Jakob Campbell got the finish he wanted.
The one he sought for much of his scholastic wrestling career. The one that would bring him that much closer to his quest for a fully-rounded mat resume.
Even with four championships at the league and district levels, and medals at three previous regional and state tournaments, Campbell yearned for Southeast Regional gold. His yearning was fulfilled Saturday at the AAA competition held at Souderton.
Boyertown's Matt Wilde controls Downingtown East's Lukas Richie leading to his first regional title at 113 pounds. (Nate Heckenberger - For Digital First Media)
Campbell’s 6-2 decision of Harry S. Truman’s Gunnar Fuss in the 126-pound final gave him a top regional finish after coming away with two silver medals and a bronze in his previous go-rounds. The “fourpeat” of regional medals complemented another of being the first Boyertown wrestler to qualify for the state tournament each of his four high-school seasons.
“It’s definitely a relief,” Campbell said afterward. “With all the work the coaches put me through, I feel I deserve it. Nobody put themselves through the same effort.”
Campbell’s showing was the highlight of another solid performance by the Boyertown program.
Boyertown's Elijah Jones works to keep Avon Grove's Kevin Edwards down on his way to a win in the 182-pound final. (Nate Heckenberger - For Digital First Media)
With three champions among its six qualifiers for the PIAA Championships next weekend, Boyertown finished second to Council Rock South in the team standings with 92 points. Adding additional luster to the Bears’ showing was Matt Wilde being accorded the Sportsmanship Award by the Southeast Pa. Wrestling Officials Association, and three of its coaches — head man Pete Ventresca, assistants John Cooley and Tony Haley — all inducted into the Southeast Pennsylvania Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Joining Campbell on the top step of the medal podium were Wilde at 113 and Elijah Jones at 182. Also earning medals and qualifying for a trip to Hershey were Hunter Vogels, fourth at 160; and David Campbell and Chris Berry, fifth at 120 and 152, respectively.
Boyertown's Elijah Jones takes down Avon Grove's Kevin Edwards on his way to a win in the 182-pound final. (Nate Heckenberger - For Digital First Media)
“We had a great last round,” Ventresca said. “It was high pressure, but the guys stepped up. I’m very pleased.”
Owen J. Roberts, whose 87.5 team points put it third in the 46-team standings, had the area’s other individual champ. Nick Duliakas won at 195, scoring a 5-2 decision on Downingtown West’s Cole Zapf, secured his first state qualification along with the regional gold.
“It feels good to go to Hershey,” the OJR senior said. “It’s awesome. There’s a lot of emotions there.”
For his part, Jakob Campbell felt sure of what would be the crowning moment of a regional weekend that started with a third-period pin of Pennsbury’s Anthony Martoccio Friday, then continued with a 3-1 decision of Souderton’s Brandon Bach during Saturday’s early session.
Boyertown's Jakob Campbell takes down Harry S. Truman's Gunnar Fuss en route to a title at 126 pounds. (Nate Heckenberger - For Digital First Media)
“I felt confident,” he said. “I had my game plan, and everything went perfectly.
“One more week to go.”
Wilde was just as happy to get his first regional championship on top of similar finishes the last two weekends. He rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the first period to go up on Downingtown East’s Lukas Richie 4-2, then rode Richie out in the third.
“One more step,” he said. “I feel blessed to be a state qualifier.”
Jones kept his own gold-medal post-season parade going with an 8-2 decision of Avon Grove’s Kevin Edwards. He padded his initial 2-1 lead with an escape and takedown in the second period, then added another takedown in the third.
Owen J. Roberts' Nick Duliakas looks for an opening against Downingtown West's Cole Zapf during a 5-2 win in the 195-pound final. (Nate Heckenberger - For Digital First Media)
“I know he’s a good wrestler who’s tough with his throws and tilts,” Jones said. “I went out to not get caught by his throws.”
He felt his decision to drop to 182 for the post-season tournaments, after being at 195 for the regular grind, was beneficial.
“I think it helped,” Jones said. “I feel stronger against the guys. I like to try and get control and shoot my throws.”
David Campbell and Berry, both facing must-win situations in their brackets, punched their tickets for states with no-question wins. Campbell rolled up an 8-1 victory over Pottsgrove’s Chase Banyai while Berry posted a 5-2 decision of Council Rock South’s L.J. Kahn.
“It’s frustrating to not have finished higher,” Campbell said. “But I just rolled with the punches, and getting to states is the icing on the cake.”
“This is not quite how I wanted to go,” Berry recalled. “Today was rough, but I did what I needed to do.”
Owen J. Roberts' Nick Duliakas nears his first takedown against Downingtown West's Cole Zapf during a 5-2 win in the 195-pound final. (Nate Heckenberger - For Digital First Media)
Vogels, already assured of a spot at states, sat out the medal round via forfeit.
“Hunter’s been banged up for the last month,” Ventresca explained. “He still had a hell of a tournament. He wrestled smart.”
Ryan Resnick, who reached the 160-pound final on the strength of a technical fall and pin in his earlier bouts. The OJR senior came up short of his bid for regional gold when Pennridge’s Joshua Stillings ran up a 5-0 victory. The effort, however, got the Wildcat senior a return trip to states after missing out last year.
Duliakas and Resnick will be joined in Hershey by teammates Luke Resnick, Daniel Mancini and Cole Meredith. Resnick (120) and Mancini (145) placed third in their brackets, and Meredith edged West Chester Rustin’s Tyler Kaliner in their fifth-place bout at 138, 4-3.
Spring-Ford advances Brandon Meredith (113) and Chase Smith (182) on the basis of their third-place showings. Pottsgrove’s Ryan Finn (170) and Upper Perkiomen’s Mike Modugno (220) also scored bronze medals to insure their places at states. Upper Perk’s Jacob Folk also came through for a state spot by placing fifth at 160.
The individual champions at the South East AAA Regional were, front row, from left: Downingtown West's Doug Zapf, Boyertown's Matt Wilde, Pennridge's Matt Parker, Boyertown's Jakob Campbell, Council Rock South's Zack Trampe, Upper Darby's Colin Cronin, CR South's Riley Palmer; back row, from left: Coatesville's Chase Stephens, Pennridge's Josh Stillings, Oxford's David Cox, Boyertown's Elijah Jones, Owen J. Roberts' Nick Duliakas, Upper Darby's Brian Kennerly and Hatboro-Horsham's Nick Chapman. (Austin Hertzog - Digital First Media)
One notable miss for states was that of Methacton’s Bryce Reddington, who sustained an injury to the fibula of his left leg early in his semifinal-round bout with Coatesville’s Brent Windle. The Warrior senior, perfect in 35 previous matches, was unable to come back and saw his scholastic career come to an end.
The marquee 220-pound match between Upper Darby’s Brian Kennerly and Council Rock South’s Joe Doyle ended with a 3-2 decision for Kennerly. The Royals’ senior, who upped his season record to 34-0 with the weekend sweep, was also accorded the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler honors. ... The top five finishers from each weight class qualified for the PIAA Championships. ... The top six in each bracket were presented medals. ... The team standings listed Spring-Ford 12th with 37 points, Upper Perkiomen 15th with 35 and Methacton 16th with 31.