Owen J. Roberts Wildcats Wrestling District 1
Pioneer Athletic Conference

Wildcats claw way to Kennett title

by Nate Heckenberger, Daily Local Staff Writer

Posted on January 22, 2006

KENNETT SQUARE -- Owen J. Roberts wrestling coach Steve DeRafelo makes it perfectly clear that his intention is to make his team tournament-ready.

While the ultimate goal is the postseason, all tournaments along that road are chances for his Wildcats to cash in on a heavy practice load.

Owen J. Roberts proved Saturday at the Kennett Invitational that all the extra work pays off, as it won the team championship with a score of 203.50.

"We practice two times a day, four days a week," DeRafelo said. "Some of our matches were close through two periods and we'd end up with big wins. It's all about conditioning for us."

While Owen J. Roberts was the most dominant team, outscoring runner-up A.I. DuPont by 28 points, Coatesville's Corey Blake (152) was named Outstanding Wrestler.

Blake got what he came for -- a victory over Owen J. Roberts' Rob Hoffman -- but nearly left without a gold medal.

Blake, ranked No. 2 in the state's southeast region, beat No. 1 Hoffman, 5-3, in the semifinals, setting up a title bout with Tower Hill's Mike Alvarez. Blake, mustering a 5-4 victory, indeed departed with the gold medal around his neck.

Blake said he expected to see Hoffman in the finals, but instead met him one round earlier.

"I went in thinking (Alvarez) wasn't as good as he was," Blake said. "I beat all the competition that I wanted to beat in the semis, so I guess I kind of relaxed in the finals."

Max Henderson (160) also won a gold medal for the Red Raiders, helping Coatesville to a fifth-place finish in the team standings.

Owen J. Roberts, on the other hand, had six Wildcats advance to the finals. Five left with gold medals.

Nick Fuschino (135) and Derek Eckhart (140) won in dominating fashion for the Wildcats, as both collected technical falls. Connor McCormick (119) and Andy Strubilla (130) won the first tournament titles of their respective careers, and Jeremy Stierly (125) worked an 8-0 victory for his gold.

"It's been a rough week," DeRafelo said. "The kids were a little down and we just got our butts kicked by Boyertown last week. It was nice to have the kids rally well."

Kennett's Kyle Bove (112) wrestled arguably the most thrilling match in front of his home crowd. Bove, trailing by one as the third period dwindled, maneuvered a reversal with less than 10 seconds remaining against Unionville's Nick Fischer for a 6-5 victory.

"Kyle showed a lot of presence of mind not to panic when he went behind," Kennett coach Tyrone Johnson said. "It took a lot of guts to go for the reversal instead of just taking his one point and tying it."

Unionville finished third in the final team standings, with Anthony DiMarco (145) taking the lone gold medal for the Indians. Fischer, Jake Popham (160) and Pete Schilthuis (275) all earned silver medals.

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