Many Thanks to Denny Diehl for this incredible news!
In ongoing proof that the Lehigh Valley Wrestling Club is a gift to area wrestling that keeps on giving, the Club announced its April signing of Lehigh U national champion, Darian Cruz, to a multi-year contract as he continues his freestyle training.
. In an increasingly intense marketplace, Cruz visited and received offers from Virginia Tech, Rutgers and Pennsylvania before electing to remain in his hometown area. The offer was made possible by high impact Annual Fund campaigns organized by Denny Diehl and chairman Garry Paul since 2000 at levels above $300k/year, among the nation's most successful Club campaigns.
Since the LVWC was founded in 1999 (initially named the Lehigh Valley Athletic Club), about a quarter century after the University formed the Lehigh Wrestling Club to promote social events, meet attendance and interest in the Lehigh Wrestling program. The booster fan club relies primarily on its annual dues campaign, with operational surpluses usually given to the Lehigh Wrestling Partnership.
The Lehigh Valley Wrestling Club organization retains post-graduate freestyle competitors as resident/athletes. That Club now boasts seven former NCAA champions: Kerry McCoy (Penn St); Steve Mocco (Iowa/Okla St); Matt Valenti (Penn); Keith Gavin (Pitt); David Zabriskie (Iowa St); Zach Rey (Lehigh) and now Cruz (not counting the two full-time on Lehigh's staff, Pat Santoro, Pitt and John Hughes, PSU).
Former NCAA runners-up associated with the club have been Pat Cummins (PSU); Robert Hamlin and Nathaniel Brown (Lehigh); and Mike Poeta (Illinois). Olympians include McCoy and Mocco, while they're joined by LVAC staff who've made U.S. World Teams (Gavin and Rey).
In an age when available local training partners have become key factors in national recruiting, the Cruz signing may have indirectly contributed to the early May commitment from All-American and Pennsylvania native, Connor Scram (125/133), who transferred to Lehigh's grad school for his sixth year. A year ago, former Rutgers starter, Brandon Paetzell (125/133), mentioned Darian's name as a key training partner attraction for his transfer to Brandon's nearby hometown, Phillipsburg, NJ.
While the staff currently has an opening to fill in the upper weights (165-184), it's been blessed with talent at the light weights, Heavyweight (Zach Rey) and elsewhere: in addition to Cruz (125), former Cornell All-American Frank Perrelli (125/133), NC State All-American Darrius Little (141) and former wrestler for Minnesota & Rutgers, Mario Mason (149/157. Lehigh grad school alumnus, Santiago Martinez (165/174) earned a bronze medal competing in this spring's Pan American Games in Peru for the nation of Colombia. A recent middleweight departure after a 3-year Club stints was Nestor Taffur (Boston U) who also won bronze for Colombia.
The mastermind for the LVWC is renowned coach, Jeff Buxton, in his seventh year with the Club after arriving in Fall, 2012 after a storied three-decade tenure as Blair Academy coach and math teacher. In Blairstown Buxton compiled one of the nation's most distinguished coaching careers in the history of high school wrestling. In 2006 he received USA Wrestling's Lifetime Achievement Award and he remains active with worldwide assistant coaching assignments at UWW and USA Wrestling events.