If the Wyoming Valley Conference issued championship belts for each weight class, the 189-pound title would be on the line tonight.
That’s because defending PIAA Class 3A champ Nate Eachus from Hazleton Area is expected to take on PIAA Class 2A runner-up Aaron Karns from Berwick tonight at 7 at Hazleton Area.
According to the Pennsylvania Wrestling Rankings, Karns is currently ranked No. 1 in 2A, while Eachus is seventh in 3A. But some fans would argue that Eachus should be ranked atop the poll because he is the defending state champ.
Head-to-head, Eachus (24-3) holds a 2-1 advantage over Karns, but the Bulldog enters the bout with just one loss and 22 wins.
Overall, Eachus has a 121-29 career record, while Karns holds a 106-30 mark.
“These are two of the best kids in the state going at it,” said Berwick coach Ernie Yates. “This is what wrestling is all about.”
Stakes are much higher than an imaginary belt, as both teams enter the contest unbeaten in the division and tied for the division championship one year ago. With both teams already defeating division contender Pittston Area, tonight’s dual match is expected to decide the Division I title.
“It’s going to be an exciting match and I think it’s going to be good for wrestling in District 2, with two of the top teams in the district going against each other,” noted Yates.
Tunkhannock entered this season with aspirations of winning a second consecutive Division II title. The Tigers have to finish their division schedule on Saturday against Hanover Area before that can be accomplished. But they already have reached two team goals by beating D-I Crestwood and Coughlin and being edged out by Wyoming Valley West on a tiebreaker.
The team is earning a tough reputation around the league.
“They are tough and very solid all the way through and have very few weak spots in their lineup,” said Dallas coach Mike Richards, whose team fell to Tunkhannock last week.
Last year, Tyler Perry set the Berwick school record for career wins with 128. With two dual meets remaining and several postseason matches on the horizon, Bulldog 160-pounder Nick Venditti should shatter that record.
Venditti, a senior, has a career mark of 121-31 heading into tonight’s match at Hazleton Area.
Eachus’ 121 career wins are just 10 shy of the Cougar school-record. Current Hazleton coach Dave Shafer holds the mark with 131 wins.
The District 2 Duals tournament is slated for next weekend (Feb. 1-2), with the Class 2A opening rounds being held at Lake-Lehman High School and 3A opening at Pittston Area.
On the second day, the finals will be held simultaneously at Pittston.
The top three 3A teams from the WVC seem to be set with Hazleton Area, Pittston Area and Tunkhannock. The last spot will go to either Wyoming Valley West or Coughlin.
The 2A side is still unsettled. Berwick and Lake-Lehman are shoo-ins for the first two spots, while Dallas, Hanover Area and Nanticoke are battling for the last two spots and the race should be exciting.
Dallas beat Hanover 34-31 on Tuesday, while the Hawkeyes defeated Nanticoke last week.
Dallas seems to be in good shape, but has to get past Nanticoke today and Wyoming Area on Saturday.
With the close scores in both divisions recently, many have wondered what the tiebreaking criteria are for a dual meet score. They go like this:
1. Least number of team points deducted for flagrant or unsportsmanlike conduct. 2. Greater number of matches won. 3. Greater number of points for falls, defaults, forfeits or disqualifications. 4. Greater number of points for technical falls. 5. Greater number of points for a major decision. 6. Greater number of first points scored. 7. Greater number of points for near falls. 8. Greater number of takedowns. 9. Greater number of reversals. 10. Greater number of escapes. 11. Fewer penalties for stalling. 12. Fewer stall warnings. 13. Fewer number of points for other infractions. 14. Flip of a disk.