Seconds after this photo was taken, the meet official (right) signaled a pin for SCH junior Desmond Johnson (on top at left) in the 195 lb. class. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

Seconds after this photo was taken, the meet official (right) signaled a pin for SCH junior Desmond Johnson (on top at left) in the 195 lb. class. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

It’s likely that most members of the large crowd at last Wednesday’s wrestling meet at Academy of the New Church spent more time getting to from the event than they did observing the athletes.

The visiting Blue Devils of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy had a limited number of wrestlers available for dual-meet duty, and there were only five weight classes in which the outcome was actually determined on the mat. SCH won three of those bouts, securing two pins and a decision for a team total of 15 points, but the Devils were forced to forfeit a total of eight matches.

Due to a mutual forfeit at 106 lbs., a total of 13 bouts were in play. In addition to deriving 48 points from no-shows by the visitors, the ANC Lions picked up a pair of pins and were also awarded a penalty point, making for a final tally of 61-15 in the season opener for both teams.

Unfortunately for Springside Chestnut Hill, gaps in the line-up and the resulting forfeits are nothing new. The Blue Devils only graduated two wrestlers from last year’s varsity line-up, but four underclassmen who were on the 2012-13 squad also won’t be wrestling this winter. Three opted out, and the fourth is talented 182-pounder Ben Rubin, a senior who suffered a shoulder injury during football season that required surgery.

Last Wednesday, the random start procedure selected a starting weight of 145 lbs. in SCH’s non-league road meet. ANC immediately seized an 18-0 lead in the team score through forfeits at the first three weight classes, then two wrestlers appeared on the mat for the 170 lb. clash.

Here, Blue Devils freshman Michael Spirito registered a takedown in the first period and a three-point near-fall early in the second stanza, then the Lions’ Jamie Earle scored with an escape to make it 5-1 for the start of the third round. Spirito began on the bottom, and both he and Earle executed two reversals during the period, giving the SCH man a 9-5 decision and putting the visitors on the board.

The Blue Devils then closed the gap in the team tally to 15-18 with pins at 182 and 195 lbs. First, sophomore Jake Purcell took a 2-0 lead with a takedown in the first period at 182. He started the second frame on top and ANC’s Braydon Boyesen escaped to score his first point. Purcell got another takedown, then finished the match with a pin with 24 seconds to go in the second period.

After the first segment at 195 lbs., where visitor Desmond Johnson was in control the whole way, the score was 7-0. Johnson is a junior who has been a varsity wrestler since he was in eighth grade, and after reversing ANC’s Tristan Stevens-King at the start of the second period, Johnson got his pin with 47 seconds remaining.

There would be no more team points for the Blue Devils, though. After they forfeited at 220 lbs., senior Jeff Mikalonis-Lieberman bumped up from that weight to wrestle in the 285 lb. class. There, he fell victim to the Lions’ Kyle Cole, who picked up a pin late in the opening round. A little bit too demonstrative in removing his protective headgear after the bout, the SCH wrester was assessed a penalty point, which was added onto the home team’s total to make it 31-15.

That score went unchanged as neither team produced a contestant for the 106 lb. match, but after that the short-staffed Devils could do nothing but watch as 24 more points landed on ANC’s side of the scoreboard with SCH forfeits at 113, 120, 126 and 132 lbs. raising the count to 55-15.

At least the meet ended with an actual match, as an inexperienced SCH freshman, Grant Dalsemer, took the mat at 138 lbs. Gaining a 4-0 lead in the initial period, ANC’s Keir Williams started on the bottom for the second round, and quickly executed a reversal and a pin.

SCH had brought along two other 170-pounders besides Spirito, and both got to see action in exhibition matches after the official action ended.

First, Nick Franz lost a 7-3 decision, then fellow sophomore Kevin O’Donnell rolled up a 21-7 victory.

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