Henderson beats East, stays unbeaten in duals

West Chester Henderson's Mark Griffin (right) reaches for the head of W.C. East's Jake Schram. (Ron Tarver / Staff Photographer)

In a hard-fought, gritty, Ches-Mont League National Conference wrestling clash, undefeated West Chester Henderson defeated West Chester East, 40-21, Wednesday night in a dual meet that was hardly as one-sided as the score.

The teams traded forfeits at two weight classes, but all but two matches went into the third and final period.

Ultimately, Henderson, the host, won nine matchups to East's five. Six of the 14 bouts were decided by three points or fewer, with the match at 140 pounds between Josh Demi and East's Ryan Celenza going to an overtime period, before Celenza earned two points with a takedown mere seconds before the final buzzer to earn the win.

Henderson pinned three Vikings wrestlers, and East won just one match by fall.

"I would say the match was much closer than the score indicated," Henderson coach Dean Donley said. ". . . I thought both teams battled pretty tough. We just happened to get the close ones."

With the loss, East fell to 4-4 overall and 1-1 in the league. Henderson has yet to lose a dual meet this season, improving to 8-0 overall and 2-0 in the conference.

Josh Nichter, Henderson's 103-pound freshman who has been wrestling since the first grade, improved his season's record to 19-2 when he pinned Erik Venuti at the 3-minute, 3-second mark.

East, for its part, was highly competitive on the road against the two-time defending league champs, but failed to convert at the middle weight classes.

The Vikings lost decisions at 135 and 171 pounds by one point, and at 145 by three points.

"This was a big match for us," East coach John Gallo said in disappointment after the meet. "We kept them close, and we battled six minutes, which was good.

"But a couple of those close matches, if they swing one way or the other, would have mattered."

For Donley, the high point of the evening was the resolve of his wrestlers to earn decisions in the closer matches. He did say, however, that the match in which Demi lost in OT was the most exciting of the night, despite East earning the points.

The OT win improved Celenza to 16-2 this season.

Jim Long and Charlie Grab earned the other two pins for the Warriors. Long moved to 11-2 this season, and Grab improved to 14-5.

East's Scott Gassenmeyer pinned Tyler Benson at 189 pounds to conclude the meet, but the points were inconsequential.

Asked what East must do to see a result such as Wednesday's swing in its favor, Gallo said, "In big dual meets, we need to stay off our back. And we need to win those close matches by outworking kids."

West Chester Henderson 40,

West Chester East 21

215: Matt Muscari, Henderson, dec., Dylan Flanagan, 7-0. 285: Mark Muscari, Henderson, win by forfeit. 103: Josh Nichter, Henderson, pin Erik Venuti, 3:03. 112: Jim Long, Henderson, pin Kevin Celenzo, 4:30. 119: Jeff Ballard, East, win by forfeit. 125: Jesse Rogers, East, dec., Alexis Bailey, 6-3. 130: Kevin Folkes, Henderson, major dec., 14-2. 135: Mark Griffin, Henderson, dec., Jake Schram, 5-4. 140: Ryan Celenza, East, dec. OT, Josh Demi, 9-7. 145: Jake Demi, Henderson, dec., Dominic Jones, 12-9. 152: Charlie Grub, Henderson, pin Griffin Jackson, 1:32. 160: Tyler Sewell, East, dec., Connor Finnegan, 6-4. 171: Derek Mantoni, Henderson, dec., Van Barrett, 6-5. 189: Scott Gassenmeyer, East, pin Tyler Benson, 5:38.


Contact Evan Burgos at rallysports@phillynews.com.