Whitehall-Coplay Press

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Zephs top Emmaus

Thursday, February 1, 2018 by Steve andres Special to the Press in Sports

It was a good week for the Whitehall wrestling team as they prevailed against a league rival who has been a thorn in their side, and then had a top ten finish at the EPC championship.

The thorn in their side can be more accurately stated as a stinger in their side as Emmaus has won the previous five meetings. Whitehall put an end to that string, or sting, with a 35-32 win over the Green Hornets.

The win puts the Zephs at 10-5 on the season with two more dual meets remaining.

They also competed in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference championship last weekend, squaring off against Freedom. They lost to the ‘Pates 52-9, winding up in tenth place in the EPC tourney. Bethlehem Catholic laid claim to the title, defeating Nazareth 47-12 to win another crown.

In their match against Emmaus, the Zephyrs won seven bouts, five of those by bonus points. However, it was their two decisions, a thrilling overtime win at 152 by Luis Arzola, and a workmanlike decision by Mike Ajami at 170 that swung the meet in Whitehall’s favor.

“We wrestled Emmaus extremely tough, winning the close matches and getting bonus points where we needed them and guys fighting off bonus points to help the team,” said head coach Tim Cunningham. “It was a total team effort from everyone on the team meaning both the guys that won and the guys that fought hard to not give up the bonus points.”

Cunningham said that a greater appreciation must be given to wrestlers who may end up on the losing end of the score, but whose effort on the mat by continually working hard, and not allowing bonus points, is invaluable.

“It is these wrestlers that at times have to suck up their pride and just wrestle for the team in order for us to win as a team,” said Cunningham. “I know it has been a long time since we beat Emmaus and it was nice for the seniors to beat them on senior night.”

Kevin Urena got things rolling at 120 as he pinned Gabe Ayala in 2:47. Caleb Staub followed with a technical fall over Brody Pavelko, earning the 20-5 win.

Their middle weights continued to pick up steam as Josh Grol decked Dylan Baldwin in 5:45.

That set the stage for the night’s pivotal bout as Arzola was locked in a tight match with Conner Carter at 152. In the extra session, Arzola got an escape and won 3-2.

Ajami also had a crucial win as he just kept pushing forward en route to the 8-3 win over Andrew Migliore at 170.

Ali Barkley got the Zephs back into bonus point territory as he clamped Josue Rodriguez in 1:40 at 185.

Next, Dez Boykin continued his progress with a pin at 195, decking Liam Dottery in 0:55.

While they had a spirited bout against the Hornets, Cunningham felt that they didn’t match Freedom’s intensity at the EPC championship.

“Freedom came out to wrestle and we did not,” said Cunningham. “They out wrestled and out worked us with effort and an attacking relentless style. As a coaching staff we will need to adjust our practices to prepare our wrestlers to compete against the best teams.

“We need to demand more commitment and dedication toward a hard working attacking style from our wrestlers or the outcome against these top teams will continue to be the same. We would rather lose matches by attacking our opponents than backing up and being defensive. As a team we will continue to work toward improvement on a daily basis with technique, physical strength and our mindset before going out and wrestling.”

The Zephs won two bouts to finish in the tenth spot as Urena topped Echua Caban 6-0 at 126, while Julio Diaz pinned John Ferrer in 1:54.