by Tom Utescher
In the first half of January, the wrestlers of Germantown Friends won their first two Friends Schools League dual meets, topping Abington Friends by a dozen points and then overwhelming the George School, 51-24.
Coming into last Tuesday’s home meet against Westtown School, the Tigers were 5-4 overall. The Westtown Moose, the runner-up team in the FSL last winter, had only wrestled George School in league competition, but had faced tough competition elsewhere and arrived in Germantown with an overall mark of 5-5.
GFS fared well in the lighter weight classes, picking up a pin, a major decision and a regular decision, but at the higher weights the Tigers would forfeit in four of the six categories from 160 to 285 lbs. Westtown earned a lot of points in the middleweight matches, and took a 63-13 victory back to Chester County.
The random-start procedure settled upon the 113 lb. class for the opening bout, and here freshman Kai Suminski gave the host Tigers the early lead, quickly scoring a takedown and then pinning his man 59 seconds into the contest. At 120 lbs., GFS sophomore Javier Carmona only trailed 4-5 after scoring a reverse at the start of the second round, but with 38 seconds left in the period he was pinned by visitor Griffin Hankin.
Westtown then moved up out of a 6-6 tie in the team score with Jack Shea’s pin at 126 lbs. His rival, Germantown 10th-grader Ben Egner, fought off several takedown attempts before completing one himself to lead 2-0 at the end of the first period. Starting on the bottom, Shea escaped 50 seconds into the second round, and then pressed Egner’s shoulder blades to the mat with eight seconds remaining.
Rolling up a substantial lead with takedowns and several sets of back points, sophomore Jake Moss won a 13-0 major decision for the Tigers at 132. The outcome had the host school back within two points of the Moose in the meet score, 12-10, but things went downhill for GFS after that.
An opening takedown helped 138 lb. Noah Rudick enter the second round with the score tied 3-3, then visitor Ethan Gadra reversed at the start of the period and pinned Rudick with 40 seconds elapsed. Literally at the last second, Westtown’s 145-pounder, Billy Roberts, matted Germantown sophomore Liam Kleitz at the close of the first frame in their encounter. The Chester County squad was ahead 24-10 in the team score.
The 152 lb. contest went the distance. Tommy Hogan of the Moose needed the three-point lead he built up over the first two periods (4-1), since Tigers junior Ben Zack matched him point-for-point in the third round. Zack garnered points on two reversals, but Hogan won an 8-5 decision.
Kleitz’s twin brother, Aidan, was out of action with an injury, forcing Germantown to forfeit the in 160 lb. class to visitor Sevi Horton and watch Westtown’s lead grow to 23 points (33-10).
Next up was 170-pound Ishmael Bynum, one of just two seniors on active duty for the Tigers. He trailed Alex Taylor of the Moose 6-0 going into the third period, and off a neutral (standing) start, Taylor was able to execute a takedown and a pin in the first half-minute.
The visitors now held a 39-10 advantage, and their lead quickly became insurmountable as short-staffed GFS had to forfeit at 182, 195 and 220 lbs. to Westtown’s Matt Rhile, Carter Dear and Jack DeVuono.
The outcome in the last two weight classes was decided on the mat, and the first contest ended in the opening period with Westtown’s Alec Butler-Roberts pinning Tigers senior Quincy Henderson.
Although the Moose had clinched the overall meet victory some time before, both teams became emotionally engaged in the high-scoring 106 lb. bout between GFS freshman Max Orenstein and his guest, Ethan Kisiel. Several takedowns accounted for part of the 7-3 lead Orenstein acquired in the opening period, and an escape and takedown in the second segment helped him head into the third round ahead 11-5. The Tigers ninth-grader was on the brink of a major decision as the match went into the final minute with a 17-8 tally. Although Kisiel took that off the table with a late escape and takedown, the GFS lightweight prevailed, 17-11, and the meet score wound up at 63-13.