Relying on depth, Radnor bests Marple Newtown

RADNOR >> In the season of giving, depth may be the best present a wrestling coach can receive.

So says Radnor boss Matt Torresani, who saw his Raiders run their record to 2-0 overall and in the Central League with a 41-24 win over Marple Newtown Wednesday evening.

“The ability to fill a full lineup has been an immense improvement this year. And it makes a huge difference in dual meets,” said Torresani. “That’s what makes the sport of wrestling great. This match was exciting tonight. Our match last week against Springfield was exciting. That’s because there were 14 matches. As a coach, you feel like you’re doing something right.”

Radnor’s Noah Pepper has a grip on Marple Newtown’s Shane Benedict Wednesday night. Pepper’s pin was crucial to Radnor’s 41-24 win. (Digital First Media/Anne Neborak)

Radnor followed suit with a methodical display against the visiting Tigers. Starting at 160 pounds, the Raiders took four of the first five bouts with each going the distance. It was the kind of performance that hints at a team in control of both its lineup and wrestling.

And the seniors, those who’ve gutted it out through some meek years, set the standard. Captain Samuel Bupp opened the match with a 12-3 major decision over A.J. Katrakakis.

“It was really important to start strong for the team,” said Bupp. “I saw it as my responsibility to start it off strong and get out there and get as many points as we could get. I think it was important to set an example for everyone else, to show what we needed to do.”

The key moment came in the dying seconds. With just eight tics left on the clock, Torresani yelled at Bupp to get one more takedown. Bupp obliged, sending the hosts to an early 4-0 lead.

Fellow senior John Herbison followed with a 6-2 decision at 170. Then Jack Horvath bested Tommy Long 9-1 to stretch the advantage to 11-0. After Marple got on the board through Eric Hulsey (195), Torresani threw sophomore Tom Subak, in lieu of 2015 regional qualifier Naair Williams, against Damian Salvino at 220. The move reflected a confident coach and one with options. Subak got the job done with an 11-3 major decision, before Williams fell to Anthony Goodman, now 7-1 on the year. Still, In previous seasons, when bonus points are paramount to offsetting forfeits, Torresani doesn’t make that call.

“Naair just got caught,” Torresani said. “It’s unfortunate. I expect big things from him.”

That win brought the Tigers within six at 15-9. Goodman used his size advantage and experience to slow the quicker Williams.

“I reversed him last year and he beat me in districts,” explained Goodman. “You just got to know how he wrestles and learn his mindset.”

Marple failed to build on the victory. Radnor won three of the next four matches, which included back-to-back pins from Noah Pepper (106) and Chris Henkel (113). The Tigers (1-1, 1-1) got a dose of bad luck as well. In the 126-pound bout, Jon Long led Mike McShea into the third period. But he caught a calf cramp and limped to an 8-4 defeat. Dolan Cox had it worse. His shoulder came out against Grady Dendunnen, forcing an injury default and six clinching points the Raiders’ way. The final didn’t necessarily tell the full story, although Goodman saw need for improvement.

Radnor’s Mike McShea, left, turns Marple Newtown’s Jon Long on the way to an 8-4 decision in Radnor’s 41-24 victory. (Digital First Media/Anne Neborak)

“We got to work on some things,” he said. “We wrestled kind of sloppy. We can fix it. We can come back better.”

There’s little doubt of that. Wednesday’s match provided a window into what will be a deeper Central League in 2017. Marple gave Radnor all it could handle. The Raiders responded impressively. They’ll get a few weeks to prep for the new year and continue to grow as a program.

“I mean it’s the first time in my four years, I think, that we’ve had a full lineup,” said Bupp. “And it’s really showing how important it is with our win against Springfield last week and now a win this week. It’s been a lot of fun. We’ve been putting the work in and getting wins.”

Torresani is basking in the results.

“I’ve been preaching two big things: weight room and wrestling basic — simple wrestling,” he said. “They’re starting to buy into that approach. I think we’re going to be a tough team to beat.”

Also in the Central League:

Garnet Valley 62, Lower Merion 18 >> Nick Puliti and Brian West scored pins at 152 and 220 pounds, respectively, as the Jaguars pegged back two straight wins by the Aces to start the match in what became a rout.

Kevin Puliti (106) and Gavin Hollingsworth (120) picked up lopsided decisions in their matches for GV (5-2 overall, 2-0 league).

James Lledo and Sam Wrightson tallied pins for Lower Merion at 132 and 138, respectively, to earn the Aces a short-lived edge.

In the Ches-Mont:

Unionville 39, Sun Valley 30 >> Nicholas Bailey and Hunter Catka scored consecutive pins at 182 and 195 to give the Vanguards a lead, but they couldn’t sustain it.

Down 12 points late, Alex Buonopane recorded a pin at 132 and Rob Conlin notched a decision at 138, but it wasn’t enough.

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