WEST CHESTER — Killian Delaney is a confident, talented freshman who wants to be the best on every mat he steps on, including in West Chester Henderson’s practice room.
Jake Reid is a seasoned, successful senior who’s not in any rush to give up his role as alpha for the Warriors.
Fortunately for the duo, the objectives are the same, and some fierce, healthy competition only helps both attain their goals.
Saturday, their voyage through the postseason begins at the Ches-Mont League Championships at West Chester Rustin. The action begins at 9 a.m., with the finals slated for 4:30 p.m., with no breaks planned. The top seven finishers will qualify for the District 1 Central tournament, next Saturday. Conestoga competes in the Central League Championships at 10 a.m. at Ridley, while Church Farm hosts the Bicentennial League Championships. Malvern Prep also plays host for the Pennsylvania Independent Schools tournament, Friday and Saturday.
Reid is looking for a second straight league title as the No. 1 seed at 120 pounds. Delaney is No. 3 at 113.
“I’m taking one match at a time, but the end goal is a state medal,” Reid said. “(Delaney) just keeps pushing me to be better. I don’t want him to surpass me.”
Delaney is off to a fast start, leading the team with 29 wins, just four shy of tying a school record for wins by a freshman, held by Jermaine Jones, Matt Kennett and Josh Nichter. Those are some big names in the Henderson history books, and Delaney’s confidence level is right up there with them.
For now, though, it’s been learning the ropes at the high school level after placing second in the Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling tournament as an eighth-grader.
“I’ve been wrestling kids at (Reid’s) caliber at this weight for the last two years, but him being a senior, he’s more developed and a lot stronger at his weight than younger kids at the same weight,” Delaney said. “It pushes me more and keeps me offensive.”
As a junior, Reid finished fifth at regionals, a spot shy of his first trip to Hershey. This year five qualify from the Southeast Region, and the 112-match winner is hoping to be one of them.
Some fresh blood in the room has all but forced Reid to get better.
“For Jake, it’s been really good,” Henderson coach Rob Beighley said. “Killian is very technically sound, for a young guy, and it makes Jake work on the little things he could maybe get away with in practice, otherwise. It makes him move and use one-two punches and counter wrestle.”
Reid is looking to become the third Warrior to reach states under Beighley, who’s in year four.
Were Delaney to book a trip to Hershey, he’d become just the ninth 3A freshman from the Ches-Mont to do so, and first since Rustin’s Corey McQuiston in 2009.
First, Delaney is looking to avenge a regular season loss to Downingtown East’s Lukas Richie in a potential budding rivalry. The two are favorites to meet in the 113-pound final.
“(Richie) beat me by two (2-0), but a lot of that was the weight, I think,” said Delaney, who bumped up to 120 for their first bout. “I don’t think he can beat me again. I don’t think he can stop my shots and I’m going to beat him, Saturday.”
And with that, a quick look at each weight class:
The favorite: Doug Zapf, Downingtown West, 32-2
Biggest threats: Corey Celenza, West Chester East, 22-7; Jordan Howard, Avon Grove, 20-8
Outlook: Zapf is the clear pick, having dropped to 106 a couple weeks ago. Celenza also recently dropped, but he’s stuck on Zapf’s side, so Howard has edge to be the other finalist.
The favorite: Lukas Richie, Downingtown East, 28-2
Biggest threats: Killian Delaney, West Chester Henderson, 29-5; Seth Hoopes, Octorara, 27-3
Outlook: Richie beat Delaney, 2-0, in the regular season and the pair seem poised for a rematch in the finals. Hoopes is on Delaney’s side, but the Warriors freshman owns a 9-0 win against him.
The favorite: Jake Reid, West Chester Henderson, 25-9
Biggest threats: Logan Reigel, Kennett, 19-3; Liam Babauta, Octorara, 23-8
Outlook: Reid is a returning league champ and is the only senior in the weight. Reigel and Babauta are on the opposite side, and Reigel has won four of five career bouts in that matchup.
The favorite: Brett Kaliner, West Chester Rustin, 28-5
Biggest threats: Gerhardt Reiter, Kennett, 23-4; Tommy Luke, West Chester East, 20-11
Outlook: Kaliner has won two straight league titles and it would be an upset if he didn’t get his third. Reiter and Luke could have a rubber match in the semis after splitting four career bouts.
The favorite: Jake Taylor, Unionville, 28-1
Biggest threats: Drew Massetti, Kennett, 17-1; Nick Lilley, Downingtown West, 28-8; Jon Reardon, West Chester Rustin, 19-6
Outlook: This may have the best pair of semis on tap. Massetti is the No. 1 seed, but has missed chunks of time this season. Reardon is on his side. Taylor just made the drop to 132, and has Lilley to deal with.
The favorite: Tyler Kaliner, West Chester Rustin, 27-6
Biggest threats: Alex Murta, Downingtown West, 22-15; Connor Birzes, Downingtown East, 25-9
Outlook: With Taylor gone and Oxford’s Brandon Sheffield out with an injury, Kaliner steps in as the one to beat. Returning regional qualifiers, Murta and Birzes are scrappy seniors and likely tango in the semis.
The favorite: Brent Windle, Coatesville, 8-0
Biggest threats: Gavin Hale, Downingtown West, 27-10; Nick Barnhart, Avon Grove, 18-3
Outlook: Windle missed most of the season, but has had a strong return. Barnhart makes his PIAA postseason debut after coming from Delaware, and he should see Hale in the semis.
The favorite: Chase Stephens, Coatesville, 28-1
Biggest threats: Dan Labus, West Chester Rustin, 25-4; Max Hale, Downingtown West, 25-14; Ray Martin, West Chester Henderson, 24-9
Outlook: Stephens is two wins away from breaking the school wins record and two pins away from 100 for his career. He’ll likely see Labus in the finals unless Hale can overtake him.
The favorite: Collin Hurley, West Chester Rustin, 17-2
Biggest threats: Gio Angelini, Downingtown West, 20-11; Scott Burridge, Octorara, 25-6; Christian Bateman, Sun Valley, 25-4
Outlook: The top six seeds are all very close, so expect some good battles. Hurley is up top with Bateman and Unionville freshman Tyler Mousaw. Angelini, Burridge and Henderson’s Weston Frame are on the bottom half.
The favorite: David Cox, Oxford, 28-2
Biggest threats: Joe Shafer, Downingtown West, 26-11; Andrew DiBernardo, West Chester East, 21-5
Outlook: Cox flirted with dropping to 160, but since he stayed he’s the class of the weight. Shafer knocked off DiBernardo in the regular season and a rematch is expected in semis.
The favorite: Kevin Edwards, Avon Grove, 26-4
Biggest threats: Sean McBride, Coatesville, 20-9, Chase Meilnick, Downingtown West, 13-7
Outlook: The final of the tournament is off the table with Cole Zapf bumping up to 195, but Edwards is set up for a second straight league title. McBride is favored to meet him in the finals. Keep an eye on No. 8 Meilnick.
The favorite: Cole Zapf, Downingtown West, 31-3
Biggest threats: Andrew Lamberjack, West Chester Rustin, 25-8; Hunter Catka, Sun Valley, 24-1; Josh Wileczek, Downigtown East, 25-6
Outlook: Zapf and Lamberjack moved up from 182 and could meet in semis. Catka is having an impressive freshman campaign, but may have a tough task in Wileczek in semis.
The favorite: Mike Maguire, Unionville, 27-3
Biggest threats: Chris Madanat, Downingtown West, 15-10; Alex Raimondo, Coatesville, 14-4
Outlook: Maguire already has a career-high in wins and pins (15). Madanat is good at keeping scores down, so Maguire could be tested in semis. Down below are Raimondo and Kennett’s Bryan Castaneda.
The favorite: Josh Walls, Avon Grove, 27-2
Biggest threats: Brendan McGinley, Downingtown East, 26-4; Jesse Cook, Downingtown West, 17-14; Ryan Cavanaugh, Great Valley, 14-1
Outlook: Walls has a 1-0 win over McGinley, who has 3-2 wins over Cook and West Chester East’s Joe Timm, who also lost to Unionville’s Eli Lyons, 3-2. It’s heavyweight, so get ready for low scores and long matches.
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