ROYERSFORD -- Jamie Soupik, Dave Jones and Jesse DeWan more than carried their weight as the captains of Boyertown's wrestling program this season. And Saturday night, they gave the Bears' entourage an even bigger lift.
Midway through the final round of the District 1-Class AAA Central Tournament at Spring-Ford High School, the Bears' seemingly comfortable lead was dissipating ..and Downingtown West was oh so close to sweeping the feet -- and lead -- out from Boyertown's collective feet.
Then Soupik responded with a decision over Pioneer Athletic Conference rival Connor McCormick of Owen J. Roberts in the 140-pound final; Jones held off Downingtown West's Josh Homer at 160; and DeWan closed out yet another eye-opening show by pinning Great Valley's Jay Hahn at 171.
And that quickly, Boyertown had its third straight district title.
The Bears, who got off to a positive start with freshman Matt Malfaro's golden effort at 103 pounds, finished with 174 points overall. Despite four individual champions as well, Downingtown West (157) settled for runner-up honors for the second straight week. Great Valley (124.5) was third, Spring-Ford (76) was fourth, and Conestoga (72) edged Owen J. Roberts (68.5) to round out the Top Five.
"Coaches told me (the importance of his match)," said DeWan (40-3), whose two pins sandwiched around a 13-0 major was enough to earn him the Outstanding Wrestler award as well. "But I wasn't listening to them, really. I was just focusing on getting the job done. The team title was one of our team goals from the beginning of the season. We had some guys lose, but we kept it together. Everyone stepped up and did what they had to do."
"Anything for the team is exciting, so being one of the captains makes me feel good about it," said Jones (40-3), who put himself into position to reach the 100-win mark at next week's regional. "Coach (Pete Ventresca) works hard to get the younger guys caught up and to keep the older guys progressing. You can be sectional champions or district champions and he's still working us hard and still pushing us."
"We had a few letdowns, but everyone else had to go out and do their job," added Soupik (34-6), who worked up a 5-2 decision over McCormick in the rivals' third meeting of the season. "The letdowns disappointed me, made me angry. But they also made me go out there and wrestle even harder."
Boyertown led the area's three entries with eight regional qualifiers. In addition to the golden foursome, Asher Hyatt (125) and Brian Rakowski (152) were second, Tim Feroe (145) was third, and Todd Speilman (135) was fourth.
Spring-Ford, despite not pushing anyone into Saturday night's championship finals, had six medalists with John Martin (119), Mike Platco (189) and Alex Kanakis (215) taking third and Cory Sutton (103), J.J. Willow (140) and Matt Patterson (160) closing with fourths.
And Owen J. Roberts, despite bringing just five entries into the district showdown, left with four regional qualifiers 135-pound gold medalist Jeremy Stierly, Connor McCormick (140) - who defeated a sectional champion and runner-up to get to his final - and Nick Fuschino (145) were both second, and Will Bentley (112) added a third for the Wildcats.
Malfaro (33-8) initiated the Boyertown title run with his 10-2 major over Oxford's Cory Brennan ... a particular win that many district-wide projected as not happening despite his impressive performance at sectionals a week earlier.
"Pressure just makes me do better, so I kind of like pressure," said Malfaro. "I heard what everyone was saying about this week, too, and I don't know why they were thinking (I'd lose), either. But that just motivated me more."
Hyatt (27-7) and Rakowski (29-10) both came up short for the second straight week, but nonetheless contributed big points.
Stierly (29-2) had all the motivation he needed when Downingtown West's Jake Miller appeared on the opposite side of the bracket ... the same Jake Miller he topped a week ago at sectionals.
"(Miller's) pretty strong on his feet, so I didn't go crazy out there and stayed under control," Stierly said of his rather slow start. "I got the nervousness out. I knew what I had to do.
"Beating someone two times in a row like that is tough, especially against a wrestler like (Miller). The second time is always close and it can easily go either way. So this (title) feels good."
Section Four dominated with 22 of the 28 finalists, and 13 of the 14 individual titles - West Chester East's John Mummert (215) spoiling the potential sweep. ... Six sectional champions will not be advancing to regionals, although four of them - including Boyertown freshman Alex Pellicciotti (119) - did bounce back to take fifth place. Two, Henderson's Luke Speers (140) and Marple-Newtown's Peter Massaro, were eliminated prior to the medal rounds. ... Great Valley was the only other team with multiple-champions, getting two from Matt Magill (152) and Carl Buccholz (189).