By Alex Frazier
What they did…and what they said
Everybody knows that wrestling is a tough sport, but Norristown’s Tyree Gardner may have given new meaning to the word “tough.”
In his second match at the Avon Grove Tournament last Saturday, Gardner was dominating Springfield Delco’s Kelly Bartivic 14-3 with 20 seconds left. He reached for Bartivic’s arm at the same time Bartivic tried a switch with the result that Bartivic’s elbow hit him in the mouth knocking in his front tooth.
“We defaulted the match and then assistant coach Steve Snyder rushed Tyree to a local dentist,” said Norristown coach Mark Harner.
The dentist, whose brother ironically enough was a former principal at Norristown, pulled the tooth and packed the hole.
Garner returned to Avon Grove with a minute or so to spare before his third match, which he won 12-7 over Austin Stetler of Penn Manor.
“It was kind of uncomfortable at first because they put something up there, and I didn’t know if it was going to come out or bother me,” he said. “I got into the match and I was actually pretty comfortable. It didn’t hurt or anything.”
It was Gardner’s first injury since he started wrestling.
He wrestled two more matches to win the tournament, despite the default.
“Most amazing was that the dentist came back to the gym with Tyree to re-evaluate him after he wrestled,” said Harner. “When I asked the dentist about payment, he replied, ‘No charge.’"
Gardner went back to the dentist on Tuesday for some more work, but because of the distance, he will get the rest of the work done locally.
Meanwhile, Gardner may intimidate a few opponents with his missing front tooth.
Gardner was one of seven champions Norristown crowned at the Avon Grove Tournament last Saturday.
Freshman Mike Springer (140) made an impressive debut for the Eagles. He comes to high school wrestling with an impressive laundry list of credentials. Brother to state runner-up Shane, he also has a pedigree behind him.
Springer decked all five opponents he faced, three by his favorite headlock a la former Upper Perk master Mark Smith.
“A lot of my coaches when I was little told me it was junk, but my dad always told me if it works, it’s not junk,” said Springer. “If you make it work, it’s not junk and if do it and it doesn’t work, then it is junk. When I hit it, I make it work, so it must not be junk.”
For proof, Springer said he has pinned 20 kids in the past three years in Junior Olympics.
While the competition wasn’t too daunting this past weekend, Springer is looking forward to a tougher test this weekend when the team travels to the Jarvis Wildcat Tournament in Athens, NY.
Springer’s goal this year is to make it to states as a freshman like his workout partner Brett Harner did last year. And with workout partners like Harner and Brandon Parker beating on him in the room every practice, he certainly will be ready for it.
The Eagles’ other champs were Zach Fuentes (103), Parker (152), Harner (160), Tyler Letrinko (171) and Larry Gordon (189).
• Upper Dublin’s Devon Dhoble led the Flying Cardinals to the championship of the New Hope Tournament by placing first in the 189-pound weight class. It was his first high school tournament title.
What was even more remarkable, Dhoble pinned every opponent he faced.
“Devon looked tough,” said UD coach Dave Jones. “He is much refined from last year. He came into the year bigger and stronger than last year having to trim 10 or so pounds before the season.”
Last year Dhoble was small for his weight class, but after lifting over the summer, he had to cut down from a beefy 208 this year.
Even so, he said his opponents at New Hope were still bigger than he was.
“It was harder than I expected,” said Dhoble. “I didn’t expect those kids to be that big. I thought I was going to go out there and be by far the strongest.”
But what he might have given up in strength, he made up for in technique.
“He was dominant on his feet and was able to control and turn his opponents at New Hope,” said Jones. “He looked the best we have seen him to date.”
• Plymouth Whitemarsh crowned three wrestlers at the Southeast Pa. Classic en route to an eighth place finish.
Justin Staudenmayer was the first one to take home a championship, winning the 125-pound title by defeating Giovanni Giorgio of Wilson West Lawn in the finals 3-1.
After breezing to the finals, Staudenmayer had to work to win his second title in two years. Ironically, he started his high school career last year by winning SEPA.
“Justin wrestled a kid much stronger and bigger than him in finals,” said PW coach Nate Wachter. “He wrestled him well, staying away from the upper body stuff the Wilson kid likes to hit and then turning him on top.”
“He was a very strong kid, big on the upper body stuff,” said Staudenmayer. “I tried to stay away from that. I didn’t want to get tossed, didn’t want to get into a muscle match with him.”
Coming into the tournament, Staudenmayer expected to win because he was better prepared than last year. He quit football in the fall to focus on wrestling and he came into the season with more mat work and had a summer of wrestling that he hadn’t done in the past.
“This year I had more free time to practice, lift and get ready for the season,” he said.
“Still to this day I believe that Justin's great on top, but if he can open up and have confidence in his shots, stand-up wrestling will be his greatest position,” noted Wachter.
He’ll get his next big test this weekend wrestling in his first Beast of the East.
“I’m really looking forward to the tournament and the competition that’s going to be there,” he said. “There are some big names there.”
Teammate Lucas Wisniewski won the 140-pound title, sneaking past Bensalem’s Nick Lippincott 5-4 in the finals.
“He should not have kept any of his matches as close as he did,” said Wachter, who emphasized that his senior would be in better shape for the upcoming Beast.
The Colonials’ third title came from John Michael Staudenmayer, who dominated the 171-weight class. Staudenmayer tech falled Wissahickon’s Paul Wisloski 22-4 in the finals.
“JM looked great,” said Wachter. “SEPA wasn’t much of a test for him, with him teching or pinning all of his opponents. The Beast will be his first and biggest challenge of the year.”
• Central Bucks South claimed two champions at the Rustin Rumble, finishing fourth as a team.
Mike Mathis went 4-0 to win the 135-pound weight class. He handled Rustin’s Codi Rothermal in the final 7-3.
Mathis pinned his other three opponents.
“It was a pretty good start to the season,” said Mathis.
Especially considering that he bumped up four weight classes from last year.
“I grew a little bit, but in the off-season I did a lot of lifting,” he said. “That built me up more.”
Mathis said that he ballooned to about 148.
“I just went out there and did the same things I used to do,” he said. “They still worked. At 135 more people are stronger. I have to overcome the strength factor.”
“Although a big weight jump from last year, Mike looked strong and in good condition,” said coach Craig Deacon.
Dominic Rigous, a sophomore, also went 4-0 to win the 152-pound weight class.
He decisioned his first opponent 6-0, and then ran off two falls before facing West Chester Henderson’s Charlie Grab.
The two battled to a 0-0 draw through three periods. In the first overtime, they stalemated on Rigous’ first shot, but Rigous got in on a high crotch the second time and completed it for the 2-0 championship.
Rigous’ title was particularly gratifying after he missed most of last season. He tore his meniscus in the very first match of the year and was sidelined the rest of the season.
“I’m more determined to do better this year,” he said.
• Bensalem crowned two champions at the SEPA Tournament. In his high school debut, Tommy Stokes defeated Anthony Siwek of Father Judge 5-3 in the finals to win the 103-pound class.
Teammate Mike Pritchard followed Stokes, winning the 112-pound title with a narrow 5-4 decision over Spring-Ford’s Chase Brown.
• It was almost not worth the trip to LaSalle Saturday for Harry S Truman’s Steve Evens and Sean Edmondson. Wrestling at 130 pounds, Evens decked all four opponents he faced in a swift 3 minutes and 11 seconds. His fastest fall was 18 seconds.
Edmondson accomplished the same feat at 135 but took a bit longer to do it. His aggregate time on the mat was 7 minutes and 55 seconds.
• Souderton finished second at the Great Valley Invitational behind championships from 112-pound freshman Kolton Veit and senior 215-pounder Joe Stolfi.
After losing to Downingtown West’s Michael Pommerer 10-8, Veit avenged the loss with a 6-1 decision to win the title.
“He’s good and fast,” said Souderton coach Stan Smith. “He’s far beyond a regular ninth grader. He’ll definitely have a good season.”
Stolfi barely broke a sweat in his march to the title as he pinned all four opponents. In the final it took him 3:05 to dispatch Central Columbia’s Eric McCracken. Stolfi just missed the trophy for Most Pins in the Least Time.
“He was so far ahead of the competition,” said Smith. “He’s bigger this year and came down from a higher weight.”
• Wissahickon freshman Patrick Fennell began his high school career in fine fashion Saturday, taking first place in the 135-pound weight class at the Southeast Pa. Classic.
He was a bit nervous in his first match against Evan Conti of North Penn, but got by that with an 8-1 decision.
He then went on to record a pin, a tech fall and two decisions before culminating in a 7-2 decision over Perk Valley’s Richie Tevlin in the championship.
“After having some first high school match jitters before his first match, Pat settled down to wrestle very well throughout the two-day tournament,” said Wissahickon coach Anthony Stagliano. “His career is off to a good start. He does not wrestle like a freshman; he has great mat awareness and wrestles under control the entire time. While as a freshman there will be things to improve on and things to add to his game, it is apparent that he's going to be a good one.”
“I’m really happy,” said Fennell. “I wanted to start off on a good note.”
He has a week to absorb his first taste of high school wrestling before he gets back into it at the Abington Duals Saturday.
• Hatboro-Horsham’s Matt Harkins placed first in the 125-pound weight class at the Solanco Tournament, defeating Alex Smith of Manheim Township 19-12 in the finals. As a team the Hatters finished fifth of 13 teams. Heavyweight Lex Ludlow came in second, while freshmen Phil Torresani and Brad Humski finished fourth.
• Central Bucks West’s Chris Jastrzebski won the Travis Manion Memorial Tournament at 189. Jastrzebski pinned all four opponents he faced, including a 19 second decking of LaSalle’s Dutch Markward.
“I felt strong for the first tournament of the season,” said Jastrzebski. “I like to get my matches over quickly.”
The West junior came down with a stomach virus halfway through last season and had to call it a year prematurely.
“I didn’t think I’d miss it that much,” he said. “I’ve always been wrestling, but taking time away from the mat, you just want to get back.”
With a win against North Penn Wednesday, Jastrzebski is now 5-0 and looking to keep the streak going the rest of the season.
“I’d like to get to states,” he said, “but I’m not looking to the post-season yet.”
He’ll get back on the mat next Wednesday against rival C.B. South.
For some schools the league season started Wednesday night. Council Rock South and Council Rock North both began with 2-0 marks in a double dual meet after dispatching Neshaminy and Bensalem in the Best of the Bucks.
Council Rock South defeated Bensalem 46-26 and Neshaminy 42-24, while Rock North beat Neshaminy 37-24 and Bensalem 49-12.
Five Golden Hawks came away with unblemished records, including Trey Balasco (112), Matt Rappo (135), Matt Martoccio (145), Shane Gilmore (189) and Tim Riley (215).
For CR North, Adam Slezak (119), Shane Longstreth (125), John Dutrow (130), Kenny Gafgen (135), Anthony Dutrow (140), Hayden Schenker (152) and Brendan Poff (215) also took both of their matches.
Bensalem freshman Tommy Stokes remained undefeated with a pair of wins to add to his tournament championship over the weekend.
Neshaminy’s Nick Russell (171) and Tyler Stabilito (285) also came away with a pair of victories.
In Continental Conference action North Penn breezed past Central Bucks West, 58-15. The Knights jumped out to a 19-0 lead in the first four matches when Ervin Gaitan (119), Tyler Romano (130) and Evan Conti (135) all won their matches and Tanvir Shajahan (125) received a forfeit. While the Bucks won the next two matches they only managed to win three of the 14 bouts on the night.
Charlie Price (160), Alex Price (171), Brendan O'Connor (215) and Nick Gill (285) all earned pins, while Kenny Randleman (152) won his pairing by decision, and Dan Long (103) and Joey O'Brien (112) finished off the meet collecting forfeits.
In weekend action, Upper Moreland nipped Council Rock North 41-39 at the Boyertown Duals. The clincher came in the second to last bout at 285 when the Golden Bears’ Sebastian Medina pinned James Dutrow in 17 seconds.
At the Haverford Duals, Joe Musetti’s decision (140) and Nick Vuotto’s fall (145) in the last two bouts lifted Upper Merion into a 34-34 tie with host Haverford. The Vikings won the draw on Criteria D.
Top Five SOL
1. Council Rock South
4. Upper Moreland
5. Council Rock North
103—Tommy Stokes, Bensalem
112—Trey Balasco, Council Rock South
119—Adam Slezak, Council Rock North
125—Matt Harkins, Hatboro-Horsham
130—John Dutrow, Council Rock North
135—Matt Rappo, Council Rock South
140—Lucas Wisniewski, Plymouth Whitemarsh
145—Matt Martoccio, Council Rock South
152—Brandon Parker, Norristown
160—Brett Harner, Norristown
171—John Staudenmayer, Plymouth Whitemarsh
189—John Bolich, Upper Moreland
215—Joe Stolfi, Souderton
285—Quinton Bryant, Harry S Truman