UWCHLAN — Smack dab in the middle of the dual meet, Downingtown East had its turn.
A win over West Chester Henderson’s best wrestler and two consecutive pins gave the Cougars they’re biggest lead of nine, as the home crowd roared.
On the opposing side, Henderson coach Rob Beighley stood calmly, knowing where the dual began meant his team was lined up perfectly to steal East’s thunder.
The Warriors did just that, winning the final five bouts to storm past East, 36-27, Wednesday night in Ches-Mont National Division action.
Luke Phayre (145 pounds), Charlie Collins (160), Nate Latimer (170) and Ray Martin (182) won decisions down the stretch and Matt Phayre (152) added a pin to keep Henderson undefeated in the division.
“Our strength is in the top-middle,” Beighley said. “When it looped around that way, I had my senior guys who I have the most confidence in, and that really helped us.”
With Henderson (2-0 division, 6-1 overall) leading 18-12, Lukas Richie of East (1-1, 6-4) made his first appearance at 126, after wrestling at 132 all year, and faced a familiar foe in Killian Delaney, who’s descending down to 113. Richie used his size advantage to work a 5-1 decision.
Henderson appeared ready to build on its lead in the following bout, but East’s Kyle Mittelstadt (132) had other ideas. Down 10-3, Mittelstadt had Gavin O’Hara flat at the end of the second, but the hand slap came an instance after the buzzer. Ten seconds into the third, Mittestadt headlocked O’Hara from the defense position to earn the fall and give East its first lead. Brett Horne (138) tacked on another six with a second-period fall.
“(Mittelstadt) did a great job,” East coach Joe Horvath said. “He continued to push for points and came out victorious. There’s a lot of ability in that kid and we’re looking for him to open up.”
With East up nine, Henderson went to work. Luke Phayre controlled Jett Lucas-Murphy, 8-1, and older brother, Matt Phayre, waited out a second-period fall to tie the contest at 27.
“I was confident,” Matt Phayre said. “I took it slow and worked for the pin because it was close. I didn’t want to panic and make mistakes. I wrestled my match and got the outcome I wanted.”
Collins, who’s in his first year of high school wrestling after competing as a youth, opened up a big lead thanks to a five-point move at the end of the first period. He held on for a 7-4 decision.
“We made some mental errors and got in a hole early in matches,” said Horvath, who also saw his heavyweight get headlocked for a four-point move in the first and lose, 4-2. “If we keep it close, maybe we benefit in the third, but we got in holes and weren’t able to climb out.”
Henderson had a pair of seniors to close out the dual, and Latimer made it a six-point margin with an 8-1 decision over Spencer Uggla.
Martin followed with a cautious 4-3 win over promising freshman, Matt Romanelli.
“I think it gives us confidence because we already know we can win in this division,” Latimer said. “We try to be the toughest team and competitors and take it to our competition, and this is a step in the right direction. There’s still work to be done, but it’s only going to go up from here.”
Henderson and East traded falls early on, with Connor McGuinness (195) and Sammy McMonagle (106) pinning for the Warriors and Josh Wileczek (220) and Keanu Manuel (113) getting six for the Cougars.
East bumped Manuel up to 113 in an effort to gain bonus points, denying a McMonagle-Manuel matchup that could turn into a fun rivalry this postseason and maybe years to come.
The Warriors also go decisions from Gavin Range (285) and Justin Tran (120).
“Downingtown East is a well-coached team and they’ve been the standard for many years,” Beighley said. “They’re always a tough out and I thought we wrestled tough. Every kid went out mentally ready and came to wrestle their toughest. I’m happy.”
West Chester Henderson 36, Downingtown East 27
195- McGuinness (WCH) pinned Grubb, 3:01 (6-0)
220- Wileczek (DE) pinned Caruso, :24 (6-6)
285- Range (WCH) dec. Aceto, 4-2 (9-6)
106- S. McMonagle (WCH) pinned Hillestad, 1:02 (15-6)
113- Manuel (DE) pinned Laws, 1:58 (15-12)
120- Tran (WCH) dec. Mullen, 10-3 (18-12)
126- Richie (DE) dec. Delaney, 5-1 (18-15)
132- Mittelstadt (DE) pinned O’Hara, 4:10 (18-21)
138- Horne (DE) pinned Mullen, 3:42 (18-27)
145- L. Phayre (WCH) dec. Lucas-Murphy, 8-1 (21-27)
152- M. Phayre (WCH) pinned Vincent, 2:48 (27-27)
160- Collins (WCH) dec. Lawton, 7-4 (30-27)
170- Latimer (WCH) dec. Uggla, 8-1 (33-27)
182- Martin (WCH) dec. Romanelli, 4-3 (36-27)
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