Exeter edges South Western in district team tournament

It’s hard to imagine a better high school wrestling dual than what took place Tuesday between South Western and Exeter in the quarterfinals of the District 3 Class AAA team tournament.

The Mustangs, wrestling in their home gym, went toe-to-toe with the Eagles, a 2014 PIAA Team Championship qualifier, and were in position to earn the win.

But Exeter’s strength — their lightweights — came through with a pair of one-point decisions in the final two bouts of the night to give the Berks County team a 30-28 victory and a berth in Thursday’s semifinal round at Spring Grove.

Despite the loss, South Western (16-5) advances to Thursday’s team tournament action and will face Kennard-Dale in a consolation match.

The top four teams from the tournament will earn berths in next week’s PIAA Class AAA team tournament championships.

Holding onto a 28-24 lead going into the 120-pound bout, South Western sent 2014 PIAA qualifier Derek Wilson to the mat. The Eagles countered with one of their state qualifiers, Brett Kulp.

In a classic defensive struggle, each wrestler earned escapes in regulation but that was it, sending the bout to overtime tied at one.

After a scoreless overtime period, each wrestler held the other down in the tiebreaker period and forced the ultimate tiebreaker where the taller Kulp took top and was able to control Wilson for the last 30 seconds of the bout by riding legs to earn a 2-1 decision.

“We knew legs were coming, and if they got in we’d be in trouble,” Mustang coach Nate Murren said.

Still, the Mustangs had one more shot with Gavin Smith at 126, but James Harkness won a 6-5 decision over a third-period escape to clinch the victory for the 17-4 Eagles.

“Anytime we can finish with 113, 120, 126 or 132, I’m feeling pretty good,” Exeter coach Jon Rugg said. “Those four guys are hammering on each other on a daily basis. James (Harkness) has been stuck behind a PIAA qualifier the last two years and just has never been at the right weight.”

These two teams had locked up earlier in the season at the Cumberland Valley Winter Duals where the Eagles earned a 14-point win against the YAIAA Division I champs.

To close the gap, South Western needed to reverse some results from the previous match. And Tommy Aumen was able to give them a nine-point swing at 195.

Aumen trailed Nolan Buck by one late in the third period and was being controlled by the Eagle 195-pounder. Aumen was able to get hips out from under Buck and flip over the sophomore to gain a Peterson position for the reversal with just two seconds left on the clock.

“Tommy never gives up,” Murren said. “We were trying to get him to pop his head or jump over (Buck) for the reversal cradle.”

South Western jumped out to a 16-3 lead, getting a fall from Owen Wherley (132) fall, a major decision by Clint Wright (145) and another pin from Gage Thomas (152).

The Eagles responded with three wins in a row to tie it at 16 before Aumen’s victory put South Western back into the lead where they stayed until the last bout of the match.

A tough loss in one’s home gym can be hard to bounce back from but the Mustangs only have 48 hours and they back onto the mat against the Rams, the Division II champions.

“We’ve got to get back to the right mental state. Our bodies will follow what the minds will do,” Murren said.

In the first match of the evening against Mechanicsburg, the Mustangs got pins from Wherley (126), Thomas (152) and Janney (220) plus a pair of forfeits from Mechanicsburg to earn a 42-21 victory.

at South Western South Western 42, Mechanicsburg 21

126 — Gavin Smith, SW, won by forfeit; 132 — Owen Wherley, SW, pinned Cruz Manatt, 0:56; 138 — Brayden Wills, Mech, maj. dec. Cory Stanton, 9-0; 145 — Clint Wright, SW, dec. Copper Wills, 7-4; 152 — Gage Thomas, SW, pinned Daquan Edmundson, 1:25; 160 — Tristen Skelly, Mech, maj. dec. Tyler Osborne, 13-3; 170 — Michael Harris, SW, dec. Jonathan Bega, 8-7;182 — Eugene Rodgers, Mech, maj. dec. Colby Teal, 17-4; 195 — Kysheem Johnson, Mech, pinned Tom Aumen, 0:39;220 — Seth Janney, SW, pinned Akira Bastiany, 1:44; 285 — Scotty Dickmyer, SW, dec. Ben Wasson, 3-1; 106 — Brady Serina, Mech, dec. Ben Doll, 9-7; 113 — Chase Mowery, SW, won by forfeit; 120 — Derek Wilson, SW, dec. Drew Tochterman, 4-2.

at South Western Exeter Township 30, South Western 28

132 — Owen Wherley, SW, pinned Matt Ward, 3:05. 138 — Tyler Bagoly, Ex, dec. Cory Stanton, 11-4; 145 — Clint Wright, SW, maj. dec. Tyler Borton, 15-6; 152 — Gage Thomas, SW, pinned Tyler Harkness, 0:23; 160 — Ethan Stever, Ex, maj. dec. Tyler Osborne, 18-6; 170 — Dennis Karas, Ex, dec. Mike Harris, 3-1; 182 — Scott Schaeffer, Ex, pinned Colby Teal, 0:52; 195 — Tom Aumen, SW, dec. Nolan Buck, 5-4; 220 — Seth Janney, SW, pinned Jon Greenleaf, 3:35;285 — Oscar Daniels, Ex, dec. Scotty Dickmyer, 5-1; 106 — Ben Doll, SW, dec. Ryan Watts, 6-2; 113 — Austin DeSanto, Ex, tech. fall over Chase Mowery, 3:21 (19-4); 120 — Brett Kulp, Ex, dec. Derek Wilson, 2-1, UTB; 126 — James Harkness, Ex, dec. Gavin Smith, 6-5.

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