HERSHEY >> When the dust settled, reality set in for Spring-Ford coach Tim Seislove, who all of a sudden realized his guys needed a place to stay Friday night.
After checking out of their hotel Friday morning, the Rams won two down-to-the-wire dual meets in the Class 3A PIAA Duals consolation bracket to stay alive through the third and final day at the Giant Center in Hershey.
Twice Spring-Ford and its opponent were even on bout wins, 7-7, and twice the Rams were better with the bonus points. In the morning session, Spring-Ford edged Owen J. Roberts, 30-25, and in the evening the Rams staved off a comeback attempt by Seneca Valley to win, 32-28.
“It’s great,” Seislove said. “There’s eight teams left and for us to be one of them, it’s a true testament to our seniors. They really came through for us.”
Boyertown and Owen J. were eliminated, though OJR’s Cole Meredith reached 100 career wins for some silver lining.
The Rams, who hit the 20-win mark Friday, took the lead for good against Seneca Valley when senior Chase Smith (170 pounds) pinned at the midway point. Joey Milano (182) followed with a technical fall, and Louis Carbajal (195), James Albert (220) and Sean Brogan (285) won decisions by a combined eight points to push the lead to 16 with three to go.
“Those kids up top have taken a couple lumps for us this year, so to see them have success in Hershey means a lot,” Seislove said.
Seneca Valley was ranked No. 9 as a team on papowerwrestling.com, and had two No. 1 ranked kids — Dylan Chappell (at 106) and Alejandro Herrera-Rondon (113) — in the final three bouts. Both bumped up, but Spring-Ford freshman Dominic Ortlip (106) held off Hunter Swedish for major, Reynolds limited Chappell to a 3-0 decision and by then, Herrera-Rondon’s tech fall was rendered meaningless.
“Dominic is a freshman who weighed in at 87 pounds,” Seislove said. “He’s done it all year, fight and plugging away.”
The Rams scored 11 bonus points to the Raiders’ seven.
“I pretty much wanted to work hard for the team by not giving up many bonus points,” said Ortlip, who also won the dual-clinching bout against OJR. “It means a lot, advancing to the next day to be top eight in the state. I’m so proud of the team.”
Spring-Ford will wrestle another District 7 power, Canon McMillan, Saturday at 9 am, for a spot in the consolation semifinals.
In the rubber match between OJR and Spring-Ford the Rams’ 9-4 edge in bonus points was the difference.
One of the two times OJR did hit the bonus was Meredith’s 14-4 major decision against Zach Needles that put him in the esteemed 100-win club.
“It’s always been a goal of mine, to get my name on the banner at school and prove I’m somebody who deserves to be there,” Meredith said. “I haven’t always been a good wrestler. The first six years I didn’t win a match, so to get my 100th in high school is pretty awesome.”
Meredith’s win was in the middle of a 16-9 run by OJR to start the dual.
“Levity is a good word for him,” OJR coach Steve DeRafelo said of Meredith. “He kind of brings the energy to the program. As he goes, the team seems to go. He’s a great spirit and it’s awesome to see him get his 100th in Hershey and against a good kid by major. To do it in this arena, it’s fitting for a kid like him.”
With so much familiarity, both teams juggled their lineups a bit. The Wildcats dropped Connor Quinn to 152 and then sent Austin Boaman out at 160 to bump Dan Mancini and Ricky McCutchen to 170 and 182, respectively.
But Quinn was held to a decision and Boaman gave up a last-second escape to Dirk Nugent and lost, 7-6. Mancini, up two weights from where he usually competes, couldn’t separate from Chase Smith in a 12-7 win and McCutchen was able to limit the damage against Joey Milano to a major.
“You never second guess,” DeRafelo said. “There’s a million different things that can happen. Once you make your moves you live with the decision. It wasn’t the moves that cost us the dual meet. A couple of things within those matches we could’ve done better.”
Spring-Ford trailed by nine with three bouts to go, but Carbajal (220) pinned and Brogan (285) stayed away from the headlock, as he was unable to the previous two meetings, and held on for a 7-2 decision over Dylan Bauer.
Boyertown was stingy against Mifflin early, most notably Chance Babb (120), who held returning eighth-place medalist, Christian Fisher, to a 7-4 decision.
“I’m proud of the young kids,” Boyertown coach Dave Jones said. “They scrapped. Some matchups they weren’t favored in, they wrestled really tough and showed grit.”
But the Huskies eventually got rolling and registered five pins to distance themselves.
Down 30-9, Boyertown got three straight decisions by Evan Mortimer (170), Alan Alexander (182) and Jimmy Sinclair (195) and then a pin from Jacob Miller (220) cut Mifflin’s lead to six.
Once again, the Huskies had the answers, coming out on top in the final two bouts.
“As I said before, I’m proud of the team getting here,” Jones said. “It’s a great moment getting the young kids here. We were in a match I thought was winnable, but those Mifflin kids came to wrestle. They’re solid and consistent and that consistency paid off for them.”
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