ROYERSFORD >> Monday mornings don’t always have to be a downer.
This Monday definitely wasn’t for the Spring-Ford wrestling team.
The Rams clinched a second straight undefeated Pioneer Athletic Conference season Monday morning with a 41-24 victory over Upper Perkiomen to retain the PAC championship.
“It’s pretty exciting, a nice way to finish our senior year especially given all that’s happened,” said Spring-Ford senior Zach Needles. “We’re really grateful to have the opportunity we do.”
It is Spring-Ford’s conference-best 13th league title and third in four years, a testament to the Rams’ highly-successful senior class that is headlined by four-year starters Jack McGill and Joey Milano, both returning PIAA medalists, and Needles.
“As a class we’ve just tried to stay together,” said McGill. “We’re the most successful class Spring-Ford has had in a while. We’ve had some success with guys in regionals as freshmen, a few in states sophomore and junior years and now we’re looking to get more than that this year. We’re trying to stay together and motivate the whole team so they can carry it on after us.”
Head coach Tim Seislove was quick to praise the contribution of the Rams’ Class of 2021.
“No doubt about it, these seniors have led the way,” he said. “This is their third championship in four years. A lot of these seniors have wrestled in every one of those matches. We have great senior leadership and have tremendous talent with Needles, McGill and Milano, but they’re not the ones that make the difference – it’s guys like DJ Francis, who got a big pin (Monday), Gus Carfagno, who battles every year and has gotten a lot of wins for us, Xavier Cushman, even Aaron Judge, who hasn’t been able to get in the lineup much but he came up big at Boyertown. Up and down the lineup, we’re blessed with a good group of seniors and good leadership.”
For some of those leaders, the individual aspirations of a traditional season had to take a back seat to what the regular season offered: a league-only 10-dual regular season with no tournaments.
“It’s been tough because we had some kids with certain goals when we finished the season last year. And unfortunately they didn’t have the ability to reach all those goals: McGill could have become by far our career wins leader and was shooting for 100 pins which is unheard of, Needles was shooting for 100 wins, and Joey, I don’t even know how many wins he would have ended up with,” Seislove said. “They lost a lot of those individual goals, but they rallied around and said, ‘Let’s win all our matches and make sure we beat everybody who comes into our gym.’”
McGill (160) and Francis (215) were winners by pin, Cushman scored a 4-1 win over Soren Svanson at 172 on Monday while Needles (152) and Milano (189) won by forfeit.
Spring-Ford’s other winners included Ryan Lepore (pin at 138), Quinn Smith (technical fall at 120) and Dominic Ortlip, whose tightly-contested 3-0 decision of Matt Milkowich at 113 clinched the dual.
Upper Perk (4-0 Frontier, 5-4 overall), the leaders of the PAC Frontier Division, kept things relatively close with Spring-Ford – only Owen J. Roberts wrestled to a closer final margin.
The Tribe’s winners included Keaton Durning (decision at 145), Damon Faraco (pin at 285), Brandan Rozanski (pin at 106), Joey Carpenter (decision at 126), and Shane Freeh (pin at 132).
In a normal year, the dual season would continue into the postseason phase and the Rams would be off to defend their District 1-3A title. But the adjustment of the calendar due to the COVID-19 pandemic has the individual tournaments – the District 1-3A North and South tournaments at Quakertown and Sun Valley, respectively, – starting this weekend.
The District 1 team tournament is up in the air at present while the PIAA has indicated tentative plans to stage its event after the completion of the individual state championships on March 13.
“With it being after individual, our minds are on that right now so we’re not thinking about it too much right now, but we’d like to get it in and defend our title,” McGill said. “Our first one last year, we were really excited about that, so we’d like to repeat there.”
NOTES >> The match was moved up due to the threat of an ice storm Monday evening. … Spring-Ford technically clinched the league crown before Monday’s match after 5-1 Boyertown had its dual with Pottsgrove cancelled, meaning the Bears could not match the Rams’ winning percentage even with a loss to Upper Perk … The weekend’s individual tournaments will take the top 8 at each weight class from the District 1 North (Suburban One League and PAC’s Methacton, Perkiomen Valley, Phoenixville, Pottsgrove, Pottstown, Upper Merion, Upper Perkiomen) and District 1 South (Central, Ches-Mont, Del Val Leagues, plus PAC’s Boyertown, Owen J. Roberts and Spring-Ford). The top four will advance to the Southeast 3A Regional at Oxford on Feb. 27.