Avon Grove wrestling team improving under first-year coach
● By Steven Hoffman
The Avon Grove wrestling team has already surpassed its win total from a year ago as the young squad has worked hard to develop under first-year head coach William Kirwin.
“This team has by far exceeded my expectations,” Kirwin said shortly after Avon Grove hosted a match against Downingtown West on Jan. 15. While the Red Devils didn’t emerge with a win on this night, the signs of the team’s progress were still evident. Kirwin noted that a number of the matches were extremely competitive and were decided by just a few points.
In the 152-pound match, for example, Avon Grove grappler Zach Smith and Downingtown West’s Zach Borkowski battled through a hard-fought and evenly matched first period that was scoreless. Borkowski took a one-point lead late in the second period, but Smith rallied in the third to not just take the lead, but to score a pin of his opponent.
Avon Grove has come to count on Smith for these kinds of performances.
“Zach is one of the captains,” Kirwin explained. “He’s really wrestling hard and leading the team by example.”
Another senior leader on the squad is Caydon Norris. Norris was involved in a back-and-forth match that resulted in a minor decision loss, but this match also illustrated how much progress the Avon Grove wrestlers are making, both individually and as a team.
Kurt Zaballero, just one of four seniors on Avon Grove, had a very competitive match with Downingtown West’s Grant Hanak in the 138-pound match. This match was also scoreless after the first period before the Downingtown West grappler scored a pin late in the second period.
In the 145-pound match, Avon Grove’s Garrett Landon, a freshman, had a very impressive showing against Greg Chamberlin. They battled to a scoreless first period. Chamberlin gained the advantage with an escape late in the second period. He increased his lead in the third. Landon continued to wrestle hard and made a comeback in the third period, narrowing Chamberlin’s lead to 4-2. The Downingtown West wrestler eventually won by a pin, but it was very competitive.
At 120 pounds, Joe Abbruzzesi scored a victory with a pin with 17 seconds left in the first period.
Kirwin said that Abbruzzesi is one of the wrestlers on the team who has improved as the season has gone along.
Overall, Kirwin said, the team’s record stands at 6-5 after the match against Downingtown West. It’s an impressive feat to surpass last season’s win total by Jan. 15, and while the first-year head coach is pleased by his team’s work, he wants to see the young squad continue to improve.
“We’re wrestling hard and looking toward the future,” Kirwin said. “There is a lot more work to do.”