Faith Christian’s Leo Muzika hadn’t wrestled in eight days due to a sprained AC joint in his shoulder, and he was filled with a mixed sense of anxiety and anticipation.
However, any fears quickly were put to rest.
The sophomore recorded a major decision and two falls to capture the 195-pound title at the Tony Iasiello Memorial Christmas City Tournament at Bethlehem Catholic High School last weekend.
Teammate sophomore Eric Alderfer also took top honors in the 120-pound bracket as the duo helped the Lions to second place in the 15-team field.
Palisades junior Ben Haubert won the 160-pound title at the tournament with a forfeit and his team finished sixth in the field.
“I was cleared a day before the tournament and was a little nervous,” said Muzika, who raised his season record to 9-0. “I felt nearly 100 percent, and wasn’t totally sure even after I had a takedown. But it really felt good to be at the top of the podium after what I had been through.”
Alderfer (16-1), who was fifth at regionals last year, was pleased with his first tournament title.
“Winning this was big,” he said. “I feel pretty good with my season so far, and I have been motivated from what I accomplished last year. I know I still have some things to work on.”
Faith Christian’s Isiah Vizcarrondo (132) and A.J. Stayton (113) both were runners-up, and Max Schultz (160) and Luke Slack (220) finished third.
Lions head coach Ben Clymer has worked to instill a less-pressured environment.
“We’re wrestling loose and enjoying it,” he said. “They are enjoying the process. Guys have tended to wrestle tight. They haven’t gotten caught up in everything. We want them to be more offensive and work on the little things.”
The Lions don’t have a break yet in their schedule as they meet Colonial League kingpin Saucon Valley Friday and then travel to the Hamburg Duals Saturday before their schedule lightens.
“We are looking forward to Saucon Valley and we then have a grueling day in Hamburg,” added Clymer. “We’ll have a match with Springfield and then have a lull before the Coal Cracker Tournament. We’re a little banged up and will need the break.”
A couple of miles away, Pennridge senior Logan Green was the runner-up in the 195-pound bracket at the Bethlehem Holiday Classic at Liberty High School. The Rams finished 27th from the 31-team field.
Green knew it would be a difficult task, and he gained some revenge in the process.
“It’s a tough tournament,” said Green, who is 16-3 overall. “I got revenge on (Wilson West Lawn’s Josh (Harkless) from an earlier loss, but I couldn’t finish the job in the finale. It gives me an opportunity to improve and come back at states where I’ll see these guys again and beat them when it really counts.”
Quakertown finished 11th overall as a team at the tournament, and the Panthers had six wrestlers who were among the top eight finishers in their respective weight classes. Senior Jeremy McGuigan was the Panthers’ top finisher with a third-place medal at 285.
Along with McGuigan, other Panthers’ placers were seniors Kyle Miller, fifth, at 120 and Ralph Miller, sixth, at 220; freshman Vinnie DeSpirito, seventh, at 126; freshman Zach Borzio, eighth, at 106; and senior Domenic DeFalco, eighth, at 138.
Quakertown head coach Kurt Handel liked what he saw from his team, but he was a bit disappointed.
“We had a team goal to finish in the top 10,” said Handel. “It is a very good tournament, and we know we have some stuff to work on. It was great to see McGuigan finish third and Miller and Martin did well. DeFalco had a tough tournament, and he wasn’t happy with the result. To see Borzio place where he did at that tournament is awesome.”