The most noteworthy thing that happened in Tuesday night’s wrestling match between Bishop McCort Catholic and Westmont Hilltop was that the Hilltoppers beat the Crimson Crushers 49-18.
That was notable because of the buildup before the match – more than a year’s worth – had centered on the acrimonious breakup of the successful co-op between the schools, allegations of recruiting and a potential move to make Bishop McCort forfeit matches by fielding a lineup filled with girls.
But there were no fireworks between fans or coaches at Westmont Hilltop High School. Instead, the Hilltoppers cooly took care of business, building a 28-0 lead and cruising to victory by winning 10 out of the 14 weight classes.
“I think there was way too much hype behind it to start with – probably born via social media, some of it media as well,” Westmont Hilltop coach Matt Beaujon said. “To me, it was always a wrestling match and that’s all it amounted to.”
Tom Smith, who took over the Bishop McCort coaching duties along with John Rizzo late last month after Shad Benton was dismissed following District 6 placing the Crimson Crushers on probation for violations within the program, was impressed by the sportsmanship on display.
“I was proud of both teams tonight, and the coaching staffs on both sides, I think, handled it very well,” Smith said. “I was proud of our community, both their hill and where we’re from. Both fans were cheering and handling things the right way.”
Derrick Christie, a senior who was teammates with several of the Crimson Crushers when they wrestled for the Hilltoppers, got the dual rolling with a 6-2 victory over Bishop McCort freshman Cooper Warshel. Christie led 2-1 entering the third, but broke it open with an escape, a takedown and a stalling point.
While Christie was excited to be the first match of the night, he said that Beaujon told the team to treat it like any other dual meet.
“There obviously were some tensions between us, with the co-op breaking down,” he said.
“We just kind of didn’t let them get to us and went out and wrestled it like a normal match.”
Westmont Hilltop’s Conner Polacek scored three takedowns in a 7-1 victory over another Bishop McCort freshman, Amir Andrews, at 132.
The Hilltoppers started hitting their stride at 138, as Noah Korenoski scored an 11-0 major decision over Kole Lichtenfels. Freshman Hudson Holbay pinned Trent Karalfa at 145 and Clayton Dorian scored a fall over Clayton Dorian at 152.
A forfeit victory from Hunter Holbay stretched the lead to 28-0 after six matches.
Ethan Marcozzi, another freshman, got Bishop McCort on the board by scoring a takedown with 32 seconds left in a 3-2 victory over Mason Muto at 170 pounds, but Westmont’s Tanner Dluhos balanced that out with 5-2 win over Logan Boyd at 182.
The Crimson Crushers were without one of their three Division I recruits, as Carnell Andrews is still recovering from an injury he suffered in football season, but the other two came through with falls. Anthony Walters pinned Noah Moschgat at 195 and, after Westmont’s Max Yonko collected a forfeit at 220, Josiah Jones picked up a fall over Stefan Dean at 285.
Luke Benner received a forfeit at 106 and Zane Blackburn pinned Dayne Boxler at 120 for Westmont’s final points.
In what might have been the best match of the night, Bishop McCort’s Kasir Malcolm beat Tanner Kushner 2-0 at 113 pounds. Kushner nearly had a takedown at the end of the first period and was close to an escape as the clock ran out on the second, but didn’t score either time. Malcolm, a sophomore making his varsity debut, scored a reversal in the third and hung on for the victory over Kushner, who was a regional qualifier last season.
“Huge win for that young man,” Smith said. “We couldn’t be prouder of him. He’s been working so hard.”
Westmont Hilltop did weigh in three girls – Stephanie Rosendale, Kasey Meredith and MacKenzie Dunn – which added a bit of intrigue to the dual.
Under a policy adopted by Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic bishops in 2014, wrestlers at Catholic schools are not permitted to compete against girls. If an opponent sends out a female foe, the Catholic school would be forced to forfeit the weight.
Last season, the Hilltoppers had 12 girls on their roster ahead of the Bishop McCort match, which was postponed by weather and never rescheduled.
Beaujon was asked why the girls, who haven’t wrestled previously, weighed in for Tuesday’s dual meet.
“Because they signed up,” he said, but wouldn’t say if they would weigh in for other duals this season.