R.J. Driscoll has put together an impressive set of accomplishments in his high school wrestling career.
The Lake-Lehman junior has already been to two District 2 finals and is well on his way to a third straight 20-win season. Driscoll, however, had not won a tournament title prior to the Jan. 9 finals of the Wyoming Valley Conference Tournament.
Driscoll changed that by battling through two tough decisions on the way to the 126-pound championship.
“I knew it was going to be tough,” Driscoll said after his breakthrough victory.
Before beating Coughlin’s Jake Brown, 5-0, in the final, Driscoll had to rally from a three-point deficit after one period of the semifinals against Tommy Traver from team champion Tunkhannock.
“Tommy Traver’s a great wrestler,” Driscoll said. “I knew it was going to be a tough match to win.”
Driscoll used an escape and takedown in the second period to turn a 4-1 deficit into a 4-4 tie.
“When I was behind between periods, I just remained focused and continued to wrestle hard,” Driscoll said. “When I tied it, I had a lot of momentum coming into the last period.”
From neutral position in the third period, Driscoll countered for the winning takedown in a 6-4 victory.
“He took a shot and I was able to stop the shot and spin around,” Driscoll said.
The rally set up a rematch of last season’s fifth- and sixth-place match at the conference tournament where Brown pinned Driscoll in the second period.
Driscoll showed improvement from last year’s meeting. He turned Brown twice and added a point on an escape while shutting him out.
“I just have to work on getting better and improvising in those tight situations in matches,” said Driscoll, who began wrestling in the district’s elementary school program as a 7-year-old. “And, hopefully I can get a couple more takedowns in close matches.”
Driscoll was a district runner-up in junior high and repeated that success immediately on the high school level, making his first district final as a freshman.
“It’s definitely a goal to get to the district final whether you’re a freshman or not,” he said. “When I got there, I was definitely pumped up and excited, but I didn’t get the job done.
“I’ve kept working and hopefully I’ll get one this year.”
Driscoll made sure he got it done in the WVC Tournament final, helping set the Black Knights up to take a run at the Division 2 title, which will be determined in a regular season that is compressed into a 2 1/2 –week stretch, which ends Jan. 27.
Lake-Lehman placed third out of 14 teams in the WVC Tournament, behind only Tunkhannock and Hazleton Area, which, as Class AAA teams, compete in Division 1 of the conference. The Black Knights were six points in front of fourth-place Meyers, the defending champion of WVC Division 2, the District 2 Class AA Dual Meet Championships and the District 2 Class AA Tournament.
“We all wrestled very hard,” Driscoll said. “To be able to show that we were the best Double-A team there was a big confidence booster for us.”