The coaching staffs for both Owen J. Roberts and Perkiomen Valley were looking for them from their teams when they faced off Wednesday. For Roberts, it was how it came out after a grueling weekend of action at the high-level Escape the Rock Tournament at Council Rock South; for PV, it was how the success of its early season would line up against a solid Wildcat unit.
Owen J. had the better response to the kickoff of its Pioneer Athletic Conference Liberty Division campaign: a 55-15 victory over the Vikings on its annual Youth Night card. It opened by scoring 26 unanswered points through the first five weights, then went on another four-bout run before the teams split the last four weights.
"I was pleased with how we wrestled against a high level of competition," OJR head coach Steve DeRafelo said of his team's time at the Rock. "We wrestled up to the level tonight, though there were a couple things we can do better."
Along with four pins and two technical falls, Owen J. (1-0 division, 9-1 overall) got points off three forfeits. Illness and injury played a part in PV's thinned ranks, which got pins from Drew Rowley and Gavin Euker to go with Stephen Coleman's narrow decision at 113.
"I want us to feel a firm understanding of where we are," PV head coach Jared Dubbs said of his 7-3 squad, whose last action was a victory over Pottstown one week ago. "This was a challenge we needed."
Roberts was quick to remove any suspense from the challenge. It started with Luke Resnick posting a technical fall with seven seconds left in the first period of the 120-pound opener. Tyler McCutchen then added a 4-0 decision at 126 before Antonio Petrucelli and Cole Meredith body-pressed their opponents at 132 and 138.
Owen J's early run was stemmed after Daniel Mancini was awarded a forfeit at 145. The Vikes got on the scoreboard with Rowley's 27-second pin at 152, but the 'Cats got back up to speed with Ryan Resnick working up a 23-8 tech-fall early in the second period at 160, Jacob McLeod's fall at 170 and Griffin Gerber's 14-11 decision at 182 - one that saw him emulate Ryan Resnick's tactic of "catch and let loose" (takedowns followed by releases) to build up an initial 12-5 lead.
"One of the things we work on is putting points on the board," DeRafelo said. "We want the kids to be relentless and aggressive. If they get to a comfort level, we push them to stay relentless."
Euker again stemmed the Roberts run with a 1:03 fall at 220, but after Alex Acosta got a forfeit at 285, David Forrest rallied for an 8-5 decision at 106. That capped OJR's scoring with Stephen Coleman pulling off a 2-1 victory at 113.
"It's certainly good to stay humble," Dubbs said. "It's a good measuring stick for individuals."
The various health issues have kept several of PV's more-experienced wrestlers sidelined. Senior Paul Pearce and junior Kevin Lovett have seen limited action, and junior Vinnie Goncalves has yet to hit the mats for the Vikings this winter.
"We've been doing well," Dubbs said, "but it's unfortunate with the injuries. We had a whole varsity lineup in the early going.
"Some of the injuries we fear could be season-long," he added, mentioning concussion concerns among them, "but there are others we could get back as early as Saturday."
In spite of his team's dominant showing, DeRafelo cited one area on which it needs to work.
"I think we need to finish matches. We have to do better," he said. "We need to take the work we do in the (wrestling) room and follow on it in matches."
NOTES >> Nick Duliakas returned to the Owen J. lineup for the first time since its visit to the King of the Mountain Tournament the weekend prior to Christmas. The Roberts senior had to forfeit the tourney's seventh-place bout for medical reasons, and had been out since then. "He's a great kid," DeRafelo said of Duliakas, who was announced at 195 and received a forfeit. "He's excited to be back, and we're excited to have him back." ... As part of Saturday's PAC divisional slate, Owen J. will be visiting Norristown at 6:30 p.m. while PV hosts Boyertown at 11 a.m.