by Tom Utescher
Testing their wrestlers against rivals from large suburban public schools, Penn Charter, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy and Germantown Friends saw action during the holiday break at the 11th Annual Ralph Wetzel Classic on December 28 and 29.
With a fourth-place finish for junior Eric Berger (152 lbs.) and sixth-place showings for senior Steve Miller (160) and junior Etienne Dumas (120), the PC Quakers accumulated 41 team points to place 15th out of the 22 schools in the event at Hatboro Horsham High School.
SCH was 16th with 31 points, thanks in part to freshman Desmond Johnson, who was the tournament runner-up at 195 lbs. Scoring 11 points overall, the GFS Tigers finished 20th in the team standings.
The coaches of the three teams did not feel all of their wrestlers had the experience to take the mat against the top athletes from the public school squads. Penn Charter entered seven men in the varsity brackets, while GFS submitted four and SCH, three.
Although a ninth-grader, SCH’s Johnson already has a season of varsity wrestling under his belt. That experience, combined with obvious natural ability, let him make short work of his first several opponents at Hatboro Horsham. He needed only 49 seconds to pin Abington High School’s Mark Lee, and in the quarterfinals 25 ticks remained in the opening round when he matted Alfredo Giannaccari from Inter-Ac rival Malvern Prep.
Things got tougher in the later rounds, but he reached the finals by grinding out a series of takedowns for a 7-1 decision over Lower Moreland’s Nick Brunswick. In a low-scoring final, Upper Dublin senior Devin Dhoble bagged a takedown in the final seconds to edge Johnson, 3-1.
Berger, the PC 152, opened with a first-period pin and a 5-1 decision, then he lost 5-3 to the eventual class champion, Sammy Mohr of Cape Henlopen (Del.) High School. He split his two bouts in the consolation bracket, beating Methacton’s Paul Russo, 5-1, and then finishing fourth after losing a 14-7 decision to Shane Hughes of Bensalem High.
At 160, the Quakers’ Miller also reached the semifianls with a first-period pin and a win by decision. Class runner-up Hank Campbell (Lower Moreland) shaded Miller, 4-2, in the semifinals. A loss in his first consolation contest put him in the bout for fifth-place, and there he was edged out, 5-4, by Downingtown East’s Max Leonetti, the wrestler he’d defeated, 14-6, in the main quarterfinals.
Charter’s Dumas got a bye to begin with, then slipped into the consolation bracket with a 5-3 setback against Germaine Sunkett of Cape Henlopen. He won 8-6 in the consolation quarterfinals, then succumbed 6-1 in the semifinals. Dumas wound up sixth after undergoing another two-point loss to Sunkett, with the score settling at 6-4 this time around.
The opening round of the tourney wasn’t kind to Germantown Friends. All four entries lost their openers, three by pin, and senior Andy Reed by decision. Reed, competing at 132 lbs., enjoyed a bye in the first round of consolations, then ended his run with a 4-2 loss to Cape Henlopen’s J.J. Currie. Reed’s brother Matt, a 138 lb. sophomore, took a 5-3 decision over Downingtown East’s Matt Fischer in his initial consolation bout, then he was pinned by Matt Ramirez of Malvern.
The Tigers’ senior 145, Luke Furukawa, moved through the consolation draw with a 7-4 victory over Hatboro Horsham’s Jason McLaughlin, followed by a win by forfeit. In the quarterfinals he was stopped, 12-4, by Kevin Sager of Downingtown East. Up at 152 lbs. another senior, Shimpei Kurokawa, captured a second-period pin over Malvern’s Colin Sullivan in his first consolation match. He was matted himself in the second round of his next bout, where he faced Upper Dublin’s Jake Haney.
Springside Chestnut Hill received opening-round pins from 106 lb. Jordan Wang (first period), and 152 lb. Matt Klauder (third period). Wang fell in the following match, then in his last outing he came out on the short end of a 3-0 decision against Lower Moreland’s Jaime McGuigan.
Klauder was pinned in his second contest, then bounced back with a 15-8 win against Steven Burkert of Upper Merion. A pin at the hands of Lower Moreland’s Max Pylayev ended his stay at the tourney.
Two of Penn Charter’s seven varsity contenders made an early exit. Junior 138 Taylor Jobes and freshman Jelani Bluie each lost two encounters in a row, with Jobes dropping a close decision (5-3) to Wissahickon’s Jordan Feltes his second time out.
At 170, Quakers senior Joey Woodruff started out with a second-period pin, then lost in the same manner to Tyler Sewell of West Chester East, who placed fourth overall. Woodruff finished up with a 9-3 loss to Upper Dublin’s Ben Gauze. All three matches for Charter 145 Stanton Young ended early with pins. The junior fell in the second period of his opener, then picked up a pin right at the start of the second round in his consolation contest with Alex Bermudez of Edison High. In his tourney swansong, Young was pinned in the second stanza by Anthony Dill of Upper Moreland.