Norristown’s wild comeback win over Upper Moreland was a special one

It’s a cliche that anything can happen in sports.

It’s probably more true in wrestling.

And while it’s still unlikely that the .500 kid from Podunk High is going to upset the unbeaten state champ, no matter what the reasonable odds may be, wrestling can still bring about that out-of-left-field craziness that defies description more often than other sports, particularly at the scholastic level.

For proof, there are two examples from Wednesday night’s schedule that have little bearing on such enormous events as the District One Dual Meet championships or, for that matter, even a league title.

But in both cases, it wouldn’t be going overboard to state that some considerable odds were defied.

Unlike in years past, Norristown’s wrestling team this season is not in the hunt for state medals, postseason team titles or even a league title.

And when the Eagles hosted Upper Moreland Wednesday, even they weren’t considering the prospect of defeating the Bears, a team that blew out a Springfield team that defeated Norristown earlier this year.

In fact, when the Norristown team descended the stairwell from its practice room to begin the match, it was without the usual strategy session with head coach Mark Harner.

“All I told our kids was that we were going to wrestle straight up, not move people around,’ Harner said. “I don’t think either coach thought the match was going to be close.’

And when the visiting Bears bolted out to a 24-0 lead after four bouts (three of which being Norristown forfeits), that did not surprise either side.

As the match played out, the Eagles found themselves down, 30-11, with seven bouts yet to be wrestled – and one was a Norristown forfeit.

So, for all intents and purposes, Norristown trailed, 36-11, with six bouts left.

But Norristown fortunes suddenly changed rather dramatically.

Freshman Rick Bregenzer managed a decision at 113, and sophomore Eric Fuentes got a pin at 120.

And when freshman Ben Carty got a stick at 126 pounds, Harner realized his team had a shot.

“When Ben got that pin, I turned to our coaches and said, ‘ Hey, we can win this thing.”

After forfeiting at 132 pounds, the Eagles drew closer with freshman Rich Maggio’s decision win at 138.

Freshman Mason Hall appeared to be doomed at 145 when he trailed, 9-2, but rallied to tie the match at 9, then got a pin with two seconds left in the third period.

Norristown sophomore Mike Johnson needed only to win to complete the Norristown comeback. Instead, his pin gave Norristown a stunning 41-36 victory.

“We have a lot of young kids,’ Harner said. “What the kids are learning to do is grind matches out, which is something they weren’t doing earlier.

“They’d get down, then try something and get pinned.

“I always say, with this team we have no choice but to take baby steps. But our guys took a big step forward in this match.’

Meanwhile, a few miles away, host Methacton, a team wracked by injury and defection this year, limped into its Senior Night match against Phoenixville with a 5-7 record and but one win in Pioneer Athletic Conference action all year.

“To be honest, I haven’t even looked at our records,’ said head coach A.J. Maida. “We have 26 kids, with one senior and three juniors, and two of those juniors are hurt and out for the year. So what we’re focused on is trying to get our kids to understand what it’s like to be on a varsity team.’

Maida said there were a number of wrestlers from the middle school that chose not to compete this year and some holdovers from last year’s varsity that chose not to come out for the team.

“We returned the fewest number of (individual’s) wins among all PAC-10 teams, so we weren’t expecting much,’ Maida said. “But then we lost Tristan Bradley for the year because of a football injury, Brandon Marion had a fractured knee from football, Sayer Campbell, we found out, had been wrestling on a broken leg and both Mike Blakemore and Steven Denner have had concussion problems.’

Still, the Warriors found themselves just needing to stay off their backs over the last handful of matches to guarantee victory over the Phantoms.

And when, in the evening’s last match, Yusef Qawasmy lost only by decision, Methacton had a 41-39 victory, its second PAC win in its last three matches and a reason to smile.

“I’m not complaining,’ Maida said. “The kids are coming in every day wanting to learn and wanting to get better. So in that respect it’s been a fun year.

“Plus, our middle school is kicking butt, so we think our future is really bright.’

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