by Tom Utescher

More than two-thirds of the way through last Wednesday’s Inter-Ac League wrestling opener, host Chestnut Hill Academy led the visiting Churchmen of Episcopal Academy, 33-21. At that point, though, the Blue Devils literally ran out of wrestlers, forfeiting the final four matches, and the visitors acquired six team points for each of those no-shows to emerge with a 45-33 victory.

Episcopal improved to 3-0 in dual meets, while CHA evened out at 2-2. A week earlier, both squads participated at the annual Ralph Wetzel Classic at Hatboro-Horsham High School, which was won by their Inter-Ac colleague Malvern Prep. Episcopal placed 14th and CHA, with just three entries in the varsity brackets, finished 22nd. Germantown Friends School came in 20th at the same tournament.

Chestnut Hill Academy heavyweight Tyler Hightower (wrestler on top) closes in on a pin as the referee (left) watches daylight disappear beneath the shoulders of Episcopal’s Adam DiSalvo. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

Chestnut Hill has had trouble filling the lighter weight classes with grapplers ready to face varsity competition – not an uncommon problem for the Devils. With the random start procedure selecting 135 lbs. as the beginning weight for last week’s league opener, CHA was bound to give up a lot of points late in the contest.

The meet started out with a forfeit by the hosts, as well, with no one to oppose Episcopal’s 135-pounder, senior Will Deasey. CHA would recover those six team points in the 140 lb. bout, where junior Matt Klauder emerged from a 2-2 tie at the end of the second period to pin EA freshman Jack Keffer with one minute and 22 seconds remaining in the third round.

At 145, a takedown off of a neutral start in the second period gave CHA sophomore George Kunkel a 4-3 edge, but visiting senior Ben Chung reversed Kunkel onto his back and pinned him later in the same segment.

It was CHA which had the age advantage at 152, where senior Connor Small employed his experience to pin Episcopal freshman James Konopka in the middle of the second period, tying the meet score at 12-12.

Up into the higher weight classes, the teams continued to match one another point for point. At 160 lbs., Episcopal freshman Anthony Feliziani won a 5-2 decision over CHA senior co-captain Matt Rubin, but the Devils got payback from their other senior captain, 171-pound Dan Gallagher, who prevailed 7-1 over EA upperclassman Carl Lampe.

The junior 189 for the visitors, Marco Testauiti, built up an 8-0 lead over CHA freshman Andrew Reid before pinning him with 46 ticks to go in the second round. The Blue Devils tied the team tally at 21-all in the 215 lb. contest, where their eighth-grade prodigy, Desmond Johnson, matted Episcopal freshman Cody Johnson with nine seconds remaining in the second round.

Chestnut Hill heavyweight Tyler Hightower, a junior who went 2-2 against tough competition at the Wetzel tournament, pinned up senior rival Adam DiSalvo in the middle of the first round, and for the first time the Blue Devils moved ahead in the team score, 27-21.

The match order then cycled back to the light end of the spectrum, where sophomore Jordan Wang accepted an Episcopal forfeit at 103 lbs., giving the home team a 33-21 lead.

That would be the Devils’ last hurrah. Four consecutive forfeits by Chestnut Hill allowed Episcopal to draw even and then forge ahead to win. Collecting those pivotal two-dozen points for the Churchmen were freshman Julio DelPeon (112 lbs.), sophomore Luke Brooman (119), and seniors Matt Lasensky (125) and Rudy Celli (130).

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