BOYERTOWN >> It's unquestionably the buzzsaw of the Owen J. Roberts lineup.
The middle weights, and the wrestlers residing in them, have been a significant strength for the Wildcats this winter. They're capable of reversing deficits into victories, as was the case Wednesday when OJR faced off against Boyertown.
Sweeping the last six bouts - the string ran from 132 to 170 - was key to Owen J. rolling up a 44-24 win over the Bears. That roll brought OJR back from a 24-15 shortfall to deprive Boyertown on its Hall of Fame Night.
"We've got a great group of guys in the middle," Owen J. head coach Steve DeRafelo said after the comeback victory was put in the books. "We know we can do damage in the middle.
The Wildcats' damage report from 132 on featured three pins and a technical fall. It helped the OJR cause, too, to get wins at 113 and 120 that stemmed the Bears' early run in this clash of Pioneer Athletic Conference (Liberty Division) powers.
Dan Mancini got the clincher for Roberts (2-0 PAC, 11-2 overall) as he continues the healing process from surgery to repair a meniscus damaged in August. Mancini's tech fall at 160 - he got it seven seconds before the bout ended - gave the 'Cats an insurmountable 41-24 cushion, with Ricky McCutchen's 11-4 decision at 170 capping the effort.
"I'm still working my way back," the OJR senior said. "It's taking a long time to get back."
The start to Owen J's comeback came at 113, where Joshua Jackson's pin put the brakes to the early 21-6 run Boyertown (1-1, 9-5) staged. The Bears got pins from Jacob Sonder (220), Robert Terra (285) and Kade Davidheiser (106), along with Jimmy Sinclair working for a 3-1 decision of Matt Karcewski at 182, as they offset the pin Tommy Dempsey gave OJR at 195.
Jackson got the slap at 5:32 in his bout, that after falling behind 11-6. It was followed by David Forrest's 6-1 decision at 120, prior to Nick Montayne scoring the Bears' final points with a 3-1 decision at 126.
"That swung the match our way," DeRafelo said of Jackson's win. "It was starting to get ugly before that. ... Jackson is a great second-year wrestler. He wants to keep working hard to get better."
Zach Englehardt got OJR's stretch run going with a 4-0 decision at 132. Cole Meredith then evened the score with his 3:58 pin at 138, and Antonio Petrucelli followed with a 57-second drop at 145 to get the lead back for OJR.
Cole Bechtel followed Petrucelli with a 5:29 pin at 152. Mancini built 6-1 and 11-2 leads through each of the first two periods before using two takedowns and a three-point near fall in the third to finish the affair.
"There's no hiding it," Boyertown head coach Dave Jones said. "Those are their best kids. They have a great team from top to bottom."
The middleweight domination gave DeRafelo the ability to give Connor Quinn additional time to recover from his own injury.
"I knew he was ready to wrestle," Mancini said of Quinn, "but we didn't need to wrestle him."
Boyertown was without two of its better grapplers, Evan Mortimer and Jacob Miller. It was able to compensate for Miller's absence with help from Sinclair.
"We started at a good spot for the team," Jones said. "The guys stepped in and wrestled well."
For his part, DeRafelo sees the Bears giving his team a fight should they cross paths at the upcoming District 1 Duals Tournament near the end of January.
"We're going to see a different team then," he said.
NOTES >> Boyertown conducted its Hall of Fame inductions prior to the varsity match. The honorees were Diane Heffner, Troy Eagle, Ralph Reish and Matt Malfaro. ... Jones figures Miller will be able to return to action next week, wearing a mask to protect his surgically-repaired nose.