Note: This article originally published in The Reporter
WARMINSTER>> Pennridge and North Penn are synonymous with wrestling success in the Suburban One League, no matter the conference. Both teams solidified that claim at Saturday’s SOL Continental Championships.
Pennridge won the unofficial team title, collecting 218 team points.
Matt Parker kicked things off for the Rams at 120, finishing his Suburban One Career with four first place medals. The senior recorded a pin fall victory 3:05 into his match.
“To be honest I completely forgot about that,” Parker said about his SOL achievement. “This is all great, it all leads up to the big thing, you know. I’ve been working all year to be a state champ. This is just a stepping stone.”
Evan Widing and Josh Stillings were also convincing in their championship matches. Stillings recorded a 17-1 tech fall over his opponent at 160, while Widing recorded a 19-7 major decision in the 138 bout.
“I let him up, just kept taking him down. It tired him out in the second and third period,” Widing said. “It feels good, I mean, just knowing you’re controlling the match (and) controlling the score…it just felt good all the way around.”
Paul O’Neill earned Pennridge’s fourth and final first place medal at 195 lbs in one of the tighter bouts of the championship round versus Souderton’s Jack Morgan. Both sides were screaming back and forth for points, and there was a long pause in the third period to settle things. O’Neill was also called for two cautions in the match.
“I was getting kind of frustrated because I kind of disagreed with some of the calls. But you just gotta keep wrestling,” O’Neill said. “I just told myself ‘keep cool and just wrestle.’ That’s all you can do.”
The final result was an 8-6 decision in favor of O’Neill.
In total Pennridge went home with four first place finishes, three second place finishes, three third place finishes, and one fourth place finish
“We’ve been working really hard just for this,” O’Neill said. “We usually do pretty good at sectionals…but we’ve got some more to come for sure.”
Right on the Rams’ heels was North Penn, who finished the championship with 208 team points. The Knights matched Pennridge with four first place finishes.
The man who had to wait the longest for his championship bout was Ryan Cody. It didn’t take him nearly as long to earn his medal, winning the heavyweight bout by pin fall over Central Bucks East’s Trent Petro 2:53 into his match.
“I actually wrestled him two weeks ago,” Cody said. “I won, but it was a close match. I won 3-1 so improving myself and getting him here is a great step.”
Cody was a swing varsity wrestler for North Penn last year, but this year he has been a staple of coach Rob Shettsline’s team. His season goals have adjusted accordingly.
“Now, as I go on in the season, I’m really trying to get to states and get that next level experience of wrestling,” Cody said. “Then next year I can improve even (more) upon myself than this year.”
The second half of the meet really belonged to North Penn, as it earned first place in the 145, 152, and 220 matches in addition to Cody’s 285 victory. Will Laughlin won by major decision, followed by a Colin Shannon pin, and an Owen Verespy pin.
In total the Knights won four first place medals, one second place medal, five third place medals, and one fourth place medal.
“We think we prepare our boys well for the postseason and North Penn is notorious for doing well in the postseason,” Shettsline said.
Souderton also performed well in the championships, being represented by six wrestlers in the final round. Big Red took home one first place medal, at 126 with Brandon Bach. Bach defeated Raymond Calderaio, who he had lost to a week ago, in a 9-7 decision.
“He got almost all his points from our feet (in the last match) so I tried to go out there and stop his offense,” Bach said. “Just took opportunities when they came.”
Host school William Tennent also represented well, taking home first place at 132 with AJ Tamburrino and 170 with David McCoy. Tamburrino won by 6-0 decision, and McCoy won by pin fall just 44 seconds into his match.
“It’s in my own environment. It felt great wrestling,” Tamburrino said. “It was a pretty great win…it’s been a long time since we’ve had a first placer. I’m glad to be one of the guys to do it.”
McCoy let out a huge roar after registering his pin, and could be seen smiling from ear-to-ear as he stood atop the podium.
“It’s unbelievable. Couldn’t be any better. Having it be at home, too.” McCoy said. “We were really looking forward to it. Coach (Anthony Tamburrino) would love getting Tennent more out there. When he heard about this he was thrilled. And we all were. When we heard about it, you can’t pass this up, being at home for the last time too, senior year.”
The best championship match of the day may have come at 182, when Central Bucks East’s Collin Stevens earned a pin 2:25 into his match after being tossed on his head in the first period.
“I dunno, I was scared at first because I’m not used to getting slammed on my head,” Stevens said. “I just wanted to collect my thoughts and make sure I was good…I just did a wrist roll, which is my favorite move from bottom, and that helped me reverse him.”
The Central Bucks School District owned the early portion of the meet, as CB South’s Ryan Lewis started the championship round with a win by pin fall at 106. The fall came with the match 3-2 in the third period.
“I just kept working,” Lewis said. “I was still confident but there was some doubt. Our whole team is pretty good, my partner is pretty good. Everybody works hard at practice so just go into a match working hard like in practice and it goes pretty good.”
CB East’s Chris Eck followed at 113 with a 10-0 major decision victory.
“I was pretty confident going in just knowing that I beat all these kids during the regular season,” Eck said. “I’m feeling good. I’m sure districts is gonna be a lot tougher but I’m just gonna go in with the same mindset. Just be dominant.”