Wrestling Notebook: Week 12

By Alex Frazier

Meet…Mike Mathis
After placing seventh at states last year, Mike Mathis feels like he has a target on his back.
“I try not to pay attention to what other people are saying or any of the stuff that’s on the websites,” the Central Bucks South junior said. “I just continue to work hard, improve and try to get better from what I did last year.”
So far he’s accomplished that.
Last year he finished at 33-6. Through sections last week, he is currently 29-2, his only losses coming to Hatboro-Horsham’s Matt Harkins at 119 and to William Tennent’s Kevin Flack, 7-6.
He’s also on target to win his 100th match with a career mark of 91-12.
The South junior is one of the older wrestlers at 112, but that doesn’t mean the youngsters are going to defer to their elder.
This week at districts he will encounter five freshmen in his weight class.
Mathis has wrestled four of them. During the regular season, he majored Plymouth Whitemarsh’s Justin Staudenmayer (first, Section Three), 9-1, and lost to Flack (second Section One).
Flack is in the same top bracket for districts, so that will be a key match in the semifinals
He has not wrestled Council Rock North’s John Dutrow (third, Section One), whom he will most likely face in the quarters.
Over the summer he beat Pennsbury’s Josh DiSanto (first, Section One). DiSanto is in the bottom bracket and will vie with Staudenmayer to make the finals.
Mathis realizes that he will have to wrestle his best to defend his district title.
Another freshman gave him a tussle in the Section Two finals. Mathis pinned both opponents on his way to a meeting with Upper Perk’s Wolfgang McStravick.
Mathis’ first period takedown proved to be the difference after McStravick escaped in the second and was awarded a stalling point in the third after Mathis escaped.
“I think I did a good job taking first out of a pretty hard section,” said Mathis.
“The finals were close,” said South coach Craig Deacon. “I expected them to be. That Wolfgang is a good kid. He’s also up a weight class this year and the kids are stronger.”
Mathis hasn’t been resting on his laurels since last year in Hershey. With the exception of maybe a month off, he has been wrestling steadily. He works out with Team Gladiator in Quakertown and over the summer he went to Fargo for nationals with Team PA and to DeMoines, Iowa to compete in the Junior Olympics with SEPA Wrestling.
In the off-season he likes to switch it up and focus more on freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling. Mathis said he didn’t have any trouble transitioning to the other styles of wrestling.
“From years of wrestling, it kind of comes natural,” he said. “You get used to it. Freestyle might be more exciting sometimes.”
Mathis started wrestling when he was in first grade. His father, who had wrestled at William Tennent, introduced him to the sport.
“I really liked it and was doing well at a young age,” he said. “I just kept at it.”
By ninth grade, his other sports like football and lacrosse fell by the wayside.
Since middle school, Mathis has been plagued with bloody noses.
“When I get hit in the nose, it just starts bleeding like crazy,” he said.
His coaches have become proficient at staunching the bleeding before his five-minute blood time expires.
When he’s wrestling on his own, he’s sure to carry nose plugs so that he can do it himself.
“I’ve gotten used to it,” he said. “I can stop the bleeding pretty quickly.”
Deacon said that Mathis’ strength as a wrestler is his ability to string together moves.
“He’s very fluid with his moves,” said Deacon. “He puts combinations together very well. He can flow from one move to another, and he doesn’t get too rattled out there either. He’s a good technician.”
Besides being an accomplished wrestler, Mathis is also a scholar. He sports a 4.2 GPA at South, taking all honors and advanced placement courses. He hasn’t begun the college selection process yet, but he intends to investigate the medical field.
This year Mathis is a captain, something he takes seriously.
“I like the responsibility captain gives you,” he said. “I usually lead by example, but when I talk out they listen because I’m not that outgoing. When I have to, it’s important.”
“He leads by example,” said Deacon. “The kids look up to him and respect him very much. He’s coming out of his shell a little bit more this year. We’re very pleased with how he’s moving right along.”
Trial by Fire – Most jayvee wrestlers make a natural transition to varsity either when the first-stringer graduates or in an elimination match.
Quakertown’s Matt Jorgenson, who was actually the second string jayvee, learned less than 24 hours before the Section Two Tournament that he would be wrestling varsity 215.
The Panthers’ regular there, Rob Basile, who was 19-7 during the regular season, opted not to participate in the post-season so that he could focus on football, which he will play at Princeton next year.
Basile alerted coach Kurt Handel the day before the tournament.
“I hope someday he doesn’t regret that decision,” said Handel.
Fortunately Handel had some options.
But when he talked to Basile’s backup, he found that he had already made a school commitment for Saturday and couldn’t break it.
So he went to his next option Matt Jorgenson, who had gone 11-1 at jayvee, his only loss coming at the hands of his teammate in the finals of the jayvee tournament.
“He came to me in the middle of practice and said, ‘Do you want me to wrestle tomorrow?’ I had no idea. I wasn’t expecting it. I told him I’d tell him after practice. He said, ‘Why not now?’ and I said, ‘I have no idea where my weight’s at. I haven’t wrestled since last Saturday.’ I knew I was over.”
After practice he checked his weight and was right on, so he agreed to wrestle.
With a 0-0 record he was placed in the pigtail round at 215 to face North Penn’s Ben Kaplan, who was 1-8.
In his very first varsity match, Jorgenson pinned Kaplan in 1:33. That brought him face to face with eventual Souderton OW Joe Stolfi, who pinned him in 1:46.
In the wrestlebacks, Jorgenson forged ahead, pinning Craig Hunsberger of Pennridge in 1:52 and decking Dan Wolfram of Upper Perk in 1:34 to make it to the consolation finals.
“Before every match my coaches told me, ‘You have nothing to lose. You shouldn’t be here right now but you are. You shouldn’t have gotten past the first round but you did,’” he said. “’You definitely shouldn’t be wrestling for third and fourth place, but you are. Do whatever it takes to get that win.’”
After having never gone more than two minutes, Pottsgrove’s Chris Nester pushed him for six minutes, and Jorgenson found a way to win 7-4.
“My goal coming into today was get one win,” he said. “I wanted one varsity win and that would be a good day for me.”
Now he’s 4-1, and most likely guaranteed a winning season.
It looks like there will be more good days ahead for the Quakertown sophomore.
“That’s a Cinderella story there,” said Handel.
Section notes – Aside from Jorgenson’s Cinderella story in Section Two, there was another feel-good story out of Section Three. Wissahickon’s Aubrey Watkins, who was only 6-1 entering the post-season, started in the pigtail round decisioning Plymouth Whitemarsh’s Corey Kelly to earn the dubious distinction of facing No. 1-seed Brandon Parker of Norristown.
His only previous experience against Parker had been in summer practice.
The result may have been a foregone conclusion to many spectators, but not to Watkins. The two fought to a 4-4 draw after regulation and overtime. In the ultimate tiebreaker period, Parker chose the bottom.
With 14 seconds left Parker stood up, and Watkins latched on.
“I just put my hands in the crotch and held him as hard as I could so he couldn’t let go,” said Watkins. “The next thing I knew we went out of bounds and the match was over.”
Some wrestlers might have experienced a letdown after such a huge win, but not Watkins.
“I thought about that right after that match,” said Watkins. “I talked to my coach and he told me to just focus and get ready for the next match.”
He then went on to beat Upper Dublin’s Brian Ego, himself an upset winner over No. 4 Drew Santangelo of Upper Merion, 5-3, to earn a place in the finals, where he decisioned Perk Valley’s Vince Gehman 5-3 to win his first sectional title and the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler Award.
“I was pretty excited about that,” said Watkins. “I wasn’t expecting to win the OW as well.”
The title and award were particularly fulfilling to a wrestler who had missed a good part of last season and this season with a heart condition.
Watkins hadn’t wrestled in competition since the Plymouth Whitemarsh match about midway through the season because of chest pains he had been experiencing. A CAT scan proved negative and doctors had no explanation. He’s feeling fine now, as his performance at sectionals would indicate.
• If the sectional results are any indication, the future of District One wrestling is promising indeed.
Twelve freshmen qualified for districts including section winners Anthony DiEmidio (Pennsbury, 103), Josh DiSanto (Pennsbury, 112), Justin Staudenmayer (Plymouth Whitemarsh, 119) and Brett Harner (145, Norristown).
And another 17 sophomores advanced to the next round. Only Seth Ehlo of Central Bucks West (135) won a section title, but six others finished second.
District picks – This week’s District One Tournaments will return to the old format of a few years ago with Sections One, Two and Three competing in the North and Sections Four, Five and Six vying in the South. The addition of Section One will make the North tournament a lot tougher road to regionals.
“Districts next week will be a different story,” said Quakertown coach Kurt Handel after accepting the team trophy at Section Two. “It’s the real old districts again. It’s not going to be a cupcake tournament anymore.”
Here are my picks for the top spots at districts this week.
103—This is a very competitive weight class but Council Rock South’s Billy Rappo will get his due this week.
112—Pennsbury’s Josh DiSanto dominated the Section One tourney with a tech. fall, major and pin and will do so again this week.
119—C.B. West’s Chris McGinley was untested in the Section Two final as he received a medical forfeit, but he will wrestle his way to a district title this week.
125—Another Rappo-Edmondson final? Could be. Quakertown’s Scott Wolfinger will be in the hunt after qualifying for states as a freshman and then missing weight at districts last year. Nod goes to South’s Matt Rappo.
130—Very possibly a Tim Santry-Ryan Ginsberg final. Both have experience at states. Edge goes to Ginsburg.
135—No brainer. Josh Dziewa may not even break a sweat.
140—Council Rock South’s Matt Martoccio should have little competition as he also cruised through the Section One tournament.
145—With three falls in the Section One tourney, Max Agasar appears to be a shoo-in for another title this week, but he may be tested by Quakertown’s Briar Malischewski or Norristown’s Brandon Parker, who was upset by eventual OW Aubrey Watkins of Wissahickon. Agasar gets the nod.
152—Eric Koch will defend his district championship of a year ago, but it won’t be a cakewalk with Pennsbury’ Mark Nicholson, Council Rock North’s Greg Lanctot and Neshaminy’s Nick Russell all capable of an upset.
160—John Staudenmayer will also defend his district title, most likely against Upper Moreland’s John Bolich.
171—Get ready for another battle between C.R. South’s Bobby Lavelle and Upper Moreland’s James Nicholson. Nicholson won the first round in an ultimate tiebreaker. Lavelle will get his revenge.
189—Another no brainer with Rock North’s Jamie Callender collecting the gold. What started out as a tough weight class has dwindled in strength since everybody ducked out of Callender’s way.
215—The cream of this crop is Pennsbury’s Kevin Bree and Souderton’s Joe Stolfi, OW at the Section Two tournament, but Bree will have to get past a tough Brandan Clark to meet Stolfi in the finals. Stolfi will benefit from his post-season experience last year to win another district title.
285—There are several good possibilities at heavyweight. Pennsbury’s Josh Mitchell won the Section One title on an injury default by William Tennent’s Rick Dracup. While those two are potential winners, assuming Dracup is healthy, my pick goes to Norristown’s Marcus Robbins
Final TOP Five SOL
1.   Council Rock South
2.   Council Rock North
3.   Norristown
4.   Quakertown
5.   Upper Moreland
Top Guns
103—Anthony DiEmidio, Pennsbury
112—Josh DiSanto, Pennsbury
119—Chris McGinley, Central Buck West
125—Scott Wolfinger, Quakertown
130—Tim Santry, Upper Moreland
135— Josh Dziewa, Council Rock South
140— Matt Martoccio, Council Rock South
145—Max Agasar, Upper Moreland
152— Eric Koch, Quakertown
160— John Staudenmayer, Plymouth Whitemarsh
171—James Nicholson, Upper Moreland
189—Jamie Callender, Council Rock North
215—Joe Stolfi, Souderton
285—Marcus Robbins, Norristown