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Pennridge tops Spring-Ford to claim first District 1-3A Duals Tournament title

The Pennridge wrestling team poses with the District 1-3A Duals Tournament championship trophy after its 36-22 victory over Spring-Ford in the final on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023 at Upper Dublin. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

UPPER DUBLIN >> For Sam Kuhns, the progress the Pennridge wrestling team has made in recent years made raising the District 1-3A Duals Tournament championship trophy even sweeter.

“It’s amazing, cause we built up from the bottom,” said Kuhns, a member of Rams’ large junior class. “Cause three, four years ago we had like 12 kids on this team and we’re losing like every match. And now we’re here, winning a district title four years later so it just feels awesome.”

Kuhns set the tone in the opening match of the tournament final between third-seeded Pennridge and No. 4 Spring-Ford Saturday afternoon at Upper Dublin, racking up takedowns in the third period to earn a 24-9 technical fall at 139 pounds.

After a Spring-Ford decision in the following bout, Pennridge kept piling up the wins – taking the next seven to build a 36-3 lead, eventually coming away with the program’s first district duals title with a 36-22 victory.

The Pennridge wrestling team raises the District 1 championship trophy after defeating Spring-Ford 36-22 in the Class 3A Duals Tournament final on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023 at Upper Dublin. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

“That was our message all week long, let’s just wrestle a little bit better than we did last match and they bought into it,” Pennridge coach Brian Kuhns said. “This weekend was crazy. Last year we came here, we got knocked out, deer in headlight. This year it was confident, go out and wrestle, wrestle our style and it really worked out to our advantage.”

Pennridge qualified for its first PIAA Team Championships since 2015 and reached its first district final since 2004 with wins over No. 6 Quakertown 38-22 in the quarterfinals and No. 2 Sun Valley 39-18 in the semifinals.

“It just shows that we put a lot of effort in at practice,” said junior Talan Hogan, who went 3-0 on the day. “We push each other. And just how hard we worked together. And we can stay together as a team and push through.”

In the eight wins against Spring-Ford, Pennridge picked up three pins, Sam Kuhns’ tech fall and a major decision by Hogan at 172. Colby Martinelli’s 4-2 decision at 107 clinched the match as it put Pennridge up 33 with just four bouts remaining.

“I don’t even think that was our best match of the day but probably our most relaxed match,” Brian Kuhns said. “And maybe that’s what helps ‘em. We looked a little slower and lethargic, it’s a long day here but they just stayed on.”

Pennridge’ Riley Cullen looks for a pin against Spring-Ford’s Connor Hudak at 285 pounds during their teams’ District 1-3A Duals Tournament final on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

Top-seeded Council Rock South took third place with a 40-21 win over Quakertown with the top four finishers all advancing to state duals, which begins with the preliminary round Monday.

Pennridge faces either District 8 champ Allderdice or District 7 third-place Hempfield Area in the first round Thursday at the Giant Center in Hershey.

The Rams had three straight losing seasons before going 12-5 in 2021-22. Pennridge won the Suburban One League Colonial Division title and at district duals fell to Spring-Ford in the quarters then were bounced in consolation semis by West Chester Henderson.

After earning the district crown, Pennridge stands at 20-3 this season, including a 5-0 division mark with the SOL Colonial Championships on Wednesday, Feb. 15 at North Penn.

“I think it’s kind of changing the narrative of Pennridge wrestling,” said Brian Kuhns, in his second season as head coach. “When we first got here it was wrestle in the season, don’t see these kids again until season starts. These kids have all showed up in offseason, these kids did the freestyle and a lot of these kids are multi-sport athletes but they understood got to find time to be in that wrestling room.

“I think they could see something special was building so just this is kind of shows them, all right all this hard work we put in, let’s (be) excited, let’s celebrate it and let’s go see what can happen down in Hershey.”

Pennridge’s Quinn McBridge shows his excitement after pinning Sun Valley’s Timothy Kearney at 121 pounds during their teams’ District 1-3A Duals Tournament semifinal match on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023 at Upper Dublin. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

Faith Christian claimed a fifth consecutive District 1-2A Duals title, the Lions topping Bristol 72-0 with 12 pins.

“Just a mindset to move forwards and be offensive right away,” said FCA coach Ben Clymer of what he liked from his team Saturday. “It’s not to knock Bristol but they are at a more novice phase of building their program so I was proud of the guys for handling it maturely and not being arrogant.

“There’s a respect level for facing that type of opponent who’s at a just a young phase of the program. So they handled themselves well and stayed respectful, I was proud of that.”

Faith Christian faces District 10 champ Reynolds in the 2A state duals first round Thursday.

Sam Kuhns, who earned pins in his first two matches Saturday, started the final by giving Pennridge a 5-0 lead with a tech fall he clinched in the third period.

“I was just hoping to get everything going,” Sam Kuhns said. “Cause if I got all the morale up and we just kept it going the entire match, it was just a nice start.”

Pennridge’s Sam Kuhns wraps up Spring-Ford’s Jamie Silva on a takedown in their 139-pound match during the District 1-3A Duals Tournament final on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023 at Upper Dublin. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

James McGill’s 5-3 decision at 145 had Spring-Ford down 5-3 but Pennridge’s Gio Iadonisi earned a pin at 5:10 at 152. Ryan Gallagher’s reversal in the third gave him a 2-1 decision at 160 put Pennridge up 14-3. At 172, Hogan built a 4-0 lead after two periods and pulled away for a 10-2 major decision.

“We fight for our team,” Hogan said. “And I saw that I could potentially get bonus points for our team and put us in a good spot to win.”

A pin by Ryan Rowe in 1:12 at 189 made it 24-3. Chase Washington followed with a 7-3 decision at 215 while Riley Culllen collected Pennridge’s third and final pin of the match, his fall at 1:36 at 285 pushing the margin to 30. Martinelli then sealed the title with his 4-2 decision at 107.

Spring-Ford won the last four matches, Quinn Smith posting a pin in 22 seconds at 127 while Brennan McGrann won a 14-2 major decision at 133.

Pennridge’s Gio Iadonisi looks for a pin against Spring-Ford’s Jacob Mest at 152 pounds during their teams’ District 1-3A Duals Tournament final on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023 at Upper Dublin. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

Pennridge earned its second victory over Quakertown this season – taking the first 37-32 at home Dec. 21 – in Saturday’s quarters, erasing an 18-12 deficit by winning five of the six matches.

Hogan pulled Pennridge to within 18-17 with a 15-0 tech fall at 172 while Rowe gave the Rams the lead for good with his pin in 1:19 at 189.

The Panthers’ Calvin Lachman earned a 15-4 major decision at 215 to cut Quakertown’s deficit to just 23-22 but pins by Cullen (4:47, 285) and Martinelli (2:00, 107) clinched the win for Pennridge. Coffin capped the match winning a 4-2 decision in sudden victory at 114.

In the semifinals, Pennridge and Sun Valley were tied at 18 after nine matches but the Rams won the final four bouts, the last three by fall.

Washington’s 11-4 decision at 285 made it 21-18 while a pin in 1:24 by Martinelli at 107 had Pennridge up nine. Coffin clinched the match with his fall in 25 seconds at 114 while Quinn McBridge followed at 121 with a pin at 1:19 for a 39-18 win.

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