MALVERN — This one had been a long time coming for Phelps School.
The wrestling program was revived last season after shutting down after the 2002-03 season, but the upstart Lions were relegated to the road, with no home dual meets.
Wednesday, Phelps hosted its first dual in over a decade, besting Solebury School, 54-24, and Episcopal Academy, 45-36, in a tri-meet.
Nestled into the small field house, the Lions gave their home fans a taste of what they were missing in the one and only home meet of the season.
“It was great and we were really excited to be able to do it, primarily for our seniors,’ Phelps coach Ira Miles said. “The team did what it had to do to get the win.’
Fred Mase (120 pounds), Jawan Jones (145), Jake Piotrowski (195) and Otto Dublin (220) had pins in both contests, while Anthony Logiurato (113), Al Ciccitto (152) and Alex Hope (160) notched falls against Episcopal.
“This program has been built on the help of others,’ Miles said. “With guys like (West Chester Henderson’s) Rob Beighley and (Downingtown East’s) Joe Horvath and primarily (Malvern Prep’s) Nate Lautar. We’re a tournament team and the PIAA is geared towards dual meets, so anyone who gives us a shot has made these guys better.’
Phelps (2-0), despite its youth as a program, has found some fortune in accumulating talent. Mase came from Eastern Regional High in Vorhees, New Jersey, and Jacob Forsman (120) came with.
The lightweight tandem has been a potent one-two combo. Forsman took third at prep states last winter, qualifying for the national prep tournament. Mase placed second at states and took sixth at nationals.
“I was mostly wanting to get better competition,’ said Mase on why he transferred. “(Eastern Regional) wasn’t preparing me for college, and it’s been great being able to go to tournaments and finding better competition here.’
Jones is a post-graduate, who came from St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, New Jersey. While he won’t be allowed to compete against PIAA foes, Jones took the opportunity Phelps gave him to improve his athletics and academics.
Ciccitto, meanwhile, wrestled his freshman year at Methacton High before the move as a sophomore. He took third at states but did not place at nationals.
“It wasn’t so much the wrestling program, but the structure, academically,’ Ciccitto said. “I needed a better structure for myself. When I got to know Mr. Miles, I knew he’d be a good coach for me.’
Phelps also has a pair of former PIAA’ers in Eric Appenzeller (106) from Ridley and Logiurato from Monsignor Bonner.
With a school hovering around 100 students, Miles doesn’t expect to build a powerhouse. But having studied at a boarding school after attending Episcopal, Miles knows the value of what his program has to offer.
“Long term, I like coaching kids, but it’s more about the academics,’ Miles said. “We try to provide the type of competition our kids need and can form our schedule to get that. We’re not gonna be Blair (Academy) or Wyoming Seminary, but we can look at the type of kids we have and see what competition they need.’