Late falls carry Cougars past Avon GroveFor Downingtown East's Amro Elansari, Wednesday night's dual meet against Avon Grove meant redemption.
For the opposing coaches, there was a heavy mixture of both frustration and pride.
After the 14 well-fought, and for the most part, evenly matched meets, the tension level was still high after Downingtown East walked away with a 37-27 victory at home, keeping it in the race for the Ches-Mont League National Division crown.
Trailing by two points heading into the final two bouts of the night, the Cougars (3-1 league, 14-5 overall) got two crucial pins from Dave Medearis (215) and Elansari (285) to clinch the win, exactly one week after losing a very close meet to West Chester Henderson.
But the win did not come without its dose of controversy, as at three different times Cougar wrestlers tapped out for injury time while on the verge of being pinned.
"I'm apologizing to Avon Grove for the way we won," Down-ingtown East coach Joe Horvath said. "I totally feel (Avon Grove) wrestled a tougher, more aggressive match. We were more than lucky to come away with the win."
Downingtown East built an early lead with wins from Joe Linskens (125), Billy Heemer (130), Brian Carter (135) and Ian Meakim (140), but after forfeiting 145, only had a nine-point lead with Avon Grove's better wrestlers coming up.
Mike Chrzanowski (152) and Brian Henricksen (171) registered technical falls and Mike Zebrowski (189) had a dominant 14-2 major decision to put the Red Devils (3-1, 15-5) up 27-25 with two to go. But in all three of those matches Downingtown West tapped out of would-be pins, denying Avon Grove of extra bonus points as well as keeping the momentum down.
"All three of those kids tapping out, I'd rather have them just take pins," Horvath said. "It's embarrassing to us. That should never happen and that's why I am apologizing to Avon Grove."
Red Devils' coach Frank McCue was clearly, and rightly, frustrated after the meet, but also had a sense of pride in the way his team wrestled.
"I'm proud of the effort," he said. "We knew it was going to be a dog fight."
Stuck in the middle of the Red Devils' run through the middleweights was the match at 160, which proved to be a vital swing match. It pitted Avon Grove's Rob Massi and Downingtown East's Brian Fitzgerald, who brought contrasting styles to the mat.
Massi, who likes to go for the big score by taking opponents right to their back, kept a more tactful Fitzgerald on his heels for much of the bout, scoring first with a takedown in the second period. Fitzgerald escaped twice to tie it, and with 14 seconds left in the third, he managed to take Massi down for the deciding points, giving the Cougars a seven-point lead.
"(Fitzgerald) showed a lot of guts," Horvath said. "His offense got Fitzgerald off his game. You have to give credit to Massi. That match could have gone either way."
With the meet coming down to the final two bouts, Downing-town East's heavyweights came through big. Medearis came out attacking and made quick work, pinning Sam Benson in 1:17.
"I was pretty amped up the whole meet," Medearis said. "I was going in with the pin as my only option."
Whippets fall to Rustin
West Chester Rustin was missing six key players. Downing-town West was missing in action -- at least for the first 15 minutes.
In the end, it was the Whippets who just missed out on an improbable comeback.
The short-handed Golden Knights hung on in the final minutes to post a crucial 3-2 Ches-Mont League victory, despite an outstanding 35-save effort from Whippets goalie Kyle Peiffer and the absence of numerous key players who were out for a variety of reasons.
The win, combined with West Chester East's impressive 4-3 win over West Chester Henderson, gave Rustin sole possession of first place in the Ches-Mont.
"They just played with all their heart, and they kept at it and they finally wore down the goalie," said Rustin head coach Nick Russo. "I would've liked the shutout, but it happens. It's a great win for the whole organization. ... I was very proud of them, I can't say enough about their character."
With key players like Casey Nau, Brian Christie, Jeff Jackson and David Thompson missing in action, things were going to be hard enough for Rustin. When the Knights (5-2 Ches-Mont, 9-2-1 overall) watched their three-goal lead become just one in the final minute, things became even more dicey.
After struggling to test Rustin goalie Devin Lieberman most of the evening, and falling behind 3-0, junior Mark Clifford finally put the Whippets (3-2-1, 5-5-2) on the board with 2:37 left in the third period.
Eight seconds later, West got a two-man advantage and pulled Peiffer to get a 6-on-3. Just as the first penalty expired, Whippet sophomore Lucien Staquet flipped in a backhand to cut the lead to 3-2 with 56 seconds to go.
But the Whippets were unable to generate another scoring chance, as their very slow start came back to cost them valuable Ches-Mont points.
"(Peiffer) has been keeping us in every game, and a lot of teams are getting shots off on us," said West coach Matt McAnany. "Tonight, we didn't come out to play early on. It's not our team, we're a lot better than this. It's disappointing, but you just gotta move forward."
The only Whippet that came to play in the first 15 minutes was the one between the pipes.
Peiffer not only kept his team in the game early on, he did it in spectacular fashion, stopping all 16 shots he faced, including a jaw-dropping effort on a shot by Rustin junior Billy Gaffney.
Whippet boys, girls top W.C. East swimmers
Downingtown West's girls swim team has an abundance of talent, a ton of depth - and a lot of momentum. Friday afternoon, the Whippets used a combination of all three to flatten West Chester East, 113-57, in the showdown between the two remaining undefeated teams in the Ches-Mont League National Conference.
With the win, the Whippets improved to 5-0 and took over sole possession of first place. East now is 4-1 and tied with West Chester Henderson and Downingtown East for second place.
On the boys side, Downingtown West logged a 115-51 win. The Whippet boys also improved to 5-0 to remain tied with Henderson for the top spot while the Vikings fell to 1-4.
The Whippet girls arrived for the meet at East's "home" pool at Cheyney University with more than just a "Battle of the Unbeatens" as a motivating factor. Last year, the Vikings handed the favored Whippets a loss at the same pool.
"Last year, they were a little disappointed with how they swam here," said West coach Erik Snook. "So they were very motivated to swim well today - especially the way they've been swimming this season."
The Whippets showed just how motivated they were by finishing first in 10 of the 11 races and outscoring their hosts in 10 of 11 events. West showed its versatility with five different individual winners.
The meet's only individual double-winners were Claire Keithly, who was first in the 200-yard freestyle and the 500 free, and Becca Emerich, who placed first in the 200 IM and the 100 back-stroke.
"My races were a little off today," said Keithly, a sophomore. "I'm sore and I'm tired. I swim (club) at UMLY (Upper Main Line YMCA) and we've been doing a lot of yardage there. Plus, we have mid-terms at school, so it's been stressful. I was happiest with my 200. I added two seconds but it's OK with the conditions."
Keithly also teamed with Morgan Cichewicz, Rachel Horton and Emerich on the winning 400 free relay. Additionally, Emerich joined forces with Ali Whitney, Christi Stern and Cichewicz on the victorious 200 free relay.
"My IM was decent - for a really hot pool," said Emerich, a junior. "In the 100 back, I was just trying to get first place to get points for the team. So my back time was up. The hot pool affected me more in the IM."
Visiting teams at Cheyney's natatorium quickly find out that the water in the Wolves' pool is always hot.
"The worst part is that when you're taking a breath while swimming, it doesn't feel like you're getting any air," said Keithly. "It definitely made a difference with my times. I added 10 seconds in the 500 free."
It was a meet that was contested hotly, but not hotly contested. After five events, the Whippets had already built a 30-point lead at 54-24. West also received major point contributions from Horton, who was first in the 100 fly and second in the 100 back, and Stern, who placed first in the 50 free.
"Fly felt really good today," said Horton, a senior. "I went out strong. On the last wall, I just took an extra kick so I could take one less stroke. It made a lot of difference. It has for the last two meets."
Other key scorers for West were Kellyn Warren (first, 1000 breast), Carolyn Evans (second, 500 free; third, 200 free), Megan Harris (second, 200 IM; second, 100 breast), Cara Haddad (second, 100 fly; Ali Whitney (third, 50 free) and Cichewicz (second, 200 free; second, 100 free).
"Breast went pretty well," said Warren. 'I've been working on a lot of parts in practice like turns and the mental part of the race. My times have been dropping. We're working for the end of the season now."
East's top finishers were Steph Kearns (first, 100 free; second, 50 free), Jackie Vincent (third, 200 IM; third, 100 fly), Caitllyn McNally (third, 100 free), Ashley Seely (third, 100 breast) and Abby Floyd-Jones (third, 500 free; third, 100 back).
"The 100 was OK," said Kearns. "I got out well. Coming into the last 25, I realized how close it was because I could see the girl next to me (Cichewicz). I swam hard the whole time. I never pace myself. I just go all out the whole time."
In the boys meet, the Whippets had an even bigger lead after five events at 55-19. Like the West girls, they finished first in 10 of the 11 races. But they only outscored their hosts in nine of the 11 events.
West was paced by a pair of quadruple-winners - Pat Dougherty, who was first in the 200 IM and the 100 fly, and Steve Miller, who won the 200 free and the 500 free. They were teammates on the winning 200 free relay along with Matt Jenkins and James Damiano.
Pearson retiring after 30 years with Young Whippets football
The Downingtown Young Whippet family recently honored Larry Pearson, who retired after serving 30 years as president, board member and coach.
Most recently, Pearson served as head coach of the 120-pound varsity football team, as well as serving on the board.
In 2003, the Larry Pearson Press Box was named in honor of his service.
His success on the football field will always be secondary to his success in molding young men, many of whom have grown to become leaders and contributors within the community.