Parkland ousts Boyertown for second-straight year at PIAA Class AAA Duals

HERSHEY — Boyertown vs. Parkland has been part of the state duals wrestling tournament the last two years.

Both times, Parkland has gotten the upper hand on the Bears. But Saturday’s rematch at the Giant Center featured some unanticipated twists on the way to its final conclusion.

En route to the 36-26 verdict that went in Parkland’s favor, the Trojans bolted to a 27-point lead at the halfway point on this third-round consolation match card. The Bears then cut that formidable deficit down to four (30-26) by taking five of the next six weights, setting up a possible matchup — and match-deciding finale — in the 220-pound bracket between Jordan Wood and Parkland’s Omar Haddad.

That scenario never played out, though. Boyertown’s coaching staff decided to not have Wood go against Haddad, opting instead to forfeit the bout to the District 11 runner-up and bring the team’s run in state duals to an end.

“Sometimes you have to save a kid for himself,’ Boyertown mat boss Pete Ventresca said afterward. “It was a coaching decision.’

The way the match played out, Boyertown (20-2) would have needed to score at least a technical fall on Haddad (30-6), whose resume features two state-level qualifications — one a seventh-place finish last year — and 110 career victories. When they faced off in last year’s duals, Wood scored a 3-1 victory.

With Wood back just one week from a prolonged recovery period following shoulder surgery, it created a decision of considerable magnitude for Ventresca.

“This was a high-level opponent, and I know Jordan was ready to go,’ he said.

The Bears’ uncharacteristic slow start was just as significant an occurrence. Parkland won the first five weight classes from the 285-pound opener by margins of one to four points for an initial 15-0 lead, then scored back-to-back pins at 132 and 138 to go up by 27.

Boyertown then got untracked with three straight pins between 145 and 160 to make it a 27-18 score. The Trojans interrupted that run with a decision at 170 before the Bears came back with a pair of major decisions from Gregg Harvey (182) and Brody O’Connell (195).

“We lost the match because we had a lot of toss-ups early,’ Ventresca said, “They have some tough kids.’

The Bears’ comeback got started by Chris Berry scoring a second-period pin on the Trojans’ Anthony Chidiac. Coming out of the first period down 2-1, Berry reversed out of a bottom start and cradled Chidiac to get the slap at 2:25 of the 145-pound bout.

Hunter Vogels then followed Berry’s lead at 152. The Boyertown sophomore, up one spot from his usual berth at 145, built a 5-0 spread in the first period of his bout with Alexander Reede. His opponent escaped in the second period, but Berry responded with a takedown and cradle combination to finish the bout at the 2:25 mark.

Dylan Wertz continued the roll at 160, pinning Edward Jordan 46 seconds into the second period. Wertz took down Jordan from a standing start to the second period, and used a cradle to get the six-point finish.

“I was talking to their (Boyertown) assistant coaches,’ Parkland head coach Ryan Nunamaker said while his team was starting its fourth-round consolation match with Bethlehem Catholic, “and I said they bring out the best in our kids. It takes a heck of an effort to beat them.

“I knew we could have trouble between 45 and 60,’ he added. “We’re not super strong there, and the three falls made things tougher.’

Parkland got three points from Frank Guida’s decision at 170, getting the team’s lead back to 12 (30-18) with three weights to go. But the Boyertown rally continued with the majors from Harvey and O’Connell.

From his 2-0 start at 182, Harvey poured on the points in the second and third periods for a 16-5 win over Nathan Feyrer. O’Connell faced a similar situation at 195, his 12-4 major aided in part by Trojan opponent Alexander Van Woert getting called for numerous stalling infractions.

“Our kids in the upper weights fought,’ Ventresca said.

With its latest Hershey experience in the books, Boyertown will be looking to finish atop the Pioneer Athletic Conference’s regular-season standings a second straight year. It will close out the dual-match portion of its schedule Tuesday by hosting Pottsgrove, then serve as host for the league’s individual tournament Saturday.

“We had some kids step up and get experience,’ Ventresca said. “That should pay dividends for the state tournament.’

NOTES — Parkland saw its own run in states ended in the fourth round of consolations with a 55-6 loss to Bethlehem Catholic. … Cumberland Valley and Franklin Regional, respective champions of District 3 and 7, advanced to the championship match with their semifinal wins over Belle Vernon (35-33) and Bethlehem Catholic (30-26). Franklin Regional, which claimed Spring-Ford as a first-round victim, won the AAA title by a 36-33 margin. … Bethlehem Catholic won the third-place match, rolling over North Allegheny 52-9. … In the Class AA bracket, Boiling Springs (Dist. 3) emerged as champion with a 36-21 victory over Chestnut Ridge (Dist. 5).

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