by Tom Utescher
Last Tuesday’s non-league wrestling match at Germantown Friends kept the crowd’s attention right up to the end, as the host Tigers erased a four-point deficit against nearby rival Penn Charter in the final match of the afternoon, claiming a 38-36 team victory.
With two matches remaining on the docket, the visiting Quakers led, 36-29, in the team scoring, then freshman Evan O’Leary-Lee got the Tigers three points closer with a 6-1 decision at 120 lbs., and sophomore Nick Wells put the Tigers over the top with his third-period pin at 126.
It was the season opener for both schools, each of whom had a few gaps at certain weight classes. Neither team had a 106 lb. entry, and Germantown garnered its points with four pins, one technical fall, one decision, and one forfeit, while Penn Charter recorded three pins and collected points from three GFS forfeits.
A familiar presence on the GFS bench, head coach Kazem Gholami is back to train the Tigers, while PC has a new skipper who is well-known to his charges. Faculty member Chuck Hitschler headed the Quakers’ varsity program for many years, then turned his attention to the middle school program seven years ago, working with longtime colleague Val Erdmanis. After several head coaching changes at the varsity level in recent years, Hitschler has returned, and Erdmanis along with him.
Charter graduated eight seniors from last year’s team, but has been able to bring a lot of freshmen on board and should be able to fill most weight classes. Not quite as well-staffed, GFS will probably have to forfeit a few bouts in most meets, and last Tuesday one of its most experienced athletes, senior 120-pounder Elliott Wattenbarger, was sidelined with an injury.
For last week’s season debut the starting weight was 132 lbs., and Charter took an early lead as freshman David Woodruff quickly executed a takedown and pinned his GFS opponent, sophomore Rob Wilf. Then the Tigers leapfrogged their guests to gain a 17-6 advantage, capturing the 138, 145 and 152 lb. classes.
First, sophomore Bix Komita Moussa went up 2-0 in the first period before pinning fellow 10th grader Jack Stephens midway through the second round.
At 145, PC freshman Akeem Blake almost made it through the first period against Germantown’s Matt Reed, but the Tigers senior secured a pin with four seconds left on the clock.
Although GFS junior Andrew Wilson did not come away with a pin at 152, he steadily piled up points against a visiting sophomore, Adam Cohen. Up 11-2 after the first frame, Wilson was award two near-falls in the second period to stretch the score to 17-2. That 15-point gap immediately brought the match to an end with 18 seconds left on the clock, and the technical fall added five meet points to the Tigers’ total.
They immediately gave six points back to the Quakers, forfeiting in the 160 lb. spot to PC junior David Smith. Charter had no one at 170 lbs. though, so its deficit expanded to 11 points once more as sophomore Gabe Buyske-Friedberg accepted the gift for the home team.
GFS then enjoyed the largest lead achieved by either team during the meet, spreading the score to 29-12 thanks to Buyske-Friedberg’s twin brother, Dash. Starting on the bottom for the second period after building a 5-0 lead in the first, he staged a reversal against Charter’s freshman 182, Luke Stansfield, and then pinned him with 1:08 left.
The Quakers quickly bounced back with victories in the next three contests. After a 0-0 opening period at 195, freshman Harold Anderson started on top in the second, and 59 seconds later he pinned Tigers sophomore Jared Lazorko.
Bumping up one class to 220 lbs., Charter junior Jelani Buie pinned Tigers freshman Tunde Sogo in the first period, then the Quakers edged ahead in the meet score, 30-29, thanks to a forfeit offered up to PC 11th-grader Ricky Peterson by Germantown Friends.
That occurred in the 285 lb. weight class, and the meet order then cycled back to the light end of the scale. After both teams left the mat vacant for the 106 lb. weight class, the Tigers handed over six more points to Charter, forfeiting to freshman Gene Naumousky at 113.
After a scoreless first period at 120 lbs., GFS freshman Evan O’Leary Lee began the second stint on top, registering a near-fall to take a 3-0 lead into the third round. An escape and a takedown of Quakers’ sophomore James Fry got the Tigers ninth-grader up to six points, and with a stalling penalty giving a point to PC, Germantown Friends came away with a 6-1 decision that reduced its overall deficit to four points, 36-32.
With a takedown in the first period and an escape and another takedown in the second, Germantown’s Wells headed into the third round with a 5-0 advantage. Off of a neutral (standing) start, he once again took down Charter freshman Justin Bedford for a 7-0 lead, then with 1:09 left in the match Wells ended it with a pin, clinching the team triumph for GFS.