Boyertown stays on course for 4th straight duals title; OJR, Methacton still alive

LOWER POTTSGROVE >> It’s been familiar ground for Boyertown the first week of February each season.

Wrestling for a District 1 Class AAA Duals Tournament championship has been a regular part of the Bears’ routine for three years running. That run has now been extended to four, as a result of their showing at Pottsgrove Friday in the continuation of the District 1 Class AAA Duals Tournament.

Boyertown continued validation of its top-seeded status with victories over West Chester Rustin (38-27) and Garnet Valley (48-18). It will seek a “fourpeat” Saturday when it faces Council Rock South in 3 p.m.’s title tilt.

“The kids came out and wrestled, especially the second match,” head coach Pete Ventresca said. “Both teams are tough.”

Boyertown’s David Campbell collects near-fall points during a technical fall against Jon Reardon of West Chester Rustin at 126 pounds. (Nate Heckenberger – For Digital First Media)

Two other Pioneer Athletic Conference entries will be looking to join the Bears in the state duals through the consolation bracket. Owen J. Roberts rebounded from a 39-23 loss to Garnet Valley with a 39-29 win over Rustin, and Methacton fell into the consis with a 31-24 loss to Council Rock South — that after edging Downingtown West in the quarterfinals, 30-28.

“It’s fantastic. It couldn’t be better,” senior Chris Berry said after helping Boyertown (20-2) position itself back in the district’s championship match. Berry was back in action after being out with a medical issue, and he celebrated his return with a pin and one-point decision at 160 and 152, respectively, against Rustin and GV.

“We have our whole lineup back together,” he added. “Now we don’t have to worry about our lineup instead of worrying about the match.”

Boyertown found itself in a neck-and-neck duel with Rustin, which held a tenuous 27-26 lead with two weights left to contest. But its lightweights effected the winning turnaround, Matt Wilde pinning Nate Johnson 21 seconds in at 113 before Connor Neiswender wrapped things up with a 1:32 drop of Gabe Lourido at 126.

Boyertown’s Chris Berry rides out Garnet Valley’s Nick Puliti during a 1-0 win at 152 pounds. (Nate Heckenberger – For Digital First Media)

That came after Chase Stehman posted a buzzer-beating technical fall on Varday Jacobs at 106. Prior to that, Rustin held a 27-21 lead with Padraic Kearns scoring a pin at 285.

“It was a nailbiter,” Ventresca said of the match. “They came out after us. But we got the matchups we wanted.”

Boyertown took an early 8-0 lead on Rustin with David Campbell’s technical fall of Jonathan Reardon at 126 and Jakob Campbell’s 6-2 decision of Brett Kaliner at 132. But the Golden Knights used three decisions between 138 and 1:52 to go up 12-8.

Rustin boosted its lead to 21-14, after Berry pinned Ethan Harkins at 160, to regain a 21-14 advantage. Boyertown responded by winning five of the final six weight classes.

“Everybody we put out there wrestled their toughest,” Ventresca said.

Boyertown’s Jacob Miller celebrates after pinning Garnet Valley’s Jeremy Lauer in the second period at 170 pounds. (Nate Heckenberger – For Digital First Media)

The semifinal with Garnet Valley didn’t have the same level of drama for Boyertown as its opener. The Bears racked up six pins after forcing a 9-9 tie with Hunter Vogels’ 8-4 decision of Robbie Peters at 160 — four of them in the final weights, from 106 to 126.

Jacob Miller started the Bear’ pin clinic with a 3:42 fall on Jeremy Lauer at 170, and Elijah Jones followed with a 1:21 of Ryan Mortimer at 182. The clinic continued with Chase Stehman’s 2:27 drop of Kevin Puliti at 106, Matt Wilde decking Matt Flicker 39 seconds into the 113-pound duel, Neiswender pinning Dillon Conlon in 4:39 at 120 and David Campbell getting the slap on Ethan Cooper 1:19 at 126.

Boyertown also benefited from decisions by Jakob Campbell (138), Vogels (160) and Michael Porreca (24-9). The closest the Jaguars were able to come to catching the Bears was with Ryan Rushton’s decision at 220 and a forfeit of 285 to Tommy Mahoney.

“We’re trying to get them (younger wrestlers) to understand the mindset at duals, to make every match count,” Berry said.

With its Friday sweep, Boyertown has punched its ticket to Hershey for next week’s PIAA Class AAA Duals at the Giant Center. The Bears were finalists at the 2016 tourney, topped by Bethlehem Catholic 37-12.

“We’ll focus on that after (Saturday),” Ventresca said.

Owen J’s duals-title bid now hinges on the outcome of its consi-semifinal match with Methacton. It can qualify for states by reaching the third-place contest, with District 1 advancing four Class AAA schools this year.

“That’s always our goal, to get through the next round,” OJR head coach Steve DeRafelo said. “Our goal is still the same.”

Owen J. Roberts’ Ryan Resnick closes in on a pin at 160 pounds against West Chester Rustin’s Ethan Harkins Friday. (Nate Heckenberger – For Digital First Media)

Roberts fell off GV’s pace after the Jaguars took a 9-3 lead three bouts in. A Sal Pizzuto pin at 132 and Matt Marino decision at 138 gave GV a lead Owen J. was unable to top the rest of the way.

Ryan Resnick’s 32-second pin of Jeremy Lauer at 160 and Nick Duliakas’ technical fall of Brian West at 220 were OJR’s big strikes. But Garnet also got pins from Nick Puliti (152), Ryan Martinez (182) and Ryan Rushton (195) to drop the fourth-seeded ‘Cats into the consolation bracket.

“We let Garnet Valley control tieups on our feet,” Ventresca recalled. “We talked about it, and did a better job of that in the second match.”

Dan Mancini (145), Ryan Resnick (160), Nick Duliakas (220), Alejandro Acosta (285), David Forrest (106) and Luke Resnick (120) all scored pins on the Jaguars. Jacob Zollers completed the Wildcats’ scoring with a 9-4 decision at 182.

Owen J. Roberts’ David Forrest tries to pin West Chester Rustin’s Varday Jacobs at 106 pounds. (Nate Heckenberger – For Digital First Media)

“Zollers, Acosta both had big wins,” DeRafelo noted.

“Acosta battled it. He’s worked hard on his conditioning, and that played into it.”

NOTES >> Vogels upped his win total for his scholastic career to 99 with his win against Garnet Valley. He’s dealing with an ankle sprain sustained in Wednesday’s match with Spring-Ford, and sat out the match with Rustin. …Vogels could continue a recent routine of Boyertown having wrestlers reach the 100-win mark at district duals. “I’m hoping we can make that more of a tradition,” Ventresca said. “We’d like to have more guys get 100 wins.”

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