Jeremy Seymour pumped his fist after a long three days at the PIAA championships.
He took down Easton’s Dominic Falcone in a sudden-victory period to capture seventh in the state at 182 pounds.
A week earlier at the Northeast Regional, Seymour lost to Falcone, the eventual regional champion, by a point.
A week before that, Seymour dropped the District 2 Class 3A title match to Dallas’ Steve Newell.
But on the season’s biggest stage at the Giant Center in Hershey, he surpassed them both. Falcone finished eighth; Newell missed the podium.
Video: Seymour captures seventh-place medal at states
Video: PIAA tournament
Video: Northeast Regional
Video: District 2 semifinals
Video: District 2 quarterfinals
Video: Division I match against Abington Heights
Video: Division I match against Delaware Valley
Video: Lackawanna League Tournament championship match
Video: Lackawanna League Tournament semifinals

It was a season of redemption, breakthroughs and overcoming adversity for District 2 wrestlers.


In Class 2A, Montrose’s Joe Hester entered his senior season without a win in the regional tournament. He changed that with three wins and his first trip to the state tournament, where he reached the medal stand with an eighth-place finish.
At the district tournament, he edged Lake-Lehman’s Bob Long at 132 pounds to capture his first title. The win avenged a loss to Long in the district final his freshman season. It also tied him with Mike Cole for the school’s all-time wins mark, which he later surpassed. He finished with 133 victories.
Oh yeah, he also earned District 2 Class 2A’s Most Outstanding Wrestler honor.
Video: Hester clinches state medal
Video: PIAA championships
Video: Hester qualifies for states
Video: Hester earns Montrose’s wins record
Video: District championship match
Video: Hester earns 100th win
Video: Lackawanna League Tournament semifinals


Delaware Valley’s Jason Henderson started the season with an injury and wasn’t certain he would return.
He did.
Henderson gutted out victories, sometimes with his hands on his knees in between the action, as he tried to catch up with his conditioning.
The sophomore battled through to place third at districts, fourth at regionals and among the top 16 in the state.


While Henderson and other Delaware Valley wrestlers dealt with injuries to start the season, Gavin Brazanskas stepped up to fill the void.
The junior finished with a 5-18 record last season, but he broke through this year.
He started the season wrestling at whatever weight the team needed. At times he wrestled at 195 pounds, up three weight classes from where he competed in the postseason.
He captured a district championship at 160 pounds as the lowest seed to win a title that weekend and finished in the top eight at regionals.
Story: Brazanskas embraces underdog role


Delaware Valley’s Preston Machado dominated opponents this season. So much so that it became a challenge to get video evidence of his bouts. At matches I covered with him in it, Machado would pin opponents so quickly that I couldn’t get my phone out in time to capture the moment and share it to Twitter. I got the celebration after the pin once. At districts, I did get video of a pin of his. Luckily I was all set up with my phone because the match lasted 19 seconds.
Video: District 2 Class 3A quarterfinals
Video: League meet against West Scranton 


Wallenpaupack’s Tyler Neglia entered his senior season as a two-time state qualifier, but a district title eluded him. He added that to his resume and another trip to Hershey.
He’s been remarkably consistent during his last three seasons when he qualified for states. Neglia recorded more than 30 wins three times and earned his 100th career victory this season. He finished with 114.
Neglia is also a three-time All-Region and Lackawanna League Division I coaches’ first-team all-star selection.
Video: Northeast Regional quarterfinals
Video: District 2 championship match
Video: District 2 semifinals
Video: Lackawanna League Tournament championship match


West Scranton’s Garrett Walsh, unranked in the state according PA Power Wrestling, advanced to the PIAA tournament with a fourth-place finish at the Northeast Regional.
Video: Walsh qualifies for state tournament
Video: Division I match against Delaware Valley
Video: Lackawanna League tournament quarterfinals
Story: Walsh earns place among state qualifiers


Scranton’s Bobby Zelinski, who attends Mid Valley High School but wrestles with the Knights, found himself down four points late in his district title match. He went on the offensive getting three takedowns to send the match to overtime. He eventually won the match and captured his first district title, which was also the first for Mid Valley.
Video: District 2 championship match
Video: District 2 semifinals
Video: District 2 quarterfinals


Jeremiah Oakes had another phenomenal year. He earned his 100th win early in the season and finished his career with 131. He captured his second straight district title. Oakes also had the best finish in the Lackawanna League at the regional tournament. He earned a silver medal to qualify for his second straight state tournament.
Video: Oakes qualifies for states
Video: District championship match
Video: District 2 semifinals
Video: District 2 quarterfinals
Video: Lackawanna League Tournament championship match
Video: Lackawanna League Tournament semifinals


Lackawanna Trail’s Michael Bluhm had a phenomenal first season. He captured a Lackawanna League tournament championship, district crown and fifth place at regionals. After Bluhm defeated Jersey Shore’s Liam Goodrich by a 4-3 decision for fifth place at the Northeast Regional, I heard someone say, ‘Wow, he’s only a freshman.’
Video: Bluhm captures district title


Scranton Prep sophomore Antonio D’Apollonio put together another nice season with some big wins. He started by capturing a Lackawanna League tournament title. What I found impressive was his match against state qualifier Joe Rowley of Hanover Area at the district team duals. With the Cavaliers leading the third-place match, 36-35, and one bout left, D’Apollonio needed a decision to secure the win for Scranton Prep. He edged Rowley, 3-2, and the Cavaliers had the best finish by a Lackawanna League team in Class 2A. D’Apollonio had lost to Rowley twice earlier in the season. He avenged those losses here and added another victory over him three weeks later to secure a spot in the regional tournament. He has 59 wins after two seasons.
Video: District semifinal against Joe Rowley
Video: Lackawanna League tournament title
Story: D’Apollonio ready for next challenge


One of the best matches of the Lackawanna League tournament was the 170-pound title bout between Abington Heights’ Aidan Price and Scranton Prep’s Alec Buttner. The seniors battled until Price took the match in the ultimate tiebreaker. It was a shame anyone had to lose the match, but the best moment came after the bout when the wrestlers embraced in respect for each other, knowing they left it all on the mat.


Shoutout to the Blue Ridge wrestling team who captured its first league crown in 52 years. The Raiders edged Montrose in their final Division II match to secure the title.


Shoutout to Abington Heights for capturing a share of its first league crown since 2007-08. The Comets had a big win against West Scranton. Its only Division I loss came against Delaware Valley, which shared the title for its 10th crown in 11 years.


Shoutout to Honesdale, which made the jump from Division II and Class 2A to Division I and Class 3A. The Hornets had a 4-2 league record, led by Jake Kabonick and Brandon Lawson (foreground above). Kabonick went 35-6 this season and finished his career with 95 wins. Lawson went 35-8 and placed sixth in the region at 152 pounds.


Shoutout to Hanover Area’s D.J. Erickson. After losing in the regional final by one point as a junior, Erickson claimed the regional title this season in an ultimate tiebreaker. He ended his career on the podium at states, finishing seventh in Hershey.
Video: Erickson wins regional title


Shoutout to Tunkhannock’s Dave Evans. He earned a regional title and his second trip to Hershey this season, but that’s not the whole story. He suffered an arm injury midway through the season and returned just in time for the district tournament, where he captured his second straight crown. In the semifinals at regionals, he injured his right arm during the match. Clearly hurting, Evans didn’t back down. Instead, he used his left arm … and only his left arm to pin his opponent. Talk about digging deep for a little extra. That’s what it’s all about.
Video: Evans pins opponent with one arm


Experience outweighs accomplishments

I’ve only been covering wrestling for two years, but seeing the heart, respect and fun the wrestlers had this season was really the best part.

During interviews, wrestlers often repeated a phrase.

“It was an honor.”

Whether it was an honor to wrestler against an opponent, an honor to be a part of a team or an honor to simply step on the mat, athletes know it is a privilege to wrestle. The hard work and heart these wrestlers put into their craft is easy to see. Just look at all the examples above.

Already one of the best wrestlers in the state, Seymour wasn’t complacent and put himself on the podium in Hershey.

Hester went from zero wins at regionals in his first three seasons to a state medal in his senior season.

Henderson didn’t know if he would return this season. Then he willed his way to Hershey.

Brazanskas was 5-18 last season. Now, he’s a champion.

Neglia broke through with a district title and another trip to states.

Not many believed Walsh would make it to states. But he did.

D’Apollonio lost twice to an eventual state qualifier, but he didn’t back down.

Zelinski found himself in a hole in the district final, but instead of giving up he simply pressed harder.

Evans’ right arm was in severe pain. He didn’t look for pity. He just used his left arm.

The respect these wrestlers had for each other was also an incredible thing to witness. The Price-Buttner bout is just one of the many examples. And although the season transitions into an emphasis on individual accomplishments, teammates never stop looking out for each other.

It’s refreshing to see all this when I watch the NFC championship game only to see the Saints waste their time complaining about a missed call instead of refocusing and winning the game anyway. Overcoming the adversity they face. It amazes me sometimes that high school kids could handle adversity better than professional athletes.

Professional athletes are also getting paid an absurd amount of money to play the game. I’m not saying they don’t deserve it, but again it was refreshing to see high school athletes wrestle for the love of the sport and the love of the sport only.

I’m glad I had the opportunity to cover the sport again this season.

To steal a phrase from many wrestlers this season, it was an honor.