Quak­er­town’s Cope aims for Her­shey

Team re­turns all starters from last year’s con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship squad.

The Morning Call - - SPORTS - By Tom Housenick

Corey Cope re­mem­bers a let­ter com­ing in the mail about sign­ing up to play foot­ball.

Then 5 years old, Cope showed the let­ter to his fa­ther, Scott, who played foot­ball at North Penn High School.

“He said, ‘No, we’ll sign you up for wrestling,’ ” Cope re­called.

Shortly af­ter be­gin­ning his wrestling ca­reer that year, Cope and his dad be­gan a tra­di­tion of at­tend­ing the PIAA Cham­pi­onships each year in Her­shey.

“We’ve al­ways had that kind of con­nec­tion,” Cope said, “lov­ing wrestling, al­ways want­ing to go to Her­shey.”

Cope wants to break from tra­di­tion this sea­son.

Well, sort of.

Cope, now a se­nior at Quak­er­town, is aim­ing to earn the chance to com­pete on the mats at Her­shey’s Gi­ant Cen­ter.

“Her­shey is where I want to be at the end of the year,” he said. “It’s al­ways been a dream of mine.

“I want to get that free ticket this year.”

Cope is part of a Quak­er­town ros­ter that re­turns ev­ery starter from last sea­son’s Sub­ur­ban One League Amer­i­can Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship team.

Cope and other mem­bers of coach Kurt Han­del’s club have seen, how­ever, that noth­ing is guar­an­teed. Four Pan­thers are out for the sea­son be­cause of in­juries, in­clud­ing se­nior Josh Stahl — a 2018 state qual­i­fier.

The work ethic and ded­i­ca­tion of those re­main­ing has not gone un­no­ticed by Han­del, who still be­lieves Quak­er­town can chal­lenge for top hon­ors as it re­turns to the SOL’s Con­ti­nen­tal Con­fer­ence.

“Corey is a guy we’re see­ing a lot of im­prove­ment out of,” Han­del said. “He’s also taken a sub­stan­tial part of the lead­er­ship role here.

“Last year, we had a lot of guys that, in my eyes, took un­ex­pected lead­er­ship roles — which was kind of nice. They may not be the state or re­gional qual­i­fiers, but they are in the room work­ing hard ev­ery day.

“It’s a di­verse group of lead­ers.”

The lineup

With promis­ing fresh­man Todd McGann out for the year with a bro­ken col­lar­bone, Justin Adam­son, an­other fresh­man, will be at 106.

Sopho­more Kyle Miller (22-10 last year) is at 113, fol­lowed by Cope (32-10) at 120.

Ju­niors Vinny DeSpir­ito (17-8) and Zach Lewis (12-5) are bat­tling at 126.

Sopho­more Pa­trick McCoy (22-11) is at 132 and sopho­more Dom DeFalco (33-12), a re­turn­ing state qual­i­fier, is at 138.

Se­nior Trent Niel­son (1-2) and ju­nior Aaron Sanchez (3-3) are com­pet­ing for the 145-pound spot. Se­nior Jake Wheeler (19-12) will be at 152 once his right an­kle heals.

Ju­nior Kyle Good­win (18-15) is at 160, fol­lowed by ju­nior Dusten Pom­pei (1-1) at 170, sopho­more Micah Kun­kle (9-17) at 182 and se­nior Max Rus­sell (17-9) at 195.

Ju­nior Ralph Martin (23-16) is at 220. It is not clear who will be at 285.

The sched­ule

Quak­er­town’s move back to the SOL’s Con­ti­nen­tal Con­fer­ence af­ter win­ning the SOL Amer­i­can the last two years trans­lates into fewer for­feits and bet­ter com­pe­ti­tion.

“We had a lot of matches last year with a lot of for­feits and JVs not get­ting any matches,” Han­del said. “It’s tough to come in and work hard ev­ery day. You want to get that pay­check, but then there’s no one to wres­tle.

“The [SOL Con­ti­nen­tal sched­ule] is set up for an ex­cit­ing year for ev­ery­one in the pro­gram.”

It starts with a visit Wed­nes­day to Coun­cil Rock South — last year’s District 1 Class 3A team cham­pion. A week­end trip to Wilkes-Barre fol­lows for the X-cal­ibur tour­na­ment at Wilkes Univer­sity.

Quak­er­town fin­ishes De­cem­ber with a re­turn to Lib­erty’s Beth­le­hem Hol­i­day Wrestling Clas­sic.

Han­del’s team be­gins Jan­uary with a re­turn visit to White­hall’s Ze­phyr Duals on Satur­day, Jan. 5, be­fore host­ing its own dual-meet event on Satur­day, Jan. 12. Strouds­burg, West Ch­ester Hen­der­son, Lower Me­rion, Fa­ther Judge and Arch­bishop Wood are other par­tic­i­pants.

Quak­er­town re­turns to CR-South for the Es­cape the Rock tour­na­ment on Satur­day-Sun­day, Jan. 19-20, then closes out its dual-meet sea­son by vis­it­ing ri­val Pen­nridge on Feb. 12.

Thanks to a new post­sea­son sched­ule that elim­i­nates a week­end of league com­pe­ti­tion, the Pan­thers have a week off be­fore the start of the District 1 in­di­vid­ual tour­na­ment.

“Right now, I’m say­ing I like it,” Han­del said. “Our league tour­na­ment, some weight classes had three guys in it. Why weigh in, take the whole week­end to wres­tle one match? That’s ask­ing a lot to suck weight for one match.

“It’s the right move right now. We’re look­ing at 16-, 18-man brack­ets. Sure, you’ll see a cou­ple of for­feits, but I think this is what is needed.”

thouse­[email protected] Twit­ter @TomHousenick 610-820-6651

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