QUAKERTOWN - If you weren't paying too much attention to the Quakertown wrestling team, maybe now is the time to sit up and watch.
The Panthers collected a trio of pins, a technical fall and got some contributions from some unexpected sources to beat visiting Hatboro-Horsham 48-18 in a Suburban One League American Conference match Wednesday night.
Quakertown (6-2 overall, 3-0 SOL American) jumped out to a 23-0 lead on a tech fall by Vinny DeSpirito at 120 pounds, a 19-second pin by Zack Lewis at 126 pounds, a Hatters forfeit at 132 pounds and a pin in 1 minute, 48 seconds by Dom DeFalco at 138 pounds and never looked back.
"We're still working on our lineup, getting guys in certain weights" Quakertown coach Kurt Handel said. "But this team is really coming together and is going to be a little better than what some people expected."
DeFalco, a freshman who normally wrestles at 132 pounds, moved up a class to pin A.J. Vegas. Late in first period, he got control of Vegas' left arm and rolled him onto his back.
"That was big," Handel said. "That was a big win for us there."
Patrick McCoy, another freshman, had a 2-0 lead in his bout at 145 pounds, but Hatboro-Horsham senior Brad Mallon scored the Hatters first point of the night on an escape in the second period, then posted points on another escape, a takedown and a near fall to give Hatboro-Horsham (4-4 overall, 2-1 SOL American) its first win, a 6-2 decision.
Hatters junior Davis Wheeler followed with a pin in 1:08 at 152 pounds to cut the Panthers lead to 23-9, but sophomore Kyle Goodman came back from a 4-0 deficit to take a 10-6 decision at 160 pounds to give Quakertown a 26-9 advantage.
Hatboro-Horsham senior Austin Jaffe kept his team within shouting distance, 26-15, when he jumped out to a 17-6 lead and finally earned a pin over Panthers freshman Micah Kunkle in 4:48 at 170 pounds. But Quakertown junior co-captain Max Russell came through with the biggest win of the night.
Wrestling Hatters senior Matt Needleman who moved up a class to meet him at 182 pounds, Russell fell behind late in the bout on a takedown, 6-5. But a reversal with 13 seconds left allowed Russell to hold on for a 7-6 victory and boost the Panthers to a 29-15 lead.
"It was an important match for the team," Russell said. "I just really had to pull through to make sure we crossed that 30 (point) threshold and put us in a good spot to get the win. He was pretty basic with technique, but he was a bull. He's super strong and he was just not letting me get anywhere and we was just really making me work for every move."
From that point on, it was pretty much all Quakertown. Junior Michael Terra won at 195 pounds when C.J. Grier was disqualified for flagrant misconduct which cost Hatboro-Horsham three team points. Sophomore Ralph Martin earned a 6-3 decision at 220 pounds for the Panthers and Hatters senior Nick Chapman ran his record to 16-0 with a 49 second pin at 285 pounds.
Quakertown sophomore Kyle Miller picked up a 16-3 win over Hatboro-Horsham freshman Alana Barberio at 106 pounds and sophomore Corey Cope closed things out with a pin in 1:48 at 113 pounds.
The Panthers are in a good spot as the season reaches the midway point, but there is still plenty of work to do.
"At first, we thought Plymouth Whitemarsh was going to be a championship match like last year," Russell said. "But then with Hatboro-Horsham beating Plymouth Whitemarsh, this was really the defining match to see who was going to take home another title. We still got to lock down everything and make sure that we bring home another championship."