by Tom Utescher
Last weekend wrestlers from Germantown Friends School and Springside Chestnut Hill Academy made a familiar annual jaunt out to Hatboro High School for the 35-team Ralph Wetzel Holiday Classic.
Even when school is in session, both the Tigers and Blue Devils usually have to forfeit at several weight classes in dual meets, and with holiday travel thinning the ranks even further, GFS took just five wrestlers to compete at the varsity level, while SCH sent seven.
With a fourth-place finish at 182 lbs. by junior Tyler Guzik and with senior Will Neverosky placing eighth at 195, the Blue Devils wound up 29th in the team standings with 29 points. The GFS Tigers had their best outcome in the 145 lb. class, where senior Josh Zeelander reached the main draw quarterfinals and placed eighth overall. Germantown finished 30th in the team scoring, with 26 points.
The Wetzel tournament, now in its 19th year, was won by Central Bucks East High School. Most of the field was made up of teams from the Philadelphia Area, with the addition of Allentown Central Catholic, Ephrata High School, and a Connecticut team, Wethersfield, from just outside of Hartford.
GFS was the lone representative of the Friends Schools League at the tournament, while SCH was joined by Inter-Ac colleague Haverford School.
In the double-elimination format, a second loss for an individual spelled the end of their tournament run. After leaving the main draw after their first loss, wrestlers were fed into the consolation bracket right up through the main semifinals.
Three of Springside Chestnut Hill’s lightweight and middleweight grapplers suffered setbacks in each of their first two matches and were done for the weekend. At 152 lbs., freshman Tre Stubbs lost his opening match but then won a 4-1 decision in his first bout in the consolation draw before losing in his third contest at the Classic.
SCH’s Neverosky and both Tyler Guzik and his freshman brother Grant (220 lbs.) would advance farther.
The GFS Tigers had their lightest entry go 0-2, but Zeelander, senior Jake Moss (138 lbs.), junior Alex Young (126), and sophomore Dante Billups (160) each started out with a win. Billups pinned his initial opponent, then succumbed in the second round of the main draw and in his first consolation bracket bout.
With all of his four tournament matches decided by pin, Moss began with a win in the main draw but lost his second contest. After prevailing in his first appearance in the consolation draw, he appeared to be holding his own in the third round in this bracket, but he gave his rival an opening late in the third period and lost by fall.
Young went 1-1 in the main bracket at 126, then did well in the consolations. He won two matches by pin before losing in the same manner in the fourth round, and finished his weekend with a 3-2 record.
Zeelander saw the most action of any Germantown Friends grappler, coming away at 3-3. A major decision and a pin got him through to the quarterfinals of the main draw, where he was defeated and entered the consolation section.
He posted two takedowns and an escape to top his first rival, 5-0. After that, Zeelander had a pair of decisions go against him in the fourth round of consolations and in his match for seventh and eighth place against Nils Updale from the team championship squad, C.B. East.
For the SCH Blue Devils, the younger of the Guzik brothers recorded a major decision against the first of his 220 lb. opponents. He left the main draw in the second round, then logged an 8-4 decision in his debut in the consolations. He lost the next time out to come away with a 2-2 mark.
In the 195 lb. class, an initial victory followed by a loss sent Springside Chestnut Hill’s Neverosky into the second round of the consolation draw. There he won a 7-1 decision before several setbacks landed him in eighth place overall.
After receiving an opening round-bye, Tyler Guzik notched a pin in his first contest on the mat to reach the quarterfinals, where he prevailed in a 6-4 decision.
In his semifinal he faced fellow junior C.J. Grier of tourney host Hatboro Horsham. Here, a takedown and a reversal got Guzik into the third period with a 4-2 lead. He fell behind 7-4 in the first minute as Grier scored a reversal and a near fall, and although Guzik subsequently escaped he could not secure a takedown in the final seconds, losing 7-5.
Rolling up a major decision in the consolation semifinals, he was then on the wrong side of a 5-2 decision in the match for third and fourth place.