FORT WASHINGTON >> West Chester Henderson got its first taste of high expectations as a team, Friday night, and the Warriors discovered it’s not always as savory as it seems.
Coming in as the No. 4 seed, Henderson got bounced in the District 1-3A Duals quarterfinals by No. 5 Boyertown, 43-21, and then was eliminated in the consolation bracket by No. 8 Neshaminy, 42-36, Friday at Upper Dublin.
Seventh-seeded Downingtown West was eliminated as well with losses to No. 2 Spring-Ford, 50-20, and then No. 6 Garnet Valley, 42-31.
This marks the first time since 2009, when a mat herpes outbreak forced the Ches-Mont League to shut down for a period of time, that a representative from the league won’t wrestle on the final day of the tournament.
“Boyertown had everyone back and they were loaded,” Henderson coach Rob Beighley said. “Sometimes things never go your way. We were up in a couple matches and got pinned. Our boys came to wrestle and they battled, and it’s great being up here.”
The Warriors were without returning state qualifier, Luke Phayre (152 pounds), who was injured in the first round last week. His absence was felt, as Henderson was limited in juggling its lineup, while Boyertown was able to get all the matchups it preferred.
Henderson won its first two bouts by decision, but the Bears won nine straight bouts to clinch the contest with three to go.
“It was big against Boyertown,” Beighley said of Phayre’s injury. “It was big, but nobody feels sorry for us. Everyone has injuries, but that did hurt us.”
Henderson’s youth showed itself periodically. Against Neshaminy, Henderson trailed 12-3, when sophomore Koh Bauman (160) took a 4-0 lead against Rory Rienzi. But that lead vanished as Rienzi took Bauman to his back and pinned him.
Gavin Range (220) and Billy Wilson (106) had come-from-behind pins of their own for Henderson, and nearly got a huge pin from freshman Palmer Delaney (126) against the No. 2 ranked wrestler in the district, according to pa-wrestling.com, Colton Jordan of Neshaminy, but Jordan got off his back and eventually won by fall.
“It’s great experience leading into the postseason,” Beighley said. “These are the kinds of kids we’re going to see in districts and regionals and it’s an opportunity for the young guys to learn from it. … Gavin Range and Billy Wilson did a great job pinning while they were losing, and Palmer wrestled really good. He banged with Colton Jordan for a time and that’s all I can ask.”
West knew it was an uphill battle against Spring-Ford, who defeated the Whippets in early January. West wasn’t able to reverse any of the results and fell to the Rams at the duals for the second year in a row.
“We had a good week getting ready and the guys were excited to go,” West coach Brad Breese said. “You have one match go the wrong way and it takes the air out of you. I thought we did a good job shaving some points early against Spring-Ford, but couldn’t get the results turned around that we needed. They did a good job capitalizing where they needed to capitalize and we kept coming up short.”
Against Garnet, the Whippets led 24-18 after eight bouts, but the Jaguars won four of the last six bouts, all by fall, to pull away.
Like Henderson, most of the big scorers for West will return next year. The Warriors graduate four starters while West only has two seniors in the lineup.
It was a tough lesson to learn for both squads, but one that should pay dividends in the future.
“We have a great attitude going forward,” Breese said. “We’re very excited with what’s down the road for us. In the postseason we have some guys who I think can make some long runs. It’s disappointing we didn’t get back to state duals, but we’re already setting goals for next year and for this postseason. We have three dual meets left, so we want to finish strong heading into the postseason.”
The consolation semifinals will begin at 1 p.m. at Upper Dublin High, with the finals and consolation finals slated for 3 p.m.
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