Wrestling Notebook (Vol. 3): Live from the Wetzel Classic
By Andrew Marcus
twitter - @amarcus515
As a freshman, the name Francesco Fabozzi did not quite roll off the tongue of many. But after a strong 40-win season, the Central Bucks East 138-pounder is finding his name pronounced correctly more often. The Suburban One League and the surrounding areas are getting a glimpse at one of the fastest rising players in the high school wrestling world.
Before the season is over the junior hopes his name is an easy read all over the State of Pennsylvania, but he also realizes that it will only happen if he concentrates on the immediate opponent.
Fabozzi has helped his Patriots start strong in the Continental Conference, and this weekend he led the charge in the 13th Annual Wetzel Classic at Hatboro-Horsham. Behind his first place finish, the Patriots were third in total team points behind Malvern Prep and the champions from Downingtown East.
“I have had a couple big matches, but this is a big accomplishment,” Fabozzi said. “The team has been training hard, and it is paying off. I have been feeling pretty good all season.”
Fabozzi was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler for his run through the 138-pound bracket. He netted three pins, including a first period knockout shot against Pequea Valley’s Kyle Wanner in the championship bout.
“I felt in control during all of my matches,” Fabozzi said. “I dictated the pace and did not let anyone take control.”
Falling short of the state tournament as a sophomore is obvious incentive to map out this season so Fabozzi is performing at his best come postseason time. But what has helped him the most is being able to spar with the Patriots’ 126-pound sophomore Evan Wilson.
“Our 106-pounder Evan is at 126 now, and we are feeding off each other,” Fabozzi said. “I always have had big goals for this season, but right now I am just trying to win a league championship.”
Wilson nearly nabbed his own gold on Saturday, but Bensalem’s Tommy Stokes sealed the championship with a takedown during an overtime period. Stokes is no stranger to succeeding at the Wetzel Classic. He won at the Holiday Tournament as a freshman and finished second a season ago.
“Conditioning helps, but I did not want to go to a second overtime,” Stokes said. “I came in here to win. This year I’m working hard to make it to states and finish in the top three.”
Much like the Patriots’ Fabozzi and Wilson, the Owls’ Stokes and senior Mike Pritchard are using one another to sharpen skillsets. And similar to Stokes’ late heroics, Pritchard turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 decision over Malvern Prep’s Matthew Lattanze with a take down in the finals second of the 120-pound championship match.
“I should have scored a couple takedowns in the beginning,” Pritchard said. “He was kind of funky, like when I shot in he rolled me. As the matched progressed I worked harder, but I need to start from the beginning. Tommy (Stokes) and I both know we are in the best condition and we can go with anyone.”
Lattanze and twin brother Nicholas, the 106 champion, were not the only freshman to make an impact in the lightweights. Downingtown East’s young phenom Wade Cummings edged Hatboro-Horsham’s Phil Torresani in the 113-pound championship match.
“I wrestled hard, but he got the better of me,” Torresani said. “I was feeling real good in the semis and I was hitting all of my takedowns. Against Cummings I made a few mistakes. I knew he was ranked in the state and I was a little timid. Now I know I can stick with him and next time it is 4-3 me.”
A second place finish was not going to spoil the special scene for Torresani, who had tons of friends and family in attendance. Torresani took first place in the Wetzel Classic last year, and as much as he hoped to repeat, he feels good about the 3-1 record this weekend on his home mats.
“I love being in front of family and all of my friends,” Torresani said. “It was really fun and more comfortable than it was pressure.”
Torresani and the Hatters had the least trekking to do in the snow, while the fourth place finishers came from Park Vista, Florida. For the most part, there were a lot of wrestlers squaring off against familiar faces. Faces they know they will see again.
It was evident by the post-match congratulatory hug that Upper Dublin’s Derek Jones and Upper Moreland’s Justin Hester were more than just opponent’s in the 160-pound third place match.
Wrestling each other in the American Conference - as well as outside of school - has made the two very familiar with one another. On Saturday, Hester held the upper hand and scored a 5-2 decision.
“We wrestled Greco-Freestyle together in the offseason,” Hester said. “I knew I was going to wrestle Jones, and I was hoping it would be for a medal. I needed to stay on top and avoid his shots. I knew what he had, he knew what I had and it came down to who could perform better today.”
Jones’ fourth place finish did tack on crucial points for the Flying Cardinals’ bid for a top five team finish. A flock of Cardinals collected big points to help them score 116.5 for the weekend. Senior Reed Rapine went deep into the tank to pull out a triple-overtime 2-1 decision in the 195-pound third place bout. Senior Sam Jacobson secured first place with a 3-1 win over Malvern Prep’s Alfredo Gianniccari at 182 pounds.
“Last year we placed in the mid-teens as a team here,” Jacobson said. “This year we did very well and had a bunch of kids in the finals and consolation finals.”
Clearly Jacobson will take the 3-1 win, the gold medal, and the souvenir bracket that comes with it, but after having his hand raised at the Wetzel Classic, he is beginning to realize he can hang with the big boys. All of the hard work in the offseason has allowed him to move up in weight class and excel.
“This is my heaviest and it is slower and more strength-based,” Jacobson said. “I was in the weight room a lot. One thing I need to work on is my decision making during a match. Obviously there is still time to improve, but I am on my way up.”
For many Suburban One League Wrestlers, the Wetzel Classic and the various tournaments this weekend prove to be a great way to transition into the New Year – ready to make a name for them self.
106 –N.Lattanze (MP) pinned R. Textor (PVFL); 113 – W. Cummings (DE) dec. P. Torresani (HH); 120 – M. Pritchard (B) dec. M. Lattanze (MP); 126 – T. Stokes (B) overtime dec. E. Wilson (CBE); 132 – TJ Nelson (DE) dec. S. Ginsburg (UME); 138 – F. Fabozzi (CBE) pinned K. Wanner (PQV); 145 – N. Barrett (PVFL) overtime dec. A. Smith (CH); 152 – N. Giangiulio (PV) dec. C. Burns (MP); 160 – A. Mattioni (CH) dec. P. Fennell (W); 170 – R. Harkins (MP) dec. S. Vestal (LME); 182 – S. Jacobson (UD) overtime dec. A. Gianniccari (MP); 195 – H. Mauk (MP) overtime dec. A. Pleines (DE); 220 – T. Ott (CH) dec. E. Zimmer (LME); 285 – J. Puleo (PVFL) pinned W. Hart (U)
1. Downingtown East (203.50)
2. Malvern Prep (161.50)
3. Central Bucks East (143.00)
4. Park Vista (Fla.) (118)
5. Upper Dublin (116.00)
6. Cape Henlopen (112.50)
7. Perkiomen Valley (106.00)
8. Wissahickon (102.00)
9. Bensalem (99.50)
10. Lower Merion (95.00)
11. Pottsgrove (92.50)
12. Lower Moreland (91.00)
(tie) Unionville (91.00)
14. Upper Moreland (88.00)
(tie) West Chester East (88.00)
16. Hatboro-Horsham (87.00)
17. Haverford (57.00)
18. Abington (50.00)
19. St. Joseph’s Prep (42.00)
20. Cheltenham (34.00)
21. Pequea Valley (26.00)
22. Germantown Friends School (22.50)
23. Upper Merion (13.00)
24. Chestnut Hill Academy-Springside (8.00)
25. Conwell Egan (6.00)
106 – Collyn Dorney (Quakertown)
113- Zach Fuentes (Norristown)
120- Dan Martoccio (Council Rock South)
126 – Jason Bing (Pennsbury)
132 – Tommy Stokes (Bensalem)
138 – Francesco Fabozzi (Central Bucks East)
145 – John Dutrow (Council Rock North)
152 – Jacob Haney (Upper Dublin)
160 – Pat Fennell (Wissahickon)
170 – Dominic Rigous (Central Bucks South)
182 – Brett Harner (Norristown)
195 – Kody Lupfer (Neshaminy)
220- P.J. Steinmetz (Council Rock South)
285 - Andrew Van Buskirk SR (William Tennent)