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Back on Top: Boyertown wins fourth straight District 1-AAA West Tournament title

UPPER PROVIDENCE >> It was Boyertown’s time to shine Saturday. The last two times their paths crossed, the Bears came up short of Owen J. Roberts. The first was their Pioneer Athletic Conference (Liberty Division) dual during the regular season, which Roberts won by a 37-33 margin; the second was last weekend’s PAC individual tourney, when Owen J. won the team championship by one point. This time around, Boyertown struck a more dominant posture. With five champions among eight advancing medalists, the Bears won the District 1-AAA West Tournament a fourth straight year by a 12-point (128.5-116.5) margin over the ‘Cats.

Boyertown's Chris Berry flexes after defeating Upper Darby's Max Livingston via pin. (Sam Stewart - Digital First Media)

“The kids were exceptional, particularly in the last round,” head coach Pete Ventresca said. “I’m proud of the way they worked.” Boyertown’s PAC champs — Matt Wilde (113), David Campbell (120), Jakob Campbell (126), Chris Berry (152) and Elijah Jones (182) — duplicated their winning performances on the next step to the state championships in two weeks. They also benefited from Christian Fox’s third at 132 and a pair of fourths by Hunter Vogels (160) and Michael Porreca (195). That added up to a “fourpeat” as district team champion ... another memorable achievement in Ventresca’s farewell tour as Boyertown’s head coach. He will be stepping away from the Bears’ mat program, after 12 seasons, at the conclusion of the current one. “It’s nice to go out on top,” he said. Owen J. went into the medal round with a half-point edge on the Bears in the team standings. OJR’s two PAC champs, Ryan Resnick (160) and Nick Duliakas (195), brought home district gold.

Boyertown's Chris Berry pins Upper Darby's Max Livingston during the championship match at 152. (Sam Stewart - Digital First Media)

The Wildcats, however, were unable to match the seven silver medalists that lifted them to the PAC championship. Luke Resnick (120), Antonio Petrucelli (132) and Daniel Mancini (145) all claimed second, but Cole Meredith (138) and Jason Zollers (170) both finished fourth. “It’s a great way to end it,” Jakob Campbell said. “Everyone came together.” The team championship was among several memorable moments for the Bears in the tournament. Jakob Campbell (32-4) earned a first-ever Outstanding Wrestler award with help from a 3-2 decision of highly-regarded Matt Marino (37-3) of Garnet Valley. “He’s a really strong kid who likes his throws,” Campbell said of Marino, a Central League champion. “I picked my shots and scored.” Another notable achievement belonged to Berry, who reached the 100-win mark for his scholastic career in his second bout of the day. Berry (34-9) posted a 3-1 decision of Strath Haven’s Devon Moore in the 152 semifinals to emerge as one of three PAC wrestlers reaching that milestone at districts.

Boyertown's Elijah Jones scored a major decision over Chase Smith, left, in their championship bout at 182. (Sam Stewart - Digital First Media)

“It was a good day, an eventful one,” Berry said after pinning Upper Darby’s Max Livingston in the third period of their title bout. “Now I’m looking to make it to Hershey. I know I can do it if I work hard and don’t give up.” Wilde (40-3) repeated as a district champion with a 3-2 decision of Spring-Ford’s Brandon Meredith. He estimated the win put his all-time head-to-head record with Meredith at 6-1. “We know each other’s styles,” Wilde said. “If a move’s there, I’ll take it. If not, I’m not going to force something and make a mistake, especially in a crucial match.” Jones (40-6) went one better on last year’s district runner-up finish. He pinned his way through his first two bouts at 182, securing the gold medal with an 8-0 victory over Spring-Ford’s Chase Smith. “On top, I was trying to work the cradle and hope for falls,” the Boyertown junior said of his strategy for the tournament. “I feel it was successful, with two pins and a major decision.”

Boyertown's Matt Wilde and Spring-Ford's Brandon Meredith battle at 113. Wilde won by decision, 3-2. (Sam Stewart - Digital First Media)

Ryan Resnick (38-2) became a first-time district champ with a dominating run through the 160-pound bracket. The OJR senior scored first-period falls in his first two bouts, then got a 4:30 technical fall on Upper Perkiomen’s Jacob Folk to cap a unique run against an all-PAC field of opponents. Duliakas, in turn, became a first-time 1-AAA West champ at 195. The Roberts senior opened with a 37-second pin, then rolled up a pair of 12-1 major decisions on Conestoga’s Kade LaMarre and Garnet Valley’s Ryan Mortimer. Bryce Reddington, one of three wrestlers in the district field to come in with unbeaten records, maintained that standing in his title run at 145. The Methacton senior (34-0) blanked OJR’s Daniel Mancini, 5-0, in a rematch of their PAC gold-medal bout. “Around the house,” Reddington said in regard to his perfect season run, “it’s more what I have to do. You can live plenty of time in the past. There are things I still need to work on.” The next challenge for Boyertown will be winning a fourth straight team championship at the Southeast AAA Regional, being staged next weekend at Souderton. Going as District 1’s team champ makes Ventresca confident in the Bears’ ability to make that run.

Methacton's Bryce Reddington escapes Owen J. Roberts' Daniel Mancini during their match at 145. Reddington won 5-0. (Sam Stewart - Digital First Media)

“It says a lot about the program,” he said. “How the kids work, and how hard work pays off.”

* * *

It wasn’t quite the way Meredith planned it. But it still worked out. Meredith started his day in the District 1-AAA West tournament by scoring the 100th victory of his scholastic career. The Spring-Ford junior reached that milestone with a third-period pin of Garnet Valley’s Matt Flicker in the 113-pound weight class’ quarterfinal round ... doing it in front of his hometown crowd. He’d hoped to have done it at last weekend’s Pioneer Athletic Conference championships. But Boyertown’s Matt Wilde — a longtime, familiar nemesis — prevented it from happening in their gold-medal match pairing. “I was a little disappointed I didn’t do it last week,” Meredith said, “but things happen. It’s a good achievement; now I’m ready to get on to the finals.”

Boyertown's Matt Wilde and Spring-Ford's Brandon Meredith battle at 113. Wilde won by decision, 3-2. (Sam Stewart - Digital First Media)

His freshman season gave Meredith reason to believe he would ultimately join the program’s list of all-time winners. “After winning 34 my freshman year ... that’s a lot,” he said. “I want to keep wrestling and get better. I’m going for the overall win record.” Ryan Finn had a longer road to the 100-win mark than his PAC counterparts. The Pottsgrove senior came into the day with 96 victories; starting in the preliminary round of the 170-pound bracket, he needed a four-win day to reach the milestone.

Pottsgrove's Ryan Finn works over Spring-Ford's Jack Files during their bout at 170. Finn won his 100th match of his scholastic career with a 13-5 major decision over Files in the championship match. (Sam Stewart - Digital First Media)

He got that in exceptional fashion. Finn (28-3) pinned his way into the main bracket, scored an 11-4 decision on Upper Darby’s Karl Kamanousa — the Central’s runner-up — and a 3-1 verdict on OJR’s Jason Zollers. He then ran up a 13-5 major decision on Spring-Ford’s Jack Files, who also came from a preliminary-round start to the gold-medal match. “It was a cool experience,” he said. “Definitely going into my senior year, I saw it as a possibility. I focused more on the post-season, believing it could happen if it was going to.” Several other competitors scored their 100th wins: Norristown’s Eric Fuentes, the eventual 132-pound champion; and Penncrest’s Ryan Stocku, on the way to a third-place finish at 145. NOTES >> Norristown’s Justin Altrogge, en route to winning the 106-pound weight class, toppled one of the tournament’s unbeaten participants. He pinned Penncrest freshman Dayton DelViscio, who took a 35-0 record into the finals, with a 3:24 pin. ... The top four medalists in each weight class advance to the regional. The top five received medals. ... Behind Boyertown and Owen J. Roberts, Spring-Ford has six regional qualifiers and Methacton five.

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