Boyertown Bears Wrestling

Bechtolds, OW Gautreau lead Owen J. Roberts to top spot at District 1-3A North tournament

by Jeff Stover, Pottstown Mercury

Posted on February 25, 2023

Article originally appeared here:

GRATERFORD >> They each scored championship finishes, heading a big medal run that was key to Owen J. Roberts winning a team title at the District 1-AAA North Tournament.

So what could have made Saturday even better for brothers Dillon and Dean Bechtold?

"A milkshake on the way home," Dillon said with a smile. He did suggest his younger sibling might lean more toward a doughnut as his post-tourney celebration.

Considering the performances they turned in at Perkiomen Valley High School, the tasty treats would be more than fitting.

Dillon Bechtold (39-2) repeated as a 1-AAA North gold medalist, complementing his junior-season championship at 172 with a similar finish at 215. He was preceded by Dean Bechtold (35-8) sweeping the 189-pound bracket for the latest highlight of his freshman campaign, one marked by gold in the PAC championship and medals at Central Mountain's King of the Mountain and Chambersburg's MyHouse Trojan Wars tourneys.

Mason Karkoska, Skylur Davidheiser and Sam Gautreau preceded the Bechtold brothers with top-of-the-podium finishes at 138 through 152, respectively, Gautreau (36-5) receiving acclaim as the section's Outstanding Wrestler.

Christian Gregory (18-17) added silver at 285 and Alex Brandt (18-17) bronze at 127, figuring in Owen J. Roberts' first-place 210.5 team points.

"All year," head coach Steve DeRafelo said afterward, "we knew we had kids who could compete. They came together for us, but they have aspirations bigger than this."

Dean Bechtold's road to district gold took him to a semifinal-round meeting with Conestoga's Jake Allred, a senior state qualifier and the weight class' defending champion. Bechtold, though, was more than equal to the task in an 8-7 decision setting the state for his title-round 5-2 win over PV's Carter Euker.

"I kept my feet moving and my motion going," the younger Bechtold said of his late-round bouts. "I had good motion and felt fresh. I had a good motor."

Gautreau's OW outing owed much to his gold-medal match with the Vikings' Kelly Kakos, a two-time state medalist and 2022 district champ at 138, won by the Wildcat 9-4. The Owen J. junior's sweep included a pair of pins following a first-round bye.

"He had a good day, beating a kid like Kakos," DeRafelo noted.

Dillon Bechtold, coming off an inspired run to a fifth-place state medal last year, pinned his way to gold; the first two falls coming in less than a minute. He completed the sweep with a third-period fall of Pottsgrove's Dominic Demeno.

The elder Bechtold recalled how he and Dean got their interest in the sport fueled by their father, Matt, a coach in Elizabethtown College's wrestling program around the time Dillon was in third grade.

"He taught us different moves," Dillon noted.

"We wrestle all the time, and lift together," Dean added. "Sometimes more than once a day."

Roberts run in the middle weights was forged by Karkoska's 12-3 major decision of Boyertown's Shane Stankina at 139, Davidheiser's first-period pin of Radnor's Arik Behar at 145 and Gautreau's decision of Kakos at 152. Its gold-medal count surpassed the two-championship showings of Spring-Ford, Boyertown and Perkiomen Valley - the respective 2-3-4 finishers in the team standings, all of whom matched OJR's total of seven medals.

"We've been putting all in the work, so it's no shock we're all here," Karkoska said.

"I'm trying to make it as far as I can ... make states," Davidheiser noted.

Spring-Ford, which saw a five-year run of District 1 section team championships ended, was headed by the repeat district championships of Cole Smith (114) and Quinn Smith (127). Cole Smith (33-1) edged Boyertown's Luke Heimbach 2-0 for his third straight, and Quinn Smith (26-3) followed with a 9-4 verdict over Conestoga's Miles Warkentine.

"Quinn and I work hard to get better," Cole Smith said. "We push each other."

While he's dominated the head-to-head series with Heimbach, Smith admitted there is a challenge the more they meet.

"He knows what I do, trying to score from the neutral position," Cole said. "I want to keep the motivation going."

The Bears had a repeat district champ in Gavin Sheridan (39-2), moving up two weight classes to 133 this winter, and a first-timer in Cooper Gardner (27-11) at heavyweight.

"I feel strong enough," Sheridan said after dispatching Souderton's A.J. Stayton 2:52 into their title match. "I don't see a size difference. I work to push the pace and control the match."

The host Vikes' champions were Max Tancini at 107 and Gavin Pascoe at 160. Tancini (40-6) unseated Spring-Ford's defending district champ, Gus Smith, 6-0 while Pascoe (36-7) rang up an 18-8 major decision on Conestoga's Matthew Boye.

"I work to get back points and get good position in neutral," Tancini said. "I'm definitely stronger on the bottom and in neutral."

Another family-oriented storyline at districts played out with Branden Rozanski's 6-2 decision of Conestoga's Steven Wiechecki in the 121-pound final. The junior (30-4) is the latest generation in Upper Perkiomen's storied Rozanski family tree, following in the footsteps of father Mike and uncle Brad, both standouts at the high-school and college levels.

Together, they have Branden on a steady course on the mats.

"They help me every day ... pep talks, telling me to attack, to keep scoring points and wrestle smart," he said. "They help me stay calm and cheer me up."

UP had a trio of fourth-place medalists in Ben Godshall (107), Gabriel Tulone (114) and Gabe Sanfelice (139).

Ryan Hayes was Methacton's top wrestler, placing third at 114 while Joey Simko (127), Matty Shumaker (152) and Damian Moser (215) all scored fourths.

* * *

Outside the Pioneer Athletic Conference field at districts, Conestoga had the best showing among Great Valley, Radnor and Souderton.
The Pioneers boasted a returning champion in Hayden McLellan (34-1), who won at 172 with his 5-2 decision of PV's Carson Pascoe. The senior, two wins away from the 100 mark for his scholastic career, was golden at 160 last winter.

"It feels good," McLellan said. "I beat him in last year's district semis, but then he beat me at (South East AAA) regionals."

The final was a tight one, Pascoe escaping from a bottom start to the third period to force a 1-1 tie. McLellan responded with a pair of takedowns around another Pascoe escape for the final margin of victory.

McLellan's win helped his team place fifth in the team standings. It also provided some consolation for the Conestoga contingent. Miles Warkentine (127) and Matthew Boye (160) were the Pioneers' other silver medalists. Allred finished third at 189.

Souderton followed Conestoga in the team standings at sixth place. The Indians' highest finisher was A.J. Stayton at 133, with third-place efforts turned in by Charlie Arobone (121) and Andrew Hallman (145) and fourths from Ben Beckett (172) and Kole Lester (189).

Radnor was seventh in the team standings. Arik Behar was second at 145, Akahi Heyward third at 107 and Anton Skvortsov fourth at 215.

NOTES >> The top four placers qualify for the South East AAA Regional tournament at Souderton the weekend of March 3-4. Join high finishers from South, East and West in bids to qualify for PIAA Class AAA tournament at Hershey's Giant Center March 9-11.

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