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- Toast of the tailgaters
Devenney delivers Warriors’ senior takes home PIAA fifth-place medal
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
Warwick senior Tom Devenney walked out of the Giant Center in Hershey last Saturday night with no regrets.
The final day of his high school wrestling career — and possibly his career, period — was a long, but rewarding one.
Roughly 14 hours after getting to Chocolatetown for early-morning weigh-ins, the senior heavyweight shut out Methacton junior Tracey Green 2-0 to clinch the PIAA State Triple-A fifth-place medal.
Yes, Devenney plans to compete in the upcoming L-L League vs. Berks All-Star Meet on March 13 at Ephrata High School and the District Three vs. District 11 All-Star Meet on March 19 at Governor Mifflin High School.
After that, his focus will turn to preparing for his collegiate football career at Penn State University, where he is headed this fall as a run-on with the Nittany Lions.
But last Saturday was a time of celebration.
"I’ve been (wrestling) for a long time and I really enjoyed it," said Devenney, who improved his final senior record to 42-5. "I don’t really have any regrets. I was able to go out and just want to celebrate my win, not really dwell on the fact that it was going to be my last high school match."
Devenney finished his career at Warwick just nine wins shy of the century mark, going 91-16 overall. Although he is at the end of his high school wrestling career, Warwick’s Devin Schnupp (40-6) is still in the early stages. The Warriors’ freshman 106-pounder made his debut at States last week and didn’t come away empty-handed, notching his first career PIAA win before suffering elimination just one victory away from reaching the medal rounds.
Devenney, though, captured Warwick’s first State medal since Antonio Giorgio took home the 189-pound bronze medal in 2010.
"That was very good for him," Warwick coach Ned Bushong said. "I was pleased with that. I would have liked to have done better, he had close matches, but I’m pleased with a fifth … He did a heck of a good job. Overall, he had a great season."
"It feels great," Devenney said. "It was a lot of hard work, so it’s good to have it pay off.
"I’m definitely satisfied with how I wrestled," he added. "Heavyweight was pretty tough this year. I think all the top five guys — all the top eight for that matter — were really deserving of their place at States. It was a tough weight class, so even placing at States, it really speaks for itself."
Indeed, the combined record of the six wrestlers that Devenney faced at States was an eye-popping 215-19. Green (38-6), a junior, was the Southeast Region champ and was hoping to bounce back from a consolation semi-final loss in which he was pinned by Kiski Area’s Shane Kuhn in 4:01.
Devenney, however, had other ideas, as he snapped a scoreless tie by turning the Methacton wrestler for two back points in the second period.
"I was riding him pretty good," Devenney said, "and he hit a stand up and I was able to take him back down to the mat. He tried to push up, so his arms were bent, and I threw in a bar and I just tried to take it slow and just get two points, not try to force anything. They were huge points at that point."
They were particularly huge considering Devenney had his choice for the third period. Taking bottom, the Warwick senior didn’t give up anything in the final two minutes and his 2-0 lead stood up for the victory.
"I was able to take down and I knew (Green) wouldn’t be able to turn me," he said.
Devenney talked often during the weekend about having the right mindset and being mentally focused on the task at hand. Having suffered a loss of his own in the consi semi-finals, a 3-2 setback to James Coughlin senior Brad Emerick (39-3) late in the morning session, he did exactly during the long lay-off between matches. He returned home to Lititz to rest before heading back to Hershey later in the day for the finals.
"You take every match at a time, try to separate them and not get down on yourself after a big loss," Devenney remarked, "because everyone up there is good and your head really needs to be in the right place if you want to win. So I really didn’t try to let it bother me and then having a lot of time off after that was probably good. It helped me not get in a rut after losing a close match like that."
A two-point tilt by Emerick on the 278-pound Devenney was the difference in the Crusader senior’s 3-2 victory. Emerick, who won the fifth-place medal at States as a junior, went on to place fourth on Saturday after dropping a 3-0 loss to Kuhn in the bronze-medal match.
"I wasn’t really expecting (the tilt) and it sorta came at a position where I didn’t think (Emerick) would be able to do it," Devenney said. "Credit to him, he was able to hold me for a two count. He was a strong kid and I felt myself starting to go and I tried to stop, but he was just strong and he was able to pull me over and get his two count."
In his first match on Saturday, Devenney capitalized on a second-period escape and a third-period stalling point to defeat Shippensburg’s Cary Hess (33-6) by a 2-0 decision. Those same two wrestlers squared off in the bronze-medal match at Districts, where Devenney earned a 1-0 win.
Saturday’s nail-biter against Hess marked his second straight win of the tournament, coming on the heels of a 1-0 conquest of Downingtown East junior Sean Snodgrass (40-10), which guaranteed him a spot in the medal rounds.
Devenney’s escape with 1:44 left in the third period was the only point scored in the match.
"At this level, everyone is tough," Devenney said, "so whether you win 1-0, whether you win 15-1, it’s all the same up here … My real goal is to place top five, but placing at States in general, especially in Pennsylvania, is one of the toughest things. I feel great right now."
Snodgrass had his choice in the second period and took the bottom position. Devenney tried a variety of moves in effort to turn the Cougars’ junior — to no avail — but he was content with a scoreless tie going to the final stanza.
"The real goal was to stop him from scoring when it’s his choice," Devenney said. "I was working my stuff — I didn’t get any points, but he didn’t either and knowing I had my choice going into the third period, that’s your first goal is to stop him and then your second goal is to score."
Devenney credited Fred Heim, a workout partner during the break after Districts, for helping to prepare him for the battles that he would face at the State Tournament.
"(Snodgrass) was a tough kid," Devenney said. "He’s strong. I’ve been working with coach Heim who is one of coach Long’s friends and he’s been working with me a lot, so I give him a lot of credit because I don’t think I’d be here right now if it wasn’t for him. He’s been working with me all week on exploding and using the power that I have, so I felt really comfortable going into that third period."
His match against Snodgrass was his first one since suffering a tough 3-2 quarter-final loss to Kuhn (42-1), who went on to win the State bronze. In that one, Kuhn’s single-leg takedown was the key blow in him taking a 2-1 lead after the first period.
Kuhn’s escape with 51 seconds to go in the second pushed the lead to 3-1 with one period left. There, Devenney cut his deficit to 3-2 on an escape with 1:40 remaining, but he could get no closer.
"One takedown was the difference," Warwick head coach Ned Bushong said. "Then (Kuhn) blocked off and blocked off and that was it."
"I knew going in that Kuhn was a tough kid," Devenney said, "and I just wanted to go out and wrestle as well as I could. And I felt that I gave it all I had so there’s nothing to really be ashamed of. "
Devenney had nothing to be ashamed of in his opener either, decking William Tennant senior Andrew Van Buskirk (37-5), the Southeast Region runner, in 2:42 to advance. Following a scoreless first-period, Devenney scored a takedown early in the third, then caught Van Buskirk in a hammer lock and that was the match.
"I was driving my elbow into his tricep and his arm probably started to go numb," Devenney remarked. "So I was able to just pull it out to the side and then drive him right over on to his back."
After suffering a first-round loss at States last year, Devenney got just what the doctor ordered last Thursday.
"I’m feeling pretty excited," Devenney said afterward. "Last year, I went out in the first round and that just makes it a lot harder. So you win your first one, you set yourself up a lot better and it’s just from here on out, you take it one match at a time and just try to wrestle your match. That’s the goal going into (Friday). Whether I win or lose, I want to be able to do what I like to do."
Unfortunately for Schnupp, Nazareth’s Northeast Region champ Tyrone Klump (31-6) was able to prevent him from doing what he wanted to do in a 106-pound first-round match. The Explorers’ junior, the eventual bronze-medalist, took a 5-0 first-period lead, thanks to a three-point tilt with 22 seconds left in the stanza, and went on to win 10-1.
Schnupp, though, kept his hopes alive with a 5-2 victory over Quakertown junior Collyn Dorney (36-6) in his next match. Dorney took the lead on an escape with 1:52 left in the second, but Schnupp answered with a single-leg takedown to go up 2-1 at period’s end.
He added another takedown with 50 seconds left in the third to put it away.
That set the stage for his match-up against Northampton sophomore Michael Scheetz (30-12) with a berth in the medal rounds at stake. Things certainly started off on a positive note for the Warriors’ camp, with Schnupp getting an early takedown, followed by three back points, for a quick 5-0 advantage.
But Scheetz quickly turned the tables, reversing Schnupp off a scramble, executing a tight cradle and scoring a 44-second fall. Scheetz went on to place seventh in the State after defeating Avon Grove’s Edgar Garcia (38-8) in his final match.
"Everything was going our way," Bushong said. "That’s just how quick things can turn on you."
Still, Bushong likes Schnupp’s future at Warwick.
"He belongs here (at States)," Bushong said. "That’s just one of those things. Two guys go out to wrestle and somebody has to lose. You just hate when it’s you … This will make him work harder. I mean, he definitely doesn’t like to lose. So he’ll be doing everything he can. But he’s had a heck of a good freshman year. He got to States, he won a match and he was in this one." More DEVENNEY, page B-6
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