Downingtown West rolls Henderson, wins first league title since ’08


WEST CHESTER — Downingtown West coach Brad Breese pointed down as he emphatically told his freshman, Grant Hanak, where to go to start the third period.

Never mind Hanak had scored two takedowns in the first, or that he had just been turned for three near-fall points to lose his lead in the second.

This wasn’t about winning a dual meet, anymore. It was about winning in the upcoming District 1-AAA Duals, and about winning in the postseason, and thanks to a 48-12 road win against West Chester Henderson, Wednesday night, it was about defending the Ches-Mont National Division title next year and beyond.

Hanak ended up getting tilted again in the third before he rolled Justin Tran to his back to score the final five points for a 9-7 victory. It was one of six decisions won by the Whippets, who claimed their first division championship since 2008.

Downingtown West’s Grant Hanak scores the winning near-fall points at 106 pounds. (Nate Heckenberger – For Digital First Media)

“At that point in the match it was pretty well at hand, and that was for (Hanak’s) mental state,” Breese said. “To get a win, he needed to get out of bottom to start believing he can win those matches. Sometimes it’s not just about winning today, but winning tomorrow and down the line. Sometimes you have to put them where they can build for the future.”

West (5-0 division, 14-3 overall) has amped up its intensity and expectations this season and the result was a lot of close wins in the first half of the dual. Gavin Hale (145 pounds) outdid Matt Phayre, 7-3, Max Hale (152) took down Ray Martin, 5-3, in overtime, Gio Angelini (160) edged Weston Frame, 5-2, and Joe Shafer scored four in overtime against Mario Wisnowski (195) to give the Whippets four tight decisions in the first six bouts.

“(Breese) is a little tougher on us this year, but that’s better for us,” Angelini said. “It makes us better wrestlers.”

Chase Meilnick (182), Cole Zapf (220) and Jesse Cook (285) all bumped up a weight or two and registered pins for West, who led 30-3 as the lineup turned over to Hanak at 106.

Downingtown West’s Jesse Cook closes in on a pin at 285. (Nate Heckenberger – For Digital First Media)

After Hanak nearly pinned Tran twice in the final minute, the most anticipated matchup happened between West junior Doug Zapf (113) and star freshman Killian Delaney. Zapf took the frosh down three times, giving up three escapes and a penalty point for a close call on a slam for a 7-4 victory.

West then got pins from Nick Lilley (132) and Alex Murta (138) to put an exclamation point on the banner night.

“It’s big because it’s something we’ve wanted from the beginning of the year,” Breese said. “I told the guys the first day of practice, the league wasn’t ours to win, it was ours to lose. There was a lot of chatter over the summer that we were the team to beat, so that took some of the zest out of it, but our guys responded really well. We’ll enjoy it for a couple minutes and then move on to working towards getting to state duals.”

The Whippets won 54 of the 70 bouts in the five divisional dual meets this season and head confidently into Friday’s District Duals quarterfinal with Methacton, who beat West 31-30 in late December.

Nick Lilley of Downingtown West pins at 132. (Nate Heckenberger – For Digital First Media)

“It feels good,” Angelini said. “Great, actually. We haven’t done it in eight years and we were not that good four years ago.”

On senior night, a pair of upperclassmen gave Henderson (3-2, 20-4) something to cheer about. Jonathan Early (170) pitched a 6-0 shutout, and Jake Reid (126) won by fall in the second period. Sophomore Luke Phayre also added a decision at 120 pounds.

The Warriors finished third in the National Division.
“I thought all in all, we battled hard,” Henderson coach Rob Beighley said. “(West) is solid top to bottom. They’re well-coached and they wrestle and they have a lot of experience. Our guys showed a lot of heart and went right at them.”

Downingtown West 48, West Chester Henderson 12

145- G. Hale (DW) dec. M. Phayre, 7-3 (3-0)

152- M. Hale (DW) dec. Martin, 5-3 SV (6-0)

160- Angelini (DW) dec. Frame, 5-2 (9-0)

170- Early (WCH) dec. Cusak, 6-0 (9-3)

182- Meilnick (DW) pinned McGuinness, 5:23 (15-3)

195- Shafer (DW) dec. Wisnowski, 8-4 SV (18-3)

220- C. Zapf (DW) pinned Robuck, 1:41 (24-3)

285- Cook (DW) pinned Foster, 4:23 (30-3)

106- G. Hanak (DW) dec. Ju. Tran, 9-7 (33-3)

113- D. Zapf (DW) dec. Delaney, 7-4 (36-3)

120- L. Phayre (WCH) dec. Byers, 7-1 (36-6)

126- Reid (WCH) pinned C. Hanak, 2:54 (36-12)

132- Lilley (DW) pinned Ja. Tran, 1:33 (42-12)

138- Murta (DW) pinned Baldwin, 1:56 (48-12)

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