Kochersperger's new fire sparks Kennett past Great Valley

by Nate Heckenberger, Daily Local

Posted on December 18, 2019

Article originally appeared here:

KENNETT SQUARE - A 27-win season that resulted in a trip to the regional tournament would be a very successful season for most wrestlers.

For Kennett's Trent Kochersperger, it was "horrible."

Now a junior, Kochersperger has become the veteran leader of what has become a pretty solid little group in the middle of Kennett's lineup.

Wednesday, that stretch sparked Kennett's 43-34 home win against Great Valley, in the Ches-Mont American Division dual meet. It was the Blue Demons' first win against the Patriots since 2013.

Kochersperger (132 pounds) had a first-period pin, but he said that took a back seat to his priorities this season.

"My philosophy is this is just the rehearsal," Kochersperger said. "We're working towards the dream. That win doesn't mean anything to me. Winning as a team is awesome, because we're pushing each other and just getting ready for the dream."

"The dream" is the opportunity to compete for a state championship, and Kochersperger has come up just short his first two seasons.

With his reinvigorated focus, as well as a wrestling trip to Romania in May, the 65-win junior has a different mindset this winter.

"I was wrestling not to lose last year instead of wrestling to win and to have fun," he said. "Last year was horrible, and that's a huge motivation to show that that wasn't me. That was somebody else who was scared."

Any change is not just internal perception. Kennett coach Kevin Reigel sees it as well.

"He's more of a leader and he's more mature," Reigel said. "Even in the match, he knows he's gotta go hard and he's got it together in his head. I don't know how to describe maturity, but it looked like he aged five years over the summer. He looks like a young man."

Whereas Kochersperger had Logan Reigel and Gerhardt Reiter to look up to as a freshman, now the tables have turned.

Sophomore Darrale Barrett hit a growth spurt, jumping from 106 to 138, and freshman Josh Barlow (126) comes in with high regard. Fellow freshmen Christian Vega (113) and Josh Kochersperger (145) bring experience, from the Kennett Youth wrestling club, led by John Boyer, which Kevin Reigel credited for his promising young core.

"We push each other really well," Barrett said. "We work hard and if we make mistakes we correct each other. We're just trying to get better."

That group did its job against Great Valley (0-1 division, 4-2 overall). After the Patriots pinned their way to an 18-0 lead, Kennett (1-0, 4-2) scored the next 31 points.

Vega bumped up to 120 and stole a decision with a reversal and two near-fall points in the waning seconds for an 8-7 win.

"I told him, give us six hard minutes and I don't care what the outcome was," Kevin Reigel said. "That's what he did. You go six hard, something good might happen."

The Patriots had to forfeit 106 and 113, but were still in a position to win, thanks to pins by Casey Capetola (145) and Ryan Greiser (160), and a major decision by Keefe Thornton (170).

"I'm pretty unsatisfied," first-year Great Valley coach Bobby Lavelle said. "I couldn't care less about forfeits. I'm confident in our team, that we can give up 12 points and still win some duals. When you're losing because of penalty points or getting pinned when you're winning, that comes down to effort and we still don't have that right. We have a long way to go."

In the final bout, Kennett's Connor Jung rolled through and ended up on top of Antonio Pampinella for a 24-second pin that wrapped up the win.

"I guess with any building program, you need some success to make the hard work seem worth it," Kevin Reigel said. "We got some success, so hopefully we will get more hard work out of them."

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