SOL Wrestling: District Duals Set

District Duals Set
Council Rock South Gets #1 Seed-Five SOL Teams Make the Field
by Glenn Kaiser

The wait is over, the postseason is finally here, the 2023 District One Team Championship kicks off this coming Thursday at six different sites, with two matches being conducted on Friday (due to basketball game conflicts) at the highest seeds home gymnasium.  Council Rock South tops the field in the 16-team bracket.  The Golden Hawks (6-2 overall record) will wrestle the #16-seed Upper Perkiomen (8-3), one of five Pioneer Athletic Conference teams to qualify for the D1 Team Championships.  The SOL also will have five teams in the tournament.

Pennridge (14-3) slipped to the #3-seed after the D1 Steering Committee coaches opted to give the #2-seed to Sun Valley (15-1) from the Ches-Mont League.  Seeding matters, but in the end, you have to beat the best to be the best.  Unfortunately, the number three spot for Pennridge puts them in a potential match-up with rival Quakertown (10-5) in the quarterfinals if the Rams can advance against Strath Haven (8-3) from the Central League.  Pennridge edged the Panthers in an early season non-conference SOL dual 37-32, and Quakertown will be looking for revenge should they tangle at Upper Dublin Saturday Feb. 4, 2023, when the elite will compete for four spots in the state bracket of the 2023 PIAA (AAA) Team Championship.

Q-town comes in as the #6-seed and will host SOL Patriot foe #11 Pennsbury (12-5) Thursday night in opening round of these duals.  Thus, comprising three of four teams in the bottom half of the bracket clustered together in the top portion.  Central Bucks South (7-6) gets in at #15 and will have to get thru a solid Sun Valley team to advance.  That makes it four of five SOL teams in the bottom bracket with two of them battling head-to-head in a first-round match. 

It is the opinion here that the D1 Committee should re-consider seeding to avoid league head-to-head meetings in the first round.  Many moons ago, there was consideration of seeding and placement based on this; however, it seems well accepted now, and that’s just how the chips fall.  Somewhat mirroring the bottom half of the bracket, the PAC has four teams spread out in the four first-round matches with no league head-to-heads in the top half of the bracket.  Spring-Ford (11-3) at #4 leads the way for the PAC as their highest seeded team.

The Ches-Mont is represented by four teams, and two teams from the Central round out the field.  This has been a season of parity, except for CR South and Sun Valley, as they have the most wins over qualifying teams.  This may be the main reason Sun Valley garnered the #2 seed.  Thus, trying to sort it all out will be best done on the mat.  Here are some quick previews of for each SOL team competing in the first-round:

#1 CR South vs. #16 Upper Perkiomen-The Golden Hawks have taken on the best of the best this season head-to-head.  They have taken down Pennridge, Quakertown, and Spring-Ford, with their only losses coming to Faith Christian Academy (#2-ranked team in AA according to PA Power) and Easton this past Thursday 34-22.  Thus, they are the #1 seed with a title here as their goal.  South should cruise in their opening round match-up with an improved 2023 Upper Perkiomen team.  However, this is not an Upper Perk team of old.

#3 Pennridge vs. #14 Strath Haven-Strath Haven is not a household name in D1 wrestling, but over the past several years, they have become a solid dual meet team with outstanding individual talent, and qualify this season for a shot on the big stage.  Unfortunately, they run into a powerful Ram program that will be focused on advancing.  Pennridge wins handily here without looking ahead to the potential re-match with Quakertown.

#5 Quakertown vs. #11 Pennsbury-Pennsbury has to tangle with Quakertown out of the gate in this tournament.  Pennsbury is a solid dual meet team with recent district dual experience (they advanced to the Elite 8 last year) and were once a force in these duals, but it is Quakertown’s time now.  The Panthers have come up short in a few big meets this season but can redeem themselves here with a win over the Falcons. This one will be competitive, but Q-town advances.

#15 Central Bucks South vs. #2 Sun Valley-Tall task here for the Titans, nonetheless they earned a berth in this event after working hard all season.  Sun Valley has been dominant this season and have too much firepower in their lineup for South.  Look for some good individual bouts here, but Sun Valley advances.

Surprisingly, or not so surprising…Upper Dublin was left out of the field with a 19-2 record.  Unfortunately, UD’s schedule was not as competitive as other qualifying teams.  The Flying Cardinals only competed against one qualify team, and lost that one to Quakertown 49-12.  Additionally, the lack of any high-level tournament finishes hurt their chances to get in. 

Upper Dublin rolled this past weekend in the Golden Bear Duals at Upper Moreland, going 4-0 on Saturday highlighted with a 43-27 win over District 12’s Archbishop Ryan in the championship final.

Weekend Wrestling Wrap:  Hatboro-Horsham and Souderton traveled to Lehighton to compete in the Coal Cracker Invitational, which featured Varsity, JV & Girls tourneys over two days.  H-H and Souderton both finished in a tie for 21st with 78.5-points each.  Not too shabby to finish in the top 25 there in an extremely talented field that featured multiple former state place-winners from both AA and AAA, as well as many highly ranked teams, including Faith Christian Academy and Central Dauphin who finished one-two, respectively.  Chris Staub medaled at 139-pounds, finishing in 7th place after recently dropping down from 145.  Staub improved to 23-6 going 6-2 over two days.  Charlie Arobone shined for Souderton at 121-pounds, as he also placed 7th to lead the way for the Indians.  Arobone improved to 20-9 this season.

Pennsbury did battle at home with both Pennridge and CB South in a tri-meet. The Falcons earned a 1-point victory over the Titans, 33-32, and Pennridge downed both Pennsbury (37-27) and CB South (39-24).  CB East hosted their own duals and split 2-2 on the day with victories over West Chester East (48-24) and Wissahickon (54-18).  Abington finished 3-1, as the Ghosts topped the Patriots 48-31 to finish in third place.  At Upper Moreland at the Golden Bear Duals, host UM posted four victories and avenged its SOL Freedom loss to Cheltenham with a solid 46-22 victory, improving to 16-5 in duals.  Cheltenham finished at 2-2 on the day  and improved to 8-5 overall and 3-0 in league competition.  The Panthers control their own destiny in winning a league title with a showdown with Springfield on the horizon.

Quakertown was perfect on Saturday in their duals, winning five duals. Topping Bethlehem Liberty 45-22 was the highlight of the day as they cruised to the title. North Penn went 3-2 in this six-team competition. 

With only a few dual meets left for most SOL teams and SOL Individual League Championships coming up Feb. 15, it is time to turn our attention to the postseason, which always provides wrestling fans with great performances on the mat.  The Colonial Division is in the hands of Pennridge.  However, CB East and CB South face off this Wednesday. Should East run the table, which would have to include them taking down the ‘Ridge, they could win it.  The Freedom looks to be Cheltenham’s on the dual side, but keep an eye out there for individual league champ results, this division is still wide open.  Quakertown has sealed the Liberty for the most part, and  CR South and Pennsbury will settle the Patriot dual portion Wednesday.  Should be an interesting finish with team points in the individual championships possibly effecting the SOL team titles.  Note here, in my opinion it is time for the SOL championships become a combined event again with all four conferences.