by Tom Utescher
Coming off of a 10-0 dual meet performance before their holiday break, the wrestlers of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy placed fifth out of 29 teams last weekend at the long-running Ralph Wetzel Holiday Classic at Hatboro Horsham High School.
Piling up 119 points, the Blue Devils jumped up 15 spots from their 20th-place finish in 2016, and increased their number of place winners from three to seven this time around. SCH was entered in every weight class except the 220 lb. division.
Junior Luke Purcell repeated as the runner-up in the tournament’s 126 lb. class, while third-place outcomes were achieved by seniors Myles Hugee at 152 lbs. and Sean McCann at 285. Senior Kyle Williams, who came in seventh at 132 lbs. a year ago, moved up to 138 lbs. and a sixth-place outcome this time around. Also coming in sixth in their classes were 120 lb. junior Simon Kioko and 132 lb. sophomore Marco Goldberg, while senior Andrew Cramer was seventh in the 145 lb. category.
Downingtown East High School powered to a first-place outcome in the team standings with 175 points, comfortably ahead of host Hatboro Horsham, with 136. William Tennent High had the most class champions (three) and came in third with 126.5 points, and one spot ahead of Springside Chestnut Hill was Avon Grove, with 124.
Germantown Friends School entered three middleweight wrestlers in the tournament, each bowing out of the main draw when he was pinned. Sophomore Jake Moss, at 132 lbs., had to start out against the eventual fourth-place finisher, and in the consolation bracket he lost a 5-2 decision.
Freshman Noah Rudick’s run at 138 lbs. also ended with a decision, and junior Ben Zack (145) suffered a pin in his consolation round match.
Several Springside Chestnut Hill athletes also made early exits due to consecutive losses. At 170 lbs., junior Joe McDermott had to start out against the class champ from Bensalem High School. He also lost by fall in the consolation bracket, and senior Chance Ishikawa (182) succumbed by fall two times, as well.
Sean Edling, a 195 lb. Blue Devils senior, went 1-2 at the Classic, and at the other end of the age spectrum, so did three freshmen: Luke Neverosky (106 lbs.), Justin Moderski (113) and Tyler Guzik (160).
Starting out, Edling had a 9-6 decision go against him, and in the consolations he both won and then lost by fall. Three weight classes down, Guzik got going with a high-scoring shootout, winning 20-13. He then succumbed in a pair of closer decisions, 7-10 in the main draw and 3-8 in the consolations.
Neverosky left the main draw due to a 5-9 verdict, then he went 1-1 in bouts decided by pins in the consolation rounds. In between a pair of contests that he lost by fall, Moderski won an 11-7 decision in his first wrestle-back battle.
One class up from Moderski at 120 lbs., Kioko had all of his five bouts go the distance. He began with a 9-1 major decision, then won a close one at 7-6 before coming out on the short end of a 7-3 semifinal contest against the class runner-up from Avon Grove. A 3-0 decision went against him in his first wrestle-back bout, and then, against the same Perkiomen Valley opponent he’d edged in the main draw, Kioko was overcome in overtime, 6-5.
The Blue Devils’ tournament finalist, Purcell, went through to the semifinals at 126 with a first-period pin and a 13-0 major decision. An 8-2 verdict over Downingtown East’s entry got him to the finals, where he lost a low scoring decision, 4-2, to fellow junior Anthony Colella, one of Tennent’s three champions.
Goldberg, Springside Chestnut Hill’s 132-pounder, rolled up points to clinch a technical fall in his debut, and then he left the main draw via an unfavorable 7-12 decision in the quarterfinals. He would then go 2-2 in the consolation bracket, starting with a pair of two-point victories (4-2 and 7-5). After an 8-1 setback in the semifinals, he wound up sixth overall thanks to a 7-2 loss in his concluding contest.
The 138 for the Blue Devils, Williams, worked his way into the main semifinals with a 17-8 major decision and a 5-2 regular decision. He then came up against Tennent’s A.J. Tamburino, who would not only win the weight class, but would also be named the outstanding wrestler of the tournament.
Williams became the only opponent to go three full rounds against the champ, but a 12-1 shortfall sent him to the wrestle-backs nonetheless. He emerged sixth overall due to a pair of 3-1 decisions against him.
One of the good things about an odd-number placing is that it means you won your last match. One of the three Blue Devils to close out the Classic in this manner was Cramer, who opened up with a third-period pin but then lost a major decision to the eventual third-place grappler from Central Bucks South.
Next, the senior won one decision and lost the next, thus moving into the bout for seventh and eighth place. His scheduled opponent forfeited the match, so Cramer had his arm raised in the ring without breaking a sweat.
A fall and a technical fall propelled Hugee into the 152 lb. semifinals, where he came away with a 6-15 setback at the hands of the class champ from Central High School. He thrived in the wrestle-backs, though, notching a 9-4 decision in the semifinal round and then taking third place overall with a first-period pin.
Following a win by fall early in the third period, the Blue Devils’ McCann moved through the quarterfinals at 285 lbs. with a 3-1 decision. In the semi’s, he lost in overtime, 4-2. A second-period pin in his next outing earned him the chance to battle for third place.
As the last Blue Devil out on the mat for the weekend, he gave his assembled teammates something to cheer about. After a scoreless first period, McCann escaped at the start of the second, but not long into the third round Wissahickon High School’s Mark Thompson got out from under the SCH senior to level the score at 1-1.
After staving off several attempts by Thompson to take him down with a headlock, McCann completed a takedown himself with four seconds remaining, wrapping up a 3-1 decision.