by Tom Utescher
Despite a personnel shortage that caused Germantown Friends to forfeit at a number of weight classes throughout the season, the Tigers were able to secure a berth in the 2015 Friends Schools League Wrestling Championships. The league tournament, featuring semifinal and final contests and a consolation bout, was staged last Saturday at Friends Central School.
Fourth-seeded GFS opened up against the number one Friends Central Phoenix, falling 47-29. Academy of the New Church, which lost to 10-time defending champion Westtown School in the other semifinal, outscored the Tigers in the consolation meet, 57-21. Friends Central would end Westtown’s long FSL reign by winning the finals, 36-30.
In both of its bouts, Germantown Friends was essentially behind 24 points from the get-go, since it could not fill the 106, 113, 120 or 126 lb. weight classes. Nevertheless, just appearing at the event was an encouraging step forward for the team; head coach Kazem Gholami said that it was the first time GFS had made it to the tournament during his seven-year tenure.
With a few more grapplers available for duty at the beginning of the month, the Tigers came a lot closer to Friends Central in their regular-season dual meet, succumbing by a 46-34 tally. Then last Tuesday, GFS clinched a tournament berth by grinding out a 33-30 win against Abington Friends.
Here, the Tigers got pins from Nick Wells at 132 lbs. and from fellow junior Gabe Buyske-Friedberg at 182, while a third 11th-grader, Jared Lazorko, prevailed by decision, 9-7. Germantown had to forfeit in three weight categories, but won by the same means at three other weights; 120 lbs. (freshman Guston Lowe), 195 (junior Dash Buyske-Friedberg), and 285 (sophomore Tunde Sogo).
At the tourney last weekend, GFS had to go without Lowe and another freshman who enjoyed a strong rookie season, Ishmael Bynum.
In the Friends Central semifinal, the Tigers started out with a first-period pin at 220 lbs. by Gabe Buyske-Friedberg, who had bumped up to that weight. Sogo was offered a forfeit by FC at 285, but then the Phoenix moved ahead thanks to the four GFS forfeits in the lightweight classes.
Wells lost a decision at 132 lbs. and GFS freshman Emmanuel Jones was pinned in the 138 lb. class, but senior Andrew Wilson rolled up a 20-5 technical fall victory at 145.
The Phoenix then picked up a forfeit at 152 lbs., and won a low-scoring decision at 160, where Germantown junior Bix Komita Moussa was edged, 3-1.
The Tigers gained some ground in the team tally thanks to Friends Central forfeits to Lazorko (170) and Dash Buyske-Friedberg (182), then the semifinal concluded with a decision by FC’s 195-pounder over GFS freshman Quincy Henderson.
For the consolation contest against ANC, the random start process settled upon one of the higher weights once again, and Germantown was first on the board as Sogo snagged his second forfeit win of the day at 285 lbs. The Lions roared ahead 24-6 thanks to the GFS forfeits at weights 106-126, but the Tigers got six points back at 132, where Wells pinned his rival in the opening round.
Germantown’s Jones and Wilson became pin victims at 138 and 145, then GFS recorded a pin in the following match, where Komita Moussa matted his man in the final seconds of the 152 lb. encounter. The meet score was now 36-18, but ANC would gain an insurmountable lead in the next three matches, starting with a Germantown forfeit at 160 lbs.
The Lions then added a pin over Lazorko in the second period at 170, and an 11-3 decision over Dash Buyske-Friedberg at 182. At 195 lbs., Gabe Buyske-Friedberg gutted out a 7-4 decision, winning a bout that featured multiple blood/injury stoppages on behalf of both grapplers. An ANC pin at 220 lbs. wrapped up the affair.
After their most successful season in the FSL in some time, the Tigers now move on to the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Championships.