UPPER PROVIDENCE >> Look past a slew of forfeits, and a different story takes shape.
That was the situation Wednesday, when Upper Perkiomen kicked off the New Year by visiting Spring-Ford. The final score showed the Rams winning this Pioneer Athletic Conference divisional-crossover pairing, 50-21; but subtract six forfeits, and the Indians actually held a 21-20 edge in contested weights.
That was sufficient to make Steve Adam feel optimism about his team’s progress. UP’s first-year head coach sees promise in a youngish unit whose ranks were thinned by health issues, yet held its own against a Ram squad that’s compiled a 4-1 record and seventh-place finish in last week’s 31-school Bethlehem Holiday Classic.
“The kids have worked hard every day. They’re improving hourly,” Adam said. “With a team that’s young, they’re exciting to watch. They’re making progress.”
Through six weights, UP (0-2 overall) held a 15-11 lead on Spring-Ford with help from Zach Rozanski’s second-period pin at 138. But the pendulum swing saw the five upper weights go to the Rams for a decisive 41-15 advantage that increased with Gus Carfagno’s narrow 8-7 decision at 106.
The Rams got a sixth forfeit in the 120-pound finale, Brandon Meredith the recipient of UP’s no-show. But like the Tribe, they’re still making adjustments to their lineup.
“We made a lot of mistakes,” SF head coach Tim Seislove said afterward. “We have young kids, and we’re trying to find a lineup to put together.”
For his part, Adam expects to show a more finished product this weekend when Upper Perk ventures up to Hamburg for the Hawk Mountain Duals. Its previous action was in the Tony Iasiello Christmas City Tournament over the holiday break.
“We’re getting healthy,” he said, “but we have a couple kids that need to get healthy. Too many forfeit, but we wrestled tough.”
Jack McGill started the Rams off with a 62-second pin at 126, but a three-bout run staked the Indians to a 12-6 lead. Jarek Svanson went overtime for a 7-2 decision at 132, Rozanski followed with his fall and Austin DiDomenico worked for a 3-1 decision at 145.
Spring-Ford got back on track with Ben D’Arcangelo squeezing in a technical fall as time expired at 152. But the Tribe got back to within one point with D.J. McIlvaine rolling up an 8-1 decision at 160.
At that juncture, the forfeit parade took over. Michael Gradwell (170), Joey Milano (182), Chase Smith (195), Louis Carbajal (220) and Ed Calloway (285) all went the raised-arm route to log the team victory.
“It’s a shame we had the five forfeits at the top,” Adam said. “We almost got a fall at 106.”
“Though their lineup wasn’t full, their kids battled,” Seislove added.
Following Carfagno’s decision at 106, UP got its final points with Jared Kuhns scoring a 5:33 fall at 112. Kuhns numbers among the four seniors who comprise the most experience in UP’s 20-man roster.
“We have eight sophomores and freshmen,” Adam noted. “We had four upperweights who graduated last year, and when there’s a coaching turnover, there’s going to be some attrition.
“This year, our goal is to work with what we’ve got.”
In what will be his final go-round with the Spring-Ford program, Meredith (14-0) has his sights set on goals that will benefit both him and the program.
“We’d like to come on strong at the end,” the Ram senior said. “We had a good showing at Bethlehem … we’re working hard, and we have a lot back.”
For his part, Meredith is looking to return to the medal podium at the PIAA Championships, where he stood on the fourth step his sophomore season but missed medalling last year. His quest won’t be satisfied just with getting back on it, however.
“Last year, I looked to medal,” he said. “This year, I want a state title. I want to get back on top of the podium, and help my teammates.”
NOTES >> With his win, Kuhns is now single-digits away from joining the area’s career win leaders. He stands at 91 following the Spring-Ford match. … On the career chart, Meredith (121) is tied for 62nd place with UP’s Jared Bennett (Class of 2009) and Owen J. Roberts’ Jeremy Stierly (Class of 2007). … The Rams’ next action will be Saturday, in the Rockyard Duals at Council Rock North. Their opponents will be Ridley, LaSalle College High and the host Indians.
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