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Upper Darby proves it’s in a league of its own

LOWER MERION — Upper Darby coach Bob Martin had a simple message for his team.

“I said to the kids, ‘ If you’re gonna be Central League champs, let’s close it out,” the veteran coach recalled.

His Royals did just that, coasting to victory Saturday in the Central League Tournament at Harriton High School. The regular season champions, to the tune of an 11-0 record, dominated with 208.5 points.

Conestoga was second with 166.5. Haverford finished third with 154. Upper Darby won its second title in the last three years and its 10th under Martin. For the program, Martin estimated it was the 12th or 13th crown.

“It means a lot of kids worked hard,’ Martin said. “Our kids worked hard, they came and they battled and they showed up at the matches.’

Jake Mejias (113), Colin Cronin (132) and Josh Yeboah-Gyasi (220) were victorious for the Royals. They are among the large contingent of Upper Darby wrestlers, and Delco wrestlers, who advanced to the Class AAA Disrtrict One-West Tournament, which will be next Saturday at Spring-Ford.

But it wasn’t just the winners that helped Upper Darby. Thomas Reif (106), Madhat Fares (195) and Pete Augustin (285) finished in second place. Coltrane Mosley-Jones (170) finished in fifth, but had to win a play-in match just to make the main tournament draw.

It all brought Martin back to the Governor Mifflin Holiday Tournament, which was held earlier this season near Reading. There, the Royals started to click. Martin knew heading into this season that he had a talented group. But that weekend let him know he had something special.

“We just turned it around,’ Martin said. “From that, it was the spark that we needed.’

As Upper Darby was doing its thing, Radnor’s Tom Meyers was taking care of business in the 170-pound weight class.

The top seed took home gold, pushing his record to 33-0 this season. He started his day with a pin of Mosley-Jones in 50 seconds. In the semis, he dominated Dan Wade of Conestoga, 15-4. In the final, it was a similar 13-4 victory over Haverford’s Matt Bloxton.

Meyers, the Central League champion at 160 last year, expected to do this well.

“I thought I was doing well,’ he said. “If I just wrestled (as) myself, I wouldn’t have a problem.’

He didn’t, and he hasn’t this season. Last year, Meyers placed second at districts before succumbing to the talent at the regional tourney. This year, his senior campaign, he wants to make it to Hershey.

“It would mean a lot,’ Meyers said. “It’s been a goal all throughout high school.’

But it’s not the only thing for Meyers. The lacrosse standout is headed to Massachusetts next year to play that sport. But his senior season, and collegiate career, playing that can wait.

For at least one more week, his focus is on wrestling. Saturday was a good day.

“It feels good to be back on top,’ Meyers said. “I’ve just got to focus on next week, districts.’

So does Upper Darby. The Royals haven’t won a title there in more than a decade. Martin, though, was confident his team wouldn’t buy in too much to its Central League dominance.

He’s been coaching them that way.

“Monday’s another day at work,’ Martin calmly affirmed.

Haverford’s Vince Tavani (106), Garnet Valley’s Matthew Marino (120), Springfield’s Chris Sciarrino (145), Penncrest’s Matt Young (160) and Joe Pyfer (182) and Strath Haven’s Justin Fremont (285) rounded out the Delco winners. Pyfer was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler of the meet.

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