-- For the 90 minutes his team was in action, Conestoga coach Steve Harner was
in his element -- coaching, urging, investing.
was the five minutes that followed Conestoga's 32-25 victory over Haverford
High that made the old-school coach a bit uncomfortable.
in front of a home crowd, the Central League outcome gave Harner 300 dual meet
wins for his career, prompting fans to hold up "300' signs and a poster
presentation commemorating his big achievement.
majority of Harner's wins (191) came while he headed Norristown High, with
other coaching stints taking place at Clarion High, Bishop Kenrick High,
Ursinus College, Williamson Trade School before taking over Conestoga in 2008.
guess if you coach long enough you're gonna get there,' Harner said.
22-19 with five to go, Conestoga (7-1 league, 11-2 overall) outscored the Fords
(3-5, 9-8) 13-3 down the stretch.
Hutchinson (113 pounds), Mike Tarrant (120), Mike Sklar (126) and Kevin Zhao
(138) won four of the last five bouts for the Pioneers.
didn't mention (300 wins) at all,' Stoga's Dan Iredale said. "I don't
think he likes talking about it. He's a real modest guy and just wants us to
win the match.'
had a run of four straight undefeated seasons on the Central League from
2003-2006, but has come up a dual meet or two short of the top most of the
to compete and challenge the best is one of Harner's great motivations and joys
of coaching the Pioneers.
like high school because you don't have to recruit,' Harner said. "I get
to teach and I get to see kids improve and get better.'
got off to a fast start with a major decision by Iredale (145). Haverford
scored the next 13 points with the heart of its lineup, but the Pioneers were
able to keep the losses minimal.
year ago Conestoga's Kit Schofield (195) was pinned by Chip Rossino, but
Tuesday night he kept it to a 2-0 decision. After six bouts, the Pioneers
trailed by only nine.
Elken), (Dan Wade) and (Schofield) fought like devils and did a great job not
giving up points,' Harner said.
took the lead then when Ethan Pentz (220) managed the only pin of the night,
and Mike Karas (285) collected a forfeit.
mentioned (300) a couple of times, but it wasn't a huge motivation,' Pentz
said. "We just wanted to win.'
business-like attitude certainly trickles down from Harner, as does the wealth
of knowledge he has amassed in his 30-plus years of coaching wrestling.
a real tough coach,' Iredale said. "he pushes us further and further and
he knows how to get the most out of everyone.'
TREDDYFRIN -- As Conestoga coach Steve Harner explains it, his
team starts each dual meet down 12 points.
Knowing he has to forfeit two weights at some point, Harner
constantly implores his wrestlers to push for bonus points or a fall.
With a team with just one senior on the roster, injured at that,
Harner's Pioneers appear a good year away from competing for the Central League
crown. But along the way, that sense of urgency Harner instills likely helps
the young squad's maturation.
Tuesday, in front of a home crowd, Conestoga won nine of 12
contested matches to beat Marple Newtown, 40-27, for its fifth-straight league
"Every time we wrestle we're down 12 points to start,' Harner
said. "We challenge the kids to get some falls. Every week the last couple
years it's been this way, but fortunately someone steps to the plate.'
Conestoga (5-1 league, 5-1 overall) won the battle in the neutral
position, taking the Tigers (2-5, 7-9) down 25 times to just nine by Marple.
The biggest win of the night came at 220 pounds, where Stoga's
Ethan Pentz knocked off Eric Trainor, who was ranked No. 5 in District 1, 6-1.
"That 220 was big for us,' Harner said. "I knew if we
could stay close in (the upper weights) we'd be OK, and we actually won that
one. (Ethan) never put himself out of position to win it.'
Marple was without its best wrestler, Jason Rinaldi (113 pounds),
who was relegated to the second row of chairs with a pair of crutches.
That left just Pat Callaghan (132) in the Tigers' lineup with
potent firepower. He pinned in the first period, but the Pioneers controlled
much of the meet.
Kevin Zhao (138) and Dan Iredale (145) earned pins for Stoga for
their 13th and 14th wins on the season, respectively. Impressive freshman Eric
Hutchinson (113) worked a first-period fall for the Pioneers, as well.
"This match we were looking for a lot of pins,' Zhao said.
"We worked on taking them down from their feet to their back, and coach
Harner was hoping many of us could get pins if we started on our feet.'
Mike Sklar (126) engineered a technical fall, and Mike Tarrant
(120) and Andrew Wilner (170) managed major decisions for Stoga.
With Logan Kerin, a state qualifier last winter, graduated, the
young team has divvied up leadership responsibilities.
"Last year there was a single leader and single star,' Zhao said.
"This year there's multiple kids sharing the position of successful
leaders on the team.'
Dan Wade (152), Matt Prestipino (160) and Pentz were the three
winners by decision for the Pioneers.
With 10 juniors on the roster, Conestoga is hoping to make up
ground against Garnet Valley and Upper Darby, who both graduate some star power
"We're right at the time where we're gonna be at our prime,'
said Iredale, a sophmore. "We have a lot of juniors like Kevin (Zhao) and
Mike (Sklar) and Scott (Christy), and it's gonna be time to really step up and
go for a league championship.'
For now, Conestoga will have winnable meets through the end of
January, before facing Garnet and Penncrest in what could be key league
contests the last week of the season.
Conestoga 40, Marple Newtown 27
120- Tarrant (CON) maj. dec. C. Van Deusen, 13-5 (4-0)
126- Sklar (CON) won by tech. fall over Elfernani, 6:00 (9-0)
132- Callaghan (MN) pinned Christy, 1:30 (9-6)
138- Zhao (CON) pinned Salvino, 2:31 (15-6)
145- Iredale (CON) pinned Pizzi, :49 (21-6)
152- Wade (CON) dec. Akranis, 9-8 (24-6)
160- Prestipino (CON) dec. Brathwaite, 5-0 (27-6)
170- Wilner (CON) maj. dec. Evangelopoulos, 8-0 (31-6)
182- Busch (MN) pinned LaMarre, 1:31 (31-12)
195- Katrakazis (MN) won by forfeit (31-18)
220- Pentz (CON) dec. Trainor, 6-1 (34-18)
285- Godwin (MN) dec. Karas, 6-3 (34-21)
106- J. Van Deusen (MN) won by forfeit (34-27)
113- Hutchinson (CON) pinned R. Kelly, 1:44 (40-27)