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Gold medal quest begins

Article Courtesy of: Kevin Edwards, The Wayne Independent

When the Hornets hit the mat for the opening round of this year's District Two Duals tournament, they will do so with one of the area's truly dazzling resumes.

Coach Ryan Chulada's squad is the area's “feelgood” story of the winter sports season, having already exceeded even their veteran skipper's wildest expectations.

Honesdale will head into Wednesday evening's action sporting an overall record of 18-3. The Red & Black closed out the Lackawanna League campaign with a perfect 8-0 mark and are reigning Division II champs As a result, the Hornets have earned a top seed and the right to host this year's edition of the event.

According to District Two Chairman Dr. Jay Starnes, the 2016-17 Class AA tourney will be held Wednesday at the Wayne Highlands Middle School gymnasium.

Doors will open at 4:30 p.m. with wrestling set to commence at 5:30 p.m.

On the Mat

Honesdale will open up its gold medal quest in the quarterfinals against Berwick, the fourth seeded team from the Wyoming Valley Conference.

The Bulldogs will enter the competition with an overall record of 4-8. They finished up their league schedule at 2-3, good for fourth in the standings.

Wilkes Barre Meyers copped the WVC's Division II crown with a perfect 5-0 record. Tunkhannock, Dallas and Hazleton Area wound up in a dead heat atop the Division I heap.

The Hornets and Dawgs have already met once this year at Berwick's annual invitational tournament. There, Coach Chulada's lads used a combination of falls and forfeits to hammer out a 61-16 victory.

While Honesdale is busy battling Berwick, Lake Lehman and Valley View will be squaring off on the other mat.

The Black Knights are coming off a 4-1 showing in Wyoming Valley Conference action, finishing second in Division II.

Valley View enters the fray with a 6-2 Lackawanna League mark. The Cougars' only losses came at the hands of Western Wayne and Honesdale.

Meanwhile, the other half of this year's AA bracket is being hosted Wednesday night by Meyers High School in Wilkes Barre.

The Mohawks are the top seeded WVC squad and will see quarterfinal action against Montrose. Also wrestling in the Diamond City will be Hanover Area and Western Wayne.

All winners will advance to Pittston Area on Saturday for the District Two finals and consolation matches.

Action gets underway at noon.

In the Clutch

Each time Honesdale has needed a match-clinching, crunch time win this year, Troy Russell has answered the bell.

A senior co-captain who's been a varsity wrestler for four years, Russell heads into District Duals with a sparkling 22-3 record.

And, two of those wins were of the spectacular variety with a crucial match hanging in the balance.

The first time Russell rode to the rescue came last Wednesday against Western Wayne. The Wildcats held a 31-28 lead heading into the evening's final bout, but Troy rose to the occasion.

He wasted no time in taking control, notching a pair of early takedowns at the expense of Mitchell Herzog.

Moments later, the match was over. Russell had ground out a 15-0 technical fall and given Honesdale an electrifying win. This 33-31 decision put an end to a decade of Western Wayne dominance. The Wildcats hadn't lost a regular season dual meet since 2009 and had won seven consecutive titles.

Less than 72 hours later, Coach Chulada turned to Russell once again with a match on the line. And this time, the divisional crown was also up for grabs.

The Hornets were once again trailing on the road at Valley View when Troy strode to the mat at 126.

Down 34-29, only a pin could catapult the Red & Black to victory … and Russell delivered.

His first period clamp of Tony Mellado (:51) gave Honesdale a 40-39 win.

The Red & Black then rolled to an easy win over Scranton Prep, putting the finishing touches on a perfect 8-0 season in the Lackawanna League.

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