by Tom Utescher
Last Tuesday’s wrestling encounter between host Germantown Friends and the Springside Chestnut Hill Academy Blue Devils came down to the final bout of the afternoon, and with the meet on the line, it was not two veterans who took to the mat, but two of the youngest competitors.
SCH was trailing by one point in the team score, but when eighth-grader Luke Purcell secured a pin against Guston Lowe, the freshman 120-pounder for the GFS Tigers, the visiting Devils prevailed, 35-30.
Springside Chestnut Hill had gotten in five dual meets at a multi-team event the previous Saturday, and last week’s win in Germantown raised the SCH squad’s record to 7-2-1. GFS has appeared in a number of tournaments but has not had as many duals; the Tigers were 1-4 after Tuesday’s close loss.
SCH had started the season with a relatively complete complement of wrestlers compared to Germantown, but things evened out a bit during the first month of the 2014-15 campaign. The Tigers picked up a few freshmen, while the Blue Devils lost some athletes due to injury. A promising light middleweight for the Chestnut Hill franchise, freshman Kyle Williams, was hurt just prior to last week’s non-league meet.
As the event got underway, the Devils still had one thing that the Tigers lacked, a 126-lb. grappler. That was the designated starting weight, and SCH freshman Tom Liechner accepted a forfeit to give the visitors a 6-0 leg up in the team scoring.
The early lead grew to 10-0 with a major decision at 132 lbs. SCH senior Jackson Bistrong, whose mother was recruited out of the spectator section to keep the official scorebook, registered a takedown and three-point near fall in the opening period against GFS junior Nick Wells. Wells got on the board with an escape late in the second stanza and then reversed at the end of the third, but Bistrong had remained in control most of the time, acquiring enough points for a major at 11-3.
Two freshmen went at it in the 138 lb. bout, and here visitor Matt Greenberg pinned Tigers newcomer Emmanuel Jones 55 seconds into the match, spreading the meet score out to 16-0. SCH promptly lost six points off its lead by forfeiting at 145 to Andrew Wilson, a senior on the home side. Germantown would build on that boon, winning three matches in a row to take an 18-16 lead in the event.
At 152 and 160, the Tigers had junior Bix Komita Moussa and freshman Ishmael Bynum win 4-2 decisions. The SCH 152, senior Paul Boehringer, held a 2-1 edge after two periods thanks to a reversal, but late in the third frame a three-point near fall clinched the match for Komita Moussa.
Next, an early takedown for Bynum was countered with a reversal by visiting sophomore Grant Dalsemer, ending the opening round at 2-2. Starting on the bottom for the second period, Bynum reversed to go up 4-2, and that score stayed on the board until the end.
This cut the Germantown deficit to four points, then the home team took the lead when junior Jared Lazorko pinned SCH freshman 170 Sean Edling with 46 seconds left in the first period.
The Blue Devils ended their scoring drought at four matches thanks to sophomore Mike Spirito’s decision at 182 lbs. After a 0-0 opening round, GFS junior Dash Buyske-Friedberg began the second on the bottom, reversing to score the first two points of the match. He wouldn’t score again though, and SCH’s Spirito logged a reversal and near fall to end the second period with a 5-2 lead. With 10 seconds left in the match, the Blue Devil 10th-grader tacked on another reversal for a 7-2 final.
A clash between two very good 195-pounders pitted Buyske-Friedberg’s twin brother, Gabe, against visiting senior Desmond Johnson, a fifth-year varsity wrestler who will continue his career at the University of Pennsylvania. With several stoppages for an effusion of blood (a head cut, messy but not particularly dangerous), a takedown by Johnson and an escape by Buyske-Friedberg made it 2-1 at the end of the first frame.
Starting down, Johnson escaped and then scored a takedown. His GFS rival escaped, but ultimately that led to Johnson doubling his point total with another takedown and a three-point near-fall for a 10-2 advantage. Buyske-Friedberg escaped at the start of round three, then Johnson recorded a takedown and two back points. Escaping at the end, Buyske-Friedberg still wound up on the wrong end of a 14-4 verdict.
The major decision by Johnson gave Springside Chestnut Hill a hard-won 23-18 lead in the meet, but GFS quickly went ahead once more, 24-23, as freshman Quincy Henderson was handed an SCH forfeit at 220 lbs. After a 0-0 first period at 285 lbs., Tigers sophomore Tunde Sogo pinned visiting freshman Sean McCann with 19 seconds to go in the second session.
Now it was back to the light end of the weight spectrum, and here, at 106 lbs., GFS had no one to match up with Blue Devils freshman Jordan Bell. This diminished the home team’s lead to a single point, 30-29, and that score stayed on the board as both teams chose to forego the 113 lb. match. The outcome would now be decided by the two youngsters, Lowe and Purcell. Among those rooting on the SCH athlete was his older brother, junior Jake Purcell, his arm in a sling due to a season ending injury.
The match – and the meet – now ended relatively quickly. The two wrestlers locked up for a short spell, then Purcell was able to secure a takedown about 40 seconds in, going on to complete the pin with 45 seconds left on the ticker in the opening round.