Pennsbury junior Shaun Peel, left, earned his second win of the season when he posted a 5-1 decision over Abington 152-pounder Marcellus Martin, helping the Falcons to a 48-23 dual meet triumph over the Ghosts Jan. 3 in Montgomery County. (Steve Sherman – 21st-Century Media)
ABINGTON – If one can make the case for getting out of the gate quickly, they could also say a slow start imposes on an athlete’s chances. That is certainly the case this year with Pennsbury wrestling.
With the cancellation of the Ghost Town Duals and a postponement in its first dual meet with Harry S Truman, the Falcons haven’t seen much action on the mat.
Last season, Pennsbury middleweight wrestler Shaun Peel got off to a 4-4 start and had 10 bouts in by the time he celebrated New Year’s. This year, he started out at 1-5 and had just six bouts in entering the Falcons’ dual meet Jan. 4 at Abington.
Battling the Ghosts’ 152-pounder Marcellus Martin, Peel fell behind 1-0 when the Abington wrestler scored an early escape point. With 45 seconds left in the first period, however, Shaun tallied a takedown to go ahead 2-1 by the end of the first period.
“I just wanted to come in here tonight and be tough, work hard and just get a win,” said Peel.
With no points recorded by either grappler in the second period, Shaun entered the final frame holding a tenuous 2-1 edge. Working from the bottom, Peel went for a quick escape point but was ruled out of bounds. The second try was successful, however, putting him up, 3-1.
With 1:45 to go, there was plenty of time for either wrestler to take the match. Peel went for – and got – a big 2-point takedown with 30 seconds left to help seal a 5-1 victory, just his second win this season.
With the decision all but assured, Peel tried to trap his opponent in a cradle, to no avail.
“Once I got the takedown, I wanted to get the six points for the team,” said Shaun. “I tried to go for the pin. Unfortunately I couldn’t get it but I still got a win.”
One wrestler who is not off to a slow start is junior Antonio Martoccio. Entering the season with over 60 wins his first two years on the varsity mat, Antonio recorded a pair of wins in the opening Saucon Valley Tournament then went 3-1 at the Ralph Wetzel Holiday Classic Dec. 29 and 30 at Hatboro-Horsham where he lost only to Downingtown East sophomore Lukas Richie.
After earning a 5th-place medal at South East Regionals and making states as a freshman, Martoccio won 27 bouts last year against only five losses. Three of those defeats came in his last five bouts, however, and a 2-2 performance in districts was not enough for Antonio to advance.
“He kind of lost focus last year as to what he was doing and why,” explained Kealy.
“He’s back on track this year and he knows where he wants to be and he knows that it includes Hershey and getting on that podium.”
Senior Connor Gowton, wrestling his third varsity season at 160 pounds, is also off to a solid start with eight wins in his first 11 bouts. At Wetzel, Gowton went 5-1 to earn a third-place medal and he did it in dramatic fashion.
After dropping a 12-2 major decision to Upper Dublin sophomore Mason Novac, Gowton wrestled back with a major, a pin and a 3-2 decision over Haverford senior Alex Ramos.
All that earned Gowton was a rematch with Novac, a District 1 medalist in 2016. And this time, Connor registered a 3-1 decision over the Cardinals grappler.
“He lost in the quarters and he wrestled all the way back to take third,” said Kealy. “We were all so proud of him for that.”
Junior Doug Molle also earned a medal at Wetzel, finishing eighth with wins over Upper Dublin sophomore John Palmer, Chichester sophomore Josiah Nichols and CB West junior Andrew Soto.
Battling an illness, Molle wasn’t available to wrestle at Abington. Stepping up in his place was sophomore Jacob Dubs, who was wrestling in his first varsity bout of the season after going 2-1 last year.
The Ghosts had sacrificed freshman Zack Greenberg to Martoccio and Antonio pinned the inexperienced wrestler in 51 seconds. That meant Dubs had to go up against Matt Spross, a senior with 40 varsity bouts under his belt.
Dubs’ job was to go out there and compete and maybe not surrender any bonus points to Abington. But he did so much more than that, exacting a 9-2 decision to help Pennsbury win six of the last seven bouts.
While Pennsbury went on to an eventual 48-23 dual meet triumph over the Ghosts, the Falcons got off to a slow start with Max Schummer (170) and Pat Chappell (182) suffering falls in the first two pairings.
Pins by freshman Davis Lee (195) and senior Jacob Haenle (220) tied things up however and two Abington forfeits put Pennsbury up 24-12. With junior Mark Hertkorn out of the lineup, the Falcons went with JV wrestler Ryan Murphy at 113 and he suffered a tech-fall to Dane Stein, a sophomore for the Ghosts.
Finishing out with wins for Pennsbury were junior Sam Humbert (tech fall at 132), senior Justin Braim (major dec./145), Peel (dec./152), and Gowton with a major decision at 160 pounds.
Coming when the Falcons trailed 12-0 early, Lee’s second period pin of Abington junior Zach Manning helped stem the tide back in favor of Pennsbury. Davis is 6-3 on the season with a 3-1 start at Saucon Valley. After pinning in his first ever varsity bout, Davis reached the championship finals where he lost by a single point to West Scranton senior Carl Fisher.
Davis rebounded nicely however with a pin 12 seconds into the second period facing Father Judge senior Alex Chokas in a true second-place final.
The Falcons have a few more freshmen stepping up including Ryan McGurrin, who is 3-4 at 106 pounds, and John Irvine, who is 2-2 at 220.
Pennsbury 48, Abington 23
(Jan. 4 at Abington)
170 — Shane Rose (A) pinned Max Schummer, 2:43
182 — David McCoughey (A) pinned Patrick Chappell, 2:33
195 — Davis Lee (P) pinned Zach Manning, 2:24
220 — Jacob Haenle (P) pinned Newlin, 1:30
285 — Elijah Slaughter (P) won by forfeit
106 — Ryan McGurrin (P) won by forfeit
113 — Dane Stein (A) tech. fall Ryan Murphy, 19-3 (5:30)
120 — Antonio Martoccio (P) pinned Zach Greenberg, :45
126 — Jacob Dubs (P) dec. Matt Spross, 9-2
132 — Sam Humbert (P) tech fall Brian Spurrier, 15-0 (4:53)
138 — Dan Brett (A) pinned Nick Polazzi, 2:19
145 — Justin Braim (P) maj. dec. Matt Werner, 13-2
152 — Shaun Peel (P) dec. Marcellus Martin, 5-1
160 — Connor Gowton (P) maj. dec. James Campbell, 13-3