A first win for four Delco wrestlers at states

by Bob Grotz, Delaware County Daily Times

Posted on March 5, 2020

Article originally appeared here:

HERSHEY - You always remember your first win at the PIAA state wrestling tournament, which is the burn that Ryan Catka, Keito Shaw, Chase Barlow and Griffin Hollingsworth felt Thursday night at the Giant Center.

Conversely, you never forget the win you think was taken away. That's how Upper Darby coach Bob Martin felt after Royals heavyweight Julienne Laventure was penalized a point for stalling with one second left, knotting his match, and giving Mike Miller of Plymouth Whitemarsh a chance to win in overtime on an ultimate tiebreaker.

No matter what happens the rest of the PIAA Class 3A tournament, those snapshots are forever. More on the overtime controversy in a few.

Catka wrestled one of the best matches of the night for the 10-man Delco contingent. The Sun Valley junior walked out of the Giant Center with the daily double as he prevailed in his first bout in the states.

It was an impressive decision for Catka as he twisted and turned Seth Hunsinger of Hazleton this way and that on the way to a 10-3 triumph at 195 pounds. Hunsinger was trying to survive after defeating C.B. West's Carl DiGiorgio, 6-2, in the pigtails.

"First match and I got it out of the way," Catka said. "I think I started off a little slow but I got into a rhythm. I just kept working him and I'm looking forward to Day 2 tomorrow."

Winless in the states last year, Shaw of Upper Darby and Barlow of Strath Haven got on the board in solid, if not spectacular fashion.

Shaw recorded the first win of the evening for the Delco guys as he notched a 5-2 decision over Andreo Ferraina of highly regarded Nazareth at 113 pounds.

With Ferraina on the verge of scoring a third-period reverse, Shaw rolled through for an escape and one point.

Shaw's speed and energy kept Ferraina from getting back in the match.

"Getting that first win at states is a relief," Martin said. "Then you're more relaxed. If you don't get a win the pressure builds. In the second one Keito had a chance. You've just got to forget it and move on."

Shaw was stymied in the next round as he was beaten, 5-0, by Julien Maldonado of Boyertown, the top seed at 113. That relegates Shaw to the consolation round Friday.

At 132 pounds, Barlow reversed Blaine Wilson of Nazareth with just 31 seconds remaining to open the tournament with a 5-4 triumph. Barlow had the lead much of the match before getting behind in the final period.

Barlow wrestled solidly in his second match, as well. Unfortunately for the sophomore, there are few people who can hang with two-time state champion Alejandro Herrera-Rondon of Seneca Valley, just a junior.

Barlow still is in the medal hunt in the consolation round Friday.

Hollingsworth rallied from a 4-2 deficit at 120 pounds to produce a 10-6 triumph over Kaemen Smith of powerful Erie Cathedral Prep.

"I had to clear my mind before I went out there," Hollingsworth said. "I got frustrated that I lost. But I battled back. I was thinking, I'm not going to let my season end right here. It's big because I'm moving on to tomorrow. I've got goals for tomorrow and Saturday, too."

The consolation round wrestlers are two wins each from a medal. The top eight finishers medal.

Then there is Catka's older brother, Hunter, who won by fall in the first period of his match at 285 pounds, moving him into the quarterfinals along with his sibling. Both are three victories from gold.

It was, however, a tough first day for half of the Delco wrestlers.

At 120 pounds, Kevin Puliti of Garnet Valley was eliminated after two losses. The same with Domenic D'Agostino of Interboro at 152 pounds, Shane McAdams of Haverford at 170 and Gabe Federico of Strath Haven.

Puliti got off to a tough start as he couldn't move Costa Moore of Canon-McMillan in his first bout, a 5-0 setback.

No Delco wrestler had a more difficult day than Laventure, who was beaten, 3-2, in the first round by Blaine Davis of Mifflin County.

In the consolation round, Laventure bounced back from a 1-0 deficit against Miller, who was 32-1 entering states, with the only takedown of the match.

Laventure held a 3-2 advantage with the clock running out after he and Miller traded escapes.

The official who slammed Laventure with the penalty point cautioned him for stalling earlier in the third period. Nonetheless, making that call with one second remaining with the wrestlers upright shocked not only the people in Laventure's corner, but what was left of the crowd.

Martin, in his 39th year as head coach, has never seen anything like.

"With one second left?" he said with attitude.

Laventure and Miller traded escapes again in the two 30-second overtimes. Miller escaped in the third overtime to advance in the consolation round.

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