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St. James takes annual Blue Storm beating to improve

St. James takes annual Blue Storm beating to improve

February 09, 2006|by ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - No one forces St. James to take its yearly pounding from Mercersburg Academy on the wrestling mat.

It's something the Saints choose to do, and for good reason.

"Mercersburg is No. 1 for a reason," said St. James second-year coach Jesse Young following his team's 52-16 loss Wednesday to the Blue Storm, the area's top-ranked team. "They're a nice bar to set our standard against. You're not going to get any better wrestling weak teams."

Mercersburg has beaten St. James 24 straight times.

"Every year, the score doesn't get any closer, but the bout scores get closer," Young said. "One of these years, maybe ..."

The Blue Storm (18-9) finished their dual-meet schedule with a winning record for the fifth straight year. They won 10 of 14 bouts against the Saints (11-10), including six by pins. On Senior Night, all three of the seniors in Mercersburg's lineup - Ethan Harvey (130 pounds), Conor McPartland (145) and Andrew Carl (152) - were victorious.

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Harvey put Mercersburg up 4-0 in the first bout of the night with a 9-0 major decision over John Lee.

"It was a little bit of pressure because all our friends were here, but I just pretended it was a regular match," Harvey said. "We knew we were a stronger team than them going into it, but I was the one telling people not to take them lightly."

The Blue Storm won the next five bouts to take a 31-0 lead, getting pins from Nick Mazzei (135), McPartland, Carl and Peter Huntley and a 5-4 decision from Bobby Wolford (28-9) over Steve Lee (20-4) in a matchup of two of the area's top 140-pounders.

Jimmy Sutch finally got the Saints on the scoreboard at 171, scoring a 15-7 major decision over Alex Appleman to improve his season record to 24-0.

Mercersburg responded with 18 points from their heavyweights as Max Huntley (189) and Andy Eshleman (215) each scored a second-period pin and Adam Barnette (275) picked up the lone forfeit of the match to give the Blue Storm a 49-4 advantage.

"Our middle through upper weights are pretty good," Mercersburg coach Rick Hendrickson said. "Our strength showed."

St. James stole the show in the lighter weights with three straight victories, cutting the deficit to 49-16. Patrick Solberg (103) and James Rogers (119) each won a 4-3 decision for the Saints, while Colin Stoecker (112) won by fall.

"I give our guys credit," Young said. "We've got hope for the future."

Nathan Stanford (125) won the final bout of the night by decision, putting the finishing touches on another Mercersburg rout.

"I want to give Jesse Young and St. James a lot of credit, because this is an optional dual meet for them, and I appreciate the fact that they're willing to wrestle us every year," Hendrickson said. "It'd be easy for Jesse to say, 'That's enough. We're not going to beat you.' But Jesse does it because he is building a good program. They're light years away from where they used to be."

The teams will see each other again very soon.

"We're coming back up here Tuesday to practice with them," Young said. "We need the best competition possible to get ready for the state tournament."

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