LITITZ — For the Warwick Warriors wrestling team, there are strength in numbers. And in some cases, there’s just strength.
Buoyed by a pair of forfeits as well as an all-around team effort in the middle weights, Warwick came back from an 18-0 hole deficit to defeat the Penn Manor Comets, 40-28, in a Section One match Tuesday night.
With Warwick leading 28-22 with four bouts left following Brock Lieberman’s 12-1 major over Alex Laughlin, Warriors’ captain Ben Hershey took on the Comets’ Justin Rupp at 138 pounds.
Hershey led 5-0 after a near-fall toward the end of the first period, that lead ballooning to 9-1 following a pair of second-period takedowns. But Hershey wasn’t satisfied, recording the fall at the 3:16 mark for a 34-22 team lead.
“I knew we had to score in that match so I was just looking for the fall the whole time,” Hershey said. “The biggest thing we worked on all week was bonus points because we knew it was going to be such a close match. We just told everyone, anyone who could get a pin and anyone trying their best not to get pinned, just do your job.”
Sophomore Luke Hirtzel did that and then some, clinching the match for Warwick with an 8-3 decision over Dustin Horn, working a second period escape before taking command with a pair of take-downs. Horn’s third period escape was met with another takedown to round-out the 8-3 decision.
“He’s a tough kid and he’s improving all along,” Warwick head coach Ned Bushong said. “He wrestled well tonight. He’s lost some close matches and tonight he came through for us.”
From there, Logan Boring decisioned Even Phelan of Warwick before the Warriors conceded 160 to Comets’ standout Jonah Barley.
“It got to a point where we would have had to have won at 145 and 152 to give Barley a chance to win it for us,” said Comets’ coach Mike Fowler. “That was a tough draw for both of our guys at 145 and 152; we still would have liked to have got 152 just to walk away with a little bit more.”
The Comets led 18-0 after opening bout falls from Matt Loiseau and Jack Zimmerman.
Things started to turn, however, when Fowler swapped Dante Jones and Jesse Kann at 195 and 220 pounds, respectively. While Jones recorded a 6-0 decision over Josh Miller, Kann (10-0) needed a second-period escape and takedown to earn a narrow 5-3 decision.
“We thought it was a better move, Dante go 195, Kann 220, where the other way around they might split,” Fowler explained after the match. “We had some forfeits, some injuries, try to make some moves and stay in the match there until the end.
“It made it exciting where we started and where we finished. Warwick has a nice full lineup; they have a good team. I think they’re well coached, so they’re tough.”
The stage was set for Warwick (5-0 overall, 2-0 Section One) to come back following Ryan Stewart’s quick pin at 285.
“We came through down below and the middle weights,” Bushong said. “We picked up an extra forfeit that we weren’t expecting. Clark staying with Kann, that was big. All the different kids came through. We can’t complain about anything, it’s just nice. A total team effort, it’s the kind of thing you really like to have.”
A Connor Esbenshade pin of Andrew Sikora at 113 offset Nick Fafel’s 9-0 major before back-to-back forfeits to Trevis Esbenshade and Devin Schnupp provided Warwick with their first lead, 24-22.
“I know Penn Manor was at the top of the section last year,” Hershey said of the teams’ performance so far this season. “That’s what we’re looking at right now, we want to win the section, and we’re just keeping our confidence really high and I think that’s the best thing for the team, keep our confidence high and keep getting better.”
Penn Manor 40, Warwick 28
170 — Matt Loiseau (PM) p. Steven Seepaul (WW), 0:59
182 — Jack Zimmerman (PM) p. Eric Garner (WW), 3:06
195 — Dante Jones (PM) dec. Josh Miller (WW), 6-0
220 — Jesse Kann (PM) dec. Evan Clark (WW), 5-3
285 — Ryan Stewart (WW) p. Nate Rachor (PM), 0:35
106 — Nick Fafel (PM) m.d. Mateo Chacon (WW), 9-0
113 — Connor Esbenshade (WW) p. Andrew Sikora (PM), 3:02
120 — Trevis Esbenshade (WW), forfeit
126 — Devin Schnupp (WW), forfeit
132 — Brock Lieberman (WW) m.d. Alex Laughlin, 12-1
138 — Ben Hershey (WW) p. Justin Rupp (PM), 3:16
145 — Luke Hirtzel (WW) dec. Dustin Horn (PM), 8-3
152 — Logan Boring (WW) dec. Even Phelan (PM), 7-3
160 — Jonah Barley (PM), forfeit