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Changes coming to EPC, District 11 wrestling landscape

Allentown Morning Call 9/28/2022 Tom Housenick, The Morning Call
The District 11 team tournament will be less of a grind for the area's best programs starting this season. © Amy Shortell/The Morning Call/TNS The District 11 team tournament will be less of a grind for the area's best programs starting this season.

The 2022-23 high school wrestling season will have notable changes in the EPC and the District 11 team tournament.

Central Catholic decided earlier this year to drop its wrestling program. It will continue to run as a co-op with Salisbury, which also has struggled for years to field a full lineup.

Salisbury sponsors the sport and will host four of its matches in addition to its annual tournament. There also were two ‘home’ matches at Central Catholic’s Rockne Hall.

That leaves the EPC with 17 teams, which warrants a change to the league schedule and the elimination of the EPC play day, held previously at Easton Area Middle School on the last Saturday in January. Each of the remaining programs will still have nine EPC dates.

The EPC regular-season begins Dec. 7.

Also, the District 11 team tournament has been reduced to a single-elimination, one-day event, Saturday, Feb. 4, with the top eight teams in each of the two classes advancing through the district power rankings and then seeded by a committee. There also no longer will be a true second-place match.

“It’s better for District 11,” wrestling chairman Bob Hartman said of the district team tournament format. “it’s better for the teams competing. We’re looking forward to going back to that format. When we got the second [PIAA] qualifier [several years ago], we wanted to try to ensure that our second-place team does well [at states] and we get the right two teams.

“I think it definitely is a change for the better.”

District 11 last season had all four finalists in the PIAA team tournaments. That had never been done previously by any district.

The PIAA team tournament retains its format, with pigtail matches on Monday, Feb. 6 at neutral sites, followed by the three-day event Feb. 9-11, at Hershey’s Giant Center.

“It’s the right thing,” Hartman added. “Sitting back after every team championship and thinking this isn’t what we wanted. We don’t want teams not wanting to wrestle in a true second-place match. I understand why they didn’t, because it was hard, it was miserable. It was a long day.

“I heard it. I get it. I wasn’t dismissing it. It was just a matter of when we got consensus to get it better. And, we’re going to get it better.”

Bethlehem Catholic and Notre Dame-Green Pond are the two-time defending district Classes 3A and 2A champions, respectively. Bethlehem Catholic is the defending 3A state champ. Saucon Valley is the reigning 2A state champ.

Morning Call reporter Tom Housenick can be reached at 610-820-6651 or at thousenick@mcall.com

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©2022 The Morning Call. Visit mcall.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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