POTTSTOWN >> The final score came nowhere near reaching Nick Wade’s hopes.
But Pottstown’s new head coach didn’t base his expectations on that number from Wednesday’s match with Owen J. Roberts. Keeping the situation in perspective, he still saw promising outcomes from the Pioneer Athletic Conference divisional crossover between the neighboring rivals — Owen J. Roberts’ 66-12 victory notwithstanding.
“The kids knew it was going to be a challenge since the summer, when we saw this marked on the calendar,” Wade said following his debut duel. “It was a good opportunity for our kids to wrestle some of the best opponents in the area.”
It made for a busy night inside Strom Gymnasium, the schools’ varsity contest heading action that included junior-varsity and middle-school matches going on concurrently. Both teams also showed their support for cancer awareness, the Trojans in pink shirts and Roberts in purple.
Through it all, Wade’s goal of giving his grapplers a good test out of the chute was foremost. As such, Owen J. Roberts’ domination of the match — one of two kicking off PAC action around the area — was the price Pottstown was willing to pay toward the ultimate goal of improvement.
“For some, it was their first match ever,” Wade noted. “For others, it was their first match since March. I wanted to see how they wrestled, and their improvement position-wise.”
Roberts, coming off a 3-2 showing and fourth-place finish in Boyertown’s Brian Bealer Memorial Bear Duals this past weekend, was out to improve on its own debut. To that end, Steve DeRafelo felt a measure of satisfaction.
“Our goal every week is to get better,” OJR’s veteran mat boss said, “and I saw some good things tonight. I felt we were more in control of positions on our feet, and our kids did a nice job finishing matches.”
Owen J. (4-2) asserted itself by running out to a 54-point lead through the first 10 weight classes. It scored six falls, and benefited from two of three forfeits it received on the night, to clinch the match by the time Jason Zollers rang up a second-period pin at 170.
For the night, the ‘Cats scored seven drops alongside decisions by Tyler McCutchen (9-2 at 132) and Antonio Petrucelli (138). The latter proved to be the match’s closest outcome, Petrucelli posting a 4-1 decision on Pottstown’s Nate Parson.
“He finished his periods well,” DeRafelo noted, “and got it done tonight.”
Parson’s showing was another positive cited by Wade, who later saw heavyweights Aubrey King (220) and Destyn Snyder (285) pin their ways to Pottstown’s point total.
“He held Petrucelli — a kid who was one win away from making states last year — to a 4-1 decision,” he noted. “He could go 132 or 138 for us.”
“Destyn is filling in at heavyweight,” Wade said, noting his lineup is still in the process of being established. “He and Aubrey have been in the room, battling all along. This was a good opportunity for them to show they can win.”
King, on the strength of his 66-second pin, was named Pottstown’s Outstanding Wrestler for the match. It’s putting the senior on his own track of improvement.
“I’ve been wrestling four years,” he said, “and I decided I want to get better. My freshman year, I lost every match, so through practices and the off-season, I want to get better and show I can go out and have fun.”
Dan Mancini was named Roberts’ OW after a second-period pin at 152 upped his season record to 6-0. He’s back off a sophomore season that saw him medal high at the PACs, District 1-AAA West (seconds) and Southeast AAA Regional (third) to qualify for states.
“Staying in shape, and taking care of the small issues,” Mancini said of his approach for the current campaign. “In the preseason, I’m putting everything to use.”
Wade noted the holes in Pottstown’s lineup were primarily a function of its ongoing drive to get people in their weights. He feels the approximately 25 wrestlers on the roster is a solid number to which it is working.
“The holes in our lineup are us getting weights on track,” he said.
Owen J’s next action will be this weekend at Central Mountain, site of the King of the Mountain Tournament. As was the case for Pottstown Wednesday, Roberts sees the tournament providing its wrestlers a look at quality competition.
“This will be a litmus test for us,” DeRafelo said. “We’ll be going against some of the best teams in the state. It’s a chance for us to see where we’re at.”
NOTES >> Pottstown’s next action will be at Hamburg Wednesday, Dec. 20. … Austin Boaman, a sophomore who pinned in the second period at 160, got a favorable assessment from his coach. “He came out and did a nice job,” DeRafelo noted. “He hasn’t wrestled a lot of matches, so it was fun to see him do that.” … King’s evaluation of his new head coach: “He’s an excellent coach. I feel I’m getting better in his corner. I think he’s going to lead the team to another championship.”
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