SANATOGA >> Come for the ambience, stay for the action.
For a second straight year, Pottstown and Pottsgrove staged their "Border Battle" dual in the elegant confines of the SunnyBrook Ballroom. The unique atmosphere - wrestling under chandeliers, a mirrored disco ball and white linen drapes, wrestlers, coaches and fans sitting on chiavari chairs, kitchen service for concessions - gave a festive air to the always-spirited competition between the neighboring rivals.
Not even the one-sided nature of the match - Pottsgrove claimed the Border Battle trophy with a 58-18 victory - could detract from the pleasure both schools felt in advance of the upcoming holiday break. It was a particularly joyous night for the Falcons, who continued their solid start to the 2018-19 season while getting a leg up in the Pioneer Athletic Conference's Frontier Division.
"I think 6-2 is very good at this point," Pottsgrove head coach Jeff Madden said. "We'll take what we can get. With the first league win, we'll get into our vacation feeling good."
Pottsgrove had more than enough manpower against its undermanned neighbor. Pottstown (0-1, 0-2) ended up forfeiting five weights and had just one win - Demond Thompson's fast pin at 145 - after forcing a 12-12 tie through the first four bouts.
"Overall, I'm proud. The kids wrestled tough," Pottstown head coach Nick Wade said. "We didn't match up great with them because of injuries and weight issues."
Pins accounted for all the Trojans' points. Destyn Snyder got Pottstown started by getting the slap one second before the end of the 285-pound opener, and Thompson - he was named Pottstown's Outstanding Wrestler - clocked his fall at 145 in 27 seconds. A particularly inspiring bout was wrestled by Juliana Figueroa, who scored a pin at 1:49 in the first period at 113.
"That was awesome. I'm proud of her," Wade said. "Her and Zoe (Earle)."
Pottsgrove's own pin parade was keyed by Josh Cerrito, who got the slap in 1:13 at 145. The Falcon junior (6-2) was named Outstanding Wrestler for his team.
"I enjoy this match. It's my favorite one," Cerrito said. "We treat it like any other match, wrestling for the win."
Pottsgrove's other pins came from Tony Lindgren, a 1:13 verdict at 113; and Avery Shivak, whose 13-second drop at 220 was fastest for both teams. The remainder of the Falcons' points were scored on Matt Bechtel's 9-1 major decision at 126 and regular verdicts from Walter Pack (170) and Zach Van Horn (195).
"The matches we scored pins in were good," Madden said, "but we made basic mistakes in the losses. Giving points away, helping an opponent ... you can't afford to do that."
That notwithstanding, the Falcons take a considerable head of steam into the holiday break. They will head back to Hatboro-Horsham for the Ralph Wetzel Classic Dec. 28 and 29, then take part in the Twin Valley Raider Duals Jan. 5 before resuming their PAC schedule by hosting Pope John Paul II Jan. 9.
"I'm looking forward to Wetzel," Cerrito said. "We get to see how we compete as a team, though it's individual. We'll see how many team points we can get."
Pottstown, in the meantime, will be working over the holiday break to stabilize its lineup. The Trojans' next on-mat action will be the Octorara Duals Jan. 5, prior to resuming PAC competition at Phoenixville Jan. 9.
"When we get the two-pound allowance and heal some injuries, we'll be able to fill out our lineup," Wade said. "We're going to recharge our batteries over the break, and hope to be competitive after that."
NOTES >> Accepting forfeits for Pottsgrove were Aiden Schell (106), Charles Sithens (132), Shane Caffrey (152), Stephen Hennelly (160) and Noah Frye (182). ... Like Cerrito, Madden is looking forward to a return trip to the Wetzel Classic, where Pottstown was 12th in the team standings and saw Sithens (fourth at 120) and Hennelly (sixth at 152) rank among the team's five medalists. "It will be a good tournament for us," Madden said.