Eagles bounce back to top Trojans
WEST NORRITON — For the 37th time since the start of the 2008-09 season, Norristown vanquished a Suburban One League American Conference foe on Wednesday night. This time, it was the visiting Wissahickon Trojans. And like those 36 prior wins, the final score of the match was close and came down to bonus points, with the Eagles squeaking by 39-37. However, unlike those previous 36 wins, the Eagles were coming off an in-conference loss and it was impossible to know how the young team would handle that.
Early on it appeared that Monday’s loss to Plymouth Whitemarsh might end up being the kind of crushing loss that could take the wind out of the sails of a team and derail a season.
Starting with the opening 126-pound match, the Trojans jumped out to a fast 19-0 on the back of a major decision by Alex Chiodo-Ortiz and a fall by Nick Natale book-ended around a Norristown forfeit.
However, a fall by Norristown senior captain and returning state qualifier Mike Springer ended the shutout and helped put the wind back in the team’s sails. A quick fall from Wissahickon’s all-time wins leader Pat Fennell and senior Eric An widened the Trojan lead to 31-15, though, and it appeared that any momentum from Springer’s win was gone with only five matches left to go.
“I told those guys they needed 23 points in the last four (matches),” Norristown coach Mark Harner said.
And four falls later, starting with junior Shaun Jones at 220 and including Shaheed Hill, Eric Fuentes and Justin Altrogge, the Eagles clinched the win and stopped their SOL losing streak before it started.
“(Jones) is a first-year wrestler and he got after it. He’s 195, so he’s giving up 15 or 20 pounds,” said Harner. “Our little guy, (freshman Justin) Altrogge, weighs 100 pounds. He’s been wrestling 113. That was big.”
While Wednesday night’s win kept
the Eagles in the title hunt, at least theoretically, Harner is hoping to get his younger and inexperienced wrestlers more experience heading towards the postseason and next year.
“We started six freshmen and a bunch of sophomores,” said Harner. “The league title is out of our hands. It’s not the end of the world. We’re rebuilding.”
For the visiting Trojans, Wednesday’s loss was the latest in a series of near misses when it comes to squaring off against the five-time defending American Conference champions.
“We got the matchups. We needed a couple more pins. I’m proud of our effort,” said Wissahickon coach Anthony Stagliano. “A lot of our guys performed well. A lot of our guys did some good stuff. “One of these days we’ll beat them.” Both teams will close out their SOL schedules next week with the Eagles traveling to Upper Merion to take on the Vikings while the Trojans will travel to Upper Dublin to take on the Cardinals.
*** NOTE: With Plymouth Whitemarsh’s convincing home win over Upper Dublin on Wednesday night, the best that Norristown can hope for is a tie of the league title. However, the Colonials can win the league outright by topping Upper Moreland on Feb. 5.