Killoran’s last-second takedown highlights medal round at Southeast AAA Regionals

OXFORD — A new concept at the Southeast AAA Regional tournament is the designation of one championship bout as a “feature’ match.

The participating coaches voted to make the 126-pound duel between Council Rock South’s Zack Trampe and Downingtown East’s Wade Cummings as the one to cap the medal round. But any number of Boyertown wrestlers, coaches and fans no doubt have considered the 285-pound bout — and Tommy Killoran’s performance in it — a big enough attraction on its own merits.

Killoran produced perhaps one of the most dramatic showings in the medal round at Oxford. The Bear junior literally pulled off a last-second 4-3 victory over Neshaminy’s Bruce Graeber to emerge as Boyertown’s second regional champion.

“It was the last five seconds, and I knew I needed points to win,’ Killoran said after winding down from his nerve-wracking match. “If I had scored more points earlier, it wouldn’t have come to that.’

A double-leg takedown near the edge of the outside circle reversed a 3-2 deficit into a one-point win for Killoran (40-11), who is in his first year as a varsity-level wrestler. It may not have been the decider in the Bears’ team championship, but it made for a good finale.

“Heart’ was the word head coach Pete Ventresca used to sum up Killoran’s performance this year … one that included a Pioneer Athletic Conference individual championship, a silver medal at the District 1-AAA West tourney, and now a trip to Hershey for the PIAA Class AAA Tournament.

“I think he can place at states,’ Ventresca said. “He’s deceptive, he’s athletic, he’s quick and he’s got great balance. A lot of kudos to him.’

Another feature-match nomination, at least in the mind of Owen J. Roberts’ Derek Gulotta, could have been his latest go-round with Spring-Ford’s Ryan Hayes. The umpteenth clash of their careers saw Gulotta roll up an 8-4 victory on Hayes, who has edged him for top honors at 120 pounds in the PAC-10 tourney.

It was the last bit of vindication the OJR senior needed. His earlier wins came against opponents who beat him earlier in the year, when injury issues with his elbow and knee were a source of aggravation.

“That motivated me,’ he said. “As each match came up, I got more confidence.

“I’m back now.’

Killoran and Gulotta were among the six PAC-10 grapplers who stood atop the medal podium. Boyertown’s Jordan Wood reclaimed regional gold at 220, Roberts’ Demetri D’Orsaneo and Xavier Ferrizzi were champs at 138 and 195, respectively, and Upper Perk’s Dustin Steffenino took top honors at 113.

Across the board, 21 local wrestlers qualified to visit Hershey later this week. Owen J. will have one of the bigger contingents — and its biggest total in program history, with five moving on.

“We brought five here and got five through,’ head coach Steve DeRafelo said, “This is the best we could have hoped for.

“This is the first time we’ve had three (regional) champs. We wrestled as well as I could have hoped.’

A near-fall in the third period was all Steffenino needed to secure victory over Pennridge’s Kordell Rush in the 113-pound final. It has the UP senior heading back to Hershey, where he placed eighth in the same bracket last winter.

“It was just a regular tilt,’ he recalled. I work on it in practice all the time. I just clamped his wrist, and it worked.’

Steffenino (35-1) worked his way through the top of the 113 bracket, edging Quakertown’s Harrison Campbell 3-2 in the quarterfinals and blanking Council Rock South’s Ben Radner in the semifinals, 4-0.

D’Orsaneo was battling more than just Interboro’s Eric Thomas in the 138-pound final. A skinned lip forced the OJR senior (37-5) into several stoppages to stem the bleeding — a situation that displeased him to no end.

“I wanted to keep the match rolling,’ he said after accepting the gold medal for his 7-2 victory. “I keep in good shape, and the breaks kept me from keeping the match going and gave the other kid chances to rest.’

D’Orsaneo opened defense of his 2014 138-pound regional title with a pair of 12-2 majors on North Penn’s Mikey O’Brien and Spring-Ford’s Matt Krieble. Now he returns to Hershey with designs on improving on last year’s seventh-place finish.

‘I feel good about it,’ he said. “I know my bracket is tough, but I still want to get to the finals.’

Ferrizzi (36-5) continued the roll he had going since a second-place finish in the PAC’s 195-pound finals. The District 1-West champ started the weekend with a 9-0 major on Pennridge’s Andrew Reinhold, then scored a 1:05 pin of Quakertown’s Gavin Caroff in the semifinals.

The Wildcat junior hung on for a 3-2 victory over Central Bucks East’s Ben Kenis.

“It was a nice surprise,’ DeRafelo said. “He’s rock solid.’

Wood (15-0) set himself up for a rematch with Upper Darby’s Josh Yeboah-Gyasi, who he topped in the 1-West tourney’s 220-pound final on a third-period pin. The two-time state silver medalist needed just 43 seconds to dispatch Council Rock South’s Thiason Nguyen in the quarters, then — in a rematch with the first wrestler he faced in his return from an extended injury-recovery period — racked up a 16-4 major on Pennridge’s Ezra Outlaw in the semifinals.

The gold-medal match ended a victory for Wood when Yeboah-Gyasi was forced to default due to an injury at the 2:58 mark. It earns him a third trip to Hershey for individual-level competition, where he earned 220 silver the past two years.

“It’s a place that’s been satisfying and unsatisfying,’ he said. “The atmosphere is something, but I didn’t end up where I wanted to be the last two times.’

In addition to Hayes, other PAC wrestlers claiming silver medals were Owen J’s Dominick Petrucelli (145) and Boyertown’s Gregg Harvey (182). The Bears’ Jakob Campbell (106) and Lucas Miller (126) were among a legion of local bronze medalists that included Methacton’s Bryce Reddington (132), Pottstown’s Bryant Wise (138) and Spring-Ford’s Frankie Krauss (160) and Zachary Dorsey (285).

Spring-Ford had fourth-place medalists in Jon Cooper (152), Steve Rice (170) and Brendan Zimmie (195), joined by UP’s Eric Miller (138). Qualifying for Hershey with fifth-place finishes were OJR’s Ryan Resnick (113) and Spring-Ford’s Matt Krieble (138).

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