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Regional Wrestling: Michael Spielman earns gold, one of five Delco wrestlers heading to states

OXFORD — The drama began Friday for the Delaware County contingent at the District 1 Class 3A Southeast Regional at Oxford High School, continued Saturday and resumes next week at the PIAA state tournament in Hershey.

First and foremost, Michael Spielman of Strath Haven earned gold on Saturday, the only wrestler from the lengthy group of Delaware County wrestlers to do so.

Spielman, a sophomore, gritted his way to the 189-pound title, elevating his record this season to 38-1.

“It feels nice,” said Spielman, who beat highly regarded Carter Euker of Perkiomen Valley, 4-2 in the title bout. “I still want more. I’ve got to show up next week, too. When I stepped outside this morning and looked at the grass, I just knew it was my day. I knew I was ready.”

Six Delco wrestlers punched their tickets to Hershey for the three-day competition that begins Thursday at the Giant Center. That’s down from eight wrestlers last year and 16 two years ago. The class of 2024 also includes Jayden Lee (Radnor), Curtis Nelson (Ridley), Brecken Strickland (Sun Valley), Hunter Delaney (SV) and Brandon Carr (SV).

But back to the drama, and there was plenty of it. It began Friday when three-time All-Delco and perennial states qualifier Cole McFarland of Haverford forfeited after failing to make the 121-pound weight. McFarland was a couple of pounds over the max, ending his prep career. He finished fifth in the state at 106 pounds in 2021-22. Shocking as that was, it paled in comparison to what happened at 114 pounds.

In a nutshell Lee earned a shocking defensive pin over the highly ranked Nelson, the only Delco grappler to medal at states last year. Nelson had his opponent in a Merkl hold and was winning convincingly until inadvertently rolling on to his back. Faster than you could say pin, Nelson was in a most bizarre state that took a while to process. The referee’s sudden slap of the mat to signal the verdict surprised both wrestlers and the coaches. Nelson walked toward the parking lot.

“I thought I was getting back points and I heard pin,” Nelson said. “And he said, ‘No. You got pinned.’ I ran outside, had a long talk with my dad. It was a case of it’s over. There’s nothing you can do. You’ve got to get over it and just worry about states.”

Nelson got over it, and so did Lee as both will be angling for medals at the state tournament, Lee as the second-place finisher from the region at 114 pounds, Nelson as the third-place guy.

It was a banner day for Sun Valley, the only Delco school to send multiple wrestlers to Hershey. Strickland (133), Delaney (139) and Carr (172) all are headed up the turnpike for the Vanguards, the most participants for the school since 2013.

Coach Tom Ellis, who will stack his Vanguards program up against any in Delco in terms of performance over the past five years, is eager to watch the medals ceremony next week.

“We hope to bring back plenty,” Ellis said. “The program has just kind of taken off. It’s never a rebuild. It’s more of a reload.”

Speaking of reloading, at 114 pounds, Lee made a compelling case for himself by wrestling hard after his good fortune. He pinned Jake Evans of Upper Dublin in 1:19 to open the regional, and after being awarded the pin over Nelson, Lee decisioned Chase Sigle of Downingtown West, 12-10, to clinch a berth in the championship bout.

In the finals, Lee lost by fall to Colby Martinelli of Pennsbury, who finished third at 107 pounds last year in states.

But Lee exits as the first Raptors wrestler to get to Hershey since heavyweight Daetrel Jerome in 2021, and the first Radnor wrestler to reach the regional finals since Tommy Myers in 2015.

“Last year didn’t go so well for me in districts and I’m happy, I’m very excited to go to states,” Lee said. “Thanks to all my coaches. They helped me out throughout my whole wrestling career. They got me here.”

Nelson, by the way, cheered for Lee, whom he’d beaten twice in their only other two meetings.

“I’m happy for him,” Nelson said. “I said, ‘you just beat me, and I want you to win it all. After he beat Chase in the semifinals, I gave him a hug.”

Nelson pinned Michel Lozano (Haverford) to begin his consolations bracket fight, won by technical fall (4:49, 18-3) over Gus Smith (Spring-Ford) and defeated Kyle Von Schmidt of Pennsbury by injury default for third place. Nelson had a 2-0 lead when Von Schmidt was unable to continue after injuring an arm.

At 133 pounds, Strickland defeated Nick Dellarocca of Ridley, 4-1, in the first round and lost, 12-8, in the quarters to Chris Dennis of Central Bucks West. In the consolations, Strickland won by fall in 2:28 over Joe Bussell (PW), decisioned Brennan McGrann (Spring-Ford), 5-0, and Christian Ford (Avon Grove), 7-0, and in the fifth-place bout earned an 8-3 decision over Levi Richmond of Downingtown West. That kick-started a run of three straight medals for the Vanguards.

“It’s a phenomenal feeling, especially after last year,” said Strickland, who was disqualified in the regions last year. “It was an unfortunate event, but I came back this year and put in the work with my coaches and made changes that needed to happen.”

At 139, Delaney, a junior at Sun Valley, won his first bout, defeating James Pizzi of West Chester Rustin, 7-3. But he suffered a 9-2 defeat to Luke Knox (Perkiomen Valley). In the consolations Delaney pinned Brandon Godshall (Upper Perkiomen) in 53 seconds, Nikosh Marston (Norristown) in 4:12 and Jonny O’Brien (North Penn) in 2:46.

Delaney then pinned senior Ajay Bhatt (Council Rock South) in 4:34 to finish in third place. Delaney’s older brother Killian, who medaled at states for West Chester Henderson, challenged him.

“After states and everything last year, we were just, ‘Alright, next year,’” Delaney. “Now I’m looking for a medal at states.”

Killian Delaney cheered his brother on Saturday.

“He’s worked really hard,” Killian said. “He doesn’t know how good he is sometimes, but I always remind him. Sometimes he just needs to step up and believe he’s that good and then he does what he did today.”

At 172 pounds, Carr won by technical fall over Robert Rose of Hatboro Horsham (2:29, 19-3) to start the regional and beat Corey Bradley (Cheltenham) 11-8. Bekhruz Sadriddinov (Council Rock South) beat Carr in the championship semis but Carr bounced back with a win over Boyertown’s Joshua Larrimore by technical fall, 2:16, 17-2, to reach the third-place bout where he decisioned Talan Hogan of Pennridge, 12-7.

“Last year I lost in the finals, it didn’t quite go my way,” Carr said. “Hard fought match in the semis earlier today, so to come back and get a hard win like that, it just feels amazing.”

At 189 pounds, Spielman won three straight decisions to reach the championship final against Perk Valley’s Euker. Spielman decisioned Ryan Rowe of Pennridge, 9-3, Kole Lester of Souderton, 6-3, and Mason Richards of Spring-Ford 4-2.

At 160 pounds, sophomore Paxton Hunt of Garnet Valley finished sixth, one spot from Hershey as did Jaguars heavyweight Dylan Bledsoe.

Source: Berkshire mont

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