By Don Seeley
FORT WASHINGTON — The little guys don’t often get an opportunity to throw their weight around, or what weight they have.
So, when Downingtown East crept back back to within 17 points of Owen J. Roberts and had a noticeable edge in most if not all of the five remaining bouts during Saturday afternoon’s District 1-Class AAA Team Duals final, Aston White kind of felt some additional weight fall on his shoulders ... especially when the Cougars crept even closer at 26-15 with three bouts left.
But the OJR senior nonetheless managed to carry his 106 pounds, and that hard-to-weigh pressure, when he stepped onto the mat and responded with an 11-0 clinic that put the match out of fiesty Downingtown East’s reach to help the Wildcats to a 30-24 win and, of course, their second straight duals title.
“We knew (Downingtown East) had some good guys at the top of their lineup,” White said. “After (Gordon) Bolig’s win at 195, I looked at the score (26-9) and knew it was going to be tough for us. I thought it may come down to me.”
The Cougars got back-to-back decisions at 220 and 285 from Matt Bartolotta and Sean Snodgrass to cut their deficit to that 11-point spread. White had to deal with Jude McDowell while knowing the Cougars had unbeaten Wade Cummings up next at 113 and 25-bout winner Jared Leonetti in the 120-pound finale.
“I knew if I’d win we’d win,” White said. “I don’t really like being in that position, but the pressure doesn’t bother me. I just look at it as another match, and when I go out I expect to win. And when I got that tilt in the second period I felt I had the win.”
White got the win all right, and so did the Wildcats, who remained undefeated (17-0) and takes the district’s No. 1 seed into next Thursday’s opening round of the state duals against the District 2 champion.
“We knew this was going to be close,” said Colby Frank, who got the Wildcats off to a strong start with a 60-second pin in the 126-pound opener. “Downingtown East is good, and that they matched up well with us. We got the points where we needed them, but I don’t think we expected it to be this close.”
Through the first half of the final, OJR distanced itself from Downingtown East (27-3) much like it has against opponents throughout the season.
Two bouts after Frank’s abbreviated debut, Demetrio D’Orsaneo rolled up a 15-2 major at 138; Peter Fratantoni — whose been battling the flu all week — added a 7-2 decision at 145; Adam Moser used a third-period escape and takedown to thwart highly touted Alex Wait, 3-1, at 152; and Kyle Shronk needed just 41 seconds for another pin at 160.
That created a 22-3 cushion before the Cougars countered with successive decisions at 170 and 182.
Bolig’s major curtailed the momentum, and White cut short the comeback.
“(Downingtown East) has a lot of depth,” OJR head coach Steve DeRafelo said. “It’s kind of hard to find spots in their lineup you can score on them because they’re so solid in every weight class.
“But we got some big wins from Fratantoni at 145, from Moser at 152, and from Bolig at 182. We almost got another at 285 (from Brad Trego), and we thought we’d have another at 113 that didn’t happen.”
Trego, who was giving up 67 pounds to Snodgrass, went ahead 4-3 with a takedown and had Snodgrass locked up in a cradle. But a split-second before Snodgrass went to his back he called for an injury timeout. Snodgrass outscored Trego 5-1 from that point on for the 8-5 nod. And at 113, the anticipated showdown between the unbeaten Cummings (34-0) and returning state medalist Derek Gulotta never unfolded because of Gulotta being held out of the lineup as a “precautionary measure” after suffering a head injury Friday night.
Ironically, Cummings was the only Cougar to produce bonus points among the seven wins. And because the Wildcats’ Dominick Petrucelli (132), Tyler Rogers (170), Evan Boaman (182), Nick DeAngelo (220), Trego and Alex Pupo (120) only fell by regular decisions — combined with their teammates’ two pins, two majors and two decisions — White was able to put it way.
And, of course, put the clamps on that second straight title.
“Last Wednesday’s match against Pottstown was like a wake-up call,” Frank said. “We realized how (bad) we wrestled and knew we had to step it up here. And I think, as a team, we did step it up. Everyone did.”
“I think we all kind of knew this was going to be tough today,” added D’Orsaneo. “We knew Downingtown East was good, and we kind of knew we didn’t have our full lineup with Derek (Gulotta) likely out and Pete (Fratantoni) being sick like he has. But we wanted this, wanted to keep the streak going, and it feels great going to Hershey again.”
DeRafelo sure felt great.
“This one definitely feels a little different, though,” he said. “We’ve done it before, so I think some of the guys wanted to get in here, get it done, and look ahead to next week (and the state duals).
“But I didn’t expect it to be this tight. We had difficulty opening it up, getting that big lead like we’ve gotten in blowing away some teams. We had to do some things a little different today. But don’t forget Downingtown East wrestled a good match, too.”
“Last year there was the excitement of winning it for the first time,” White added. “This year it was more about proving ourselves again. It was expected of us this year, so we still felt like we had something to prove.”
The 24 points equaled the most scored against OJR this season. Dallas fell to the Wildcats 42-24 during the season-opening Bealer Memorial Bear Duals. The only other team to score 20 or more on OJR was Pottstown in the 42-20 loss last Wednesday night. ... The Wildcats won their first 19 matches last year before falling to Mechanicsburg in the second round of state duals and finishing up 20-2 overall.