Offseason regimen sparks PW turnaround

Posted: February 18, 2014

It all started with a long-overdue win.

Plymouth Whitemarsh entered its Jan. 8 wrestling match against Wissahickon with a fair record, 6-5, and hopes of grinding out the school's first win over its Suburban One American rival in four years.

The Colonials (18-8, 7-0 conference) handed Wissahickon a 53-7 setback that night, setting them on a course that would include victories against annual league front-runners Norristown (42-27 score), Upper Dublin (50-16), and Upper Moreland (36-25).

That run clinched an unblemished league record and the Colonials' first outright conference title since 2006.

"We lost to everybody last year, but it all started with Wissahickon," Colonials coach Justin Giovinco said. "We lost to all of those teams last year, and every week this season was a triumph for us."

While some improved squads can credit their success to an influx of youth and fresh talent, Giovinco said his wrestlers have benefited from their usual five-days-a-week offseason training regimen that is meant to build strength for the first few months, and then muscle endurance once the season looms a month or two away.

The difference this time around?

"This past offseason, everybody came to the workouts," Giovinco said. "We had 15 or 20 kids every single workout, and that's huge. If we can keep 15 kids working hard in the weight room every day for seven months, they're going to get strong. All of that stuff is a big part of the offseason."

No matter the cause, several grapplers up and down the roster have enjoyed turnarounds from a year ago.

Junior Gianpiero DiBattista had compiled a 36-31 record across his first two seasons, and capped the regular season Monday at 26-4 in the 132-pound weight class.

After a productive 20-15 season a year ago in which he qualified for the District 1 Class AAA individual tournament, senior Austin Pollock (182) is 26-6 this season.

Younger talents such as sophomore Quincy Williams (14-10) have contributed, along with sophomore Ben Billings (138), who is 22-9 after a 7-18 freshman season.

"I think everybody [around the league] is surprised that we were able to do what we did," Giovinco said. "But we could tell that we were going to be something special this year based on how the kids were working."

Pair unbeaten. The regular season has ended, and Downingtown East still has two undefeated wrestlers in sophomore Wade Cummings (35-0) at 126 pounds and senior Adam Pleines (34-0) at 195.

After a 42-3 freshman season that featured a third-place medal at the District 1 championships last year, Cummings has compiled a campaign that has included a 3-2 decision over Garnet Valley senior Mike Marino, last year's district champion at 126.

Cummings' 77 career victories lead all sophomores in District 1, one win ahead of Boyertown's Jordan Wood.

Pleines, 35-9 last season, has rolled with victories against Upper Darby junior Joshua Yeboah-Gyasi (25-5), who placed third in District 1 last season at 220, and West Chester East senior Rob Ritrovato (23-7) this season.

Lower Moreland reigns. Lower Moreland has pushed its regular-season Bicentennial Athletic League winning streak to 37 matches.

The Lions' last Bicentennial loss was to New Hope-Solebury in January 2007.

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