Malvern Prep caps another historic season on the mats

After years of steady incline, Malvern Prep is now at the point of measuring itself against Blair Academy (NJ) and Wyoming Seminary.

Gone are the days of comparing themselves to the rest of the Inter-AC League or successes of prior years. The Friars are attempting to become a perennial national power, and after another impressive season, the gap between them and the big two is closing.

This past weekend, at Lehigh University, Malvern crowned three champions at the National Prep tournament, getting seven others to the podium. The Friars finished third, 48.5 points behind Wyoming Sem, and 79 behind Blair.

“It was unreal,” Malvern coach Nate Lautar said. “To me, it’s a culmination of all the hard work these kids put in for years. A lot of them have been together for such a long time, growing up in our youth program. We were in the same spot as last year, behind Blair and Wyoming Sem, but we’re inching closer.”

Juniors Ryan Karoly (182 pounds) and Mike Beard (195) and senior Seth Janney (285) won titles, while junior PJ Crane (138) finished runner-up.

West Chester resident, Dalton Harkins (106), placed third, while Coatesville residents Henry Hague (120) and Nick Florschutz (170) took sixth and eighth, respectively.

“Dalton had a great tournament,” Lautar said. “Henry comes from an unbelievable family and the kid will do anything you ask him to do. He has a heart of gold and will run through a wall for you. … Nick was hurt most of the season and he had to play catch-up, but he stepped right in and got All-American. He’s so solid and is always in good position.”

Malvern’s Shane Hanson-Ashworth. (Nate Heckenberger – For Digital First Media)

Also garnering All-American status were Shane Hanson-Ashworth (third at 113), Mark Salvatore (third, 126) and Jeff Klenk (fourth, 160).

“Klenk had a fantastic season,” Lautar said. “Coming in unseeded and finishing fourth, he had a breakout tournament. He’s always been very good but hadn’t had the opportunity to jump in the lineup. He got his opportunity and stepped up at the right time.”

Malvern was without two of its regular starters for the postseason, as Micah Visuwan (132) and Flynn Leaf (220) were suspended for violating school rules.

Beard, meanwhile, was as dominant as anyone in Chester County history and was named National Prep Wrestler of the Year. The junior went 49-0 on the season, winning titles at Ironman, Beast of the East and Escape the Rock. At Nationals he wracked up three pins, a major decision and a technical fall in the finals.

“Mike had the best season anyone could ever have,” Lautar said. “He’s just unbelievable and he’s a great kid to have in the program.”

Janney will head to Cornell University to wrestle next year, but he, Klenk and Brian Gola are the only seniors on the team.

Malvern Prep’s coaches, Nate Lautar, left, and Nate Wacther. (Nate Heckenberger – For Digital First Media)

Lautar was named National Prep Coach of the Year, and Nate Wachter was awarded Assistant Coach of the Year. Also on the staff are Mazen Kholi, former Malvern All-American Ricky Durso and former Conestoga star Jack Chidester.

“I’m lucky to have this coaching staff,” Lautar said. “We couldn’t be the program we are without great parents and a great coaching staff.”

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