Upper Perkiomen pins Phoenixville for Frontier lead

PHOENIXVILLE >> Upper Perkiomen is espousing the “strength in numbers” concept in a big way this winter.

With some programs’ rosters hit by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, success in filling out a lineup equates even more to success on the mats. That’s been a factor in the Indians’ recent resurgence, and it’s very much a factor in what they’re accomplishing in 2021.

UP moved one step closer to a championship finish in the Pioneer Athletic Conference’s Frontier Division Saturday when it visited Phoenixville. The Indians put more grapplers on the mat (10) than the Phantoms (six), and that differential itself helped secure a 51-10 victory in the pairing of divisional co-leaders.

Three pins figured in the Tribe’s winning mix, as did a decision at 120. UP (4-0 PAC Frontier, 5-3 overall) can retain its Frontier title when it faces Pottsgrove (2-0) — the Falcons were idled for two weeks due to the pandemic — Tuesday.

“You never know who’s going to weigh in, or how many bouts there will be,” head coach Steve Adam said. “It’s tough to prepare for an opposing team’s lineup.”

Which makes the ability to fill all or many slots such a premium, he noted.

“Having large numbers is something good to have,” Adam added. “There are still issues filling a lineup.”

Helping UP’s cause was having a 4-2 edge in the contested weights. That negated the one weight class it forfeited to Phoenixville (3-1, 3-5) — both teams forfeited 145 and 152 — and the Phantoms’ wins at 138 and 189.

Shane Freeh’s pin 90 seconds in at 132 staked the Indians to an initial 27-point lead, and Keaton Durning followed at 145 with a second-period (2:29 drop). A third, by Soren Svanson at 172, preceded forfeits at 215 and 285 going UP’s way.

“I want to go out and try my best … work hard and think about the techniques I use to face my opponents,” Svanson said.

Taking a 6-2 lead in the first period, Svanson got the slap at 3:26. It effectively sewed up the team victory, giving the Tribe a 39-4 advantage following the double-forfeits and the upper-weight forfeits.

“I’ve been working in practice on sprawling more, being aggressive and staying calm whenever I can,” he said.

“He (Svanson) outwrestled a kid who had a 4-2 record,” Adam noted. “He was able to put him on his back.”

Matt Milkowich gave UP a 14-9 decision of Justin Meyers at 120, good for a 15-0 lead.

Phoenixville’s scoring came from Jake Geiger’s major decision of UP’s Tyler Hoffer at 138, Owen Koch’s 2:30 pin at 189 and a forfeit of 126 to Joey Carpenter.

Facing an opposite situation in the numbers game, Phantom head coach Brandan Clark is nonetheless pleased with the effort his undermanned roster is putting out.

“I couldn’t be more proud,” he said. “The improvements they’ve made since the start of the season have been incredible. With higher numbers, we could give anybody in the Frontier Division a run for their money.

“The score doesn’t reflect the improvements. Everyone gave a fight.”

Upper Perk starts off the new week, one leading up to District 1’s North and South tournaments next weekend, with key matches. It will visit Liberty Division power Spring-Ford 11 a.m. Monday, a reschedule from UP’s home gym attempting to bypass wintry weather Tuesday, then host Pottsgrove Wednesday looking to sew up the Frontier championship.

“There are challenges we’ll face,” Adam said, “but the kids have to adjust to them.”

NOTES >> Both coaches expressed optimism about having wrestlers able to qualify for the District 1 tournaments next Saturday. “Our biggest is Owen (Koch),” Clark said. “He’s beaten everyone in the division, and he’s ranked third in the region.” Adam: “We should have half our kids in. We’re thankful to have a season; an invitation to the post-season is not our focus.” … Prior to the match, a moment of silence was observed for John Volpe, father of a Phoenixville wrestler with the same name. The elder Volpe died earlier in the week.

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