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Charles, Devenney win their first L-L gold medals Warriors place fourth with nine place-finishers
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
Senior heavyweight Tom Devenney had a chip on his shoulder after missing out on last year’s Lancaster-Lebanon League Tourney.
Junior 113-pounder Josh Charles had a little more gas left in the tank following a semi-final loss at the League Championships in 2012.
In the end, both Devenney and Charles brought home gold medals at the L-L League Wrestling Championships last Saturday night, leading a 2-for-3 performance for Warwick in the finals and helping to seal a fourth-place finish in the team standings with 155 points.
Devenney (19-1), who was forced out of last year’s L-L Tournament due to a medical condition, won his first League championship with a 2-1 overtime win over Solanco’s Bo Spiller (24-4), capitalizing on a penalty point when the Mules’ sophomore committed his third false start.
"I had a little bit of a chip on my shoulder because I wanted to come out and fight and prove that I should have gotten it last year too," Devenney said. "I came out, did my best and came away with the win, so it was great."
Charles (20-5), too, did his best, and it was good enough for a 6-4 OT decision over Solanco’s Austin Laws (18-8). After winning a bronze medal at last year’s League tourney, his first crown was a sweet accomplishment.
"I felt much better this year than last year," he said. "Better conditioning this year. Last year I got a little tired in the semis and that’s what put me in the consolation round."
The Warriors nearly had a third gold-medalist, as freshman Devin Schnupp took a 6-4 lead into the third period of the 106-pound finals against Solanco’s defending champ Connor Sheehan (25-4). But the Mules’ junior scored a three-point tilt in the final stanza and held on for a 9-6 victory, handing Schnupp (23-1) his first loss of the season.
Although Solanco picked up points from that win toward its chase for the team title, the Warriors ultimately played a key part in denying them their fourth straight crown. With Devenney’s 6-4 OT win over the Mules’ Bo Spiller in the final bout of the night, Manheim Township was able to hold off Solanco by a mere 1 1/2 points, 199.5-198, for its first-ever L-L team championship.
So did the Warriors take any satisfaction in playing the spoiler role for the team title?
"No, we weren’t really interested in the team race," Warwick coach Ned Bushong said. "We weren’t going to win it and we just have to have our kids wrestle as well as they can. That’s just one of the consequences."
Even if Warwick wasn’t in the mix for the team championship, Bushong was pleased to come away with nine place-finishers. Steve Woolley won bronze at 152, Austin Maguire was fourth at 220, Carson Snavely earned a fifth-place medal at 195, Logan Stroh took seventh at 126, while Ethan Quinn and Tyler Esbenshade placed eighth at 132 and 138, respectively.
"I thought we had a very nice showing as a team," Bushong said. "I can’t complain about anything. The kids wrestled well. We had kids that placed that weren’t seeded high or anything and a lot of them placed well above where they were seeded," Bushong said. "We can’t ask for anything else."
Devenney was the number two seed at heavyweight, and he lived up to that billing with falls in his first two bouts, decking Lancaster Catholic’s Dong Choe in 46 seconds and Columbia’s Andres Munoz in 5:52. He then had another epic battle with Hempfield’s Joey Goodhart (26-3) in the semis, where he prevailed 5-2 in overtime with an escape and two back points.
That set the stage for the finals — and a rematch with Spiller, who defeated Devenney 6-5 in a dual meet last Wednesday. In that one, the Solanco sophomore capitalized on a five-point first-period headlock.
The scoreboard operators weren’t near as busy on Saturday night, however, as the two wrestlers each settled for an escape in regulation, sending it to OT tied 1-1.
"There’s always things you work on, especially after you lose to somebody," Devenney said. "It’s, ‘What do they do best and how do I stop it?’ Once you figure out what they do best, I think that gives you the edge. I try to stay pretty balanced in what I do, not too heavy in one more or another. So I felt pretty good about my chances coming in."
That didn’t change going to overtime and Devenney nearly had a winning takedown at the edge of the mat with 37 seconds to go, but he didn’t get the call.
"I absolutely thought I had the takedown," he said. "I was in position, I was over top and my feet were in bounds, so I definitely thought I had it."
With the score still tied 1-1, Devenney and Spiller went to the center of the mat to continue their bout.
It never resumed, though.
When Spiller failed to line up correctly, he received his third caution, resulting in the bout-deciding point.
"(Spiller) made a mental error and it cost him," Bushong said.
"The first thing I look at when I line up is, I get my foot set and make sure I’m on the line," Devenney said, "and then I look over and look at his leg and see where it is and his foot was off the line."
Top-seeded Charles was looking at a 4-2 lead on Laws going into the third period, using a reversal with 37 seconds left in the second to snap a 2-all tie. But then Laws, the number-three seed, got a reversal of his own with 1:00 to go in the third to pull even.
"He was tough on bottom," Charles said. "He was hard to ride."
The Warriors’ junior appeared close to answering with a reversal, but he couldn’t quite get it and the bout proceeded to OT.
"I started coming out and I felt like he might have rolled me or turned me, so I kinda just flattened out to keep myself from giving up extra points," Charles said. "I felt better on my feet (in overtime), so I wasn’t too worried."
Charles’ confidence was rewarded when he scored a takedown with 17 seconds left in the sudden victory overtime, sending him to the hard-fought 6-4 victory.
"It felt great — it was like no other feeling," Charles said. "I looked up and (the official) had two holding and I felt so happy. It felt good to beat him."
It also felt good to beat fourth-seeded Aidyn Miller of Hempfield (21-11) by a 7-0 score in the semis, sealing with a headlock for two back points.
"(Miller)’s tough. He’s just as good on his feet, he keeps a low stance, but I was able to take him down twice, which was pretty big," said Charles, who had a fall (1:56) over Columbia’s Jordan Hagen and a 10-2 major against McCaskey’s Jose Vera in his first two bouts.
Schnupp, too, scored bonus points in his first two bouts, making quick work of Norlebco’s Dustin Breidegan with a 54-second fall and then earning a 19-4 tech fall over Lampeter-Strasburg’s Austin Stoltzfus in the quarters.
In a tough bout with Lancaster Catholic’s third-seeded Joe Lobeck (30-4) in the semis, Schnupp’s takedown with 44 seconds left in the third clinched a 5-3 decision.
"(Lobeck) just took a bad shot and I spun around," Schnupp said, "so I capitalized off his mistake to get my two."
Schnupp, the number two seed at 106, was just as nifty on his feet against top-ranked Sheehan in the finals, scoring three takedowns in the first two periods. Sheehan trailed by only two, 6-4, with just one period left.
"The reason for (the slim lead) is because I could take him down, but I couldn’t hold him," Schnupp said. "He was really hard to hold down. He was a good mat wrestler."
In the third, the Warriors opted to have Schnupp start the period on bottom. That turned out to be an error, as Sheehan tilted him for three back points with 45 seconds left to go in front 7-6.
"He timed it really well and got his points," Schnupp said. "He was pretty tricky. He was really, really good on top. He kept a lot of pressure on me, so it was kinda hard to get out, obviously."
Leading by one, Sheehan added some insurance with two more back points down the stretch to seal the win.
"We’d definitely do it over," Bushong said. "He wrestled a super bout out there and we made a mistake. If we put them on their feet or put him on top, it doesn’t matter."
In other action, Woolley (21-4) had a fall and a major in his first two bouts, then suffered a 6-1 loss to Solanco’s Isaac Warren (11-2), the eventual gold-medalist, in the 152-pound semis. But he bounced to win his final two matches, including an 8-2 win over Norlebco’s Evan Daub for the bronze, in which he had a reversal and two back points in the second to open up a 6-0 lead.
Overall, the Warriors had five wrestlers in the semis, including sophomore 220-pounder Austin Maguire (9-7), who was pinned by two-time defending State champ Thomas Haines (26-1) in a time of 2:50. Maguire advanced to the bronze medal match, where he lost by fall in 2:48 to Lampeter-Strasburg’s Drew Stauffer.
In the 195-pound brackets, Snavely (13-7) won four of his six bouts and wrapped things up with a 2-0 shutout of Ephrata’s Cameron Eisenhauer in the fifth-place match.
Stroh (18-7), meanwhile, won back-to-back matches in the consolations at 126 to get himself into the medal rounds, and he ended the tournament on a positive note with a 6-0 blanking of Annville-Cleona’s Phil Corle in the seventh-place match.
Quinn (9-14) scored two falls in the 132-pound consolations, but settled for an eighth-place finish when an injury forced him to forfeit in his last two matches. In the 138-pound brackets, Esbenshade (10-11) went 2-3 in the tournament and placed eighth after suffering an 8-1 loss to Pequea Valley’s Kyle Wanner in his final bout. More L-L TOURNEY, page B-5