BLAIRSVILLE — The team title for the 10-hour Albert “Babbit” Licciolli duals wrestling tournament was strangely decided in the last bout of the last match Saturday at Blairsville High School .
With Blairsville needing a pin to forge a tie with Derry in the tournament’s unofficial title match, the Trojans’ D.J. Weyandt staved off a spirited effort for a pin from Jake Swiencki and lost via technical fall to preserve a 37-36 win for the Trojans.
Derry went 5-0 and narrowly edged Blairsville, which finished 4-1. Based on the tournament’s criteria for ties, the Bobcats, who collected more pins than the Trojans, would have captured the team title had Swiencki pinned Weyandt.
Derry also beat Marion Center, 51-30; West Shamokin, 60-22; Northern Cambria, 69-11; and Central Cambria, 45-36.
Other team results were: Blairsville defeated Central Cambria, 48-36, Penn Cambria, 59-19, Indiana, 62-9, and Marion Center, 35-30.
Marion Center finished 2-3, beating Northern Cambria, 48-12, and West Shamokin, 39-33, and falling to Central Cambria, 42-33; West Shamokin went 2-3 and topped Indiana, 54-30, and Northern Cambria, 48-27, and Indiana finished 0-5 and fell to Penn Cambria, 47-3, Central Cambria, 48-30 and Northern Cambria, 41-30.
“It was a good day for us. We got five matches out of the way and we built some confidence,” fourth-year Derry coach Mike Weinell said. “I like this because you go through so many ups and downs at a tournament like this. Wrestling is obviously 90 percent mental and if they can overcome some of the obstacles, like being tired or losing, then they’re going to be better for it. Some of these guys got pushed today like they’ve never been pushed before, and that’s what we want.”
Late in their match against Blairsville, the Trojans got back-to-back pins from Jarrett Dorazio (160 pounds) and Cole Wano (132) to nab a 37-25 lead.
The Bobcats kept a pulse in the tournament’s second-to-last match when Lucas Mowery (138) scored a pin to trim Derry’s lead to 37-31.
Then, in the last match of the night, Swiencki spent the better part of two periods setting up pinning combinations, only to watch Weyandt barely squirm free on each attempt.
Weyandt narrowly slipped out of Swiencki’s last pinning effort with 48 seconds left in the third period to make the Blairsville junior settle for a 15-0 technical fall.
“That was awesome,” second-year Blairsville coach D.J. Doak said of the Bobcats’ thrilling loss to Derry. “It was a great day … it could have only been better if we had one more point. If we had one more point there at the end, we would have won, but it was a great match. The kids had to work hard and now we know what we have to work on this week.”
Micky Phillippi (120), a sophomore who captured the PIAA Class AA title last year at 113, powered Derry by going 5-0 with five falls. Alex Medina (220) also finished 5-0 with five pins, Stoney Kepple (126) and Dorazio each went 5-0, and Joey Kelly (182) and Chase Stevenson (heavyweight) each finished 4-1.
“I was pleasantly surprised with so many guys going undefeated,” Weinell said. “I knew (Phillippi) and Stoney would be good because they’ve been working so hard, but what really surprised me was my heavier guys. Alex Medina really just blew my mind with how well he wrestled as a 220-pounder. This was a big weekend for him and some other guys, and I’m extremely happy for them.”
Scott Thompson (182) and Drew Doak (160) each went 5-0 to guide Blairsville. Channing Cavender (170), Nick Pecze (152) and Lucas Mowery (138) each finished 4-1.
Isaac Stewart (152) weighed in at just 143 pounds but tallied four pins and went 5-0 to steer the Stingers. Brandon Heberling (138) finished 5-0 with three pins, David Wiles (126) went 4-1 with three pins, and Tyler Zatach (106) went 4-1 with two falls.
While satisfied with his team’s performance, second-year Marion Center coach Chris Stewart couldn’t help but wonder how the Stingers would have fared with senior standout Phil Crook (160), who sat out with a knee injury.
“That hurt big-time, and I really think if he was in the lineup that would have really changed things for us,” he said. “We had three losses but they were all real tight. We were giving up four forfeits today and it’s kind of tough to come out on top in those close ones when you’re giving up 24 points right out of the gate.
“We were right there with Central Cambria and Blairsville, but that’s OK because we’ll be wrestling them later in the season and we’ll have a chance to redeem ourselves. I guarantee things are going to be different the next time we wrestle either of those two.”
Brendan Glover (182) and John Wissinger (195) each finished 5-0 to fuel the Wolves. Brian Brown (160) went 4-1 and suffered his lone loss in a 3-1 decision to Penn Cambria’s Dominic Farabaugh.
Ben Turner (132), Bobby Bell (160) and Kyle Nothnagel (heavyweight) each finished 4-1 to spearhead Indiana.
“We were hoping to fill 11 out of 14 (weight classes) but the injuries and weight issues we had made it difficult to field the type of lineup we wanted,” second-year Indiana coach Anthony Donatelli said. “The first match is very tough and I take full responsibility for not having them prepared properly today. Still, this is a good group of kids and I expect good things from them. This was a decent start and hopefully it will help us going into our first match with Penn-Trafford.”