Bucks County Herald

Faith locks up state bid

DAVID CAMPBELL



The Lions gather with the trophy – and Hershey bars – for winning the District One/12 Class AA Duals at Upper Dublin on Saturday.

Faith Christian made history.

Never before had the Lions qualified for the state tournament, but when Isaiah Vizcarrondo pinned Bishop McDevitt’s Luke Emlet in 1:37 at 132 pounds on Saturday, it assured Faith a place in Hershey this Thursday.

“The excitement and being in the moment – words can’t describe it,” said Vizcarrondo, who helped the Lions to a 50-19 victory in the final of the District One/12 Class AA Duals at Upper Dublin.

Faith has drawn undefeated Saucon Valley, out of District 11, in the first round of states. States continue through Saturday.

“We expected to get to this point,” head coach Ben Clymer said. “We’re excited.”

“It’s an amazing feeling,” Vizcarrondo, a sophomore, added. “Last year, they should have made it, but a lot of things didn’t go their way. But that’s in the past; we’re in the present – and I’m just glad that we made it.”

A year ago, Bishop McDevitt denied Faith a spot in states. The Royal Lancers nipped the Lions on a tiebreaker in district duals.

On Saturday, Faith stormed out to a 17-0 lead. Damon Waltenbaugh got things going with a pin of Regan Loughney in 5:48 at 152. Andy Muzika and Logan Moore followed with major decisions at 160 and 170, respectively. At 182, J.J. Vizcarrondo scored a 4-2 decision over Tyrone Fowler.

Bishop McDevitt won the next three bouts, including at 195 and 220 by fall, to tighten the match at 17-15. However, the Lancers were forced to forfeit 106 and 113 and the Lions’ Jake Kurlak pinned Kyle Schenk in 2:00 at 120 to give Faith a huge 35-15 advantage with only four bouts remaining.

“We lost to them last year on criteria,” Muzika, a sophomore, said. “We trained harder than them and we wanted it more than they did.”

Jenon Upchurch kept Bishop McDevitt alive with a 12-1 major decision over Luke Wahlers at 126; however, Isaiah Vizcarrondo’s fall one bout later clinched the match for the Bicentennial Athletic League (BAL) champions.

“You have to go out there and get the job done – and thankfully I got it done,” said Vizcarrondo, who raised his record to 18-9.

The Lions ended the match on a high, as T.J. Alderfer earned a 9-7 decision over Dwayne Nelson at 138 and Max Schultz pinned Aemon Foley in 43 seconds at 145.

“It’s crazy,” Kurlak, a freshman, said. “We were the underdogs going in because we lost to them last year. It’s mind boggling that we’re at this level right now.”

Clymer pointed out that Faith won most of the toss-up bouts.

“[Among others,] 120, 126, 132 and 138 were all swing matches for us,” Clymer said, “and we came away with three of the four.”

The scary thing is, the Lions are only in their second year as a high school program. Fifteen Faith wrestlers this season have combined for a 173-129 record. Schultz (24-7) and Moore (23-5) have led the way.

“This program is moving on to bigger and better things,” Vizcarrondo said. “I can’t wait for next year and the year after that, my senior year. This team is only going to get better from here. And I’m just excited to be here.”

“It’s amazing,” Clymer concluded. “I think it’ll set in even more when we get out there (Hershey); we’ll practice there on Wednesday night. I am just so proud of the guys and the parents. This sport requires so much sacrifice and grit.”

dcampbell@buckscountyherald.com

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