RIDLEY TWP. >> As Garnet Valley's Coltin Deery went through weigh-ins and a skin check before the Central League wrestling championships Saturday at Ridley High School, one of the referees told the freshman 220-pounder that he had to trim his hair if he wanted to compete in the tournament.
The problem was, where does Deery go for a haircut on such short notice? It's not like he can run out to a barber. In stepped assistant coach Eric Hollingsworth, who also is the father of wrestlers Gavin and Griffin Hollingsworth.
The elder Hollingsworth took out a pair of scissors and trimmed Deery's hair.
"He did it right in the hallway," Deery said. "Actually, I went back to him again and he cut it a second time."
The impromptu trim did not have a Samson effect. Deery went out won three matches including a 2-1 triumph over top-seeded Paul Pelham of Conestoga in the 220-pound crown final.
"I think it helped me lose a couple of ounces," Deery said.
Teammate Tommy Mahoney followed with a 2-1 victory over top-seeded Lee Holbert from Strath Haven at 285 pounds to cap a good day for the Jaguars. Griffin Hollingsworth, a freshman, started the day with a 3 minute, 30 second pin of Springfield's Jake Methlie to win the 106-pound championships. In all the Jaguars had 11 wrestlers advance to next week's District 1 Class 3A East championships at Spring-Ford and lock up the outright Central League title.
"After losing all the seniors we did from last year, a lot of people looked at us as underdogs," Mahoney said. "We needed to come out and make a statement. We talked about it in our wrestling room about home much winning the league title means to us."
Upper Darby's Justin O'Donnell was out on the floor talking with friends and other wrestlers when it was announced that he had been named the Outstanding Wrestler in the Central League championships. The senior 145-pounder was so engrossed in conversation that he never heard the announcement.
"Somebody had to tell me to go and get my award," O'Donnell said.
He sheepishly walked up and accepted the plaque with a hint of embarrassment in his body language, but with a huge smile on his face.
"I wasn't expecting it," O'Donnell said. "To get something extra like this means a lot to me."
O'Donnell would have been happy to leave with the championship medal he won with a 3 minute, 33 second pin of Radnor's Jahmair Rider in the 145-pound final. It was his third win of the day and the most gratifying.
Rider beat him, 13-9, in a dual meet a month earlier.
"To be able to come back and pin him is a big deal," O'Donnell said. "I really wrestled sloppy in that match. I gave up some points that I should not have given up. I wrestled much better today and was able to pin him."
O'Donnell's victory was one of two individual titles for the Royals. Dezhan Peterson spoiled Jack Horvath's bid for a third straight championship at 182 pounds with a 3-1 victory over Horvath in overtime. Like O'Donnell, that avenged a 4-3 dual-meet loss to Horvath.
"I knew that if I wrestled him again that I could beat him," Peterson said.
He did, with a little help from a move that Peterson learned from former teammate Brian Kennerly, the 2017 Daily Times Wrestler of the Year.
"It's a double leg move and I was able to get the takedown for the win," Peterson said.
David Bagirov stayed calm with each stoppage for blood. The breaks, for a scratch on Bagirov's face, could have been a distraction for the senior from Springfield, if he allowed it.
"Actually, I kind of liked it," Bagirov said. "It gave me a chance to regroup."
Bagirov's 126-pound championship match with Strath Haven's Joe Andraos was stopped four times for blood. Trainers had to clean him up, Andraos and the mat before wrestling resumed. However that did not keep Bagirov from claiming his second league title with a 17-8 major decision over Andraos.
"It's pretty cool," Bagirov said of winning another title. "I wish I started wrestling earlier so I could have won more, but I'll settle for two."
A lot of wrestlers try to look tough when they're having their picture taken on a medals stand. Penncrest's Brendon Stocku had a huge smile on his face as he held up the award he received for winning the 145-pound title.
"My teammates were yelling at me," Stocku said. He didn't need any prodding. His pin of Ridley's Davis Huth in 3:58 gave him his second straight league title. That was enough to smile.
"It means a lot, honestly," Stocku said. "I've worked hard for this."
Strath Haven came away with three individual champions. John Crawford beat Upper Darby's Jake Johnson, 9-5, to win the 160-pound title. Brett Burns scored a 10-2 major decision over Garnet Valley's Dave Maiers for the 170-pound championship and Bryan Boyer beat Conestoga's Scott John, 2-1, for the 195-pound crown.
Garnet Valley coach Rocco Fantazzi was named Coach of the Year in a vote of the league's coaches. Lower Merion won the Sportsmanship Award. The league also paid tribute to longtime Ridley coach Carl Schnellenbach, who passed away earlier this year, and had a moment of silence for the shooting victims in Florida.