The Saucon Valley gymnasium was busting at the seams on Tuesday night as a packed house, filled with a whole lot of energy and enthusiasm, welcomed the hometown Panthers and the visiting Notre Dame Crusaders. It was a night to see two powerhouse wrestling programs square off in a much-anticipated high school wrestling match. There was no use in building any long, drawn-out drama throughout the next few weeks. The 2019-2020 Colonial League wrestling season figured to start in a big way.
The Panthers, riding a resume that includes seven straight Colonial League titles and four consecutive District XI championships, were on the prowl and looking for more. The Crusaders, who were runner-ups to the Panthers last season, feature an all-star lineup from many corners of the Lehigh Valley and beyond. This manufactured Crusader program is hot on Saucon’s heels and in search of their break-through moment.
Notre Dame jumped out to a quick 12-0 lead after consecutive pins by Brandon Chletsos (126) and 2019 PIAA state champion, Ryan Crookham (132). Saucon freshman Jake Jones (138) got the Panthers on the scoreboard with his overtime decision against Crusader junior, Josh Bauman.
Notre Dame’s Holden Garcia (145), a recent transfer from New Jersey, regained Crusader momentum with his 11-8 decision over Thomas Spirk. But, Saucon Valley roared back with a couple of first period falls by freshman Tyler Pfizenmayer (152) and senior Matt Arciuolo (160). The back-to-back Panther pins made the score 15-15.
The two teams traded pins at 170 and 182. Notre Dame senior and 2019 PIAA state champion Andrew Cerniglia (170) picked up a fall, but the Panthers Dane Csencsits (182) answered with a first period pin in only :44 seconds. After eight bouts the score was all tied up, 21-21.
Over the course of the next two bouts, the Crusaders went on a 9-point run. Derek Berlitz (195) was able to ride-out Braydyn Lugardo to earn a 2-1 decision in an Ultimate-Tie-Breaker. The Berlitz victory was followed by teammate Jason Sine’s pin at 195.
But, Saucon senior Nick Warnke emphatically got the Panther crowd back on their feet with a pin in the 285-pound bout. Warnke’s second period pin cut the Panther deficit to 30-27.
The Crusaders, however, were able to sweep the final three bouts earning bonus points in each. Notre Dame picked up pins by Evan Maag (106) and Bryson Vaughan (113). Notre Dame junior Brett Ungar (120), a 2019 New Jersey state champion, finished the night with 19-3 tech-fall for the visitors.
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. At the conclusion, the Notre Dame Crusaders ended Saucon Valley’s 75 straight dual-meet win streak with a 47-27 victory over the Panthers.
Notre Dame 47, Saucon Valley 27
126- Brandon Chletsos So., ND, fall Cael Markle Jr., SV, 1:57.
132- Ryan Crookham So., ND, fall Chris Arciuolo So., SV, 5:30.
138- Jake Jones Fr., SV, dec. Joshua Bauman Jr., ND, 4-2 (OT).
145- Holden Garcia Fr., ND, dec. Thomas Spirk Sr., SV, 11-8.
152- Tyler Pfizenmayer Fr. SV, fall Tony Morello Jr., ND, :52.
160- Matt Arciuolo Sr., SV, fall Hasan Mohammed Jr., ND, 1:29.
170- Andrew Cerniglia Sr., ND, fall Dante Mahaffey So., SV, :27.
182- Dane Csencsits Sr., SV, fall Mason Ludlow Fr., ND, :44.
195- Derek Berlitz So., ND, dec. Braydyn Lugardo Sr., SV, 2-1 (UTB).
220- Jason Sine Jr., ND, fall Bobby Yovish Sr., SV, 1:26.
285- Nick Warnke Sr., SV, fall Eshan Swartz Sr., ND, 3:09.
106- Evan Maag So., ND, fall Ermal Duka Jr. SV, :35.
113- Bryson Vaughan Fr., ND, fall Connor Nicholas So., SV, 3:15.
120- Brett Ungar Jr., ND tech-fall Travis Riefenstahl Fr., SV, 19-3.
Up Next: The Panthers will load the bus and head to Catasauqua for a Thursday night dual meet with the Rough Riders in a Colonial League matchup. The contest is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start.
Good luck Panthers, the Source is with you!
All photos by Chris Christian. To see more photos please scroll down and visit his website, where you can purchase these and other high school sports photos.