Young Whippets edge Vikings on Senior Night


EAST GOSHEN — It was Senior Night for West Chester East, Wednesday, but Downingtown West’s youth ruined any plans for a celebration.

In a dual meet that had five lead changes and was split down the middle in matches won, it all came down to the finale. West freshman Joe Shafer (160 pounds) patiently pulled out the decision over senior Justin Cooper, 7-2, and sealed the Ches-Mont National contest, 31-27.

West (3-0 division, 8-0 overall) won four of the final five bouts, all with underclassmen, to stay undefeated and set up an unofficial division championship dual next Wednesday against 4-0 Downingtown East.

“Everyone was willing to step up and do what was needed for the team,” West coach Brad Breese said. “Every week is a new test to see how far we’ve come and every week we keep proving we can hang with people.”

Shafer entered to do-or-die bout with just 15 varsity matches under his belt, but was able to counter Cooper’s shots and score three takedowns.

“Breese came up to me and said you either win or lose the match for us, so I knew I had to win,” Shafer said. “The first period was kind of slow, but I knew I could get him eventually.”

Downingtown West's Joe Shafter works against West Chester East's Justin Cooper.
Downingtown West’s Joe Shafter works against West Chester East’s Justin Cooper.

Neither wrestler scored in the first, but Breese said that played right into his freshman’s hands.

“I knew Joe had a chance,” Breese said. “He is able to slow guys down and capitalize on it and he has a good style for that. I knew he had a chance if he didn’t get taken down early. He has a way of frustrating kids and if someone makes a mistake, he usually capitalizes.”

The Vikings (1-2, 9-5) built their biggest lead (24-13) just past the midway point thanks to a decision by Ethan Samuel (113) and pins by Tommy Luke (120) and Noah Hankin (126).

East freshman Andrew DiBernardo (152) nearly pinned Gio Angelini and held on for a 3-2 win, but that was the only win the Vikes could get in the final five bouts.

“We knew it would probably come down to 152 and 160,” East coach John Gallo said. “(West) was favored at 132, 138 and 145, and Andrew was able to hang on at 52 for a great win. We had a senior on the mat on senior night to win the dual.”

Before the climactic ending, West’s youngsters made it possible. Sophomore Nick Lilley (132) turned a 5-2 lead into a third-period fall to cut West’s deficit to five. Junior Alex Murta (138) earned a decision and Gavin Hale (145) gave the Whippets the lead for good.

Up 2-0 after one, Breese told Hale to take the up position, and the sophomore rewarded his coach by using an arm bar to deck Peter Fabiani with 27 ticks left in the second.

“Gavin is a beast on top and he was having trouble getting his guy to the mat,” Breese said. “Once he got his kid down in the first and started to crack him, I knew he was ready to be done with him. I wanted him to start on top to keep that mindset and once Gavin turns you, you’re pinned. He’s an animal.”

Gavin Hale of Downingtown West nears a pin at 145 pounds.
Gavin Hale of Downingtown West nears a pin at 145 pounds.

East won three of the first four, two in the ultimate tiebreaker period. Aaron Nelson (170) and Mike Manieri (195) were able to squeak out wins in the final overtime, and Erik Gassenmeyer bumped up and won at 220.

Chad Giles (285) and Doug Zapf (106) gave the Whippets a brief lead with a decision and major decision, respectively.

“We talked about this match all week and Breese had faith in us,” Shafer said. “We knew we could get the win and (East) thought they could get the win also, but I guess we proved we were better.”

Both teams will compete in the Class AAA District 1 Duals tonight, with the Vikes seeded No. 13 and West, No. 15. Wednesday’s result came too late to affect the seeding, but the Whippets will head to No. 2 Council Rock South with an extra spark, while East heads to West Chester Rustin to face No. 4 Upper Darby.
Downingtown West 31, West Chester East 27

170- Nelson (WCE) dec. Clements, 5-4 UTB (0-3)

182- C. Zapf (DW) won by forfeit (6-3)

195- Manieri (WCE) dec. Madanat, 3-2 UTB (6-6)

220- Gassenmeyer (WCE) dec. Duplicki, 10-4 (6-9)

285- Giles (DW) dec. Narvaez-Rivera, 2-0 (9-9)

106- D. Zapf (DW) maj. dec. Celenza, 14-5 (13-9)

113- Samuel (WCE) dec. Byers, 5-2 (13-12)

120- Luke (WCE) pinned Cardi, 1:46 (13-18)

126- Hankin (WCE) pinned Hanak, 4:26 (13-24)

132- Lilley (DW) pinned Blum, 4:41 (19-24)

138- Murta (DW) dec. Phillips, 4-2 (22-24)

145- Hale (DW) pinned Fabiani, 3:33 (28-24)

152- DiBernardo (WCE) dec. Angelini, 3-2 (28-27)

160- Shafer (DW) dec. Cooper, 7-2 (31-27)

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