West’s Gavin Hale pins Medrow at 132, but Henderson hangs on to beat Whippets

WEST CHESTER — There is a unique beauty that defines every sport, whether it’s the ferocity of football or gracefulness of gymnastics.

For wrestling, it’s the unprotected vulnerability of one on one competition. Wednesday night, in the West Chester Henderson gym, that spectacle was on display.

Downingtown West freshman Gavin Hale pulled off an upset that will be tough to top in the Ches-Mont League this season by pinning Henderson’s state-ranked Kyle Medrow at 132 pounds.

If Hale won the battle, the Warriors won the war, however, grinding out a tighter-than-expected National Division victory, 31-28.

“First of all, Downingtown West is very well-coached and came ready to wrestle,’ Henderson coach Rob Beighley said. “They came in with a higher intensity than we did. They came to win.’

No one personified the Whippets’ fight more than Hale, who entered with a 3-9 record. After keeping it to a 2-1 deficit to start the third period, Hale rode the previously undefeated Medrow before a short scramble took place. Hale caught Medrow with a headlock and finished him 30 seconds into the third, sending West’s crowd and bench into a frenzy and Henderson’s into a state of shock.

“Obviously (Hale) pinning (Medrow) was a surprise, but I knew that was a matchup I was looking forward to,’ West coach Brad Breese said. “I wanted to see if Gavin could go with a kid like that. He’s had some tough losses, but he’s the kind of kid who will just go and just go and just go. If he gets some technique behind it, he’s gonna start beating kids like that on a regular basis. The more physical the match is, the more if fuels him.’

Medrow, who’s now 15-1, was plenty physical the first four minutes. He quickly took Hale down in the first and went to his lethal attack on top. Hale, the younger brother of 2014 state qualifier, Gabe, held strong. The loss by fall was Medrow’s first in 41 bouts, dating back to December 28, 2013. It was just his seventh in 91 career bouts.

“We gotta use it as a wakeup call,’ Beighley said. “(Medrow’s) had a great start this season, but he showed some signs of frustration during the match. Down the stretch you can’t get frustrated if you want to go to states and place there. You gotta be patient. Kyle was trying to do too much and got careless and (Hale) came after him.’

With the six going to West (0-1 division, 5-6 overall) instead of Henderson (1-0, 10-5), the dual became quite tense. The Whippets did a good job of limiting bonus points with their young kids, surrendering just one pin. But four straight wins by Joey Wilson (138 pounds), Duncan Smucker (145), Mitchell Griffith (152) and Weston Frame (160) gave the Warriors a 19-13 lead.

Manoa Taniguchi (170) brought West back within three with a decision, but Henderson’s Max Sontag swung the contest with a huge pin at 182 pounds. Sontag gave up the first takedown against Basile Bishop but locked in a cradle and got the fall 75 seconds into the match.

“Going up two weights, weighing in at 163, I know how to come up big get the six points,’ Sontag said. “I did what I needed to do.’

Henderson forfeited two of the final four bouts, but got a 6-1 decision from Will Amarant (195) and then a 2-0 win by James McDonald (285) to clinch the win.

West will be without promising sophomore Cole Zapf (152) for the season due to a shoulder injury, but Breese hopes the fight his team showed will carry on.

“I told my guys, I don’t think anyone expected it to be so close,’ Breese said. “They need to accept the fact that they can compete in this league and can push teams. … We’ve had some tough outings the last week or so, so I wasn’t sure how they’d respond, but I thought they battled well.’

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