The finishing touches on the South East AAA Regional Tournament were put in place Sunday, when 12 bouts were staged at Oxford. The carryover from Saturday's session - the tourney's schedule was changed from a Friday evening start due to inclement weather and power outages - was necessitated by a regulation limiting wrestlers to no more than five bouts in a day's time.
The overflow impacted four Pioneer Athletic Conference grapplers, two of whom were competing for fifth-place medals and berths at the PIAA Championships in Hershey. Three of them, headed by two Spring-Ford wrestlers going for third place in their brackets, move on after going a combined 2-1 on the day.
Brandon Meredith (120) and Ben D'Arcangelo (152) were a respective third and fourth in their weight classes. And Owen J. Roberts' Connor Quinn (126) came away with a fifth-place medal - and most importantly a berth in the state tournament.
Meredith bounced back from a 3-1 loss to Council Rock South's Shane Hanson-Ashworth with a 14-6 major decision of West Chester East's Corey Celenza in their consolation semifinal. That put the Ram senior up against Octorara's Seth Hoopes, and he added to his dominating performances by scoring a 16-3 major.
"He was disappointed after losing in the semis," Spring-Ford head coach Tim Seislove said. "His goal is to get back to Hershey, and the win helps him get to the goal."
Meredith (41-2) will be making his third appearance at Hershey's Giant Center for the individual tournament. His highest previous finish was a fourth at 106 his sophomore season.
"He's wrestled good competition," Seislove said of Meredith, whose results this season have been predominantly by pin, technical fall or major decision. "His weight class is tough, and there's going to be a lot of one- and two-point matches."
D'Arcangelo's drop into wrestlebacks after a quarterfinal-round loss was marked by the senior posting respective 7-2 and 6-4 decisions over Norristown's Nick Semon and West Chester Henderson's Matt Phayre. In the third-place bout, D'Arcangelo came out on the short end of a 1-0 loss to Council Rock South's Cole Flanagan.
"He wrestled the kid at the state duals, and lost to him by six or seven points," Seislove recalled. "He's continuing to improve and get better."
D'Arcangelo (67-43) secured his first-ever state qualification off a first-ever regional medal finish. His medal a week earlier at the District 1-AAA Central tourney was another first for his career at Spring-Ford.
Quinn found himself wrestling for fifth place after he was disqualified from his consolation semifinal with Spring-Ford's Jack McGill for an illegal move. But he responded with a 4-2 decision of Neshaminy's Colton Jordan to qualify for a trip to Hershey.
"The circumstances were difficult," OJR head coach Steve DeRafelo said. "It was up to him ... to make weight a second day, which he hadn't planned to do. He had to overcome something that was difficult and move forward.
"One big thing is he had a chance to come back and wrestle for a medal. I know a lot of guys who would have relished the opportunity to do that."
Methacton's Corey Morabito was unable to join the PAC's Hershey-bound contingent, blanked by Neshaminy's Zachary Martin in the 113 fifth-place bout.
McGill ended up forfeiting his third-place bout at 126 to Quakertown's Joshua Stahl for medical reasons. Seislove indicated McGill will be checked out by the school trainer this week to confirm if he will be able to compete at states.
Spring-Ford, Owen J. Roberts and Methacton will each take four grapplers to Hershey for the state-level competition. Boyertown has three qualfiers, Pope John Paul II two and Pottsgrove and Upper Perkiomen one each.
"We're pleased to take four kids to Hershey," Seislove said, adding Chase Smith (fourth at 182) will round out the Ram contingent. "They wrestled well over the weekend."
Owen J. Roberts' crew will include Daniel Mancini (152 champion), Antonio Petrucelli (138 runner-up) and Jason Zollers (fourth at 170) joining Quinn. Methacton, in turn, will be represented by Roman Moser (runner-up at 145), Tonee Ellis (third at 220), Kibwe McNair (fourth at 132) and Michael Blakemore (fourth at 160).
Boyertown's Elijah Jones (195 champion), Jacob Miller (182 runner-up) and Evan Mortimer (fifth at 160) are Hershey-bound along with PJP's Vulakh brothers, Ryan (145 champion) and Matt (106 runner-up). Pottsgrove's Skylar McLeod (fourth at 220) and Upper Perkiomen's Jared Kuhns (fourth at 113) round out the local ranks.
"Obviously, I would have liked to take more," DeRafelo said. "But I'm confident with the kids we're taking in. They're in great shape, and healthy."
The state's AAA wrestling schedule starts 4 p.m. Thursday with preliminaries and championship-round bouts, followed by first-round consolations around 8:15 p.m. The big schools start Friday at 2:15 p.m. and Saturday at 9 a.m., with medal matches 7 p.m. that night.