HOLLAND — Former heavyweight champion boxer Mike Tyson once said “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
Well, not even five seconds into his finals bout, Malvern Prep’s Michael Beard took an inadvertent fist to his nose from Bethlehem Catholic’s Robert Spezza.
Bloodied, with a potentially broken nose, Beard was able to stick to his script and pull out a 9-1 major decision to knock off Spezza and win his third consecutive championship belt at the Escape the Rock tournament at Council Rock South, Sunday.
“You’re never prepared for something like that, I guess,” Beard said. “It hurt very bad, but I wanted that victory and my dad and coaches told me I should keep wrestling.”
Beard (195 pounds) was one of two Friar finalists, along with Ryan Karoly (182), who finished runner-up. Malvern placed 10 of 14 wrestlers in the top eight and finished fourth in the two-day, 44-team tournament.
Beard reached Sunday morning’s semifinals with a pair of 30-second pins. In the semis, Beard had a workmanlike 7-2 win over Big Spring’s Blake Barrick. As a two-time National Prep champ and Penn State commit, Beard’s challenge this season hasn’t been winning, but dealing with opponents happy to wrestle defensive to keep the score looking reasonable.
“I’ve realized that this year that a lot of people just want to keep the score close,” Beard said. “They get a victory just from that, so I’ve been working on opening things up. I can’t let that control the match. I have to get to my match and find openings that I usually don’t find.”
Karoly, a fellow two-time National Prep champ, used a five-point move against Albert Gallatin’s Tim Wallace in the semis to reach the finals where met top-seeded William Janzer of Delsea. Karoly scored a takedown and Janzer scored a reversal in regulation, and eventually they ended up in the ultimate tiebreaker period where Janzer escaped for the win.
“I thought it was a pretty good day,” Karoly said. “I felt really good in the finals I think a couple calls could have gone either way. I had to capitalize on my chances and one more takedown would’ve been the difference.”
Karoly, who’s committed to wrestle at the University of North Carolina, has had a tough season to his standards after injury defaulting out of the Beast of the East tournament in December. After growing up in New Jersey, the current West Chester resident got a little mojo back this weekend.
“It was definitely nice to get some momentum back,” Karoly said. “I had a couple tough opening tourneys and it was a little bit of a rough start to my season. It was nice to bounce back. I was satisfied with my semifinal match and I’m back to feeling like I used to. I’m back to the old me.”
Coatesville native, Henry Hague (138) took sixth for the Friars. He started the day with a 4-2 win over Owen J. Roberts’ Antonio Petrucelli to clinch a medal. The No. 9 seed then knocked off Canon McMillan’s Tim Hritsko, 4-2, before dropping decisions to the No. 3 and 4 seeds his final two bouts.
“I go to tournaments like this all the time with the team and I’ve never actually placed at one, so for the first time placing it’s really nice and it means the hard work you’re putting in is paying off,” Hague said.
Hague’s practice mates fared well. Top-seeded PJ Crane (145) bounced back from a 1-0 semifinal loss to take third, while Micah Visuwan (132) was injured and settled for eighth.
“We have a lot of tough guys,” Hague said. “It’s pretty relaxed in the room, but it’s nice because every time you go out to practice you’re going out with a friend but you know they’re also going to push you.”
Also placing for the Friars was former Penncrest wrestler, Dayton DelViscio (sixth at 113), Mark Salvatore (sixth at 126), Chris Hisey (sixth at 152), Coatesville native Nick Florschutz (eighth at 170) and Brendan Devine (eighth at 220).
It was a rough weekend for District 1, with only five wrestlers out of the five teams earned a spot on the podium.
In the Pioneer Athletic Conference, Owen J. Roberts was shutout, and Boyertown’s Jacob Miller (182) was the lone Bear to earn hardware. Elijah Jones (195) sustained an injury and did not compete on day two.
Miller, the No. 11 seed, secured his medal with a 4-2 win over Lower Dauphin’s Brendan Shaffer, but lost two close decisions in his final two bouts and finished eighth.
“It means everything because last year I came here and lost the first day,” Miller said. “I worked hard this offseason, trying to get better. Hopefully I showed that on the mat today. I like showing seeders that they’re wrong, that they should’ve seeded me higher than 11th.”
The other District 1 medalists were Council Rock South’s Kyle Waterman (second at 106), Shane Hanson-Ashworth (third at 120) and Maximo Mendez (fifth at 113), as well as Pennridge’s Evan Widing (fourth at 145).
1. Bethlehem Catholic, 173; 2. Cincinnati LaSalle, 171.5; 3. Delbarton, 167.5; 4. Malvern Prep, 150.5; 5. Southern Columbia, 110; 6. Canon McMillan, 105; 7. Paulsboro, 102; 8. Easton, 85.5; 9. Belle Vernon, 83.5; 10. Battlefield, 80.5; 11. Council Rock South, 79.5; 27. Owen J. Roberts, 36; 29. Boyertown, 32; 34. Pennridge, 28.5; 38. Council Rock North, 24.5
145- Tavoso (Delbarton) dec. Handlovic (Bethlehem Catholic), 1-0
152- Evanitsky (Scranton) dec. Frinzi (Bethlehem Catholic), 3-1
160- Hartman (Belle Vernon) dec. Nijenhuis (Canon McMillan), 5-0
170- Turley (St. Christopher’s) dec. Garcia (Southern Columbia), 4-3 UTB
182- Janzer (Delsea) dec. Karoly (Malvern Prep), 5-4 UTB
195- Beard (Malvern Prep) maj. dec. Spezza (Bethlehem Catholic), 9-1
220- Edenfield (Laurel Highlands) dec. Ragland (New Kent), 3-1 SV
285- Birchmeier (Broad Run) dec. Wallace (Clarke Count), 7-4
106- Nardone (Delbarton) dec. Waterman (Council Rock South), 3-1
113- Clark (Delbarton) dec. Byrd (Cincinatti LaSalle), 1-0
120- Kassis (Parkland) dec. Lane (Southern Columbia), 1-0
126- Glory (Delbarton) tech. fall Macri (Canon McMillan), 6:00
132- Raimo (Hanover Park) dec. Miers (Easton), 3-2
138- Kinner (Kingsway) dec. Anderson (Bethlehem Catholic), 3-2 UTB
145- Crane (Malvern Prep) dec. Widing (Pennridge), 5-3
152- Worthy (Paulsboro) dec. Freight (Battlefield), 8-6
160- Sizemore (Cincinatti LaSalle) pinned Burgette (Scranton), 3:19
170- Joll (Belle Vernon) dec. Nichter (Chambersburg), 5-1
182- Wallace (Albert Gallatin) maj. dec. Morina (Paulsboro), 12-4
195- Barrick (Big Spring) dec. Baker (Cincinatti LaSalle), 3-0
220- Walker (Gloucester) pinned Mukai (JW Robinson), 4:06
285- Pineda (Easton) dec. Fulmer (Southern Columbia), 3-1 SV
106- Norris (Cincinatti LaSalle) dec. Lackman (Bethlehem Catholic), 4-2
113- Olivieri (Hanover Park) dec. L. Logue (Father Judge), 4-1
120- Hanson-Ashworth (Council Rock South) dec. Allen (Cincinatti LaSalle), 3-2
126- Noonan (Stroudsburg) dec. Franks (Connellsville), 5-2
132- Papcsy (Bethlehem Catholic) dec. Britton (Northampton), 4-1 TB2
138- Heard (Cincinatti LaSalle) dec. Elhajj (Lower Dauphin), 8-3
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