|Photo by Nate Heckenberger/ Downingtown East's Wade Cummings scores a takedown against Council Rock South's Joe Little down before majoring him, 11-3, at 120 pounds.|
By NATE HECKENBERGER
FORT WASHINGTON -- Sometimes, when you don’t totally expect it, history is made.
As Ches-Mont League teams stocked with state qualifiers and state medalists on their teams the past five to 10 years have come up short, try after try, to reach the PIAA Duals, Downingtown East proved the sum of all its parts is greater.
With a dominating win over No. 6 Pennsbury, 51-12, Friday in the District 1 Duals quarterfinals, and a thrilling 36-25 win over No. 7 Council Rock South in the semifinals, the third-seeded Cougars became the first Class AAA Ches-Mont team to both reach the district finals and clinch a trip to the state duals next weekend.
Ninth-seeded Downingtown West was eliminated after a 60-3 loss against No. 1 Owen J. Roberts in the quarterfinals and a 38-30 loss to No. 4 Upper Perkiomen in the consolation bracket.
East will face returning district champion Wildcats today at 3 p.m. at Upper Dublin High for the first-ever all-Chester County district final. It was a night of personal milestones, also, as Cougars senior T. J. Nelson picked up his 100th career victory against the Golden Hawks, and East coach Joe Horvath won his 200th career dual meet.
"It means a whole lot, and what I’m most proud of is the evolution of this team," Horvath said. "We started from ground zero 10 years ago, and those teams that went 4-10 and had trouble putting together a lineup for dual meets started it. We’ve worked all along to have kids buy in and work together and lo and behold, here we are."
The Cougars expected to reach the semis, as Pennsbury was without Jason Bing (120) and Anthony DiEmidio (132), but they likely figured on seeing No. 2 Spring-Ford there. That all changed when South mustered an overtime decision and a third-period fall in the final two bouts to beat the Rams on criteria, 29-29.
East, however, would not allow the Hawks to hold that momentum. After trading overtime wins the first two bouts, Jason Gibson (182), Matt Bartolotta (220) and Sean Snodgrass (285) registered pins. Just as importantly, Adam Pleines was able to hold South’s returning state medalist P. J. Steinmetz to just a major decision, and East led 21-7 after five.
"We knew our heavyweights could pay big dividends and get it done," Horvath said. "We also knew in the challenge matches that we had to keep them short and small and we were able to do so."
South responded, scoring the next 11 points as Cougars’ star freshman Wade Cummings was bumped up to 120 to avoid another returning state medalist, Dan Martoccio (113).
Cummings struggled against the heavier Joe Little early, but down the stretch earned three takedowns, including the final to clinch a major decision with two seconds left.
Jared Leonetti (126) held on for a 4-3 victory and Nelson shut out Trey Balasco (132), 6-0, for No. 100, and gave the Cougars a 13-point lead with three bouts left.
"It feels good to get 100 and know that I helped the team get to the district finals and get to states," Nelson said.
What looked like a forgone conclusion got a little sketchy as South won the next two, including a major decision by Luke Martoccio (145) to cut the lead to six. Fortunately for the Cougars, their all-time wins leader was up to the moment and Alex Wait (152) quickly put an end to the contest with a technical fall in 91 seconds.
"I was glad I could be in that position," Wait said. "Up by six, in my 13 years of wrestling I think I’ve only been pinned three times, so I was confident I could get the job done. I trust the kids on my team, but it was nice to do it myself."
West was no match for a very deep, veteran OJR team, but against Upper Perk, the Whippets nearly survived another day. Pins by Mike McClelland (220), Covey Austin (285) and Tristan Reynolds (126), who did so against returning state qualifier Dylan Steffenino, gave the Whippets leads by as much as 12.
But the Indians outscored West 29-9 the final eight bouts, including a pin in the final match by Ray Young (152) against West’s Jeff Jackman.
"(Jackman) got caught," West coach Corey Sigle said. "It happens. That’s not where we lost the match. We lost some big matches in the beginning and it’s a shame some other guys’ efforts were wasted. They don’t show because we didn’t get it done in other areas where we were supposed to."
Downingtown East 36, Council Rock South 25
160- Meyer (DTE) dec. Bentz, 3-1 SV (3-0)
170- Shaaltiel (CRS) dec. Jarani, 3-1 SV (3-3)
182- Gibson (DTE) pinned Fluri, 3:54 (9-3)
195- Steinmetz (CRS) maj. dec. Pleines, 10-2 (9-7)
220- Bartolotta (DTE) pinned Kenis, 1:44 (15-7)
285- Snodgrass (DTE) pinned Capponi, 3:16 (21-7)
106- Palmer (CRS) tech fall McDowell, 4:18 (21-12)
113- D. Martoccio (CRS) pinned Zimmerman, :31 (21-18)
120- Cummings (DTE) maj. dec. Little, 11-3 (25-18)
126- Leonetti (DTE) dec. Murray, 4-3 (28-18)
132- Nelson (DTE) dec. Balasco, 6-0 (31-18)
138- Schwartz (CRS) dec. Fischer, 2-1 RO (31-21)
145- L. Martoccio (CRS) maj. dec. Sager, 16-6 (31-25)
152- Wait (DTE) tech. fall Topham, 1:39 (36-25)
Upper Perkiomen 38, Downingtown West 30
160- Rhoades (DTW) dec. Weeks, 5-0 (0-3)
170- Chambers (DTW) won by forfeit (0-9)
182- Brower (UP) dec. Bishop, 2-1 (3-9)
195- Cook (UP) pinned Hale, NT (9-9)
220- McClelland (DTW) pinned Godshall, NT (9-15)
285- Austin (DTW) pinned Crossley, NT (9-21)
106- Du. Steffenino (UP) maj. dec. Smith, 12-1 (13-21)
113- Miller (UP) maj. dec. Renney, 11-3 (17-21)
120- Da. Steffenino (UP) dec. Angelini, 8-2 (20-21)
126- Reynolds (DTW) pinned Dy. Steffenino, NT (20-27)
132- McStravick (UP) won by forfeit (26-27)
138- D. Pommerer (DTW) dec. Jordan, 1-0 (26-30)
145- Fellman (UP) pinned Capps, NT (32-20)
152- Young (UP) pinned Jackman, NT (38-30)