Archbishop Carroll’s revived program moving forward full-steam-ahead

RADNOR — Archbishop Carroll High’s wrestling team going to the PIAA Class AA Dual-Meet Championships this past Thursday and Friday was like John Q. Public going out in the backyard to plant a begonia and striking oil with the first shovelful of soil.

The program is only in its second season since being revived by head coach Ted Kavanagh, it is only about 12 bodies strong in a sport that requires at least 14 and to somehow wind up next to the likes of Class AA state powers Wyalusing, Boiling Springs and Reynolds under the bright lights of the state’s wrestling mecca, Hershey’s Giant Center, is like your blind date turning out to be Jenna Jameson.

“It was an honor for us to be there,’ said Kavanagh, still wearing a broad smile Saturday afternoon after the Patriots hosted both Upper Merion and Pope John Paul II in a tri-meet. “It was an honor for us to be the District 12 representative, and it was huge for the program.’

How huge?

Let’s put it this way: Ain’t nothin’ like being able to tell a potential candidate for the wrestling team that their season just may wind up in a state championship bracket.

“Hey, I’m not missing out on the opportunity to tell kids I see that I’m the coach of the District 12 Double-A champs,’ Kavanagh said.

That’s not to say the Patriots didn’t earn their trip to Chocolate Town.

“We knew what we needed to do to get there, and our guys were all business,’ Kavanagh said.

What it took was a victory over Bishop McDevitt, which the Patriots pulled off in resounding fashion, 57-6.

Then, it was a convincing 54-17 win over Palumbo Academy in the District 12 Class AA Championship match.

And lo and behold, the Patriots were state qualifiers.

“We were at the Redskin Duals at Neshaminy,’ Kavanagh said, “and our guys took that seriously. But our real focus was preparing for the Palumbo match and getting the trip to Hershey.’

The Patriots trip out to Hershey was a blast, according to freshman Nick Poulos.

“We had a lot of fun on the way out there,’ Poulos said. “There were some nerves, but for the most part we just went out there and wrestled.

“We knew we had nothing to lose.’

The Patriots’ first match was held on the Giant Center mat, the same mat used in the state finals.

“I think the guys were a little star struck when we first got there,’ Kavanagh said. “Even the coaches were a little in awe.’

There was little surprise in the outcome, the Patriots losing to both Northern Lehigh (72-8) in their opening match and then to Saegertown (75-3) in first round of consolations Friday morning.

But there were few sullen faces.

“It was a good experience,’ Poulos said. “It was just neat being there.

“None of us had ever experienced anything like that before.’

Kavanagh is hopeful the first-time experience quickly becomes habit.

“This was huge for the program,’ the coach said. “Now, it’s about building for the future.’

But Kavanagh was quick to add that it’s important for the team to remember what got them there.

“We earned our trip,’ Kavanagh said. “The fruits of our labor were spending the last couple of days out in Hershey. It was an experience for a lifetime.’

As for Saturday’s results, Pope John Paul defeated both Carroll (48-36) and Upper Merion (45-36), while Carroll picked up a win over Upper Merion (45-30).

“It was a good way to wrap up a tough week,’ said PJP head coach Jared Every, whose team finished the season wrestling five dual meets over the last seven days. “That’s a lot of dual matches, but at least we have a week to get ready for the PAC-10s (individual tournament).

“The PAC-10 is a very strong conference, so it’s a good experience for us to wrestle there heading into the Double-A districts.’

For Upper Merion, which saw a rare three-match win streak fall by the wayside, the problem was healthy bodies. Illness prevented three Vikings wrestlers from taking the mat, but head coach Marcus Johnson was not in a complaining mood.

“This has been a good year for us,’ he said. “Some of our guys are turning the corner at the right time, just before the postseason, which is good.

“We feel we have four or five guys who have a chance to get to districts.’

BACK POINTS: File the name Tiffany Ng away, and get ready for some potential fireworks.

Ng wrestles at 113 pounds for Palumbo Academy, a member of District 12, and it’s more than likely she’ll be entered in the upcoming District 12 individual championships.

But there is a potential major problem — the Archdiocesan schools in the state have proclaimed that no male wrestler will be permitted to wrestle a female, and many coaches of Archdiocesan wrestling programs have been threatened with losing their jobs if they send one of their male team members out to oppose a female.

If Ng is denied the opportunity to participate in the tournament, it could be considered discrimination. If she is permitted to wrestle, the possibility exists she could accept forfeits all the way to the PIAA championships.

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