J.J. Konigus had been familiar of being in the position of sitting in the chair during the District 2 Class 2A Duals final.
The Lake-Lehman head coach was an assistant under Phil Lipski for the Black Knights’ three consecutive trips to the finals in 2007, 2008 and 2009. But all three seasons, Lehman lost including the last two that came down to the last bout.
On Saturday, Feb. 6, Konigus, a Lake-Lehman graduate and a two-time individual district champ in 1989 and 1990, finally got past the runner-up status and won a Class 2A Duals title as head coach at his alma mater.
At times during Saturday afternoon’s final against Hanover Area, it looked like Konigus’ squad wasn’t going to achieve the goal trailing by as many as 14 points.
There were times during the regular season when Lehman didn’t appear to be the top team in its own division as Meyers claimed its third straight Wyoming Valley Conference Division 2 crown thanks to a tiebreaking win on the eighth criteria in a dual against the Black Knights.
“It’s great getting it here at Lehman, back at my alma mater. It’s surreal right now. It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Konigus said after the victory. “Things were meant to be. We didn’t win the (division) championship, we lost on criteria H. But hey who even looks a lot at the (division) championship?”
Lehman’s victory also snapped a stretch of losses in seven straight duals finals appearances for the team.
A roaring crowd
The atmosphere at Pittston Area high school for Saturday’s final was much like the biggest duals of the season in the WVC with loud crowds and a packed house.
Each fan base had a nice gathering and was boisterous when the team they were cheering for did something positive. The loudest of the four teams’ fans was by far Tunkhannock. Whenever the Tigers got huge points or had a Scranton wrestler on his back looking for a pin, the Tiger faithful produced a roar so loud it was deafening, especially after 106-pounder David Gavek won his match to secure the first duals title in school history.
This wasn’t an isolated event for Tunkhannock fans as they have been packing the gyms on a daily basis to support the wrestlers.
“Just hearing the crowd erupt after every move, every win it just built up our mojo to keep going,” said senior Dalton Ray, who picked up career win No. 99 with his victory in the final. “I think in the end, this crowd helped us win. We had so many more fans than Scranton from the sounds of it and it worked out in the end.”
Tunkhannock’s wrestlers and coaches even got encouragement before the finals match on their way to Yatesville. While on the bus going through downtown Tunkhannock, the wrestlers and coaches saw several signs posted in windows of local businesses cheering them on.
“We were stopped at a light in the middle of town and looking around and we saw signs that said ‘Good luck wrestlers’ and ‘Go Tiger wrestling’ and we’re like that’s pretty cool,” Ray said. “Then as we got around town and saw more and more signs, it just build us up a little more.”
Reach Dave Rosengrant at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @tldrosengrant