by Tom Utescher
With eight matches decided by forfeit and the other six ending early with pins, last Wednesday’s Inter-Ac wrestling meet at Episcopal Academy didn’t last much longer than the time it took for the visiting Blue Devils of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy to make the trip out to Newtown Square.
Unfortunately for SCH fans, the forfeit matches all benefitted the host Churchmen, who picked up 48 team points in that manner. Blue Devils junior Jackson Bistrong won at 120 lbs., as did sophomore Jake Purcell at 182, but EA claimed the other four bouts on the mat for an overall victory scored at 72-12.
The Devils dipped to 0-7 in dual meets for the season, and to 0-2 in the Inter-Ac, while Episcopal improved to 8-16, 1-1. Each squad had lost its league opener, SCH to Haverford School, and EA to Malvern Prep.
Last Wednesday Springside Chestnut Hill was wrestling without ailing junior Desmond Johnson, the team’s most successful grappler and winner of two tournament titles so far this season. Because of this, fans did not get to witness what should have been a competitive bout between Johnson and Episcopal’s own well-regarded 195-pounder, senior Cody Russell.
The starting weight for Wednesday’s meet happened to be 195, and after that match was forfeited to Russell, there also proved to be no opponents available for EA’s Chris Redden (225), Charlie Malone (285), Kevy Shore (106), and Kosta Maritsis (113).
That put the Devils in a 0-30 hole right from the get-go, then Bistrong put some points on the visitors’ side of the board at 120 lbs. Taking a 5-0 lead over freshman Brandon Sheppard with a takedown and near-fall in the first period, Bistrong scored another takedown off a neutral start in the second round, then pinned his rival with 31 seconds elapsed.
The Churchmen quickly recouped those six points as senior Julio Del Peon accepted a forfeit at 126 lbs., then Episcopal added a pin at 132. Here, SCH freshman Grant Dalsemer hung with sophomore host Zach Viscusi for a few minutes, only trailing 4-5 in the middle of the second round after scoring a reversal and a takedown. After that, though, Vicsusi escaped and executed a takedown and then a pin with 23 seconds left in the period.
After Connor Howlin collected a forfeit for the home team at 138, two freshmen squared off in the 145 lb. class. Episcopal’s Saliho Toure quickly secured a takedown and rolled up some near-fall points before pinning visitor Parker Popky just as the buzzer signaled the end of the first period. There was no Blue Devils entry at 152 lbs., and EA’s lead soared past 50 points, at 60-6.
Compared to what happened (or, more accurately, didn’t happen) earlier in the event, there was a flurry of activity at the end, as the last three weight classes were all contested out on the mat. The Churchmen recorded a pin at 160 lbs., where junior Jack Royer wrapped up his bout with SCH sophomore Nick Franz with 27 seconds left in the opening frame.
At 170, Episcopal junior A.J. Cutrofello built up a lead on the scoreboard by scoring takedowns and allowing escapes by the Blue Devils’ Kevin O’Donnell, a sophomore.
Emerging from the first period with a 10-3 advantage, Cutrofello then got down to business and matted O’Donnell early in the second round.
If little else went the Devils’ way during the meet, as least they were able to ring up a victory in the final match, which pitted Purcell against EA junior Sam Hole at 182 lbs.
Taking a slim 2-1 lead out of the first segment, Purcell started in the bottom position for the second period and soon escaped. Executing a takedown for a 5-1 lead in points, he pinned his rival with 27 ticks remaining in the round.