by Tom Utescher
Last weekend, the wrestling teams from Germantown Friends School and Springside Chestnut Hill Academy returned to the annual Ralph Wetzel Classic to test their mettle against a 25-team field made up mostly of large public school squads.
The 12th edition of the event, which is hosted by Hatboro Horsham High School, drew mostly from Southeastern Pa. and neighboring Delaware, although a team from Park Vista High School in Lake Worth, Fla. travelled up to the tourney and placed fourth overall.
GFS and SCH normally only enter their most experienced wrestlers in the varsity bracket, and so they don’t garner many points in the team standings. Germantown placed 22nd this year, with senior heavyweight Khari Goosby earning a medal with a fifth-place finish. The Tigers, the only Friends Schools League team at the Wetzel Classic, had freshman Nick Wells place second in the junior varsity bracket in the 113 lb. class.
The best outcome for the SCH Blue Devils belonged to senior Jordan Wang, who wound up eighth in the 113 lb. varsity draw. The only other varsity entry for the Devils, sophomore 120-pounder Jackson Bistrong, lost his first two matches to end his run in the double-elimination tourney, and SCH ranked 24th in the final team standings.
Penn Charter had attended the event for several years, but was not present this time around. Two other Inter-Ac League schools joined SCH, though. Malvern Prep gave an impressive performance, winning three weight classes and placing second overall to Downingtown East High School, 203.5 points to 161.5. The third Inter-Ac franchise, Haverford School, came in 16th with a total of 57 points.
One of the senior captains for SCH, George Kunkel, had to sit out the tourney after suffering a flare-up of a chronic shoulder injury, and another Blue Devils veteran, junior Ben Rubin, was away for the holiday break. In addition, the team’s talented sophomore light heavyweight, Desmond Johnson, was out sick. At last year’s Wetzel Classic he finished second in the 195 lb. class.
Bistrong’s two matches last weekend included a bout against the eventual silver medalist from Malvern Prep, Matt Lattanze. Meanwhile, Wang won his opener with a first-period pin, then lost a one-point decision in the quarterfinals and moved into the consolation bracket.
There, the SCH senior advanced with an 8-3 decision in his first match. Next, he was the victim of a second-period pin engineered by the eventual bronze medalist, Mike Driver of Central Bucks East.
In a bout to determine seventh and eighth place overall, Wang was ahead by a point late in the match, but Cheltenham High School’s Noah Rosenbloom took a 5-4 decision when he was awarded a takedown with three seconds to go.
Like SCH’s Bistrong, Germantown Friends’ Andrew Wilson, a 160 lb. sophomore, had a short stay in the tournament as he succumbed in his first two contests. Joining Wilson and Goosby in the varsity draw was junior Matt Reed, who performed at 138 lbs. This was a tough weight class that produced the winner of the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler Award, Francesco Fabozzi of Central Bucks East High School.
In his initial outing, Reed rolled up the points for a second-period technical fall, then he came out on the short end of a 7-2 decision when he faced Lower Merion’s Scott Chieu, who would go on to place fourth. The Tigers junior registered second-period pins against each of his first two opponents in the wrestle-backs, and his weekend concluded with a loss by decision (8-4) to Floridian Aaron Santosus, of Park Vista.
Germantown’s Goosby got going with a second-period pin, then, early in the third round of his next bout, he pinned Malvern’s Peter Ciesielski. That put him in the semifinals, where he was matted in the middle of the second stanza by silver medalist Will Hart, of Unionville High.
Later, in the consolation semifinals, Goosby appeared to be holding his own against Perkiomen Valley’s Luke DiElsi when he got caught in a headlock while still in the neutral (standing) position. DiElsi parleyed his hold into a takedown and a pin, leaving Goosby to compete in the match for fifth and sixth place.
The Tigers’ titan finished out with a victory, taking a 3-0 decision from Upper Dublin’s Andy Rose. For a time it looked like Goosby would have to ride a solitary point (awarded for an escape) all the way to the buzzer as Rose tried in vain to score a takedown near the end, but instead the GFS grappler was the one who picked up two takedown points in the final seconds.