It was a packed house filled with energy and electricity as the Saucon Valley Panthers faced the Notre Dame Crusaders on their turf in a much-anticipated high school wrestling match on Wednesday night. The Panthers are pursuing an unprecedented 7th straight Colonial League title and riding a 65 consecutive match win streak. The Crusaders are sporting a new coach with many new faces in their lineup from all over the Lehigh Valley. It was a great night of competition that included one thunderous cheer after another as both fan bases showed their appreciation for spirited competition and a whole lot of good wrestling. But, when the final whistle blew, it was the homegrown Panthers who walked away with a 40-26 opening night victory.
Saucon Valley’s Chris Arciuolo (106) got things started by building a 7-0 lead. Arciuolo was able to counter and convert for a couple of takedowns and three near-fall points. The Panther freshman held on for a 7-4 win.
Notre Dame charged right back recording pins at 113,120 and 126 to put the Panthers in an 18-3 hole. However, 2018 PIAA State Runner-up, Josh Jones (132) stopped the bleeding for the Panthers with a series of near-fall points to earn a 13-1 major-decision over Brandon Chletsos. Jones’ victory made the score 18-7 in favor of the Crusaders.
Saucon Valley junior Thomas Spirk (138) followed Jones with a 7-5 decision against Notre Dame’s Richie Markulics. Markulics has an impressive wrestling resume, but it was Spirk who stole the show. Points didn’t come easy and the wrestlers were tied 3-3 after one period. Spirk pulled ahead with a second-period escape and a takedown. Markulics was able to get an escape to end the period and make the score 6-4. Spirk held on for a 7-5 win and close the Crusader lead to 18-10.
The Panthers dropped bouts at 152 and 160 but Saucon Valley’s Nick Rosengrant (145), Matt Arciuolo (170), Braydyn Lugardo (182) and Dane Csencsits (195) earned points for the Panthers. Rosengrant and Lugardo won by decision while Arciuolo and Csencsits received forfeits. Heading into the final two bouts of the night the Panthers clawed their way back and held a slim, two-point lead against the Crusaders.
Jared Harka (220) took to the mat and quickly put to rest any hopes the Crusaders had of ending the Saucon Valley Colonial League win streak. Harka hammered Eshan Swartz with a cement-job and put him flat to his back right in front of the Panther bench and coaching staff. The deafening roar of the Panther crowd showed their approval as Harka’s heroics saved the day.
For good measure Saucon Valley junior, Nick Warnke (285) followed up with a fall of his own over Notre Dame’s Anthony Schiraldi. Warnke’s exclamation point made the score a 40-26 final.
Coach’s Quote“I would like to thank the Saucon Valley Wrestling community for coming out to support our team last night. You packed the gym! It was great to see so many alumni, former students, parents, and friends there to cheer on our team. Before the match we talked to our team about being a family, about being part of something special….We live in a great community, with incredible support and I couldn’t be more proud of our team and this community!!”Saucon Valley Coach, Chad Shirk
Saucon Valley 40, Notre Dame 26
106- Chris Arciuolo Fr., Saucon Valley, dec. Evan Maag, 7-4.
113- Josh Bauman, ND, pinned Cael Markle Fr., 0:45.
120- Tony Morello, ND, pinned Ryan Gilbert Fr., 0:20.
126- Ryan Crookham, ND, pinned Kevin Dyer Jr., 1:57.
132- Josh Jones Sr., Saucon Valley, maj-dec., Brandon Chletsos, 13-1.
138- Thomas Spirk Jr., Saucon Valley, dec. Richie Markulics, 7-5.
145- Nick Rosengrant Sr., Saucon Valley, dec. Nick Vonelli, 5-0.
152- Andrew Cerniglia, ND, tech-fall, Dante Mahaffey Fr., 16-1, 3:52.
160- Derek Berlitz ND, dec. Ty Csencsits Fr., 13-6.
170- Matt Arciuolo Jr., Saucon Valley, winner by forfeit.
182- Braydyn Lugardo Jr., Saucon Valley, dec., Tucker Klump, 5-0.
195- Dane Csencsits Jr., Saucon Valley, winner by forfeit.
220- Jared Harka Sr., Saucon Valley, pinned, Eshan Swartz, 0:30.
285- Nick Warnke Jr., Saucon Valley, pinned, Anthony Schiraldi, 5:42.
Wrestler of the Match – Thomas Spirk
Coach Shirk said it: “Thomas had an incredible win last night over a returning three-time PIAA State Place-winner. It is great seeing all of his hard work and dedication paying off.”
Junior High Wrestler of the Match – Chris Peterson
Up Next: The Saucon Valley Panthers will host the Catasauqua Rough Riders in their home-opener next Tuesday, Dec. 18.