Trojans showing progress
Nanticoke Area wrestling keeps getting closer and closer.
The Trojans are still looking for their first WVC dual victory in a few years, but they opened their season with a respectable 37-26 loss to Hanover Area on Thursday. They haven’t had a WVC tournament champion yet, either, but got as close as possible at Jan. 7’s one-day tournament.
Collin Kudrako-Kashatus has been at the center of both those highlights.
The sophomore closed Nanticoke Area’s loss to the Hawkeyes with a 42-second pin. Days before that, he fell just short in the WVC’s 152-pound finals.
It wasn’t the tournament finish he’d hoped for, but it was still noteworthy. His runner-up finish snapped the longest finals drought in tournament history, ending a five-year dry spell for Nanticoke Area in the finals.
“I was just having some fun. That was the main thing,” Kudrako-Kashatus said. “I just wanted to prove myself to the tournament and my friends that I can actually place. A lot of people doubted me from placing.”
He’s just the fourth Trojan finalist at WVCs, and their best finish since than Derek Fisher’s bronze in 2015. Though he fell in the finals to Coughlin’s Tashawn Qualls, 3-0, that was beside the point for one of several underclassmen hoping to turn things around inside the program.
“I felt exhilarated,” he said. “I was so happy when I won my semi match.”
O’Rourke on a roll
Crestwood senior Shane O’Rourke has been getting off the mat as quickly as possible this season.
The 220-pounder didn’t wrestle a full six-minute bout throughout the WVC tourney, with pins in 3:14, 5:35 and, in the finals, 40 seconds.
His dominance hasn’t stopped there. He’s 3-0 in Division 1 duals so far following a forfeit and two pins — both within the first period of his bouts. On Wednesday, O’Rourke’s 1:23 fall was one of five Comets (1-2) pins in their 61-6 final over Pittston Area (0-3).
Meyers trying to grow
Meyers coach Anthony Mercadante knew he had a young, inexperienced team before it stepped on the mat this season.
Growing pains were bound to happen after the Mohawks lost all four of their District 2 finalists and most of their medalists from 2017. So, as Meyers dropped its first two Division 2 duals to Berwick and Wyoming Area on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, Mercadante looked beyond the final score.
The team’s second-year coach is simply looking for aggressive wrestlers to lay a foundation for improvement. He said his wrestlers took a step forward against Berwick after some were flat or resembled “deer in headlights” at the WVC tourney, but he still wants to see fewer instances of them backing up and away from the center of the mat.
“I don’t care if they win. I don’t care if they lose at this point. I want them wrestling,” Mercadante stressed, “and being aggressive. Taking shots. Doing things that I can get in the room and I can fix. … If you miss a shot, and that causes you to lose, I’m happy because at least you went down fighting.”