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WC Henderson’s Cortese shocks even himself as 1 of 3 Ches-Mont champs

OXFORD >> West Chester Henderson’s Carmen Cortese could hardly believe what happened.

Certainly no one else in the Oxford High gym, Saturday night, was prepared for what transpired in the waning seconds of the 120-pound final, either.

Trailing Quakertown’s Mason Ziegler, 3-1, Cortese arched back, from the bottom position, forcing Ziegler to his back. Cortese controlled him just enough for a defensive pin to be called as time expired.

Cortese is Henderson’s first Class 3A Southeast Regional champ since 2005, whether or not reality set in.

West Chester Henderson’s Carmen Cortese forces a defensive pin against Quakertown’s Mason Ziegler to win the 120-pound championship. (Nate Heckenberger – For MediaNews Group)

“I was in shock,” Cortese said. “I honestly didn’t know what to think. I was so excited, words can’t describe my emotions.”

The Henderson junior started the two-day tournament as the No. 4 seed, but knocked off the eventual second, third and fourth-place finishers to clinch his second state qualification.

West Chester Henderson’s Carmen Cortese. (Nate Heckenberger – For MediaNews Group)

“Honestly, it’s all surreal,” Cortese said. “I was banging with Ziegler over the summer a couple times and was just hoping for it to be a little closer. It came out in my favor. I have no words.”

Two other locals — Oxford’s Cannon Hershey (126 pounds) and Downingtown West’s Dom Findora (138) — claimed titles, while 10 others placed in the top five to qualify for the PIAA tournament, beginning Thursday.

Downingtown West’s Dom Findora accepts the Outstanding Wrestler award. (Nate Heckenberger – For MediaNews Group)

Prior to the finals, Findora was awarded the Sportsmanship Award by the referees, and after a 9-2 win against Perkiomen Valley’s Kelly Kakos to seal his second straight regional title, Findora was named Outstanding Wrestler. 

Findora became the first wrestler from West to qualify for states all four years and gave the Whippets a champion for the sixth straight season.

Downingtown West’s Dom Findora lifts Perkiomen Valley’s Kelly Kakos during a 9-2 win in the 138-pound final. (Nate Heckenberger – For MediaNews Group)

“I’m grateful and glad I got it done,” Findora said. “I still have goals, but this was a good stepping stone toward those goals. It’s my last ride with my coaches and teammates and friends, and I’m grateful for their help in getting me closer to those goals.”

Hershey will be making his third trip to states, but first time as a regional champion. He is now the lone undefeated active wrestler in District 1, at 36-0, and used a second-period pin against Garnet Valley’s Matt Ricci as the exclamation point on his stellar tournament.

Oxford’s Cannon Hershey pins Garnet Valley’s Matt Ricci for the 126-pound title. (Nate Heckenberger – For MediaNews Group)

“It means a lot,” Hershey said. “I was in this position two years ago and ended up not coming out on top so it feels good.”

Marek Seaman (172) became West Chester Rustin’s first regional finalist since 2012, but dropped a 13-6 decision to Interboro’s Dom D’Agostino. After qualifying for states as a sophomore, but not getting to wrestle in Hershey due to the pandemic altering the postseason, Seaman will fulfill a lifelong dream.

“This time feels real,” Seaman said. “Holding this Hershey bar, it’s special. I think about being a little kid and going up, thinking one day that could be me, it’s exciting and I’m going to make the best of it.”

West Chester Rustin’s Marek Seaman. (Nate Heckenberger – For MediaNews Group)

In the semifinals, Pardo was dominant on his feet, taking down second-seeded Lucas Doyle of Council Rock South three times en route to a 9-7 win. The finals ended in a pin by Central Bucks West’s Carl DiGiorgio, but the Kennett sophomore earned his place in Hershey.

“It’s nice to move on to states,” Pardo said. “I didn’t get what I wanted, but I’m still thankful.”

Kennett’s John Pardo. (Nate Heckenberger – For MediaNews Group)

Pardo was one of four from Kennett to qualify for states, breaking the old school record of three, set in the Class 2A tournament in 1975.

Josh Barlow (160) and Darrale Barrett (172) took fourth for the Blue Demons, while Bailey Shindle (285) placed fifth.

Kennett’s Josh Barlow celebrates his consolation semifinal win with his father, Josh Barlow. (Nate Heckenberger – For MediaNews Group)

Henderson advanced three, with Palmer Delaney (fourth at 145) and Billy Wilson (fifth, 132) joining Cortese.

West Chester East’s Max Parnis (138), Conestoga’s Jake Allred (189) and West’s Mason Hale (215) earned the fifth and final spots at their respective weights.

Unionville’s Cole Haines (106), Coatesville’s Andrij Szczesniuk (113), Oxford’s Austin McMillan (132), Kennett’s Josh Kochersperger (152) and Rustin’s Ryan Corp (160) were a win shy with sixth-place finishes. All but Corp will return next season.

Conestoga’s Jake Allred. (Nate Heckenberger – For MediaNews Group)

Team Standings

1. Quakertown, 123; 2. Council Rock South, 119.5; 3. Garnet Valley, 85; 4. Strath Haven, 81.5; 5. Council Rock North, 80; 6. Boyertown, 76.5; 7. West Chester Henderson, 73; 8. Kennett, 72; 9. Spring-Ford, 71.5; 10. Downingtown West, 64; 17. Oxford, 38; 22. West Chester Rustin, 30; 25. Conestoga, 22.5; 31. Unionville, 14; 33. West Chester East, 12; 35. Coatesville, 11; 46. Downingtown East, 2; 48. Avon Grove, 1; 49. Great Valley, 0.

Championship Finals

106- Sement (Council Rock North) tech. fall Reitter (Council Rock South), 4:35

113- Burke (Council Rock North) pinned C. Smith (Spring-Ford), 4:00

120- Cortese (WC Henderson) pinned Ziegler (Quakertown), 6:00

126- Hershey (Oxford) pinned Ricci (Garnet Valley), 3:46

132- Gaj (Quakertown) pinned Geiger (Souderton), 1:02

138- Findora (Downingtown West) dec. Kakos (Perk Valley), 9-2

145- Babb (Boyertown) dec. S. Sadriddinov (Council Rock South), 6-4 SV

152- B. Sadriddinov (Council Rock South) dec. Morrow (North Penn), 3-1

160- C. Barlow (Strath Haven) dec. Colajezzi (Council Rock South), 2-1

172- D’Agostino (Interboro) dec. Seaman (WC Rustin), 13-6

189- Collins (CB East) dec. DiTrolio (Garnet Valley), 10-6

215- DiGiorgio (CB West) pinned Pardo (Kennett), 3:17

285- Laventure (Upper Darby) dec. Retter (Quakertown), 2-1

Consolation Finals

106- McFarland (Haverford) dec. Nelson (Ridley), 5-2

113- Heimbach (Boyertown) dec. Rozanski (Upper Perk), 3-1

120- G. Sheridan (Boyertown) dec. Holefelder (Sun Valley), 6-1

126- Q. Smith (Spring-Ford) dec. McCaughey (Abington), 9-4

132- Shippey (Interboro) dec. D. Kearney (Sun Valley), 3-1

138- Husain (Garnet Valley) dec. Dominguez (Souderton), 3-2

145- Kibler (Abington) dec. P. Delaney (WC Henderson), 6-2

152- Stein (CB East) dec. Brunner (Strath Haven), 7-0

160- Lledo (Lower Merion) dec. J. Barlow (Kennett), 5-2

172- Bechtold (Owen J. Roberts) dec. Barrett (Kennett), 3-0

189- S. Milligan (Strath Haven) dec. Koch (Phoenixville), 1-0

215- Doyle (Council Rock South) dec. Roe (Council Rock North), 1-0

285- Euker (Perk Valley) maj. dec. Farabaugh (Strath Haven), 9-1

Fifth place

106- G. Smith (Spring-Ford) maj. dec. Haines (Unionville), 9-1

113- Coffin (Pennridge) dec. Szczesniuk (Coatesville), 4-3

120- Ortlip (Spring-Ford) dec. Williams (Plymouth Whitemarsh), 7-3

126- McGann (Quakertown) dec. Kuhns (Pennridge), 3-1

132- Wilson (WC Henderson) won by medical forfeit McMillan (Oxford)

138- Parnis (WC East) maj. dec. Grodzki (Pennsbury), 16-3

145- Wood (Garnet Valley) dec. Borzio (Quakertown), 2-1

152- Gamble-Williams (Sun Valley) dec. Kochersperger (Kennett), 7-3

160- Pokalsky (Neshaminy) pinned Corp (WC Rustin), 4:25

172- Lachman (Quakertown) dec. Updale (CB East), 4-3 TB

189- Allred (Conestoga) dec. Harwood (Haverford), 5-4

215- Hale (Downingtown West) pinned DeMeno (Pottsgrove), 2:36

285- Shindle (Kennett) dec. Mahoney (Garnet Valley), 7-3

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