Downingtown East cruises to third straight National title

LIONVILLE — The Downingtown East wrestlers were not happy with their performance a week ago at the District Duals. Seeded second, most felt sure they’d be making a return trip to Hershey. But a couple of tough losses left the Cougars short.

Friday night was a whole different story. Facing a Henderson team that just this week set a school record for wins in a season, the Cougars (4-0 National) rang up 11 straight wins on the way to a 50-14 victory, clinching its third straight Ches-Mont League National Division title in the process.

“It’s been a really tough week,’ said East coach Joe Horvath. “With the losses last week, to the weather wiping out practices, to some injuries and illnesses we’ve been battling, it’s been tough. So to come out tonight and get a healthy win under these circumstances is a credit to the kids and their effort.’

The Warriors (4-1) started out strong, getting back-to-back major decisions from Duncan Schmucker (138) and Brad Patton (145). Unfortunately, no other Warrior would have his hand raised until Josh Nichter (132) won the last bout of the evening by pin.

“That’s a tough team over there,’ said Henderson coach Rob Beighly. “They are very well-coached, and a sold cohesive unit. We definitely got exposed in a couple areas, but that just means we know what we need to work on headed into the post-season. It was a great duals season, but the post-season is what’s really important.’

East got a couple of nice come-from-behind wins at 160 and 106, from Alec Horne and James Strommer respectively.

Down, 4-2, late in the third, Horne worked a late reversal to tie the match with Max Sontag and send it to overtime. In the extra frame, Horne shot in on a double, but got his head trapped inside. While Sontag tried to defend, he was penalized for a head scissors, giving Horne the win.

Strommer and Jake Reid wrestled a scoreless first period, before Reid grabbed the lead with an escape and reversal in the second. Strommer cut the lead to 3-2 with a reversal. Reid took down to start the third, and Strommer cut him loose for one, hoping for the match tying takedown. Strommer got the takedown and more. Coming out of a scramble for two, Strommer punched in a half and ran it for three near fall and the 7-4 win.

“We talk a lot about taking the gas tank approach, just going hard the whole six minutes,’ said Horvath. “Those two demonstrated perfectly that you are never out of a match.’

East’s Wade Cummings and Jarod Leonetti dropped down in weight for the first time this season, and both posted solid wins. Cummings (120) used a combination of takedowns and tilts to earn a 14-4 major decision over Kyle Medrow, while Leonetti jumped out to a 5-0 lead and held on to top Joey Wilson, 5-3.

“Wade and Jarod both wrestled really well,’ said Horvath. “Medrow is having a strong season, and is a tough competitor. Wilson is no slouch either. Both looked good for the first time down.’

Winning by fall for the Cougars were Christian Jurani (170), Adam Plienes (195), Billy McGinley (220), Sean Snodgrass (285), and Jude McDowell (113)

“It’s been a crazy week,’ said Snodgrass. “We were all psyched to get back to Hershey. But it was nice to come here, get a win, and finish out my senior season as division champs again.’

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