FORT WASHINGTON — Downingtown East stretched and bent and finally, with three bouts left, the dam broke.
Down two points with three matches left, the No. 2 Cougars were outscored 15-0 to turn what was a highly-contested dual meet against No. 3 Spring-Ford into a runaway 36-19 final.
East won its quarterfinal dual meet against No. 7 Methacton, 36-17, in the District 1 Duals at Upper Dublin High before dropping the semifinal contest to the Rams. The Cougars will square off against No. 4 Garnet Valley in today’s consolation semifinals at 1 p.m. to qualify as a top-four finisher for the state tournament.
The highlight of the night for East was senior Jared Leonetti (132 pounds) winning his 100th career match, against the Rams.
“I think bonus points are the difference in any match,’ East coach Joe Horvath said. “I don’t think that was the difference (Friday night). I think strength training was one. (Spring-Ford) is a powerful team. And I think wrist-taking ability was another. They were looking for big moves and weren’t scared to put themselves in those positions and that put a little fear in us. They’re the most-balanced team we faced this year.’
Wade Cummings (126) started the competition with a major decision before Leonetti eked out a 3-2 decision against Nick Beauchamp.
“It is a big deal, but a trip to the district finals would have been a lot better,’ Leonetti said.
Horvath expressed his great pride in one of his team leaders.
“I couldn’t feel better for that kid,’ Horvath said of Leonetti. “I’ve seen a couple 100-bout winners, but I’ll tell you what, I’m very proud of that kid. With such a late start, starting in seventh grade and being thrown into the lineup as a freshman. He just works and works and works and I couldn’t be more proud.’
The Rams took their first lead, winning three in a row from 138-152 before Chris Jarani (160) stopped the bleeding for a moment.
After a loss at 170, Jason Gibson (182) and Adam Pleines (195) won decisions for East to gain a 16-15 lead.
But Mason Romano (220) pinned for Spring-Ford to go back up by five, and a win by Sean Snodgrass (285) to cut the deficit to two was as close as the Cougars would get.
Spring-Ford won by fall the next two matches to put East into a do-or-die situation against the Jaguars, today.
“We’re a little banged up, not just from district duals, but from the journey,’ Horvath said. “I’m not sure what our attitude will be other than to come in and battle with what we have.’
Snodgrass took a gash above his eye during a 5-3 sudden-victory loss to Methacton’s Tracey Green in his first match of the night.
The Jaguars boast state medalist Mike Marino (126) and a solid batch of lightweights, so East will have its work cut out to return to the state tournament for the second straight season.
“We gotta come in and wrestle tough,’ Leonetti said. “No one can get pinned and we have to get bonus points from guys. We have to come ready to wrestle.’