by Tom Utescher
Relatively late in the Inter-Ac wrestling season, both host Penn Charter and visiting Springside Chestnut Hill Academy came into last Friday’s dual meet still looking for their first league victory.
It was the Quakers who picked a “W” on their home mat, winning 55-24 to raise their dual meet record to 1-3 in the Inter-Ac and 3-3 overall, while SCH went back up Wissahickon Avenue with a mark of 0-4 in the league, and 2-11 against all opponents.
Most of the grapplers who gathered in the PC wrestling room never even worked up a sweat. Between them, the two teams forfeited matches in nine of the 14 weight classes, with SCH alone giving up 42 points in this manner. If the team scoring had only included the bouts actually decided in competition, it would’ve been a much closer affair, with Charter chalking up one pin, one major decision, and one regular decision for a total of 13 points, while the visiting Blue Devils accumulated 12 points with a pair of pins.
The Quakers have a new head coach this season, David Priest. While at Wyomissing High School outside of Reading, Priest finished sixth in the state championship meet during his junior season, when he wrestled at 152 lbs. Moving on to Division III power Ithaca College, he progressed to the 174 lb. class, placing fourth at the NCAA Championships as a senior.
Before last Friday’s meet began, Priest presided as Penn Charter honored the seniors on its wrestling roster, Eric Berger, Adam Costarino, Etienne Dumas, Taylor Jobes, Alex Magers, Kevin Murphy, and Mark Opaliski. Last November Berger and Dumas both signed with Monmouth College, but not for wrestling. Berger will play lacrosse, and Dumas will run cross country.
An eighth PC senior, Jared Ominsky, has wrestled for the Quakers in past seasons but saw very limited action this year due to injury. He was at the scoring table last Friday, helping out PC’s very efficient full-time managers, Dolly Segal and Caroline Rogers.
The random-start selection procedure actually picked out the lightest weight class to begin the meet, and in that 106 lb. category Quakers freshman James Frye accepted the first of the seven forfeits offered up by the Blue Devils.
The team score evened out when SCH senior Jordan Wang went unopposed at 113 lbs., and at 120 the visitors would take a lead in the meet (12-6) for the first and only time. Here, Jackson Bistrong scored a quick takedown against fellow sophomore Norman Williams of PC, and ended the bout with a pin with 36 seconds left in the first period.
After this the Quakers charged into the lead, 30-12, as the Blue Devils forfeited to PC’s Dumas (126 lbs.), freshman Jack Stephens (132), sophomore David Smith (138), and Jobes (145).
It almost seemed strange when wrestling occurred as the 152 lb. match arrived. Magers, one of the PC seniors, held just a 3-2 edge after one period against visiting freshman Kevin O’Donnell, but in the second round the upperclassman was able to parlay a start in the superior position into a pin with 24 seconds showing on the clock.
In the first match to go the distance, Costarino came out of the first frame with a modest 2-0 advantage, but he kept piling up the points to finish with a 12-0 major decision over SCH ninth-grader Nick Franz. With a forfeit by the visitors to Charter’s 170-pounder, sophomore Robert Keehfuss, the home team owned a 46-12 lead in the team tally.
Next, the SCH 182, junior Ben Rubin, encountered PC’s Berger, who was moving up two weight classes from his normal slot at 160. The points came slowly, but Berger was able to score a takedown in the first period and an escape in the second, winning 3-0 in the only regular decision of the day.
The Blue Devils picked up their second pin of the meet when sophomores squared off at 195 lbs. Desmond Johnson needed 90 seconds to pin PC counterpart Jelani Buie, bumping the visitors’ side of the scoreboard up to 18 points while Charter remained far in front, with 49.
The event ended with a forfeit by each school. Springside Chestnut Hill sent junior Jeff Mikalonis-Lieberman out to accept the six points for the 220 lb. contest, and Opaliski reclaimed them for the Quakers at 285.