FRANCONIA >> With its 40-28 victory over Souderton Area Wednesday night, North Penn moved within two victories of capturing a third consecutive Suburban One League Continental Conference crown.
Said heavyweight Ryan Cody, who began the evening in first-place fashion: “We’re going for that triple conference championship. As a team, that’s all we focus on. Winning these matches helps out greatly, and we know we have CB East on our Senior Night, and they’re undefeated as well.
“Hopefully it’s gonna be a big crowd, big match. We’re really excited for that and we wanna take that conference title again, start a dynasty.”
Cody pinned James Plumley in 1 minute, 4 seconds, Eddie Galang won by forfeit at 106 pounds, and with a pin by Jabez Chae at 113 and a decision by Nolan Roberts at 120, North Penn got out to a 21-0 lead over Big Red (2-2 conference).
“We knew we had some guys hurt, (including) Erik Laughlin,” said Cody, who helped his team raise its unbeaten conference mark to 4-0. “We knew we needed bonus points and we knew we needed younger guys to step up.”
Chae, a sophomore, came through in the clutch with his pin, the fall coming with just nine seconds left.
“Chae’s win was definitely what we needed there,” Knights coach Robert Shettsline said.
With the score tied 24 all, the Knights responded with wins in three of the final four matches.
Reid Dentner put North Penn ahead for good with a pin in one minute at 170, Garrett Quallet major decisioned his way to a victory at 182, and after Souderton tightened things to 34-28 on a major decision by Bruno Stolfi, the Knights put it away with a pin by Owen Verespy at 220.
“We started well and finished well,” said Cody.
And the heavyweight is on his way to another fine season, having reached states as a junior a year ago.
“I feel I’ve improved from last season,” he said. “I’m about the same weight (220) but I feel stronger, leaner and faster. My tournament places have been going up and I’m excited for the postseason.
“The next goal is to medal this year (at states). That’s what I’m striving for. Making it to states is my primary goal — you always want to get to Hershey — but a medal is the overarching goal.”
The Knights head to District 1-AAA duals Thursday — No. 8 NP faces No. 9 West Chester Henderson 5:30 p.m. in the first round at Council Rock South — and take on CB South Jan. 31 followed by a showdown with CB East on Feb. 7.
Coming on strong
Big Red put together a streak of five straight wins, as Sam Beckett (126), Tyler Williams (132), Harrison Andrade (138), Connor Trowbridge (145) and Trevor Alderfer (152) provided the Indians a 24-21 lead.
Bruno Stolfi later notched a major decision victory at 190.
“There were maybe one or two matches we would have liked to see go a different way, but in general, even the kids who lost tonight are probably the kids I’m most proud of,” said Big Red coach Tristan Boyd. “There were several kids who went out and were wrestling better kids. And they just wrestled hard for the team.
“They fought hard through tough positions and found a way to save the team some points. And that’s how you win duals. In the end, it wasn’t enough, but ultimately that is a learning lesson for our kids.”
Said Boyd of North Penn: “They are well-coached, the kids are coachable, they do what’s asked of them, and they are definitely a very solid team. I told the guys ‘keep your heads up. I’m proud of the way you wrestled tonight. Tomorrow’s a new day and we’re gonna keep plugging.’”
Souderton heads to the 32-team Coal Cracker Tournament this weekend at Panther Valley High.
“I think everybody will get a level of competition they can benefit from,” Boyd said. “Our better kids will hit some studs in the semis and finals, and some of our kids that are still learning a little bit should still have opportunities in the early rounds to get some W’s as well.”
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