Back Mountain rivals had wrestlers meet in one of the WVC Tournament finals.

Martinez repeated his title when he edged Derek Dragon of Lake-Lehman, 5-4, at 170 pounds.

Logan Brace (160) and Dominic Oliveri (195) each lost just once while finishing third for Dallas. The Mountaineers also placed Nick Luzetski in fourth at 152, John Hutchins in fifth at 220 and Jack Turner in sixth at 106. Anthony Deluca contributed additional team points by winning twice at 113, even though he did not place.

“I was very pleased with our performance in the tournament,” Richards said.

Lake-Lehman’s Williams had a similar reaction.

Five of the seven Black Knights who competed finished fifth or higher.

Robert Wright joined Dragon and Harry in the finals. He finished second at 160 pounds.

Brady Butler was third at 182 and Rodney Driscoll was fifth at 113.

“We have some talented kids,” Williams said. “We don’t have the depth we’ve had at times, but we entered seven kids in the conference tournament and finished fifth, so I think that speaks to the strength of the kids that we do have.”

Injuries, both long-term and short-term, cut into the number of available wrestlers, but Williams expects to come closer to filling the 14 weights.

“For most dual meets, we’re weighing in probably 11 or 12 or so,” he said. “They’re not all at the right spots, so there are probably going to be one, two, or occasionally three weights that we cannot cover.”

Tunkhannock placed sixth at the conference tournament, led by 145-pounder Ben Siegel in second place. Nathan Cheek of Wyoming Valley West edged Siegel, 3-2, in the final.

Dakota Quick (126), Jake Richards (132) and Mike Manley (138) were fourth; Josh Beeman (106), Bill Manley (120) and Ricky Stevens (195) were fifth; and Alex Berlew (220) was sixth.

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