Wrestling: Perez’s escape helps put Chichester in control

UPPER CHICHESTER >> Javoni Perez was in trouble and he knew it.

Glen Mills’ 170-pounder Jashamir Hardiman had Perez in a cradle and was about to turn the junior from Chichester over, which would have changed the momentum in the Del Val League showdown between the Bulls and the Eagles

A win by Hardiman meant the Bulls still had a chance to come back and secure their first league title since 2011.

As Perez fought back he thought about the big picture.

“We’ve worked too hard to let it slip away,” Perez said. “I’ve worked too hard and trained too much to lose. I’ve lost 10 pounds since the beginning of the season. I used to weigh in at 170 and now I’m under 160, but this wasn’t about me. I had to do this for the team.”

Perez worked his way out of Hardiman’s hold and pulled away for a five-point win that secured a 45-27 victory over the Bulls that put the Eagles in sole possession of first place in the Del Val League and in control of the championship race.

Chichester (17-2 overall, 3-0 Del Val League) can win the title outright next Wednesday with a win over Interboro. If the Bucs are victorious, Chi and Glen Mills will share the title.

“We still have more work to do,” Chichester coach Jim  Beletti said.

The 7-2 win by Perez capped a string of three straight victories by the Eagles that foiled any chance Glen Mills (14-7, 3-1) had of winning after back-to-back pins by the Bulls’ Clifton Ford at 138 pounds and Tyler Simpson at 145 cut a 27-9 deficit to 27-21.

Nick Baney was the unlikely hero there in that three-match swing for the Eagles. The sophomore had to fill in at 152 pounds for senior Dylan Cordingley, who was out with a sinus infection, according to Beletti.

It was the first varsity match of Baney’s career.

“I found out (Tuesday) that I might be coming up, but I wasn’t sure until (Wednesday),” Baney said. “It was a big deal.”

Was he nervous?

“A little bit,” Baney said. “It was a close match so I knew I couldn’t lose. I had to win. I just tried to blow it off and go out there and wrestle my style.”

Baney beat Kerry Cotrell, 7-5, to give the Eagles a little breathing room.

“That was a heartbreaker,” Glen Mills coach Matt Shannon said. “We were hoping to get some points there, but their kid did a real nice job.”

The Eagles were not out of the woods. Glen Mills still had a chance to retake the lead and win the title, but Noah Harvey and Perez made sure that did not happen.   

Harvey then pinned Rod Tate in 1 minute, seven seconds to tive the Eagles a 36-21 lead and set the stage for Perez.

“I wasn’t sure how Nick would do,” Beletti said. “Dylan has 16 pins for us, but Nick came through. I wasn’t sure who to wrestle 160 and 170. We could have put Jovani at 160 and Noah at 170. I decided to go with Noah at 160 and Jovani at 170 and I think I made the right decision. Javoni is tough. He doesn’t give up. He’s our little powerhouse.”

Perez knew what was at stake. He was told before he stepped on the mat that he could secure the win with a victory.

“I didn’t feel any pressure,” Perez said.

He did, though, when Hardiman had him in a cradle, but then Perez thought about what was at stake and found a way to get out of that situation to win the match.

“We have a lot of guys who have stepped in to help us this year,” Perez said. “We had three backups in tonight, but guys came through. That’s what we’ve been doing all year.”    

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