WEST CHESTER >>
To say Owen J. Roberts is on a roll is an understatement.
But a highly-accurate one.
The Wildcats are mounting a surge through the remainder of the 2016-17 regular season and into the post-season tournament grind. It started Wednesday with a 37-33 victory over Boyertown – one that ended the Bears’ multi-year 33-match win streak in Pioneer Athletic Conference regular-season duals. And it continued Thursday at West Chester Rustin, one of two sites for the opening round of the District 1 Class AAA Duals Tournament.
Owen J. Roberts rolled up a 42-23 win on Coatesville in their opening duel of the night. It built a 30-9 lead through the first eight weights, ultimately clinching the team victory with Luke Resnick’s second-period pin at 120.
In retrospect, though, it appeared Wednesday’s big win may have impacted the Wildcats in a less-than-favorable way.
“Last night, we were energetic,” said Nick Duliakas, whose major decision at 195 capped OJR’s early run. “The problem tonight was, that took it out of us. If we wrestle like we did then, we can go far.”
No. 4 seed Owen J. managed just a decision at 285 while the Red Raiders – themselves coming off a heady 39-28 win over West Chester Henderson — got themselves back in reach with a pin at 220 and major decisions at 113 and 120. But Resnick made the point moot with his 2:28 drop of Dylan Graybeal, and Tyler McCutchen capped the night with a 2-1 decision of Nate Gathercole in the 126-pound finale.
“We wrestled the way we’re supposed to,” Coatesville head coach Bear Stephens said afterward. “But we ran into a powerhouse.”
Owen J. Roberts' Cole Meredith maneuvers against Stefon Tracy of Coatesville in a 12-6 decision at 138 pounds. (Nate Heckenberger - For Digital First Media)
The Raiders’ early points came from Brent Windle’s 6-4 decision at 145 and a Chase Stephens pin at 152. With regulars Avery Chrupcala and Ryan Dellicompagni unavailable — the latter injured during the match with Henderson — they forfeited two weights in the early going to bolster OJR’s early surge.
“Missing two starters, we couldn’t maneuver,” Stephens said. “It was what it was.”
Owen J. (12-1) got its roll going with Antonio Petrucelli’s one-minute pin at 132, and Cole Meredith followed with a 12-6 decision at 138. A forfeit of 160 to Ricky McCutchen and Ryan Resnick’s 3:49 technical fall at 170 staked Roberts to a 20-9 lead.
Jacob McLeod was the beneficiary of Coatesville’s second forfeit at 182, and Duliakas followed with a 19-9 major at 195. Duliakas, in his second week back from a month-long absence, outscored Sean McBride by a 5-0 count in the second period to build a 13-2 lead, then outlasted McBride in the third.
“When he threw the headlock on me, I was scared,” Duliakas recalled. “But I went on him. The tilt was there all the time.”
Coatesville's Brent Windle works towards a takedown against Owen J. Roberts' Dan Mancini in a 6-4 win at 145 pounds. (Nate Heckenberger - For Digital First Media)
Alejandro Acosta gave Roberts a solid performance at 285, a 5-2 decision of the Raiders’ Ayden Geter. The Wildcat senior, all even with Geter 2-2 after two periods, escaped from a bottom start before working for a lead-cushioning takedown to get the win.
“He’s worked hard,” Roberts head coach Steve DeRafelo said of Acosta. “We’ve seen a lot of improvement from him. He was pushing the pace.”
But like Duliakas, DeRafelo was less than happy with his team’s overall performance.
“I thought we were flat, not enthusiastic,” he said. “I don’t feel we competed as well as we could. We weren’t sharp.”
NOTES >> Owen J. will face fifth-seeded Garnet Valley, a 48-27 winner over West Chester Henderson, next weekend when the tournament shifts to Pottsgrove.