by Tom Utescher

In the 195 lb. match last Friday, SCH freshman Desmond Johnson (top) tries to use a half-nelson to turn Malvern junior Alfredo Giannaccari. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

For the grapplers of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, the ride took longer than the wrestling in last Friday’s Inter-Ac League meet at Malvern Prep. A total of 10 matches lasted no longer than it took for an unchallenged athlete to walk to the center of his mat and have his hand raised by the referee, signifying a forfeit at that weight class by the other team.

Each side won one major decision and one regular decision to score seven team points, but the host Friars collected six wins by forfeit and the SCH Blue Devils pocketed only four, so Malvern won out, 43-31. Both teams had defeated Penn Charter and had lost to the other three Inter-Ac schools, so Malvern finished fourth in the league, with a 3-2 record in dual meets, while SCH, at 1-4, came in fifth.

In a non-league contest earlier last week, SCH had pulled out a 39-37 victory over Roman Catholic High School, but it cost the Blue Devils the services of junior captain George Kunkel.

“He was pinning the guy from Roman when he had an injury to his elbow,” explained SCH coach Charlie Neely.

That left the Devils with a gap at 145 lbs., and there also was a new vacancy at 126 lbs., where sophomore Evan Wilson was out of commission.

The Malvern meet began with the 145 lb. weight class, and with Kunkel sidelined SCH forfeited to Friars junior Colin Sullivan. Blue Devils senior Matt Klauder recouped four team points at 152 lbs., scoring three takedowns during the course of his 9-1 major decision over sophomore host Rob Gueriera.

Next up for Malvern was junior 160 Greg Bacci, a 2011 bronze medalist at the Pa. Independent School Championships, and here the visitors elected to forfeit, moving Mike Moriarty up to 170. Moriarty is also a junior, but is a first-year wrestler.

“Malvern actually weighed in a guy at 166 lbs. who could have wrestled 170, but they didn’t use him,” noted SCH’s Neeley.

Instead, a Malvern forfeit at that position brought the Blue Devils within two points of the Friars, with the meet score at 12-10. Two talented sophomores converged at 182 lbs., and Malvern’s Jake Anderson never trailed after scoring a takedown and three back points in the opening round. Off of a neutral (standing) start in the third period, SCH’s Ben Rubin scored a takedown with eight seconds to go, avoiding a major decision but still losing a regular verdict, 8-2.

The Devils pulled back within two points in the team tally (15-13) thanks to Desmond Johnson’s 6-1 decision at 195 lbs. Edging ahead 2-1 in the first period, the freshman chalked up a reversal in the second frame and a takedown in the third to defeat Friars junior Alfredo Giannacarri.

Springside Chestnut Hill had to forfeit the next two matches to Malvern junior Harry Mauk (220 lbs.) and freshman Pete Ciesielski (285), but they got back those points and more as the match order swung around to the light end of the scale. Friars forfeits to freshmen Brandon Boyer (106) and Jackson Bistrong (120) and to junior Jordan Wang (113) thrust the visitors ahead on the big board, 31-27.

Just as quickly, the advantage vanished, since SCH had no one to oppose Malvern freshmen Dymond Wright and Charlie Arena, slotted in at 126 and 132 lbs., respectively.

Now down by eight points in the meet (39-31), the Devils could not make up the margin in the one remaining match, the 138 lb. contest. Sophomore Anthony Liddy posted a pair of points on escapes, but four takedowns contributed to a 10-2 major decision for Mike Reagan, the lone senior on the Malvern roster.

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