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Wrestling: Quakertown goes five-for-five at home

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A year ago, Quakertown head wrestling coach Kurt Handel was convinced that he had a solid lineup from top to bottom, one that easily could wreck some havoc in the Suburban One League and beyond.

Those plans quickly dissolved when the Panthers lost four starters to injuries. In spite of the shortfalls, they still managed to make a successful run.

This season, optimism again is high with a senior-laden lineup already that has produced more than its share of favorable outcomes.

The Panthers won all five of their matches at their dual tournament Jan. 11. They posted convincing victories over Great Valley (69-3), Father Judge (62-14), Lower Merion (65-10), and also battled through Stroudsburg (43-25) and Bethlehem Liberty (34-28).

The Panthers earlier swept through the Abington Duals with five victories, finished second at the My House X-Caliber at Wilkes University, and was 11th at the Bethlehem Holiday Classic at Liberty High School.

“Two of the meets were really competitive,” said Quakertown head coach Kurt Handel about their own tournament. “Last year was supposed to be a big year for us, and then this year would be our follow-up year.

“We have a solid group of seniors who are hard-working and laser-focused. It is just awesome to see all of their hard work starting to pay off.

Seniors Kyle Miller (120, 2-5, eight falls) Vinnie DeSpirito (126, 21-5 seven falls), and Zach Lewis (17-2. 10 falls) provide a solid bridge leading to the middle of the Panthers’ lineup.

“These guys have been stuck behind each other the past few years, and they know each other well,” added Handel. “Lewis was injured in December, but all three of them are really coming into their own.”

At the bottom of the lineup, Quakertown hasn’t lost any edge with seniors Aaron Sanchez (Kyle Goodwin (160, 17-7, 13 falls), Dustin Pompei (13-7, seven falls), Ralph Martin (220, 13-9 seven falls), and Jeremy McGuigan (22-4, 13 falls).

“They’re all rock solid,” stressed Handel. “Sanchez is a kids who was on the JV for three years. The others have been doing well for us the past few seasons. We expect all of them to finish strong.”

Handel also noted the contributions from freshman 106-pounder Zach Borzio (18-8, 10 falls) and sophomore 113-pounder Todd McGann (17-5, 14), who missed last season with a broken collarbone.

“You never know what to expect with a freshman,” said Handel. “But he (Borzio) is doing what we expected and even more. McGann is doing very well considered he was injured last year.”

The Panthers had a meet at North Penn Wednesday and are scheduled to compete in the ultra-competitive Escape the Rock Tournament at Council Rock South Saturday and Sunday. The Panthers didn’t compete in it last year because of a snowstorm.

With a veteran lineup, Handel has high expectations for the stretch run.

“We have some kids who will be high-seeded kids at that tournament,” said Handel. “The kids know our potential ahead and we’re looking forward to the postseason. The (Escape the Rock) will be a tough test for us and a good gauge for the rest of the year.

“But we’re healthy and we like our chances going forward.”


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