It's been nearly 150 years since the Civil War, but the North still reigns supreme. Well, at least in District 1. On Saturday, 10 area wrestlers advanced to the Class AAA State tournament, which commences Thursday night.
Owen J. Roberts' Rob Hoffman (152 pounds) highlighted the group as one of just five Southeast Regional champions from District 1 South.
After victories over Coatesville's Corey Blake in the Section 4 and District 1 South finals the past two weeks, Hoffman defeated Blake again, this time 6-3, to win his third straight postseason crown.
"This win is big for me," said Hoffman, who will be joined by teammate Jeremy Stierly (125) at states. "Last year I got pinned in the finals. It was good to come back to the place where I lost and win it back."
Upper Perk won the team title with a score of 152. Boyertown finished second with 125 points, and Conestoga finished highest in the area with 61.5 points, good for eighth place.
Three Pioneers will be heading to Hershey for the state tournament, with Erik Bjorhus (171) finishing third, and Jack Chidester (112) and Kevin Bacci (145) taking fourth.
Bjorhus worked a 8-1 decision over Neshaminy's Tim Kovitch in the third place final. It was the second time Bjorhus beat him in the tournament, and also allowed him to keep up in his sibling rivalry.
"It's nice. It's real nice," Bjorhus said. "My brother (Keith) made it to states five years ago so I wanted to get it and go a little farther than him."
Downingtown West finished five points behind Conestoga in ninth place. Rob Akers (103) and Steve Rathfon (140) moved on for the Whippets with second place finishes.
Akers met Quakertown's Shane Leister in the finals. Leister was the only wrestler to beat Akers this season heading into the bout, and the sophomore Panther found a way to duplicate his success, bettering Akers with a technical fall in 5 minutes, 35 seconds.
"Leister is a great wrestler," Akers said. "You can have age, size, strength. Experience wins the match. He has that on me."
It will be the first trip to states for the senior Whippet who has compiled a 38-2 record
"Now that I got to states I have a new set of goals," Akers said. "I want to medal, but my goal for the season is already done. Getting to states is a goal I set as a freshman."
Great Valley's Drew Smith (189), on the other hand, will be making a return trip to Hershey as the second place finisher.
Smith, who won the seventh place medal at states last year, went up against nationally ranked Pat Flynn of Quakertown.
In a rematch of the 2005 regionals final - which Flynn won 6-1 - Smith was down 1-0 with 15 seconds left in the bout. With time winding down, Smith went on the attack, but Flynn caught him and tacked on five more points to end the match 6-0.
"I shot in on a couple of shots and I thought I had it," Smith said. "I just didn't close and he just kind of flattened me and turned me."
Downingtown East's Mike Lukenda (275) renewed his ticket back to states with a fourth-place finish.
The defending regional champ pinned Upper Perk's Bruce Augustine in 44 seconds in the consolation semifinal to earn his second straight states berth, but lost to Northeast's Slav Mukha in the third place final.
"I'm disappointed with my performance," Lukenda said. "My No. 1 goal was to get back to states so I guess that's good. Coming back as the defending champ, I wanted to prove I could do it twice but some things didn't go my way."
West Chester Henderson's Tim Boate (103), Great Valley's Bill Hasen (130), and Garnet Valley's Dave Morey (160) and Kris Wazlawik (215) all won the fifth place match, making them alternates if someone from the top four in the region drops out.