RIDLEY TWP. — Austin Filippone went online Friday night to see where he was seeded in the Central League wrestling championships. The senior from Garnet Valley was not happy with what he saw.
He was not one of the seeded wrestlers in the 160-pound class, even though he went 5-1 in league competition at that weight and 6-2 overall in the league. As an unseeded wrestler, it meant Filippone had to come through the pigtail round if he wanted to win his first league title.
“I was disappointed, but it sort of made sense the way I finished last year,” Filippone said.
He had gone 0-2 at 160 last year and was pinned twice, so he was already highly motivated to have a better showing in his final league tournament. The snub of not being seeded gave him extra incentive to come out a champion, which he did.
Filippone capped a 4-0 tournament run with a 17-2 technical fall victory over top-seeded Liam Matson of Conestoga in the final to help pace the Jaguars to their second straight Central League team title, a program first.
“I had to go out and show them they were wrong,” Filippone said.
Filippone was one of four Garnet Valley wrestlers to win individual titles. Freshman Matt Ricci (106), sophomore Griffin Hollingsworth (120), his senior brother Gavin (138) and Colin Deery (285) also won.
Griffin Hollingsworth and Deery won for the second year in a row. Nick Puliti (126), Dillon Conlon (170) and Joe Morrone (220) placed second, while Christopher Wood (113), Desmon Perry (145) and Sam DiTrolio (195) were third-place Jags.
“We knew that we had to come in here and prove we were Central League champions, which we did,” Deery said. “I’m very proud of the way my teammates wrestled today. It was awesome.”
The Jaguars scored 251.5 points to claim the team title after an 8-0 run through the league’s dual meet season. Conestoga (176.5) was second, followed by Ridley (149) and Upper Darby (128).
Ricci, the youngest son of Garnet Valley football coach Mike Ricci, was one of two freshmen to come away with an individual title. He went 3-0 won by major decision over Upper Darby’s Farhan Chowdhury (14-4) to claim his first league title and set the tone for the rest of his teammates.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Ricci, who wrestled most of the season at 113. “We’ve had a great couple of weeks of practice. The coaches worked us hard and we wanted to wrap up the Central League title and I was glad to get some points for the team.”
Strath Haven’s Chase Barlow, the younger brother of three-time Daily Times Wrestler of the Year L.J. Barlow, was the other rookie to come away with a league title. He won at 126 and came away with a little extra hardware when the meet was over.
Barlow was chosen as the Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament in a vote of the league’s coaches.
“I was surprised because there were a lot of good wrestlers in this tournament,” said Barlow, who pinned Puliti in the final. “It was awesome.”
Winning the league title and OW was great, but Barlow has higher aspirations.
“I want to keep winning,” Barlow said. “I want to have success at districts and regionals.”
Lower Merion’s Christian Hodges (132), Brendon Stocku of Penncrest (145) and Strath Haven’s John Crawford (170) also were repeat champions. Hodges won at 120 last season, and Stocku won for the third year in a row. He captured the 138-pound crown as a junior and the 132-pound title as a sophomore.
Crawford, who won at 160 last year, had a huge smile on his face after he received his championship medal. That grin did not vanish any time soon.
“I was just happy,” Crawford said. “I came in here and I knew I had to take care of business and that’s what I did.”
Crawford is looking to do more than qualify for the state tournament for the second straight year.
“My goal is to get on the podium,” Crawford said.
Radnor’s Jahmair Rider, a West Chester football recruit, had the same focus and not just because this is most likely his last season as a wrestler. He was pinned by Upper Darby’s Justin O’Donnell in the 145-pound championship match a year ago and wanted to make amends. He capped a 3-0 run in the tournament this year with a 16-1 tech fall victory over Strath Haven’s Simon Bolinger in the 152-pound final.
“I beat myself over the head pretty well about that,” Rider said.
The other individual champions were Upper Darby’s Keito Shaw (113), Haverford’s Shane McAdams (182), Ridley’s Bryce Regan (195) and Conestoga’s Paul Pelham (220).
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