ROYERSFORD >> Just three locals stood on the championship podium Saturday in the PIAA District 1 West Class 3A wrestling tournament, which is about half of what the coaches expected.
But the good news is 16 Delaware County products moved on to the regions next week, the top four in each weight class qualifying for the meet at Souderton.
The champs are Colin Cronin (138) and Brian Kennerly (220) of Upper Darby, and Anthony Goodman, the Marple Newtown heavyweight.
Dayton DelViscio of Penncrest wanted to make it four gold medals but got caught in his bout at 106 pounds in the championship round, the only blemish on his 37-1 record this season.
Additionally, Matt Marino (Garnet Valley) lost a heartbreaker at 126 pounds.
All in all, the Royals carried the day for the county, which was apropos in that coach Bob Martin was honored during a break in the competitio with the Central League coach of the year award.
“Bob Martin is a great coach,” Cronin said. “He’s done a lot for me over the past four years. Just to bring home a state championship for him would be amazing.”
Cronin, who finished fourth in the states last year, recoreded a 7-2 decision over Eric Hutchinson (Conestoga) in the finals. Cronin has grown an inch and a half to 5-10 1-2, which won’t make it any easier on his opponents in the region, and hopefully, the states. Advantage?
“Not entirely,” said Cronin, now 32-1 and seeking his third straight trip to the states. “I still wrestle that same stringy style. I’m still a lot taller than most of the kids I wrestle. It didn’t make that much of a difference.”
Regions are all that stands between Kennerly and his second trip to the states. He had a 17-9 lead when he pinned Michael Modugno (Upper Perkiomen) at 5:36. The district title is the first step of what he hopes will be the road to personal redemption.
“I just want to go back to Hershey and right the wrongs,” Kennerly said. “Last year I felt I was shocked by the atmosphere. This year I know what it’s going to be like there. I just want to up there and stand on top of the podium.”
First things first, of course. Two other Upper Darby wrestlers are going to the region, the list topped by Max Livingston, who reached the 152-pound final before getting pinned.
“The bad part is I lost,” Livingston said. “The good part is I see what I have to worn on now. I won’t let this loss keep me down.”
The same can be said of DelViscio, who rolled into the championship bout undefeated after winning by technical fall and by pin. Justin Altrogge (Norristown) brought DelViscio’s day to an abrupt end, pinning him at 3:24.
“I took him down and then escaped, and I think he took me down and I escaped and it was 3-3,” DelViscio said. “And then he caught me in a cradle and stuck me. I thought I did pretty good until the second period and then I got kind of lazy and started falling all over the place. I’m moving on to next week. I’ve worked all year to get to states. I’m a couple matches away. I hope I have what it takes to get top-five. Absolultey, I’d rather have a negative on my record and go to the states than a perfect record.”
Marino was beaten by four-time District 1 West champion Jakob Campbell (Boyertown), the score knotted at 1 for much of the match.
“He got a pretty nice takedown on me,” Marino, who has made two straight appearances in the state tournament, said. “I just wasn’t ready. And that ended up being the deciding factor. It’s not fun losing but I’ll see him again next week, hopefully in the finals again. It’s disappointing but a state medal is the goal, and there’s still time.”
The day ended with a rematch of the Central League championship. Goodman (26-6) claimed a 10-2 decision over John Sheldon of Ridley at 285 pounds to reach the regions for the first time.
“It feels great,” Goodman, who played offensive tackle on the Tigers’ football team. “I’m really proud of it. It was a tough match. I pinned him twice before and this is the second week we’ve been in the finals together.”
Goodman’s teammate, Zak Elfernani (126), finished third to earn a trip to regions. Among other third-place wrestlers headed to Souderton are Penncrest’s Ryan Stocku (145), who went over the 100-career victory mark, and teammate David Stevens (160). Stocku’s brother, Brendon was fifth at 132.
When all was said and done, Royals fans coaxed Martin into posing for photos with his latest league coaching plaque, No. 13 overall.
“He had a great year,” Kennerly said. “Four hundred wins, Central League championship, two district champions. He’s just a great guy. Since the day I walked into the room he’s been funny, yet he knows when to be serious and he makes us better wrestlers.”
Martin is especially proud of the fight in this team.
“This year we lost some kids and we had some holes and the kids, we worked hard,” Martin said. “The Garnet Valley match and then winning the Central League tournament were complete team wins. Complete team wins. Our kids stayed with it and believed in themselves. It showed the character of the kids and what they believe in. I’ve had a lot of tough teams. This ranks right up there. They might not be as talented. They’re just good kids, extremely good kids.”
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