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Wrestlers fall to PHS

After starting their EPC dual meet schedule with a series of lopsided contests, the Whitehall wrestlers are closing out their regular season with several meets against quality, but beatable foes. This past Wednesday, they kicked off that home stretch by taking on Parkland.

While the Trojans are not on the level of earlier Zephyr opponents Nazareth and Bethlehem Catholic, they are still ranked as a top 25 AAA team by PA Power Wrestling. Whitehall kept the match close until the final two weight classes where Parkland pulled away for a 40-25 win.

The evening started at the 107-pound weight class and the Zephs went up 6-0 as the Trojans forfeited the bout.

A somewhat controversial takedown was awarded with 2 seconds left in the 114-pound bout as Parkland’s Blake Dergham earned an extra team point with a 19-4 tech fall over Kade Pascoe.

Damond Pascoe added 6 points to Whitehall’s ledger at 121 with a pin in 46 seconds against Jarett Graham. The Trojans got the 6 right back at 127 as Phoenix DelVecchio pinned Ruth Rivera in the first period.

At 133, it looked like Nolan Schmeckenbecher was going to extend the lead for the Zephyrs. He was up 3-1 until Jakob Peterson locked up a cradle at the end of the second period. The 5-point move was enough to propel him to a 7-5 decision to give Parkland the lead 14-12.

The two schools traded 11-2 major decisions at 139 and 145. Parkland’s Leo Kern bested Trokon Kai at the lighter weight and Whitehall’s Seth Pascoe prevailed against Waris Mughal. The Trojans clung to a 17-16 lead with 6 bouts to go.

At 152, the Zephyrs’ Hudson Saylor and Juan Moya were scoreless through the first period. Moya escaped to start the second, secured a takedown a minute later, and then worked for the turn and the fall at 3:36.

Victor Carrasquilla’s 13-5 major decision at 160 over Preston Saylor gave the Trojans a 28-19 lead with 4 bouts left.

The 172-pound match proved to be the highlight of the evening for the Whitehall faithful. Jack Kocher fell behind Parkland’s Emanuel Montalvo 4-0 early in the first period. He equalized during the second period setting up a 4-4 showdown over the final 2 minutes. After several strong, crowd-pleasing mat returns, Montalvo finally escaped to take the lead. Kocher went up 6-5 with a takedown with 52 seconds lefts. A stalling point and an escape put the Parkland wrestler on top until Kocher scored the decisive two points just before the buzzer.

Head coach Tim Cunningham relayed the story of how Kocher joined the team, “First-year wrestler. He got cut from basketball and emailed me that night saying, ‘Can I wrestle?’. ‘Absolutely!’ He’s strong. We taught him a few things and that’s all it takes when you have a heart like that. He’s all about competition.”

Kocher described the match, “It felt really good. It’s my first year wrestling and a lot of the guys helped me with what I’m doing. It felt good when I took their advice and could hear everyone cheering for me.”

A much-anticipated match between two of the area’s top 189 pounders never transpired. Parkland forfeited to Melquan Warren. “That’s coaching. They did what they had to do to win,” said Cunningham.

Instead Adrian Gacek bumped up to 215 and won by fall over James Hopkins in 3:48. Whitehall chose to forfeit heavyweight with the match out of reach.

The Zephyrs have one more home dual meet this year. The take on Pocono Mountain East at 2 p.m. on Saturday. They have a chance to be one of the 8 qualifiers for district duals on Feb. 4 if they can run the table over their last 4 meets which would include wins over Emmaus and Stroudsburg.

Press photo by Don Herb At 172, Jack Kocher defeated Parkland's Manny Montalvo 8-6.