Seven Hornets place at tourney
Kordell Waiters admits that he’s still battling some nerves in his first season wrestling at the varsity level.
The freshman gets a little more comfortable each match and it’s been showing. He led the Hornets with a second-place finish at last week’s Tony Iasiello Christmas City Wrestling Tournament at Bethlehem Catholic. He was one of seven Hornet place-winners at the 50th annual event in which Emmaus finished third as a team.
“I feel like I wrestled great,” said Waiters, who was the No. 7 seed at 113 and pinned his first two opponents before losing by technical fall in the title bout to Beca’s Matt Mayer, 19-3. “I could have done better in the finals match. I wish I would have had my offense a little more active on my feet, not let him get as many takedowns.”
Waiters, who wrestles at 113 because junior Peyton Brown occupies Emmaus’ 106-pound spot, was a junior high champ last year and is 7-4 in his first year at the varsity level.
“Today was a huge confidence booster for him,” said Emmaus head coach Nick Lefevre. “If he just keeps working in the room every single day I think he’s going to be special down the road.
“I think for him [confidence is] what it’s all about. He’s behind a really talented Peyton Brown. He’s really a 106-pounder, but he’s wrestling up at 113. I think the experience of wrestling at 113 is going to make him tougher down the road. Very proud of Kordell and his performance.”
Brown was one of three Hornets to take third place in the event. After falling to Blair Academy’s Damon McGee in the semifinal, Brown pinned East Stroudsburg South’s Dawson Miller in the third-place bout.
Jackson Karrat (138) lost a major decision to Beca’s Jarred Papcsy in the semifinals then beat Faith Christian’s Ti Alderfer by technical fall, 17-2, in the third-place match.
Caden Wright (160) dropped a 2-1 decision in the semifinals and bounced back to win the bronze medal by a 6-0 decision over Brendan Finn (East Stroudsburg South) in the third-place bout.
Joey Barno (285) took fourth place after an injury forced him to walk off the mat in the first period of his third-place match.
Bryce Ebingher (182) and Luigi Mannino (220) both earned sixth-place medal in the tournament.
The Hornets finished third as a team. Bethlehem Catholic took the title with 301 points, while East Stroudsburg South was second (166) and Emmaus third (117).
The Hornets were in fifth place heading into the final session, which included title bouts and third-place matches. They were 3-0 in third-place bouts before Barno’s injury.
“We had a disappointing showing in the semifinals,” said Lefevre. “We went 1-for-6. And that was tough. The guys fought back hard in the consolations and I’m really proud of their performance overall. We had a pretty much perfect final round here until we had the injury with Joey. We’re worried about him but I think he’ll be OK. We want him to be OK for the future.”
The first-year head coach said the tournament was good preparation for next month’s individual district tournament, where many wrestlers will have to fight back from a loss to earn a place on the podium or a place in regionals. He liked the way his wrestlers did that at the tournament, but he also wants them to learn how to battle through matches and not give up bonus points in order to help the team in dual meets.
“I like the way our kids fight,” said Lefevre. “We look at this like it’s preparation for individual districts. We were fifth going into that last round. The reason we were able to come back and take third is because we kept wrestling.
“One thing we need to work on is when we lose matches, there’s such a thing as a good loss. We have to stay off our backs. We have to fight for position. We need to fight through position and continue battling. I’m really proud of the way our guys fought to come in here and take third.
“We would have liked to take second. To fight and take third and have the guys wrestle as hard as they did, you can’t be upset about that.”