TUNKHANNOCK — Members of Tunkhannock’s wrestling team have been in the situation before of needing one more big win to sit alone atop the division standings at the end of the season.
Two previous times, the Tigers fell short and settled for the title of co-champions in 2014 and 2015.
The team finally got over that hump on Wednesday in a big way winning 11 of 14 matches against Dallas and thrashing the Mountaineers, 56-15 to claim the Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 championship. It marks the first nonshared Division 1 title in Tunkhannock school history, and the first time the Tigers have won a division title without being co-champions for the first time since winning the 2008 Division 2 title.
With the win, Tunkhannock (7-0 Division 1) also secured home mat advantage for the first two rounds of the District 2 Class 3A Duals Tournament on Feb. 3.
“To us this is a big accomplishment, but we’ve still got a lot more to do, ” Tunkhannock senior 138-pounder Jake Richards said. “ Our coaches have been preaching to us all season about winning the conference title and tonight we did it. I couldn’t be any prouder of the team.”
The Tigers turned what could have been a close dual into a laugher early. But it’s not much of a surprise since they have been doing that all season at tournaments and meets, having scored at least 54 points in six of their seven divisional wins. They won the first five matches on Wednesday to jump out to a 23-0 lead, with the tone being set early by Richards, who got the meet off to a good start with a first-period pin. It was the first of six pins by the Tigers in the match.
“We stress pins as much as we possibly can,” Tunkhannock coach Bob Hegedty said. “Anything can happen in a match. We want our guys getting off the mat as fast as they can because anything could happen, a weird freak injury or something like that.
“We work on it a lot in practice and go over situations for pins and we look for them a lot.”
Also key in that stretch was a 6-4 win by Dalton Ray over Xavier Barber. In the match of two of the top 160-pounders in the WVC, Barber took the early 2-0 lead, but Ray scored the next six points before Barber mounted a comeback with a late reversal in the third period.
Dallas (4-2 Division 2) got on the board thanks to a pin by Cole Dixon at 182, but Tunkhannock followed with two more falls to increase the lead to 35-6. Mountaineers heavyweight Danny Burkhardt pulled off a pin to get his team closer at 35-12, but that’s the closest Dallas would get.
David Gavek secured Tunkhannock’s win with a fall at 106, putting the score out of reach with four bouts remaining.
The next three wins by the Tigers were all bonus point victories with a major decision by Josh Beeman (113), a pin from Tom Bachman (120) and a technical fall from Tommy Traver (126).
Dallas freshman Alec Sampson pulled off a bit of an upset by knocking off Dakota Quick at 132 to end the dual. Earlier this month, Quick won the WVC Tournament. Sampson got the initial takedown in the bout, then fended off Quick’s moves for the rest of the match for a 2-0 win.
“He’s got the skill level to compete with the best guys,” Dallas coach Mike Richards said. “He really hasn’t lost many matches that weren’t close matches. It’s just sometimes you win those and you come out on the losing end a few times. He’s a tough kid. He’s got a lot of potential and can beat any of these guys on any given day and vice versa.”
The Mountaineers are still in position to secure a berth in the District 2 Class 3A Duals Tournament for the first time since 2014 as long they defeat Pittston Area on Thursday night in a makeup dual that was originally scheduled for Jan. 23.
“We gotta shake this one today and come out and wrestle Pittston (Thursday) and wrestle the way we’ve been wrestling the last couple of weeks,” Mike Richards added. “If we do that we should be OK, but wrestling’s a funny game. You don’t know what you’re gonna get from meet to meet. We have to stay focused. Our goal has been district duals, and I think we have a good chance of getting in, but a win will definitely get us in.”
Tunkhannock 56, Dallas 15
106: David Gavek (Tun) 2:41; 113: Josh Beeman (Tun) maj dec Kade Kravits 8-0; 120: Tom Bachman (Tun) pinned Colin Shedletsky 3:37; 126: Tommy Traver (Tun) tech fall Anthony Deluca 2:32, 18-2; 132: Alec Sampson (Dal) dec Dakota Quick 2-0; 138: Jake Richards (Tun) pinned Robert Wagner 1:24; 145: Bill Manley (Tun) pinned Justin Hutchins 5:04; 152: Mike Manley (Tun) dec Steven Newell 6-2; 160: Dalton Ray (Tun) dec Xavier Barber 6-4; 170: Jarod Bernosky (Tun) tech fall Moustafa Almeky 20-4, 6:00; 182: Cole Dixon (Dal) pinned Jake Stephens 2:55; 195: Sam Rice (Tun) pinned Erik Lannfelt :59; 220: Ricky Stevens (Tun) pinned Shawn Henninger 3:25; 285: Danny Burkhardt (Dal) pinned John Walsh 5:40
Note: Match started at 138 pounds
Reach Dave Rosengrant at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @tldrosengrant