BUCKTOWN — It was a classic example of the final score not telling the whole story.
The scoreboard in the Owen J. Roberts gymnasium showed Spring-Ford with a 37-16 victory over the Wildcats. But that differential didn't convey the tooth-and-nail nature of this match between neighboring Pioneer Athletic Conference rivals ... the tenacity displayed by both teams as their wrestlers came out to face off through much of the lineup.
On the one hand, Spring-Ford (5-0 league, 10-0 overall) won all but four of the 14 duels, running off 27 unanswered points in a seven-bout span near the start of the match. But half of the individual contests were decided by three points or less, including two that went into extra periods before being decided.
"The kids were excited coming in,' Spring-Ford head coach Tim Seislove said afterward. "Owen J. beat us five years in a row. They came in excited and did a good job.'
To be sure, there were dominating individual performances on both sides of the canvas: Danny Krieble (182) and Mason Romano (220) for Spring-Ford, Demetri D'Orsaneo (138) and Derek Gulotta (113) for Owen J. But the close ones scored the spotlight, firing up the fans from both schools in the process.
It started with Dominick Petrucelli escaping from a bottom start in the third period of his 145-pound opener with the Rams' Adam Dombrosky to come away with a 1-0 win. And it reached a climax with Hunter Mitch and Matt Krieble going into overtime to win their respective 120- and 126-pounds pairings — the former clinching the team victory with three weights to be contested.
"They were good matches,' OJR head coach Steve DeRafelo admitted. "But I think the score reflected what took place. They (Spring-Ford) came in and beat us up, scoring points when they had to.
"A lot of that comes back on me. We weren't ready.'
Spring-Ford as a whole came ready to go full tilt. So, too, did Frankie Krauss in a 160-pound bout that staked the visitors to a lead that was never topped down the stretch.
Krause found himself trailing OJR's Jimmy Fratantoni by a 3-2 count after one period, then down 4-2 going into the third. But the junior upperweight escaped from a bottom ride, then took Fratantoni down with about 42 seconds remaining to secure a 5-4 decision.
"We've been working so hard,' Krauss said. "This team's beat us before, so we had this one circled on our calendar.'
The nail-biters involving Mitch and Krieble against OJR's Stone Bissland and Alec Pupo came after the Wildcats (2-2, 4-5) got back-to-back decisions from Ryan Resnick (106) and Gulotta (113) to keep the home team mathematically in the team-victory hunt at 27-10.
Mitch and Bissland went without scoring points until the third period at 120, when Bissland escaped from a bottom start but Mitch subsequently was awarded a penalty point. They went 0-0 in the minute-long first OT frame, and again in the 30-tick second frame before Mitch took the 30-second finale by escaping and countering Bissland's attempts for a takedown.
It was not quite as dramatic at 126, where Krieble and Alec Pupo exchanged escapes for a 1-1 tie in regulation. Krieble's takedown in the OT period proved the clincher.
"It was exciting,' Seislove said. "When you're watching a match go on, and getting into the flow of things, you don't think about being nervous.'
"We had a lot of energy,' Krauss added. "I was talking with everyone off the mat about winning. Hunter worked hard to win ... we all did.'
Other close encounters were OJR's Drew Gerber holding off Jonathan Cooper at 152, 3-1; Spring-Ford's Nick Perri using a third-period takedown and back points to come away with a 7-4 decision on Will Dawson at 195; and the Rams' Josh Boyer outlasting Will Dawson at 285, 5-3.
Around those close contests were pins by Danny Krieble and OJR's D'Orsaneo (138), and Romano's technical fall. Major decisions came from the Rams' Taylor Westlake (170) and Nick Beauchamp (132) and Gulotta.
"The kids are working good together,' Seislove said. "I'm hoping we can keep running with it.'
Next on tap for Owen J. will be the "Escape The Rock' Tournament this weekend at Council Rock South. Spring-Ford, in turn, will take a break from league competition by hosting Manheim Central Saturday afternoon.
Follow Jeff Stover on Twitter at @MercuryXStover