Sunday, July 13, 2014

Spartans grappling to make WVC history

February 05. 2014 11:55PM
By Dave Rosengrant

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What: PIAA Team Championships

Who: Wyoming Valley West vs. Boyertown

When: 6 p.m. today at the Giant Center, Hershey

What to know: The event is a three-day, double-elimination tournament all held at the same site.

At stake: The winner faces the victor of the dual between Greater Latrobe and Jersey Shore in Friday’s quarterfinals at 2 p.m. The loser faces the loser of that previously mentioned dual in the first round of consolations at 10 a.m. Friday.

For live updates of Wyoming Valley West’s trip to states, follow beat writer Dave Rosengrant on Twitter @TLdrosengrant

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Fresh off its first District 2 Class 3A Duals championship in 13 years, Wyoming Valley West is looking to make history.

The Spartans are trying to become the first Wyoming Valley Conference Class 3A team to win a dual at the PIAA Team Championships in the 18-year history of the event when they participate in the tournament starting today with a meet at 6 p.m. against Boyertown at the Giant Center in Hershey.

In fact, no WVC team has even won a preliminary match to get into the event in the previous 17 years the state team tournament has been held. The last Class 2A team from the conference to win a dual at states was Berwick in 2008.

“I think we just always hit District 1, which is a great district,” said Spartans coach Drew Feldman, who was a wrestler on the last Valley West team to win a duals title. “Delaware Valley won a few matches (the last few years) and now hopefully we can win, and then some time down the road, it’s us (District 2) winning and getting to the semis and the finals.’”

There are plenty reasons why the Spartans — participating at states for the first time since losing a preliminary match in 2001 — could become the first WVC 3A team to claim a victory.

Boyertown’s roster consists of just three seniors compared to Valley West’s seven in the starting lineup. So the experience edge goes to the Spartans. As a team, the Bears haven’t been to the event since 2010, and that season they went 0-2.

Sizing up the rest of the bracket seems to favor the D2 champs as well. Half of the 16 qualifying teams did not participate in the event last season; if Boyertown’s loss in the prelims is included, that’s more than half.

The winner of tonight’s dual will face the winner of the match between Greater Latrobe and Jersey Shore at 2 p.m. on Friday. In the worst case scenario that Valley West drops its opening round dual tonight, the team falls into the consolations and will see either District 7 runner-up Latrobe or D4 champ Jersey Shore Friday at 10 a.m. Latrobe is one of the teams that didn’t make last year’s tourney, while Jersey Shore did qualify but went 0-2, with its elimination loss coming at the hands of Delaware Valley.

“If we lose to Boyertown, we should be able to take care of Jersey Shore,” Feldman added. “If we wrestle well and get the matches, I don’t see a reason why we can’t beat them.”

The cards are stacked against Wyoming Valley West against the Bears for a few reasons. Boyertown is the second-ranked team in Class 3A in the state, according to PA Power Wrestling. The team also has the most wins and no losses of any team in 2A or 3A participating in Hershey this weekend with a 22-0 record. The Bears also consist of seven wrestlers ranked by the outlet. Valley West is not ranked in the publication’s top 25 being one of the four teams wrestling in the 3A event that is not ranked.

But, Feldman said, this matchup with Boyertown is what he wants to see from his team.

“They’re some good matches. We’ll have our best guys on their best guys and see how much work we have to do to get ready for a few weeks and how we stack up with them.

“I’m looking for them to go there be excited being in that arena and getting motivated to get back there in a couple weeks (for the individual state tournament).”

The Spartans only practiced one day this week due to weather issues, but just about every team is in the same position. Because of that, every participating team will have an extra two-pound weight allowance.

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