Last week’s Central League championships at Haverford High turned into a real family affair, with seven sets of brothers from five teams qualifying for Saturday’s PIAA Class AAA District One-West tournament at Spring-Ford.
Garnet Valley has senior All-Delco Michael Marino, the 120-pound champ, and his brother Matt, a freshman who was the runnerup at 113. Springfield saw senior twins Dennis Charamella, the 138-pound champion, and third-place Luke (120) advance along with the Sciarrino siblings — junior Joey took fourth at 160 and sophomore Chris was fourth at 126.
The Frantz brothers from Strath Haven, with third-place senior Nate at 106 and sophomore fifth-place finisher Noah at 113, also earned berths. Penncrest has a program-record 13 wrestlers taking part this week, including the Frank brothers, with sophomore All-Delco Liam, the repeat champ at 182, and senior Ronnie, who finished second at 138.
Rounding out the familial fraternity is two sets of brothers from Upper Darby, with 113-pound champ Austin Petril, another All-Delco, and his senior twin Anthony, who took second at 106. The Royals also received a pair of third-place finishes from senior Charlie Livingston (160) and his younger brother Max, a 132-pound freshman.
Showing what type of bond this band of brothers shares, Austin Petril was suffering the pain of Anthony’s earlier close call mere moments after celebrating his own title.
“I’m upset, I feel as if I lost that match with him,” Austin Petril said. “But we feed off each other and tomorrow we’ll wake up and I’ll see the determination and motivation from that loss and it’ll make us both hungrier and train harder for districts.”
Upper Darby coach Bob Martin, a twin himself, said as tough as it is for a wrestler to see his brother come up short, it must be doubly tough for the parents to simultaneously celebrate and commiserate with their sons.
If spectators in the Fords’ gym were left seeing double, they also experienced a bit of déjà vu when the 182-pound final rolled around with Penncrest’s Liam Frank defending his title against an all-too-familiar foe in Ridley junior Lawrence Alkins.
Frank won the 2012-13 league finale by pinning Akins in 4 minutes, 50 seconds, and then came back to beat Alkins, 3-1, in the regionals. When the pair met in a league dual match last month, Frank emerged victorious again with a 9-2 decision.
Last Saturday’s gold medal clash between the rivals lived up to the billing when Frank literally held on to win, 3-2. Frank took a two-point lead on a takedown with a little over a minute left in the third period, and Alkins kept battling, cutting the deficit in half with an escape with 40 seconds left as Green Raiders fans pleaded with him to “make him earn it.”
“It was pretty hard to go against (Alkins) again because we know each other’s moves so well,” Frank said. “You’re forced to think of new ways to beat him. Having guys like (teammates) Austin Jacque, Joe Pyfer and Bob Long in the room really helps me work on new stuff.”
Heading into Saturday as the second seed with a 28-5 record, Liam Frank is looking to top his silver medal trip to districts last year and would like nothing better than to share that success with elder brother Ronnie, who is 16-9 and seeded fourth at 138.
“This is a real special time of the season, because there’s so much on the line,” Liam Frank said. “It would mean a lot for both of us to go on a little run here.”
Delaware County will be well represented with 71 athletes from area schools competing at Spring-Ford, with the top four finishers in each weight qualifying for next weekend’s Class AAA Southeast Regional at Pottstown.