Northampton Press

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Lisa ready for a fight wrestling coaches look to even field

Wednesday, February 5, 2020 by Tom Wenborg Special to the Press in Sports

The cauldron of resentment over public, boundary schools competing in team competitions against non-boundary schools has been seething for generations. At the District XI wrestling team duals this past weekend, area coaches made clear that they were prepared to fight against an inequitable system.

As he had done against Notre Dame Green Pond in the Colonial League championship match, Saucon Valley head coach Chad Shirk sent out a female wrestler at 106 pounds to force a forfeit and gain 6 team points. Saucon Valley won the District XI 2A title by 3 points.

The Allentown Roman Catholic Dioceses forbids a boy from wrestling a girl in a team competition. The same rule does not apply during the individual postseason.

Given Northampton’s loss to Bethlehem Catholic in the 3A semifinal, would head coach Seth Lisa consider using a similar strategy in the future?

“If I had three girls I would have wrestled them. I’m going to have 3 to 5 girls on my team next year and if we have to wrestle Bethlehem Catholic or Notre Dame, my girls are going out,” Lisa said. “If they’re allowed to do what they’re allowed to do, I’m going to use every weapon in my bag too.

“I don’t blame Shirk or (Easton coach JaMarr) Billman or anybody else that does it. Because they’re letting them (non-boundary schools) exploit the rules. I think there’s a big difference between some programs trying to build rich traditions and some people recruiting good teams.

“It’s one thing losing to a team that has been wrestling together and has good tradition. It’s another thing losing to hired guns.”

So what about schools like Wyoming Seminary who recruit, but don’t compete for PIAA championships?

“As far as I’m concerned, this area would probably cheer for team like Notre Dame or Bethlehem Catholic in the national preps. It’s the shear fact that you pull our better kids and compete back against us. That’s just not fair in my opinion.

“You have your own choice and it’s your option to go to those schools. And that’s perfectly fine. What’s unfair is to essentially have a recruiting class and be one of the best teams in the state. We overheard Notre Dame fans talking about their recruiting class coming in. I wish I could recruit kids at weight classes I needed. We try to develop our kids through our program, and you have to fit pieces where you can.

“Something needs to be done. I’m hoping that more people speak up. That more people do things like this (force a forfeit) because PIAA and our district isn’t going to do anything unless it’s a problem for them.

“Jeff (Karam) and Bethlehem Catholic and Matt (Veres) and Notre Dame, like I said, they have to recruit kids to have a program. It’s about the rules and format of the team championship that I’m more or less upset with.

“It’s a shame that the kids go there and are rooted against to lose because I don’t think anybody is necessarily rooting against the kid. It’s against the situation.”