It may be a shock to learn that when Dominic DeGraba won the Wyoming Valley Conference championship at 113 pounds on Saturday, he was the first champion for Dallas in the event's four-year existence.
The Mountaineers have been one of the top teams in the WVC and District 2 over that span.
DeGraba was a finalist previously in 2011, but that's the closest Dallas was to a champion prior. The senior's gold medal was the first for the school and started a trend.
He was followed by four teammates in the finals with two more grabbing golds as Dallas tied team champion Pittston Area and runner-up Wyoming Valley West with three titlists apiece. Kris Roccograndi (170 pounds) and Connor Martinez (182) also took home first-place medals.
The only teams without a champion in the last four years are GAR and Nanticoke. Both teams have had finalists over the years. Some would argue the Grenadiers should have had one over the weekend with 220-pounder Zac Faust. But the sophomore wasn't awarded points as time expired in the third period.
DeGraba, who was a state qualifier last year in Class 2A, will now have to try to accomplish the feat in Class 3A since the school's classification grew to a 3A level. He got a taste of that over the weekend with all three of his wins coming against 3A competition. DeGraba defeated Pittston Area's Braulio Garcia in the quarterfinals, Wyoming Valley West's Alex Tirko in the semis and Coughlin's Bobby Hawkins in the finals.
It's definitely different than I was last year being in 3A. I think it's stronger wrestling, DeGraba said. It's harder and just a different mentality.
It's no surprise that Coughlin's Brad Emerick is unbeaten to this point of the season.
In fact, he was in the same situation last year as well. It's also no surprise that the Crusader senior has won all 12 of his matches this season via fall – in the first period, including a fall of Dallas' Ryan Monk in 1:35 for his second title.
I give the kid credit he didn't back down and wanted to duke it out with me, Emerick said of his opponent. That's what I'm looking for is kids who won't back down.
The senior 285-pounder, who took fifth in the state last year, also recently committed to Division I Lock Haven where he will continue his academic and athletic career next season. The institution is Division II in most sports, but D-I in wrestling.
I kind of want to stay a little close to home not too far away, Emerick said.
Despite being a two-time finalist heading into the weekend, Lake-Lehman's Austin Harry entered with a pair of silver medals losing twice to Schutz. The 132-pound Harry, who is a district and regional champ and state medalist, finally got his first title as Schutz wrested at 126. The Black Knight junior took care of past champion Justin Elick, from Meyers, winning 8-6 in the finals.
With Schutz, both years I had to prepare for the same kid and now I didn't really know much about Elick so it was kind of different preparing for him, Harry said. I went out there nervous two years in a row now coming up a little short. I came out there a little flat but did what I had to do.
Harry wasn't the only grappler to win his first WVC gold medal as 11 of 14 champions became first-timers. Schutz' teammate Nick Heck claimed his first championship defeating Wyoming Valley West's Nathan Cheek, 6-2 for the 138-pound crown.
Joining Dallas' three titlists as first-timers were Wyoming Valley West's James Wright (106) and Derrick Simms (152), Pittston Area's Tyler Lutecki (120) and Jake Vaxmonsky (220), Berwick's Kevin Laubach (145) and Tunkhannock's Andrew Muckin (195).
Two standouts were going for a record three WVC titles. Only one could've achieved the mark because Wyoming Valley West's Kyle Krasavage and Wyoming Area's Andy Schutz were in the same weight class; both became the first four-time finalists of the event though.
Krasavage came away with the milestone and now his record won't be broken until at least 2017 because no freshmen came away a gold medalist on Saturday. There is a possibility the three titles could be tied several times before then, but a four-time winner will have to wait.
Pittston Area's Tyler Lutecki was trying to make a fashion statement during his 120-pound championship match Saturday night wearing two different colored shoes.
The junior wore two different types one green shoe and one red shoe. There was no story behind the reasoning; he just wanted to look good.
Gotta look fresh on the mat, Lutecki said. Just thought it'd be cool.