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Champions battle through injuries at District 1-3A North tournament

by Jeff Stover, Pottstown Mercury

Posted on February 24, 2019

Article originally appeared here:

POTTSTOWN >> It's a sure cure for whatever may ail a high-school wrestler.

A district-level gold medal works wonders toward having a youthful grappler forget about illnesses, various aches and pains and recovery from injuries. That proved particularly true for a number of champions who emerged from the District 1-AAA North Tournament with precious-metal medallions

The Pioneer Athletic Conference numbered 11 champs from 45 of 56 possible medalists. Among them, Owen J. Roberts' Cole Meredith and Connor Quinn, along with Spring-Ford's Chase Smith, reveled in success in a season that saw them working through health issues.

Meredith took the 145-pound title off a 13-3 major decision of Upper Perkiomen's Zach Rozanski. The joy of improving four spots in the district finishing order from 2018 enabled the Wildcat senior to put aside thoughts about the MCL (medial cruciate ligament) he sprained in January.

"There's a little bit of hesitation with it," he said. "I tried hard to not put everything out there, to have fun."

Meredith (28-10) came out of the first period with a close 2-0 lead. He expanded it to 5-0 through the second, then racked up eight more points in the third while limiting Rozanski to a reversal in that span.

Quinn repeated as a district champ - the previous one at 126 - with a 10-4 decision of Methacton's Roman Moser. The junior (18-1), back from a shoulder injury that curtailed his on-mat activities in the early going, proclaimed himself "happy, but not surprised" by the final result.

"I'm not satisfied," he said. "I gave up four points in the third period, and I shouldn't have."

Quinn is 13-1 since his return to the OJR lineup on Jan. 16. His "down time" spanned more than a month from his previous action on Dec. 8.

"It (shoulder) feels better than before," he said. "It's not where it could be, but it's coming back."

Smith was ecstatic about his first district title, a 6-1 decision of Owen J's Ricky McCutchen. It put a season start hampered by his contracting mononucleosis out of mind in a weekend that helped secure the district team title for the Rams.

"I'm happy to finally win districts. I've been trying to win it for four years," he said. "I was struggling the beginning of the season with ups and downs. I didn't know I had it (mono) until a month after.

"It wasn't my best start."

The weekend was a great one across the board for Smith (20-8). He scored falls in his previous two bouts off a first-round bye to give him a head of steam for his fourth appearance in a South East AAA Regional tournament ... and, hopefully, a third visit to Hershey for the individual competition.

"That's my goal, to get a medal at Hershey," he said.

Smith's teammate, Joey Milano, saw a promising 2018 season curtailed after winning gold at PACs by injuries involving his ACL and meniscus. He noted sustaining a reinjury during the summer, requiring surgery.

"It's good now," he said after dispatching Norristown's Lakine Wallace in the 170 final. "There's no problems. I'm going to keep going on."

Even Souderton's Tyler Williams, the tourney's Outstanding Wrestler off an 11-4 victory in the 138-pound final, admitted to a health issue of his own.

"I've been working to get through a stomach bug I have," the Big Red senior (32-2) said. "I had to push through my semifinal match (3-2 over OJR's Antonio Petrucelli). I rehydrated after it and felt good."

Spring-Ford's latest district team championship (238.5 points) was fueled by nine medalists, one more than second-place Boyertown (206) and third-place Owen J. Roberts (198.5). That included titles by Shane Reynolds (112) and Sean Brogan (285), whose 3-1 decision of Norristown's Tijear Brittingham put the finishing touches on the Rams' memorable weekend.

"All 14 of our guys scored points," head coach Tim Seislove said. "Brogan's had ups and downs all season. It was nice to see him up at the end."

Owen J. matched Spring-Ford's gold-medal haul with four of its own. David Forrest (120) and Dan Mancini (152) joined Meredith and Quinn in winning weight classes, the latter completing his tech-fall trifecta with one in the second period against Boyertown's Brett Breidor.

"It was a pretty good tournament," Mancini (29-2) said. "It's important now to keep scoring more points, to figure out what works and doesn't work."

Boyertown's Julien Maldonado started the gold-medal procession by winning at 106. The sophomore (30-12), third in the district last year, is now looking to bypass his non-placement showing in last year's regional.

"I'm happy to make it to regionals," he said. "I took care of business."

Other PAC wrestlers emerging with district championships were Perkiomen Valley's P.J. Kakos (126) and Norristown's Isaiah Tucker (132). The rest of the gold-medal lineup included Great Valley's Ethan Seeley (195) and Paul Pelham (220).

Seeley's perfect (32-0) standing was tested in the final with Boyertown's Jacob Miller. The senior stalwarts went 1-1 in regulation time, then four 0-0 overtime periods before Seeley got a 2-1 scoring edge on rideout.

NOTES >> Upper Perkiomen, fourth in the team standings with 127, was led by silver medals from Matt Martin (113), Mike Milkowich (126) and Zach Rozanski (145). ... Conestoga was the highest finishing non-PAC team, fifth with 127 points. ... The top four wrestlers in each weight class received medals along with their qualification for the South East AAA Regional, which returns to Souderton March 1-2.

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