New Penn Charter head wrestling coach Peter Shaifer (left) instructs one of his charges while his own former coach at PC, Chuck Hitschler, looks on. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

New Penn Charter head wrestling coach Peter Shaifer (left) instructs one of his charges while his own former coach at PC, Chuck Hitschler, looks on. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Last December, the grapplers of Germantown Friends School were able to begin their season with a 38-36 victory by winning the final match of their dual meet with Penn Charter. Last Tuesday, the neighboring rivals faced one another again in their non-league wrestling season opener, but fans weren’t on the edge of their seats near the end of this encounter.

In fact, no wrestling took place at all when the final bout was announced, since neither the host PC Quakers nor the GFS Tigers had anyone to fill the 113 lb. weight class. A mutual forfeit has no effect on the team score in a scholastic meet, and Penn Charter had already wrapped up a 48-25 win on an afternoon when the outcome in only half of the 14 weight categories was actually decided out on the mat.

Under new head coach Peter Shaifer, a 1982 graduate of the school, PC scored its points through four pins and four Germantown Friends forfeits. GFS secured one pin and two wins by decision (one a major decision), and accepted two forfeits by the Quakers.

Although GFS has some skilled and motivated wrestlers on its roster, forfeits are likely to be a fact of life for the Tigers this winter and will limit their ability to score team points. Longtime head coach Kazem Gholami said that at present he’s able to fill nine of the 14 weight classes consistently, but he’s hoping to find a way to put more bodies out on the mat.

A college wrestling standout at Cornell after a distinguished career at Penn Charter, new Quakers mentor Pete Shaifer had coached a number of Inter-Ac League teams, but not his own. He achieved success at the old Chestnut Hill Academy, Germantown Academy, and Episcopal Academy. He was a collegiate assistant coach and head coach at the College of William and Mary, and was an assistant coach at James Madison University.

Other wrestling-related endeavors south of the Mason-Dixon Line included stints at St. Christopher’s School in Virginia, where Shaifer’s teams won six state championships, and at St. Paul’s School, in Maryland. He’s now a member of the faculty at Penn Charter, teaching math during school hours. His full-time presence is bound to stabilize the varsity wrestling program at PC, which now has its fourth head coach in four seasons.

Through the random-start procedure, it was determined that last Tuesday’s season debut would get underway with the 120 lb. contest.

Facing GFS freshman Guston Lowe, Penn Charter sophomore Gene Naumovsky quickly scored a takedown, then went on to secure a pin with 33 seconds remaining in the first period, providing the Quakers with a lead they would never relinquish. The team tally rose to 12-0 when Charter’s freshman 126-pounder, Sam Smith, accepted the first of the day’s forfeits.

The Tigers’ Nick Wells was wrestling at that weight last year as a sophomore when he clinched the individual victory that gave the Tigers the team win over PC. Now up at 132 lbs. as a junior, he scored first last Tuesday with a takedown, and still led 2-1 at the end of the period, following an escape by Quakers 11th-grader James Frye.

Frye began the second round in the top position and was able to take advantage of it, ending the bout by fall with 49 seconds left in the period. PC’s advantage in the team scoring increased again when freshman Alex Koenig collected a forfeit at 126 lbs., and before long the Tigers found themselves looking up at a 0-30 deficit when Quakers sophomore David Giorno produced a pin in the 145 lb. match.

In the first round of this contest, two escapes by GFS senior Andrew Wilson were sandwiched in between three takedowns by Giorno for a 6-2 score. Starting on the bottom in the second stanza, Giorno quickly staged a reversal and then matted Wilson 50 seconds into the period.

The teams were now five matches into the meet, and with GFS planning to forfeit at two more weights and both teams vacating the 113 lb. class, Penn Charter essentially had a 42-0 lead with six matches left on the table, meaning that the Tigers could score no more than 36 total points.

It was junior 152 Bix Komita Moussa who finally expunged the zero from Germantown Friends’ side of the team scoreboard. Following a 0-0 opening period, PC senior David Smith escaped from the bottom at the start of round two, scoring the first point of the match.

After that, though, it was all GFS. Komita Moussa registered a takedown and two back points to end the segment with a 4-1 lead, then he really got rolling in the third period. First freeing himself for two reversal points, he went on to garner a pair of three-point near-falls. His 12-1 major decision netted four points for the Tigers in the meet tally.

Charter answered with another six thanks to sophomore Chris Johnson’s pin in the 160 lb. encounter. Quickly gaining control and coming out of the first round with a 5-0 lead over visiting freshman Ishmael Bynum, Johnson bumped his lead to 9-0 in the second before completing a pin with 31 ticks to go.

Penn Charter may have already had the meet victory in the bag, but what occurred in the next three weight classes offered some consolation to GFS supporters. This stretch began and ended with PC forfeits to two Tigers juniors, Jared Lazorko at 170 lbs., and Dash Buyske-Friedberg at 195. In between, Buyske-Friedberg’s twin brother, Gabe, took on Quakers’ senior Jelani Buie at 182.

A cut opened on the GFS wrestler’s forehead early on, but he was patched up and the first period eventually ended with the score still 0-0. Buie began the second period on top, but an escape and then a takedown sent Buyske-Friedberg into the third period with a 3-0 edge.

Starting on the bottom, Buie escaped, was taken down, and then escaped again. With a little over 20 seconds left, he shot for a takedown of his own, but his GFS rival fended off the attempt and turned it into a takedown of his own for a 7-2 lead. Buie escaped at the end, but the 7-3 decision went to GFS, which then tightened the team score to 36-19 thanks to the home team’s forfeit at 195.

However, Charter immediately recouped these last forfeit points, as Germantown did not produce an opponent for the Quakers’ sophomore 220-pounder, Harold Anderson. The action on the mat concluded with two big 10th-graders jousting at 285, the brawny Bill Costello of PC, and lanky Tunde Sogo of GFS.

Costello opened the scoring with a takedown, but Sogo got both points back when he staged an escape and Costello was called for a locking-hands violation during the same sequence. Costello started on the bottom in the second period, and Sogo turned him over quickly, nailing down a pin with 19 seconds elapsed.

When Quakers freshman Archie Filshill became the recipient of a forfeit by the Tigers at 106 lbs., the final count of 48-25 was locked in on the scoreboard, since both teams would give the 113 lb. match a pass.