It Takes Two
Senior Victor Rosa and junior Billy Lee can agree on a few things about their wrestling season at Lackawanna Trail this year.
Their team highlight came at Elk Lake when the Lions knocked off Blue Ridge to win the Zurn-Bush Memorial tournament.
"That came down to the final two matches and we needed another wrestler to pull off an upset and he did," Rosa said. "That was pretty cool."
The individual highlight was that both Lee (138 pounds) and Rosa (145 pounds) delivered third-place finishes in the District 2 Class AA Championships, netting hard-earned berths for the Northeast Regionals.
"I'm real happy to be here," Lee said of being in Williamsport for regionals. "It feels good."
"The goal was to place as well as we could in districts," Rosa said. "We knew if we worked hard enough, we'd have a good shot at it."
Both wrestlers made their first appearances at regionals in the first year under the guidance of head coach Mike Petherick. Both Rosa and Lee gave credit to Petherick, who replaced former head coach Jeff Stauffer, for their being able to take the next step.
"We ran two miles every day, and conditioned for 30 minutes every day," Rosa said. "It was a good year of coaching."
Both wrestlers needed to work on their offense and felt Petherick played a big part in helping them achieve their individual roles.
"I wanted to work on neutral position and my shots," Rosa said. "In the past years, I didn't have a lot of offensive tools from neutral position."
"I worked on getting better on my feet," Lee said. "Coach helped a lot with drilling, [teaching] different moves, different techniques."
Petherick toed a fine line, like many first-year head coaches do.
"Being a first-year coach, you can't turn the apple cart upside down right away," Petherick said. "You have to take the attributes they have and work on making them better."
"Victor needed to work on being more offensive on his feet. Bill likes to ride legs, but we had to teach him not to get sloppy. He lost some matches he probably should have won."
So Petherick slowly instilled the traits he wanted them to work on and, as a result, the duo advancing to the second stage in the three-week wrestling postseason showed how well they were able to hone their new skills.
"We got them to work on creating movement and patient aggression to create space, to create opportunities," Petherick said. "Be patient when you have the lead, takes chances when you're behind."
Rosa followed that road in his last three district matches, losing in the semifinals when Josh Winters of host school Lake-Lehman posted a third-period pin after falling behind in a bout where a win would have given Rosa a regional berth. But he showed poise that countered the butterflies he felt in his stomach with pins in the consolation semifinals and third-place bout.
"I was very nervous for those two matches," Rosa said. "In the semifinal, I was trailing and threw a big move, but it didn't work out and I was pinned."
Lee already knew how fourth place felt, the district result he had last year, a fact that motivated him all season long.
"Last year I finished fourth [in districts], so the biggest goal was to qualify [for regionals]," Lee said. "It definitely helped in the practice room; all year long it was in the back of my mind."
When he faced Lake-Lehman's Josh Sayre in the third-place match, it all came full circle. Lee remembered his fourth-place finish in 2012, and knew Sayre would come hard after Lee because of what happened last year.
"I beat him [Sayre] last year in the consolation semifinals [last year]," Lee said. "I knew it would be a tough match, but I had confidence going in."
Lee responded with a solid 9-4 win that made him a regional qualifier and, along with Rosa, gave Lackawanna Trail representation in Williamsport.
"They're solid kids," Petherick said. "We expected them to do good things by the end of the year."
Lee and Rosa each lost two bouts at the Class AA Northeast Regionals at Williamsport last weekend.
In the Class AAA Northeast Regionals at Bethlehem Liberty High School, none of the four Abington Heights wrestlers advanced to the state championships.
Junior Mat Carr (145) did win three bouts before being eliminated in the consolation semifinals. Carr posted a major decision in the championship bracket before winning twice in the wrestlebacks. The junior was two wins shy of making the state meet.
Nick Senuk (138), a senior, also claimed a win in the preliminary round before losing twice in the consolation bracket.
Junior Greg Pascale (113) picked up a pin in the consolations before dropping a one-point decision in the second-round consolations.
Jimmy Fayocavitz (120), a sophomore, lost both of his regional bouts to end his season.