Marino keeps his composure to advance

HERSHEY — It wouldn’t be a state wrestling tournament without a Marino.

Not for Garnet Valley, at least. Matt Marino, carrying on the family tradition, beat Michael Scheetz of Northampton so soundly Thursday that his opponent took a swing at him … and of course missed.

Marino technically won by disqualification at 5:54 at 120 pounds in the Giant Center. That doesn’t do justice to the mastery of the foe. Marino constructed a 9-2 lead — which included penalty points for each — when the referee decided he’d had enough of Scheetz.

Like older brothers Joseph and Michael Marino, Matt Marino put himself squarely in the hunt for a medal.

“I was going to win that match,’ Marino said. “I was the better wrestler. More than half of this is mental. It’s about keeping your head. I lost it for a second, but I regained my composure. He never really regrouped.’

It was a huge day for Alex Elliott of Sun Valley, who at 160 pounds captured his first PIAA Class AAA Tournament bout with a 3-2 decision over Tristen Skelly of Mechanicsburg.

Elliott survived an early case of the chills. It wasn’t the eight inches of snow that turned the region into a parking lot so much as the surface. The Hershey Bears play their games here. The mats were stacked on top.

“I started off with the first takedown within 10 seconds into the match,’ Elliott said. “Then I got a stalling call when I threw my legs in because he stood up and I didn’t know really where to go from there.’

The wrestlers exchanged escapes and for Elliott, the rest was history.

“It’s a great experience, a great feeling,’ Elliott said. “It’s different. It’s not like any other tournament.’

They were among the biggest winners among Delaware County wrestlers on Day One of this odyssey.

Marino reached a milestone in hiking his record to 30-7. The antics of Scheetz, which included a refusal to shake the hand of Marino, didn’t detract from the win.

The testosterone still was bubbling when Marino explained what happened.

“To me it was just poor sportsmanship,’ Marino said. “We were going back and forth, a great match, two wrestlers just going at it. Both people thinking they’re going to win. And then things just got a little out of hand with the extracurricular stuff outside of the circle. One of the times he pushed me and tried to start a fight.

“I also was retaliating a little bit. But he (the referee) made us shake hands and I reached out my hand and he refused to shake it. When he eventually shook my hand it was because the ref threatened to throw him out … which ended up happening anyways. It’s just poor sportsmanship.’

Among other Delco wrestlers:

Colin Cronin of Upper Darby, the Southeast Regional champ at 132 pounds was eliminated.

It began unraveling for Cronin in the first match, a 7-5 loss in overtime to Lucas Schaf of Emmaus. Cronin had the lead until late in the match.

Cronin fought back from the pounding but TaNauz Gregory (Cathedral Prep) was too much in the consolation round, winning it 9-3.

At 170 pounds, Tom Meyers of Radnor was beaten, 6-0, by Chance Norris of Garden Spot.

At 120 pounds, Nick Puliti of Garnet Valley was eliminated. Puliti lost a 6-3 decision to Travis Smith of Nazareth in the pigtail round.

“In the first period he took me down,’ Puliti said. “In the second period he reversed me and got a turn, a two-count. After that I got a reversal and it was 6-2, then I got up and it was 6-3. I was pretty nervous coming into the tournament because I’ve never been here before. But I always was pretty excited. I’m almost happy I scored some points to get into it.’

Jacob Lizak of Parkland registered a 13-3 win over Puliti in the consolations.

At 132 pounds, Sun Valley’s Sean Donohue was eliminated. Donohue was beaten, 13-4, by Lucas Schaf of Emmaus and lost in the wrestleback, 6-4, to Garrett Kyner of Chambersburg.

Vanguards teammate Steve Okoorian also was eliminated as he was beaten, 3-1, by Idris White (Father Judge) and 9-7 by Jack Zimmerman (Penn Manor).

At 138 pounds, Interboro’s Eric Thomas was defeated, 8-1, by David Rump (Chambersburg).

At 152 pounds, Pat Rowe of Garnet Valley registered a 3-1 win over Quentin Milliken of Cumberland Valley to open the tourney.

“He got a stalling point and I kept pushing the pace,’ Rowe said of the point that gave him a 2-1 lead and helped turn the match around. “Then a takedown came eventually. It’s pretty intense out there. Pretty intense and it’s a great feeling, especially when you get a win out here.’

Rowe lost by fall in 1:36 to Vincenzo Joseph of Pittsburgh Central Catholic, but stayed alive with a 5-2 decision over Jon Cooper of Spring-Ford.

At 182 pounds, Joe Pyfer of Penncrest registered a 12-3 victory over Abdul Saad (Cocalico) in the pigtail round and surrendered a 6-0 decision to Kellan Stout (Mt. Lebanon).

Pyfer lived to wrestle another day as he beat Philip Stolfi of Souderton, 11-6.

On this night Marino and Elliott were the big highlights. So was the way the way Marino conducted himself in a difficult situation.

“It’s sad because it puts a bad face on wrestling,’ Marino said. “It’s one of the only sports where you shake hands before and after the match. That kind of defeats the purpose (of sportsmanship).’

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