Cougars fall in Duals consolation semis

FORT WASHINGTON — Unlike last year when Downingtown East looked worn and deflated at this point, the Cougars gave it a good fight.

Saturday, in the Class AAA District 1 Duals consolation semifinals at Upper Dublin High, No. 6 East was a couple matches short against No. 4 Pennridge.

The Rams won two key toss-ups to help eliminate the Cougars, 36-28, with a berth to the state duals on the line. Top-seeded Boyertown won the championship over No. 2 Council Rock South, 34-26. Pennridge fell to No. 3 Spring-Ford in the consi finals, 39-25, as the top four will compete in the state tournament this week.

A year ago East reached the semifinals before bowing to Spring-Ford and running out of steam against Garnet Valley in the consi semis.

“Last year at the duals we were really worn down and lost our confidence and lost our focus,’ East coach Joe Horvath said. “This year we picked up the pace and got excited and we put forth a remarkable effort.’

The dual began at 132 pounds, which gave East a chance to get to a quick start. Wade Cummings bumped up from 126 to face Pennridge’s tough freshman, Josh Stillings. Cummings used two takedowns to get the win, 5-2.

Jude McDowell (138 pounds) and Austin Lillis (145) followed with a fall and a decision, respectively, to inflate the Cougars’ lead to 12.

From there, Pennridge made their move, winning seven of the next eight. The big swing bouts were at 182 and 220. At 182, East’s Alec Horne led 1-0 going into the third, but Pennridge’s Zach Tuerke worked a reversal and a pair of near-fall points for the 4-1 win. At 220, Pennridge’s Ezra Outlaw, ranked No. 3 in the district, scored the only takedown against No. 2 Billy McGinley, for the 3-1 decision.

Pennridge turned a 12-point deficit after five into a 14-point lead with three to go.

“We played with our lineup a little bit and took some gambles,’ Horvath said. “Some gambles paid off and others cost us. We prepare our kids to be ready to wrestle above their weight when called upon and make the most of their efforts.’

James Strommer (113) and Nik Zimmerman (120) registered first-period pins for East to make the score, 30-28 Pennridge, heading into the final bout. Harris Alliger (126) was pitted with the tough task for East, taking on an experienced freshman, Micah Visuwan, and the Ram won by fall to seal the contest.

East will turn its attention to the Ches-Mont National Division race, where has two dual meets remaining. The biggest comes Wednesday when West Chester Henderson hosts the Cougars, both with 3-0 records in the division.

“We’re definitely a little disappointed, but we were down a few guys,’ East senior James Meyer said. “We’re all looking forward to winning the league.’

The Cougars can clinch their fourth straight National Division crown with a win over the Warriors. East has won 19 straight National dual meets, dating back to February 9, 2011, when Henderson was victorious, 45-14. The East seniors have not lost a division dual.

“I told the guys to have a short memory,’ Horvath said. “They’re enjoying the moment here, with a very challenging tournament, but the guys want to finish with the league title and use these matches as preparation for the postseason.’

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