Downingtown East captures Garnet Valley title

CONCORD — With the Class AAA District 1 Duals wrestling field trimmed from 24 teams to 16, and the seeding meeting a week from today, three Ches-Mont League teams headed to Garnet Valley’s Rage in the Cage team tournament Saturday, to help their resumes.

Downingtown East helped its cause the most, winning the title in a rather convincing manner. The Cougars knocked off West Chester Rustin in the finals, 44-17, in their first meeting since 2007. The Golden Knights bumped West Chester Henderson, 34-27, in the semifinals, sending the Warriors to the consolation final where they beat the host Jaguars, 42-24, for third.

“That was another one of our perceptions, with district dual seeding implications here,’ East coach Joe Horvath said. “We wanted to do as well as we could against local teams to help get a good seed.’

East (7-1) bookended its finals victory with wins over two of Rustin’s top kids. East’s Nik Zimmerman (120 pounds) started things off with a commanding 12-2 major decision against Jon Reardon, and James Strommer (113) capped the competition with a 7-6 win over Brett Kaliner in sudden victory.

“Nik Zimmerman had a plan and executed it well,’ Horvath said. “He stayed in good position, listened to his coaching and did a tremendous job. James Strommer had a win in overtime against another very competent opponent. He knew when to find the right time to attack in overtime and he managed it.’

The Cougars stormed Interboro, 63-18, in the first round and Garnet Valley, 62-9, in the semis. Brett Horne (106), Strommer, Zimmerman, Wade Cummings (126), Austin Lillis (145), James Meyer (160), Jason Gibson (182) and Billy McGinley (220) went undefeated for East. Lillis had three falls, and Zimmerman and Gibson each added a pair.

Rustin (9-1) tasted defeat for the first time as a team this season, but still has a good chance at a top-10 seed at district duals. The Golden Knights blew out Episcopal Academy, 72-9, in the first round, setting up the intra-school district matchup with Henderson.

The Golden Knights trailed by nine, five bouts in, but won the next seven matches to advance. Kaliner’s first overtime bout of the day came against Henderson’s Jacob Reid, and Kaliner slipped by, 3-2. The sophomore went 2-1 on the day and had two leads over Strommer in the loss.

“(Kaliner) needs that kind of match,’ said Rustin assistant Rick McLaughlin, who helped fill in for head coach Brad Harkins, who was coaching a JV tournament. “Those are the types of matches you’re gonna get in the postseason. Overtime happens all the time in the postseason and they feed guys to the next level. It was very good experience.’

Tyler Labus (152) was the only Golden Knight to get through Saturday unscathed at 3-0. Shane Boyer (170) got his first win over Henderson’s Max Sontag, 7-2, in their fourth meeting.

“The Henderson match, we wrestled better,’ McLaughlin said. “Against Downingtown East, we wrestled a little tentative and hopefully in district duals we’ll have a better chance.’

The Warriors (12-2) had no trouble in their first or third duals, discarding Central Bucks South, 52-21, and then Garnet by 18. Henderson should also have a good case to be chosen for district duals.

“Everyone responded well and wrestled well and I was very pleased,’ Henderson coach Rob Beighley said. “CB South is a decent team and we handled them pretty well, and Rustin was back and forth and the couple swing matches went their way.’

Kyle Medrow (126), Joey Wilson (132), Duncan Smucker (138) and James McDonald (285) collected three wins apiece for the Warriors. Medrow earned one of his two pins over CB South’s Kyle Murphy, who’s ranked No. 5 in the district. Wilson scored a decision over Garnet Valley’s Nick Puliti, and McDonald pinned Rustin’s Christos Moscharis.

Smucker, pulled off falls in each of his bouts to give him 10 on the season.

“Duncan Smucker had a great day,’ Beighley said. “He came through with pins and was putting people on his back.’

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