BUCKTOWN >> The normal stars were out in force Thursday evening when Owen J. Roberts and West Chester Henderson squared off in the District 1 Duals.
Wrestlers like Sam Gautreau, Dean and Dillon Bechtold and Mason Karkoska for the Wildcats, Carmen Cortese and Jackson McMonagle for the Warriors all figured prominently in the opening round match, but Roberts head coach Steve DeRafelo also gave props to others who can rise to the occasion in the duals format.
Case in point: Skylur Davidheiser, Though sporting a less gaudy season record than a handful of teammates, the Owen J. senior produced the clinching win for his team in its eventual 41-25 win over Henderson.
Davidheiser’s first-period pin at 145 staked OJR to a 35-25 lead with one weight left to contest.
It gave the eighth-seeded ‘Cats (11-3) the insurmountable lead over the ninth seed Warriors (11-3), who rebounded in the middle bouts to turn a 14-point early deficit to one-point margins at the lower end of the scale.
“What’s most enjoyable in duals,” DeRafelo said, “is guys who don’t always get the spotlight can come up with big wins. Guys like (Brian) Quinn, (Ryan) Nathan and (Mason) Mazzerle.”
To their credit, the three Wildcats scored falls to help keep Henderson at bay. Nathan scored a 2:26 pin at 121 to cushion Owen J’s 17-16 edge, and Quinn’s one-minute drop at 133 gave Roberts breathing room after seeing its lead closed to 23-22.
Mazzerle capped the night with a 1:27 fall in the 152-pound finale. But Davidheiser’s clincher proved particularly heartwarming, given challenges he faced in the past.
“We knew Skylur was going to be a good wrestler,” DeRafelo said. “Injuries and illness kept him off the mats, but now he’s ready.”
Davidheiser (16-10), who last weekend was the 145-pound champion at the PAC Championships, got an early takedown on Brien Wildermuth at 145. After Wildermuth scored an escape, Skylur took him back down and used a headlock to get the slap.
“I felt good. I was ready to wrestle,” he said. “I had issues with my knees, but I did the best I could.
“I felt I could win the match,” Davidheiser added. “The way I wrestle is more defensive. I waited to see him work, then did what I could.”
Henderson, the district’s fourth-place finisher in the 2022 duals, used a three-bout swing between 285 and 114 to make its first closing move. Liam Keevil came away with a 5-2 decision followed by Alex Jackman’s pin at 107 and a Jack Overton major decision at 114.
Alfie Overton answered Nathan’s pin at 121 with a 1:52 drop at 127. And in the night’s marquee matchup, Cortese (24-11) came away with a 13-7 decision of Karkoska (21-9) at 139.
“He’s a smooth, polished wrestler,” Henderson head coach Rob Beighley said of his senior standout, the 2022 South East AAA Regional champion at 120.
Their early exit from the district competition stood in marked contrast to the Warriors’ record in duals this winter. They were runners-up in outings at Octorara (Jan. 7) and C.B. East (Jan. 21).
“It’s not the result we wanted,” Beighley said. “We’ve fought off our backs, but the late falls cost us. We’ve got a lot to do, but we’ll keep getting better and progressing.”
Gautreau (28-5) got Roberts rolling with a 47-second pin at 160. The Bechtolds then staked OJR to its initial 17-3 lead, Dean (27-8) with a 17-2 technical fall in 3;27 at 189 and Dillon (31-2) with another 47-second pin at 215.
“This gave our guys a boost in confidence, and is getting us to where we want to be,” DeRafelo said.
“We knew they (Warriors) were going to be tough,” Davidheiser added, “but we felt we could win the match.”
A one-and-out at the 2022 districts, Roberts now advances to the Upper Dublin phase next weekend. It faces a formidable task in the quarterfinal round, paired with top-seeded defending district champion Council Rock South.
“We’re going to have our work cut out for us with Council Rock South,” DeRafelo said. “We’ll keep wrestling tough and see if we’re a different team.”
NOTES >> Between now and the resumption of district duals, Owen J. will hold its Senior Night in conjunction with a Feb. 1 Pioneer Athletic Conference dual with Methacton. Its Hall of Fame and Youth Night match with Boyertown, previously scheduled for Jan. 25, will now be conducted Wednesday, Feb. 8.
Owen J. Roberts 41, West Chester Henderson 25
160 – Sam Gautreau (OJR) pinned Phalen Seman, :47 (6-0)
172 – Jackson McMonagle (WCH) dec. Dysen Neil, 9-8 (6-3)
189 – Dean Bechtold (OJR) won by technical fall over Stephen Beatty, 3:27 (11-3)
215 – Dillon Bechtold (OJR) pinned Saadan Ahmad, :47 (17-3)
285 – Liam Keevil (WCH) dec. Christian Gregory, 5-2 (17-6)
107 – Alex Jackman (WCH) pinned Daniel Randolph, 2:35 (17-12)
114 – Jack Overton (WCH) dec. Quinn Carr, 9-1 (17-16)
121 – Ryan Nathan (OJR) pinned Jimmy Falls, 2:26 (23-16)
127 – Alfie Overton (WCH) pinned Alex Brandt, 1:52 (23-22)
133 – Brady Quinn (OJR) pinned Angus Whitaker, 1:00 (29-22)
139 – Carmen Cortese (WCH) dec. Mason Karkoska, 13-7 (29-25)
145 – Skylur Davidheiser (OJR) pinned Brien Wildermuth, 1:47 (35-25)
152 – Mason Mazzerle (OJR) pinned Xavier Hawkins, 1:29 (41-25)
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