Henderson edges Coatesville in dramatic style

CALN — With everything on the line, West Chester Henderson’s Joey Wilson and Coatesville’s Chase Stephens embraced the magnitude of the moment.

After a tight, intense contest in which Coatesville just could not distance itself from the visiting Warriors, the grand finale proved to be just that.

With the Red Raiders up one point heading into the final bout, the veteran junior, Wilson, and talented freshman, Stephens, wrestled with a flair that stoked the crowd, each striving to be hero.

The two attacked and scrambled and fought each other off until Wilson outscored Stephens 4-2 in the third period to clinch a dramatic Ches-Mont National Division win, 36-34, in front of what became an electric crowd.

Two Red Raiders failed to make weight, and Henderson capitalized, much like its composed junior.

“I’m glad Joey was our anchor,’ Henderson coach Rob Beighley said. “He’s a rock. He’s always even-keel and never gets too high or too low. He’s always ready to wrestle, always ready to go. I was confident. Chase Stephens is tough, but I had the most confidence in Joe.’

Freshman Stefon Tracey and sophomore Colin McBride missed their weights for the 113 and 120 pound classes, respectively, giving the Warriors (3-0 division, 16-1 overall) the advantage down low.

With the score 28-24, Coatesville (2-1, 15-3), with four bouts to go, Henderson gave a forfeit at 106, believing it could get wins in the final three matches. The strategy worked perfectly.

Anthony Shickora (113) filled in valiantly in Tracey’s spot, but fell to Henderson’s Jacob Reid, 6-0. Tracey was forced to bump to 120 and McBride, a regional qualifier last season, was forced out of the lineup.

The result was a first-period fall by Kyle Medrow at 120, and Wilson’s win at 126.

“Going into it I was telling myself the team needed me,’ Wilson said. “I was prepping my mind that it was my match to win.’

Stephens was up to the challenge, fighting off a deep shot by Wilson in the first and rolling into a takedown of his own for a 2-0 lead. It was 3-3 after two periods, when Wilson was able to score a takedown and tack on two back points.

“Chase is good under pressure,’ Coatesville coach Bear Stephens said. “He hits big moves when he’s under pressure and he almost hit one once or twice in the match. Joey scrambled out of it and he’s a good wrestler.

“It hurts with two kids not making weight, but Henderson came to wrestle. Some of our kids did, some didn’t.’

The meet may never have gotten to the winner-take-all scenario without a few gutty performances by some Warriors.

In two evenly-fought bouts, Max Sontag (170) and James McDonald (285) came through with huge pins for Henderson. Sontag took a 3-1 lead in the third before locking up a cradle and earning the fall. McDonald, similarly, appeared destined for a heavyweight, 1-1, overtime finish until he landed a headlock against Christian Bermudez and pinned him midway through the second. McDonald’s pin cut Coatesville’s lead to four, setting up the wild finish.

“No one listens better than James McDonald,’ Beighley said. “Jimmy Mac is extremely coachable. We saw an opening for an underlock headlock, and as soon as we said it, he went for it and got it.’

Coatesville got big wins by Stanley Woodward (152) and Wesley McGuire (182), who won by decision and technical fall, respectively, over seniors.

But it was the limiting of bonus points by Henderson by a pair of freshmen that also loomed large.

In the second and third bouts of the night, freshmen Warriors Mitch Griffith (138) and Weston Frame (145) held Coatesville seniors Brian Griest and Noah Stephens to a major decisions.

“Mitch Griffith showed a lot of guts,’ Beighley said. “We put him in the lineup and he did his job. He wrestled his butt off and so did Weston Frame. They’re freshmen and we told them they can’t give up a pin and they grinded it out.’

Both Henderson and Coatesville should be in line for a District 1 Duals invite at the seeding meeting this Sunday. The duals start next Thursday night.

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