Article appeared in Thursday, Dec. 25’s edition of The Northwestern Press.
Last season, the Northwestern Lehigh wrestling team earned just four victories. This year’s Tigers already surpassed that total, and the season isn’t quite one month old.
The team improved to 5-2 overall and 2-0 in the Colonial League after defeating Catasauqua, 51-24, last week in a battle of league unbeatens in New Tripoli.
Northwestern also surpassed last year’s league win total as the squad earned only one victory in the Colonial League last season.
The Tigers broke into the unchartered territory by getting out early and often against the Rough Riders. Northwestern stormed out to a 5-0 lead after Quentin Bernhard earned a 16-0 major decision over Tyler Melendez at 120 pounds, the first bout of the match.
After suffering a loss at 126, the Tigers won the next four matches, with Jarret White, Dave VanBlargen and Caleb Clymer all winning by fall.
“We’ve gotten a lot of falls [this season],” said Northwestern head coach Jim Moll. “We were at the Blue Mountain Gauntlet and we had two matches with seven or more falls for us. We have been having a lot before just tonight.”
Jason Hottinger lost a tough decision to Mike Shutta at 160 pounds to bring Northwestern’s lead to 27-6 over Catty before a flurry of forfeits.
The Roughies won by forfeit at 170 and 182 with the Tigers taking a victory by forfeiture at 195.
Only forfeiting one bout is an improvement from last season for Northwestern, but that isn’t what is pleasing Moll the most this season.
“I’m more excited about how they are wrestling than having a lot of kids in the lineup,” he commented. “They work hard in practice and they wrestle hard. They come to compete. It is a real great group. It is awesome and a lot of fun to be a part of.”
Catty’s Satchel Stauffer won by fall at 220 before the Tigers ended the match with a trio of falls by Jake Murray, Matt Peters and Baily Wehr.
After battling Salisbury on Dec. 23, Northwestern will compete in the Bethlehem Holiday Classic on Saturday, an event Moll puts a lot of stock in.
“That’s just going to show us where we are at,” he said. “It is a tough tournament every year and it is hard to place. If you can place there, especially as an underclassmen, you should do well come districts and states. So it should be a real good test for us.”