Devenney, Shoenberger claim Sectional golds Charles also qualifies for Districts
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
As Saturday’s District Three Section Three Triple-A finals got underway, Warwick wrestlers Tom Devenney and Cody Shoenberger sat together leaning against a wall in the Hempfield gymnasium.
The two friends were supporting teammates Josh Charles, Cody Diem and Matt Mousetis in the lightweight bouts, while no doubt trying to stay calm for their own championship matches later that night.
"We’re definitely close. We’re always pushing each other to do better at tournaments and stuff," Shoenberger said. "It’s kind of like a fun competition that we have."
It turned out to be a fun finish for both, as Shoenberger (160) and Devenney (285) each won his first Sectional gold medal to lead the Warriors to a solid fourth-place finish in the team standings with 80 points.
"They were seeded number one, but you can never tell what’s going to happen," Warwick coach Ned Bushong said. "It’s nice to get the wins … Right now they’re both wrestling well."
Charles, too, is wrestling well, and his bronze-medal winning effort at 106 gave the Warriors three qualifiers to the District Three Triple-A Championships for the second straight year. Districts will be held in the Hersheypark Arena this Friday and Saturday, Feb. 24 and 25.
"Charles wrestled a good match, he had a nice tournament," Bushong said. "… It’s just a stepping stone. Next week, we’re in a 16-man tournament. Everybody in it placed in the top three of their tournament, so we’re down to the top 16 in the District."
Cody Diem (120) and Matt Mousetis (132) also reached their respective third-place matches, but fell one win short of advancing.
"Diem and Mousetis had excellent tournaments," Bushong said. "Both of them finished fourth and I think they were seeded ninth and 10th. So they moved up quite a bit higher than their seeds."
Shoenberger, meanwhile, definitely lived up to his number one seed. He had a fall and a major decision in his first two bouts to clinch his second consecutive trip to Districts, and he carried the momentum into his match against ELCO’s Tom Price (19-4) to flatten the Raiders’ senior in 2:54
Using a pair of five-point takedowns, Shoenberger built a big 11-2 lead after one.
"Definitely, that dump (was working)," said Shoenberger, who improved to 37-6. "That’s a five point swing both times, so that’s a lot of points and a big swing right there."
"When you’re down 11-2 at the end of a first period, you’ve got a long way to come back," Bushong said. "I mean, you have to really make some mistakes to get hurt with that kind of a lead. Cody looked good. He wrestled well and Price had a good record."
The first period didn’t end without a scare for the Warrior senior, though. Sandwiched in between Shoenberger’s five-point dumps was a reversal by Price, who then nearly caught his opponent in a cradle.
"(Price) definitely caught me off guard there for a second," Shoenberger said. "I was nervous, but … (I tried to) just get big and try to break his hands and work my hips down."
With :31 elapsed in the second period, Shoenberger added to his lead with a reversal and then ended it by pinning Price in 2:54.
"It feels really good to finally complete one of my goals that I’ve had for awhile," said Shoenberger, who decked CV’s Ryan Brooks in 1:11 in the quarters and then capitalized on a pair of first-period two-point tilts to build a 6-0 lead on his way to a 10-2 major over Manheim Central’s Reid Pavlik in the semis.
There was thought about Shoenberger competing at 152 in the post-season, and although Kennard-Dale’s defending State champ, sophomore Chance Marsteller, is the favorite at 160, Shoenberger believes it makes more sense for him to stay there.
"Throughout the season, I was getting down to like 156, 155 and I was just thinking, ‘There’s no way I’m going to be strong down at 154,’" he said. "I’d definitely be weaker (at 154) than at 160. Eat and be happy, I guess."
Devenney, who improved to 29-2 with his 3-0 conquest of Manheim Central’s Aaron Lefever in the finals, was not happy during the L-L League Tournament last month. ‘Frustrated,’ actually, was a better word. Forced to miss the competition due to a medical condition, he carried that as motivation into Sectionals.
Oh yeah, the Warwick junior had extra incentive from one other thing. Last year, Devenney got himself to the brink of qualifying for Districts, but ELCO’s Steve Kahler got a last-second takedown in double OT to win 3-2 in the heavyweight bronze-medal match.
"I think I brought that with me more than anything," Devenney said. "It was frustrating not being able to go to Districts last year."
Conestoga Valley’s Joey Bragg (26-14) paid for it in the 285-pound semi-finals, as Devenney flattened the Bucks’ junior in 3:02 to guarantee himself a trip to Chocolatetown.
That left Lefever (26-7) as the last obstacle standing between Devenney and the gold.
"I used to wrestle (Lefever) a lot when we were younger," Devenney said, "but this is the first I’ve faced him in high school. He’s gotten a lot stronger, he’s moving a lot better than he used to and he’s definitely improved a lot."
Lefever got to the finals with falls in his first two bouts, but the championship match would go the distance. Devenney led for most of it after taking down the Central sophomore with :41 left in the first period.
"It wasn’t really a good shot. It’s just one of those that you get away with sometimes," Devenney said. "I was sorta starting to lose his leg, and I grabbed his ankle and fortunately I was able to pull that in and just hang on for dear life. Coach (Dan) Long is probably going to make me work on my single a lot at practice now, but whatever works."
Devenney added an escape in the second and then rode out Lefever in the third to clinch the 3-0 victory.
"I’ve wrestled in a lot of tournaments, I’ve won a lot of tournaments, but nothing is like this," said Devenney, whose father won a Sectional title at Manheim Township in 1971. "This is something that is really special to be a part of, and it’s been a lot hard work and I’m really proud to be here. I’m more proud (of winning Sectionals) than any other wrestling accomplishment out there. I definitely brought some of that (frustration from Leagues) with me. I was really upset at the time, but it doesn’t really affect Districts and States, which is the most important thing. This is just something so much more important, just something on another level."
The Warwick junior is now hoping to build on that performance and punch his ticket to the PIAA State Tournament.
"I like the way my District bracket is looking. It’s definitely not going to be an easy bracket," Devenney said. "I’ve wrestled a few of the guys before, a bunch of guys I haven’t. It’s going to be rough, but I’m just going to have to try to fight."
Third-seeded Charles (22-10) did a good job of fighting in the 106-pound weight class. After pinning ELCO’s Chad Puglio (22-15) in 1:04 in the quarterfinals, he earned a rematch with Manheim Township’s number-two seeded David Graves, who earlier defeated Charles 4-2 in OT at both the L-L Tourney and in dual-meet action.
"(Josh) was due … definitely," Bushong said. "The other matches with Graves were very close and they very easily could have been ours if we didn’t go into overtime."
Fittingly, their semi-final match at Sectionals also went into overtime, as Graves’ (29-12) third-period escape evened a low-scoring match, 1-1. In the extra session, Charles finally took down the Manheim Township freshman for the 3-1 victory.
"That was nice. That was nice," Bushong remarked. "If you hold back in a tournament, if you hold back and don’t go all out, it can cost you. And he wrestled well. He had a great match against Graves. He did what he had to. He was in on him a few times and didn’t finish, which made the score even closer than it should have been."
In the finals, Charles ran into top-seeded Connor Sheehan (30-7), of Solanco, and kept it a scoreless dual through two periods. But the Mules’ sophomore scored a reversal with 1:51 left in the third and then rode out Charles the rest of the way to clinch a 2-0 victory.
Regardless, Charles had already clinched his spot in Hershey this weekend.
"That takes a lot of the pressure off," Bushong said. "You’re going (to Districts), you got the next step. That semi-final match is a big one."
Mousetis (15-22), meanwhile, will hope to take the next step next year. The Warwick junior was pinned by Manheim Central’s Cody Bucher in :42 in the third-place match after winning three of his previous four bouts.
Unfortunately for Diem (20-19), his high school career ended with a tough 6-3 loss to Solanco’s Austin Laws in the third-place bout.
"We wrestled well," Bushong said. "We finished in fourth place, which is good considering the lack of varsity experience we had coming back. Actually we finished a little bit higher than I realistically expected us to. Any time you get three going to Districts … I mean, you’d always like to have more and be a little greedy, but if you get three, that’s good because a lot of schools, they don’t have any." More WARRIORS, page B-6