Allentown wrestlers get better with experience Stover takes 130-pound title at Mercer County Tournament

Staff Writer

By george albano

Allentown wrestlers get better with experience
Stover takes 130-pound title at Mercer County Tournament

Sometimes success is in the eye of the beholder. Or, in the case of the Allentown High School wrestling team, it’s in the eye of Head Coach Ed Dunckley.

With only three victories coming into this week, the Redbirds haven’t had the best of seasons. But the beauty of scholastic wrestling is, even though a team might be going through some tough times, it’s still possible to have a successful season individually.

Which is exactly what some of the Allentown grapplers are doing.

"We have maybe five or six good kids," Dunckley said. "With 14 slots in the lineup, you need at least seven and some luck to win a match. We have to forfeit 275 pounds because I have no big man.

"My numbers are down," the AHS Coach added, "but we’re pushing forward to get them up and get better as a team."

The "five or six good kids" the Redbirds do have in their lineup, however, have been coming up big as they did last weekend at the Mercer County Tournament.

"Team-wise we didn’t do great, but individually I felt we did very well," Dunckley said of the 18-team tourney which encompassed most of the high schools and prep schools in the county.

Anthony Stover, in particular, enjoyed a successful weekend as the senior standout won the 130-pound championship to lead the Redbirds.

"Anthony did an outstanding job," Dunckley said. "He’s a very solid-type wrestler, not very flashy, but every move is very well executed. There’s no flair with Anthony, but he gets the job done."

Meanwhile, sophomore Nick Painchaud was runner-up in the 103-pound weight class and his brother, senior Tom Painchaud, finished third at 145 pounds.

Two more Allentown wrestlers won medals as Frank Cerankowski, another sophomore, captured fifth place at 119 pounds, while senior Hank Bruins took sixth at 152.

And it’s been those same five wrestlers who have been carrying the Redbirds most of the season.

"I have a very young lineup," Dunckley pointed out. "My three seniors, Tom Painchaud, Anthony Stover and Hank Bruins, along with Nick (Painchaud) and Frank (Cerankowski), have some experience wrestling. But everybody else are new kids coming in and learning."

But even some of the "new" wrestlers are learning fast. Last weekend, for example, junior Jimmy Christianson at 112 pounds and sophomore Matt Mordas at 140 each finished ninth in their respective weight class.

"The important thing with the young kids is that they’re getting matches under their belts," Dunckley noted. "That’s the only way they’re going to get better."

The Mercer County Tournament served as a valuable tuneup to the district tourney in two weeks. The top finishers at the districts then advance to the regionals and from there to the super regionals and the state tournament.

"Not every team in the district was in this tournament, but a majority of them were, so it was a good pre-type tournament to the districts," Dunckley explained. "We’re looking toward that."

In the meantime, Dunckley and his assistant coaches, Roy Baker and Ryan Lawman, a former AHS wrestler, continue working on building the Redbirds’ program.

"We’re trying to get our numbers up," Dunckley concluded. "If we can get our numbers up, I think we’ll do fine in the future."