BRIEF HISTORY OF LEHIGHTON WRESTLING
Lehighton has gained great recognition for its excellence in wrestling over the years. The wrestling tradition began in 1965 when Head Coach Bruce Trotter was instrumental in the planning, preparing and workings needed to get the program off the ground. Determination and hard work set the team up for a 2 - 8 season its first year.
The 1966-67 season saw more willpower and endurance as the team finished 8-3 Coach Trotter left Lehighton to coach football at Dieruff. The position was taken over by Roland Alger, who took the team to a 10-3 season his first year (1967-68). Head Coach Alger developed a program that won the respect of wrestling enthusiasts from the league, district and state levels. Coach Alger remained in that
position until 1982 and built up a veryimpressive team record over the years.
The 1982-83 season saw Head Coach Jeffrey Elder take over the reins, and the team posted a 4-12 finish. Coach Elder was replaced by Head Coach James Neifert, who coached the team from 1983-86 when Coach George Ebbert took over. He was coach until 1989.
1989-90 saw the return of Ronald Alger as Head Coach. His assistants were Ray Koons and B. J. Nalesnik. The year ended with a 6-11-1 record.
The 1990-91 season brought a new Head Coach, Mr. Dave Hawk, to the reins of a
young team. Along with his assistant coach. Ronald Alger and B. J. Nalesnik, he brought this young team, filled with willpower and determination, to a winning season of 11-7 . The team motto "The Pride is Back" brought much enthusiasm back into the wrestling program. Coach Roland
Alger, who served the Lehighton Area School District for 35 years, coached for many years, and was a positive influence to thousands of students during that tenure, decided to retire at the end of the 1990-91 school year. He was a very special friend of Lehighton wrestlers.
The 1991-92 season saw Coach Hawk and his reorganized staff of B.J. Nalesnik,
George Ebbert, and Matt Huesgen coaching a well-conditioned team with many returning lettermen. A very aggressive team, they managed a winning season of 11-7 and gained 4 place winners at leagues, including 2 first place winners.
The 1992-93 season saw Coach Hawk again, reorganizing his staff. Coach Huesgen returns and Coach Chris Grammes is added, giving our staff much experience; since all coaches are former
wrestling standouts. The inspiration and enthusiasm of the coaching
staff produced a team record of 7-12. There were 4 place winners at Leagues, including 2 first place winners. Also, this season a Freshman-Jr. High program was established. The coaching staff felt this was an added boost to reestablish the wrestling program.
The 1993-94 season saw Coach Hawk and Coach Huesgen adding Coach Lance Barry. The team was very young but they worked hard and showed improvement.
The 1994-95 season sees additional changes in staff. Coach Hawk adds Lynn Kirsch as his assistant along with help from Brian Heiland and Digger Bloom. Coach Barry will be assisted by Terry Frey at the Jr. High Level. A still young but more experienced team will be challenged by a very competitive new league, The Mountain Valley Conference.
The 1995-96 was successful considering the competition. This team won 12 matches, which ties for most wins for a Lehighton team .Also they won the Kutztown Christmas Tourney. The Jr High team was 14-5 on the season.
Again the 1996-97 season must be considered a success with the level of
competition that Lehighton encountered. The team had 12 wins for the second season in a row. Also we had some individual successes. Nate Hawk had his second season with twenty wins or more with a 23-7 season and also took fifth place in the very tough district 11 AAA Tournament. Jeff Siglin had a banner year where he went 26-6, set a school record for pins in a season and was runner-up in districts and runner-up in Regionals at 160Lb. This qualified Jeff for the state Tournament. Ryan Strohl finished third at HWT in the JV District Tournament. The junior high had a fine seaso under Coach Nalesnik with a 10-5 record.
1997-98 we started the season with very high expectations , however due to injuries and other problems we ended with a 11-12 season. We had three ties that had to be decided by criteria and we lost two of the three. We still managed to be the top team in division three of the MVP-EPC Coalition. Also we had some individual successes. Nate Hawk finishing undefeated (25-0) but had to injury default in his second match at districts. Jeff Siglin tied his own record for pins in a season with 21 and also won District 11 Scholar Wrestler. The Junior high team finished 10-9 with Coach Nalesnik.
1998-99 The season started with new Head Coach Mike Feifel and Assistant Lance Barry. The team worked hard and showed a lot of improvement, they finished with a record of 5-16. Ryan Strohl advanced to Regionals. The Junior High with Head Coach BJ Nalesnik and his Assistant Joe Yescavage finished with a record of 14-3 with some very impressive matches, 1st place team win at Schuylkill
Valley Tournament, a 93-0 win, and a impressive win over undefeated Easton and two placed at
Districts. Future looks bright.
1999-2000 The season started with high expectations and a goal to beat the season win Record. We had a well rounded team with 10 returning letterman bringing experience and leadership also\promising freshman they all had the will to win. Midway through the season we had a few Key injuries, and that meant we needed everyone to step-up and step-up they did. We only missed our goal by one match but finished top of Divison III MVC, AAA. We Tied the school record with a 12-6 season. This team showed great sportsmanship , win or lose they remained humble, their attitude never changed they stayed focused from seniors showing the way to the freshman, not bad for a team that went 5-16 the season before. Also we had 3 place at districts and one advance to regionals. The team placed 1st at the Jim Thorpe Tournament. Junior High finished with another impressive season with a record of 14-3 and 5 wrestlers placing at districts and their first champion.
2000-2001 The season started with high expectations and a goal to beat the record for wins in a
season. We had a relatively young team with only four seniors. Early on two major injuries necessitated the rest of the team to step-up. The normal lineup for most of the year consisted of three seniors, one junior, eight sophomores and one freshman. We placed second at the 31 team Christmas City
Tournament at Bethlehem Catholic. It was a total team effort as each wrestler earned points for the squad. We finished the year tying the win record with a 12-9 season. We narrowly missed going to Team Districts. We placed 4 wrestlers at the district 11 tournament and advanced 1 to regional
competition. The Junior High team Finished with another impressive season with a mark of 14-5.
The Lehighton Indian Wrestling team had a successful 2001-2002 season recording a 15-8 dual meet season. In doing so obtained our first goal Breaking the school record for wins. Our other team goal was to qualify for the District XI Dual Tournament. We beat Pius X in the first round before losing to the eventual state champions, the Wilson Warriors. We had three placewinners at the District XI AA Tournament, and one of our team members earned a trip to the state tournament in Hershey.
Lehighton has been in many levels of Competition. From 1965 to 1972 it ranked in the AAA level. This changed to AA from 1973 -85 and then back to AAA in 1986-00. For the 2000-2001 season we return to AA but remain in MVC and compete against a lot of AAA teams.
Lehighton Wrestling teams have wrestled to four league championships and two district championships. The League championships were 1971-72, 1973-74 , 1974-75 and 1975-76. The district championships were 1974-75 and 1975-76.
Lehighton has produced many individual champions, There were 46 league champions, 18 district champions, and 11 regional champions. Wrestling is a sport of the individual. When a boy steps out on the mat, he is alone and must prove to himself that he could win against another of his weight. Such a sport not only builds a person ]physically but prepares him to think for himself and become a man. The stout-hearted and rugged individuals at Lehighton will continue to make wrestling a sport with meaning, value and reward.