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Freshmen lead the way as Garnet Valley weathers slow start

NEWTOWN SQUARE >> Rocco Fantazzi had a look of dismay upon his face following his team’s first two matches of the night. The Garnet Valley wrestling coach wanted his wrestlers to salvage some points, but didn’t get what he wanted when the Jaguars dropped 182- and 195-pound matches to get things started.

His team needed a spark. It received it from two unlikely individuals.

Freshmen Coltin Deery and Griffin Hollingsworth won by pin as Garnet Valley tallied five wins by fall in the first eight matches to upend Marple Newtown, 51-24, for a crucial Central League victory.

Marple Newtown’s Armen Dervishian throws Garnet Valley’s Brian West in the 182 pound weight class Wednesday evening. Dervishian won in a decision, but Garnet Valley rallied to win the match, 51-24. (Digital First Media/Pete Bannan)

The win keeps the Jaguars tied atop the league standings heading into its matchup against Upper Darby at home next Wednesday. The Royals downed Strath Haven to remain unbeaten in league play.

A major part of why Garnet Valley remains in first place was the performance of Deery, who pinned the Tigers’ Scott Novak in 1:09 in the 220-pound match. Hollingworth followed that up two matches later by recording the quickest pin of the night, defeating Gabe Farhan at 113 in 1:02 to put Garnet Valley (12-7, 6-0 Central League) up 24-9.

“One of the things we did do after the first two matches was stop the bleeding,” Fantazzi said. “We stopped their momentum and started our own by getting a few pins. We shut them down and shut the crowd down. We didn’t get off to the start we wanted, but that was something I wanted to see from our team.”

Hollingsworth came in with 10 wins, but his outlook for each match is the same.

“I just go out there and think I’m going to win my match,” he said. “That’s all it is. If I think I’m going to win, I’m going to win, then I’ll go out there and battle. I do whatever I have to in order to get that win.”

Frankie Reagan (106), Kevin Puliti (120) and Matt Flicker (126) pinned their opponents in consecutive matches to put the Jaguars in the driver seat, up 36-9 after eight matches. Desmon Perry added a pin in the 145-pound match in 3:26, and Austin Filippone pinned Nolan Rufo in 1:44 to close out the 160-pound match.

Marple Newtown (3-6, 2-2) did not back down from the challenge the Jaguars presented. Armen Dervishian came out and set the tone early, winning the 182-pound match in a 1-0 thriller over Brian West. Immediately following that, Stephen Bradley pinned Griffin Salus in 2:30, and the Tigers were out to a 9-0 lead.

Freshman Jimmy Nania put on the strongest match for the Tigers as he dominated in a 14-7 major decision at 132 pounds over Alex Rosata. Mohammed Iyoun was patient in the 138-pound match and eventually pinned Ethan Cooper in 5:58. Marple Newtown’s final victory came as Jake Bullock pinned Dillon Conlon in 3:59 at 152 pounds.

Marple Newtown coach Steve Resnick liked the quick start from his team but knew that six-bout stretch before Nania’s win at 132 was where his team ultimately let things slip away.

“We were trying to find something to get us going,” Resnick said. “At 138, (Cooper) got that big pin but it was a little bit too late. We needed something earlier to get a rally going. Sometimes a pin or a close match like that can really get you going. I think you really saw that with the first win at 182. It was a good match then the next guy comes out at 195 fired up. He gets six for us but then we dropped a couple in a row. It’s a tough hole to climb out of.”

Drew Maiers finished off Garnet Valley’s victory at 170 pounds with a 4-3 decision over A.J. Katrakazis.

“We’re at the point in the season where we only have three dual meets left and we’re trying to salvage something.” Fantazzi said. “We’re hoping to come back with a chance to win the Central League title and it starts tonight. We did enough to win but there’s certainly a lot we have to fix.

“From Marple’s side, they kept coming after us and kept fighting. There were a couple of matches where they were down, but I give them credit for testing us.”

In other Central League action:

Upper Darby 37, Strath Haven 31 >> The Royals held off a strong Panthers (8-13, 4-1) squad by a narrow margin to keep pace with Garnet Valley in the hunt for the Central League title.

Joe Gormley earned a 7-6 decision over Aiden Malley at 132, and Jake Johnson defeated John Crawford, 7-5, at 160. Two matches, three points, six team points went to Upper Darby (10-4, 5-0) to make for a six-point team victory.

Haven’s Lee Holbert continued his stellar senior campaign at the heavyweight position, pinning Clinton Madu in 1:29.

Conestoga 60, Springfield 18 >> There were few highlights in the Cougars’ night, but they were good ones. Dave Bagirov, at 126, needed all of 46 seconds to pin Charlie McKenzie. Tyler Forbes (145) earned a pin of his own. He dropped Liam Matson in 2:37. Springfield fell to 2-9 overall and 0-6 in the Central.

In the Del Val League:

Glen Mills 39, Academy Park 34 >> Trailing by seven, the Bulls received consecutive pins from Devante Boddy-Jacobs (at 195) and Dershaun McPherson (220) to rally for a win. Boddy-Jacobs dropped Darren Gibli in 5:26, while McPherson needed 1:49 to deck Abe Tounkara and help Glen Mills (5-6, 1-1) grab its first league win of the season.

Academy Park (5-8 overall) fall to 1-1 in the league. The Knights did get an impressive performance at 170 pounds, where Liam Grey held off Jaden Lewis for a 3-2 decision.

In nonleague action:

Episcopal Academy goes 2-1 >> The Churchmen ventured to Pottstown, where they went to criteria to escape with a winning mark in the Hill School Quad.

Episcopal defeated Peddie, 43-42, thanks to scoring more first points (criteria e). The Churchmen also beat Hill School, 45-33, and fell to Wyoming Seminary, 60-15.

Blair Orr (113) went 3-0 individually, capping his evening with a crucial pin of Peddie’s Youseff Sultani in 1:37.

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