Downingtown East’s Cummings nabs fourth at Hershey

HERSHEY — Many a talented lightweight has come to Hershey carrying high hopes only to return with unfulfilled dreams.

Where some of the upper weights may present less pitfalls with more multi-sport wrestlers, grapplers in the lower half of the weight classes brave the dangerous minefield, laden with year-round wrestlers, too small to play other sports.

Downingtown East’s Wade Cummings toiled his first two years, unable to escape the labyrinth, but Saturday his dream was finally realized when he stood on the podium as the 126-pound fourth-place state medalist of the Class AAA PIAA tournament at the Giant Center.

Cummings became the highest-placing Cougar in school history, as well the first lightweight from the Ches-Mont League to finish in the top four since West Chester Henderson’s Jermaine Jones won the 103-pound title in 2001.

Coatesville’s Zach Dellicompagni made his way to the medal stand as well, finishing eighth at 152 pounds. In a bit of history, Owen J. Roberts’ Derek Gulotta became the first Chester County four-time state medalist after placing sixth at 120.

Cummings, though, was the highest county medalist.

“The trip was unforgettable,’ Cummings said. “It’s the first time I’ve been successful here and I picked up a lot of experience and knowledge in wrestling tight matches.’

The East junior finished 49-4 on the season, losing to just two wrestlers all season. His quarterfinal loss to eventual two-time state champion, Luke Karam of Bethlehem Catholic, was the second at the hands of Karam, and in the third-place match, Cummings fell to Greater Latrobe’s Ethan McCoy for the second time this season, 5-3.

The taller McCoy scored takedowns in the second and third and staved off a furious rally by Cummings late in the final seconds.

“I usually do better against lanky guys because I can get more shots at their legs, but Karam and McCoy are never out of position,’ Cummings said. “They stay low with their hands down to protect their legs. That’s what I’m gonna get, especially at my height but I have to get to their legs and take advantage.’

Dellicompagni got a rude wakeup call in the morning session of consolations, as Bethel Park’s Nico Bonaccorsi managed a technical fall. From there, Dellicompagni tangoed with Jersey Shore’s Hadyn Swartwood in the seventh-place match.

Dellicompagni settled for an eighth-place medal that 12 other kids from the bracket would love to have, with a 6-2 loss.

“It feels great to be coming home with a medal,’ Dellicompagni said. “I wish I woulda done a little better, though.’

Dellicompagni was 14-14 after his first two years at Coatesville and finished his career with a record of 79-37.

“I don’t know if I ever imagined (a medal),’ Dellicompagni said. “But it’s been a goal for a long time and it’s a good feeling to get it.’

With a medal wrapped up coming in, Cummings’ mission was to keep climbing the podium. He had little resistance getting to the consi final, discarding Kiski’s Joe Blumer, 8-4, and then Boyertown’s Lucas Miller, 4-2.

Cummings has a career record of 134-10 going into his senior season. He is in great position to break the Chester County public school record of 154, set by Corey McQuiston of West Chester Rustin in 2012.

All eight of the placewinners at 126 are underclassmen, so Cummings will likely be seeing familiar faces if he makes his third and final trip to Hershey next winter.

“It’s definitely exciting coming back next year with a medal, and I was pretty successful, but it also shows how much work I have to do still,’ Cummings said. “I’m not where I need to be so this is fuel to fire up and keep working.’

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