Pope John Paul II advances eight to Class AA Southeast Regional Meet

EXTON — Going through what Michael Collins did each of the past three seasons would have spelled the end of a career for even the most avid of wrestlers.

Collins missed out on postseason action in each of this first three seasons of high school wrestling dealing with everything from head injuries to blood disorders, so when he had to miss last week’s Pioneer Athletic Conference meet due to an illness, one could have easily thought that his string of bad luck was only showing itself once again.

This time, though, the Pope John Paul II senior 182-pounder wasn’t about to let anything stand in the way.

Collins rolled through the District 1 Class AA Championships field on Saturday at the Church Farm School, scoring a pair of early, first-period falls en route to a four-minute, 46-second decking of Lower Moreland’s Patrick Giordano in the final to secure his first-ever district title and the meet’s Most Outstanding Wrestler Award.

“It was devastating (missing out on the postseason the past three seasons),’ Collins said. “I mean, I’ve had my lows. Just not being able to participate, that was really a beat-down on me, but being able to beat the odds and come back and win this one, it was really a dream come true.

“There is really no way to describe it. I’m so pleased with how I am doing right now. I really wasn’t expecting (to win Most Outstanding Wrestler). I just went out there and did my job and just really did what I could. Obviously, that paid off.’

Golden Panther teammates Nick Yerger (126 pounds) and Luke Genetti (220) also won titles on Saturday, while Dave Mattiola (138) finished second, and Nick Boyce (106), Nate Aldinger (113), Vinnie Togno (170) and Danny Murphy (285) each finished third.

All eight Pope John Paul II wrestlers will advance to next weekend’s Class AA Southeast Regional Meet at Wilson High School in West Lawn.

Collins needed very little time to make a statement — and state his case for MOW — as he needed just 31 seconds to dispose of Phil-Mont Christian’s Lars Kang, before dropping New Hope-Solebury’s Michael Manz in just 1:05. His opponent in the final, Giordano, also pinned his way through the tournament, and looked like a proper foe for a championship match.

But Collins had other plans.

He scored a pair of nice double-leg takedowns to start the bout, and built a 4-1 lead in the first period, but couldn’t seem to turn Giordano for any back points. In the second, Collins let Giordano up to start the period and played a little game of “take him down and let him up’ to increase his lead to 8-4 entering the third period. But after starting from the bottom position, Collins got a big reversal and within seconds had Giordano on his back to register the fall.

“You just have to attack in these kind of matches, and know you can win,’ Collins said after the final. “This sport is just so mental, and if you know you can win, nine times out of 10 you’re going to put yourself in the position to win the match.

“It was important [winning the district title]. It was one of my main goals this year, and in order to get it, I knew I was just only going to have to keep working harder and harder.’

“[Collins] was very solid today,’ Pope John Paul II head coach Jared Every said. “He just gets to work in the match and scoring points early and then continues to build on his lead. He put all his guys away with a pin. I mean, he had a great offseason, and really built up, muscle-wise. He jumped up a weight class and just really performed at a really high level at this meet. We are very proud of him.’

Every said he wasn’t worried when he got the news that Collins would miss the PAC-10 meet last week, and the thought of his missing the postseason for a fourth consecutive year didn’t even cross his mind.

“It was really just frustrating for him (to miss the PAC-10 meet). He really wanted to wrestle in the PAC-10s and just have the chance to wrestle in the final. He was really focused, though, and realized that he wants to wrestle further into the postseason, and he took a big step toward that today.’

For Yerger, a sophomore, it was his second trip to the top of the podium stand in as many years, and he, too, needed only a little time to stake his claim to the 126-pound title. After a bye into the semifinals, Yerger needed just 43 seconds to dispose of Church Farm’s Eric Velazco, before catching Bristol’s Ricky Patterson just 1:08 into their bout for the fall and the title.

“To be honest, I had a little nerves in me (before the final),’ Yerger said. “I just wanted to get another win (in the final), and it was very important to get the first win in the finals for the team, because it helps us to feed off each other’s energy. It’s what a good team should do.’

Genetti, too, had some nerves before his finals match at 220, but they dissipated quickly when the Pope John Paul II senior caught New Hope-Solebury’s Tobias Mintzmyer on his back in just 33 seconds to score his first district title.

Similar to his two other teammates in the finals, Genetti pinned his way to a title, scoring a 31-second fall over Delco Christian’s Kouadio Toukou in the semis.

Mattiola was on-pace to join Yerger, Collins and Genetti at district champions, and was having a nice tournament after upsetting top-seeded Nathan Wilson of New Hope-Solebury in the semifinals. But his gold medal dreams were cut short by Lower Moreland’s Joao Mariani, who handed Mattiola a 10-1 major decision in 138-pound final.

“We had a pretty good showing today. Taking eight guys out (to regionals) is probably the most we’ve ever taken, so at this point, we are really have with how the guys wrestled,’ Every said. “Wrestling in the PAC-10, as tough as it is, really prepares us for the postseason in AA. It’s just a rigorous schedule, just with our dual meet league matches. It’s what really prepares us for (the district meet).’

NOTES — Lower Moreland won the team title, scoring 218 points and scoring wins in seven weight class finals. New Hope-Solebury (143 points) was second and Pope John Paul II (135) was third. Bristol (108) and Springfield Township (69) rounded out the top five. . . . Bristol ended the day with two champions, while New Hope-Solebury and Springfield Township each had one.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply