The year of the pandemic proved challenging for all sports across the country, but wrestling and other “full-contacts” faced the greatest challenges. Hats off to District 1 and the PIAA for organizing a memorable season and post-season for these athletes which culminated in the PIAA State Wrestling Championships held this past Saturday (3/13) at the Giant Center in Hershey, PA. With 106-138 battling in the morning, and 145-285 in the evening, the day was long and the action was heated. Downingtown East’s senior captains Keanu Manuel (120) and Matt Romanelli (172) put on the armor one last time for the Cougars and fought their way to the medal stand. Keanu finishes his blue and gold career with a record of 121-20 and a 6th place state finish, while Matt concludes with a 94-25 tally and an 8th place finish in Hershey. The coaches and DE wrestling community are tremendously proud of the two for fighting tooth and nail and putting the DE wrestling program back on the map after a long medal drought. We wish them luck in their future endeavors at the US Naval Academy and Columbia University respectively. As for the future, that is to be determined by each individual member of the program. You must ask yourself, what can I do to get better today, and every day that follows? The path is not difficult to see; you just have to take the first step. INVICTUS
On Saturday 3/6, the Eastern side of the “keystone” state had its top 8 wrestlers collect at Quakertown HS to battle it out for one of four coveted spots that lead to a state medal. Known as the Eastern Super Regional, this tourney gathered the best from Districts 1, 2, 11, and 12 and had them duke out for state hardware. After 5 long years of dust collecting in the DE Wrestling trophy cabinet, East finally got back to the podium as Keanu Manuel (2-2 at 120) and Matt Romanelli (2-2 at 172) placed fourth to secure a spot in next weekend’s placing rounds. Fellow qualifier Bo Horvath (160) went 0-2 on the day, but gained valuable experience. The scene is now set for Keanu and Matt to wrestle next Saturday at the GIANT Center in Hershey, Pa to see where they fall in the illustrious top 8 medal count. Best wishes go out to them in their endeavor and a hearty congratulations to the program for reestablishing presence on the PIAA stage. GOOD LUCK COUGARS!
The next phase of this crazy 2021 PIAA post-season took place in Bucks County on Saturday 2/27! With the lightweights at Council Rock North, and the heavyweights at Council Rock South, the District 1 Southeastern Regional Tournament took place without a hitch. Separated in buildings just a couple of miles apart, the two groups took to the mats and battled it out for a coveted spot in the PIAA State Tournament in this anything-but-normal year. Only the top 4 would advance, so tension was high! When the dust settled, the Cougars qualified all three wrestlers who attended! Keanu Manuel (120) took the gold medal, avenging last weekend’s loss and going 3-0. Matt Romanelli (172) took an early loss, but bounced back to win three straight and claim the bronze at 3-1. Lastly, sophomore Bo Horvath (160) battled to a 2-2 record and placed fourth to earn his first trip to states. Congratulations to all three competitors! Best of luck in the next phase at the Super Regional held at Quakertown HS where all wrestlers will fight for one of eight treasured medal placements. May the wrestling gods be with you!
The District 1 wrestling world continued to turn on Saturday 2/20 with the “District 1 South Tournament” held at Sun Valley HS in Aston, PA. As the first official stage of the wrestling post-season, 28 teams were eager to compete and start carving their way towards a ticket to the PIAA State Tournament in March. D-East had four wrestlers selected for the event and they all gave maximum effort. In the end, the Cougars claimed 6th place out of the 28 teams and qualified 3 wrestlers for next weekend’s regional tournament at Council Rock. Matt Romanelli (172) was East’s lone champ taking top honors with 3 straight first period falls. Keanu Manuel (120) and Bo Horvath (160) both took silver medals going 2-1 on the day, while Ryan Loraw (132) battled but fell just short of advancement. Congratulations to all four Cougars for a valiant effort and best of luck as the three remaining press forward!
Few thought there would be a wrestling season this year considering the effects of the pandemic. But with great determination, District 1, the Chesmont League, and our Downingtown East wrestlers put together a healthy and successful campaign! Our immediate wrestling community is truly thankful! On Wednesday night (2/10), the Cougars finished the regular season strong and defeated West Chester East 40-31 in the “Battle for Route 100.” Journeymen Keanu Manuel (132), Ryan Loraw (138), Bo Horvath (160), and Matt Romanelli (189) all scored falls, while young upstarts Paxson Warnock (113) and Liam Knott (126) notched pins of their own. Junior Connor Huntoon (152) secured a tech to add to the tally. In the JV scrum, Josh Hillestad (120), Brandon Pacinelli (145), and Frankie Colantuno (138) picked up falls. East finishes the season with a 6-2 mark, coming in 3rd in the Chesmont League and 2nd in the National division! The night was also a dedication to our seniors and their parents for their years of effort and support. We want to thank Keanu Manuel, Alex Hillestad, Matt Romanelli, Ray Wileczek, and Kevin Clark, along with their parents, for their years of service. Congratulations to them and best wishes for the future!
On Saturday 2/6, the East grapplers travelled down to Southern Chester County for the second time in a week to put their abilities to the test. Avon Grove hosted another Chesmont quad, and the Cougars took on Kennett and Coatesville. East claimed two victories beating Kennett 39-30 and Coatesville 42-21. Double winners on the day were Paxson Warnock (106), Josh Hillestad (120), Keanu Manuel (126), Ryan Loraw (132), Bo Horvath (160), and Matt Romanelli (172). The wins put East at 5-2 and propel them into their final dual meet against West Chester East on Wednesday 2/10. That night will also serve as East’s “Senior Night” when we will recognize the seniors and their parents for the many years of hard work and commitment. If you can’t be there in person, catch it on livestream!
All the snow and virus in the world couldn’t stop Downingtown’s annual wrestling classic, “The Battle Of The Brandywine.” Held at Downingtown West on a cold Thursday night (2/4), the crosstown rivals locked horns despite all the odds and put on one helluva show!. In the end, the Cougars claimed the prize with a 31-28 finish and a night to remember. The action was back and forth and the small crowd that was permitted to attend was raucous. Senior captains Matt Romanelli (189) and Keanu Manuel (120) scored falls, while sophomore Ryan Loraw (138) picked up a pin of his own. Nick Viscomi (172) took a forfeit, Paxson Warnock (106) earned a hard-fought decision, and Bo Horvath (160) collected a major to put the Cougars on top. Frankie Colantuno (138), TJ Shillingford (138), Liam Ericson (138), and Brandon Pacinelli (145) were all victorious in the JV tilt. Congratulations go out to all the Downingtown wrestlers, East and West, for a great night of competition! This year has been tough for us all and getting to wrestle in the “Battle” reminds us that a return to our true way of life is on its way!
On Saturday 1/30, D-East travelled south on Route 1 to the fabled grounds of Avon Grove to take part in their second tri-meet of the year. The Cougars faced Avon Grove and Delaware County visitors, Sun Valley. In the end, East split the day beating Avon Grove 60-16 and falling to Sun Valley 24-39. Double winners for the Cougars were Keanu Manuel (126), Ryan Loraw (132), Alex Hillestad (145), Bo Horvath (160), Matt Romanelli (172), and Ray Wileczek (215). Also, Josh Hillestad (120) secured a nice fall against Avon Grove and Connor Huntoon (152) followed with a hard-earned fall of his own. The team now stands at 2-2 as they get ready for the first snow-storm of 2021 and the “Battle of the Brandywine” against D-West this coming Wednesday. GOOD LUCK Cougars!