Tro­jans show­ing progress

The Citizens' Voice - - Varsity Voice - By ERIC ShuLTz StAff WRiteR Con­tact the writer: es­hultz@cit­i­zensvoice.com; 570-821-2054; @CVer­icShultz on twit­ter

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.”

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